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Engagements, For Brides & Grooms

January 16, 2014

You’re Engaged! Now What?

It’s really fun to check out my newsfeed just after the holidays because that seems to be the prime time for diamond rings to start appearing on the hands of many girls that I’m friends with – whether it’s friends I’ve known for ages or friends that we’ve met at weddings when THEIR friends were getting married.  It’s just a fun time of year and a little bling always makes any party more fun!

But now that you have that bling on your hand and your mouth hurts from smiling… what do you do now?  I’m sure there are tons of websites and wedding blogs out there that have step by step instructions but I wanted to do this post for my own (future) brides and those who read this blog who may know someone who just got engaged.  I want this blog to be a place of reference as well as a place I post photos from engagement sessions and weddings.  So while I’m not an “expert” and there are several ways to go about planning a wedding, I hope this is helpful to at least one person out there!

And because I like lists, I’m going to number them off for you…

1. ENJOY being engaged.  At maximum, you’ll be able to call each other fiancé(e) for a year or so (if the engagement is going to be longer, just hold off a little bit on proposing.  Trust me!).  And while the engagement can get a little crazy at times with planning the wedding, try to have some date nights or times away where any wedding talk is off limits!

2. Tell friends and family BEFORE posting onto social media.  This is a big moment!  And it’s SO FUN telling those that are close to you about your big news either on the phone or in person.  We tried our best to call and see everyone closest to us before posting about our engagement on Facebook and honestly, as fun as it was to receive all of the comments and likes on our statuses and “Life Event”, they couldn’t replace the squeals on the phone or the hugs we got when we were able to tell our news to friends and family.

3. Once things have calmed down a bit and you guys narrow down your date, you can start planning!  If you know who the vendors are that you want to have at your wedding, I would start with calling THEM to check their availability and pricing before nailing down a date.  I know that may seem a little backwards, but if that photographer or venue that you’ve been dying to hire for ages is already booked then it might be hard to change your date and reschedule other vendors.  When we got engaged, we knew we didn’t want to wait long for our wedding so I called my photographers to see what THEY had available before we looked at anything else.  Once I had an idea of their schedule then we looked at the ceremony site’s availability and were able to settle on a date from there.

Besides, if you want to make someone feel good and boost their ego, call them before you have a date set!  I had a friend who got engaged a couple of years ago and one of her first phone calls was to me to see when we were available.  Once she knew our free dates, she started looking into everything else and then called back to confirm the date with me!  I was SO FLATTERED!!!

4. Get a better idea of pricing before solidifying your budget.  Again, this may sound a little backwards, but if you’ve never gotten married before then the chances are pretty likely that some costs will come as a surprise to you.  Sometimes you flat out can’t afford something or someone.  And that’s fine.  There are vendors in every price range out there and you’ll be able to find one that fits your needs and your budget.  But keep in mind that the saying really is true… “You get what you pay for.”  I had no idea what flowers cost when we got married.  The only time I’d purchased them was for my mom or friend and those were just the standard “this looks pretty” on the website bouquets.  But flowers – especially depending on the season of your wedding – can cost a lot.  But trust me when I say that REAL flowers are worth it for the photos!!  So talk to some florists, figure out what flowers will be in season, and work with someone who knows what they’re doing.  The same thing goes with your photographer and everyone else.  Yes, photography is expensive.  But you want someone that knows what they’re doing, can adjust to any kind of situation (strict timeline, weather, etc.), and will deliver photos to you that you will LOVE for the next 75 years.  Those photos will be the only thing left even just the day after your wedding so meet with several photographers and choose one whose style you like and who you want to spend your entire wedding day with… because he or she will be by your side all day… even more than your soon to be husband or wife!

4a. Schedule your engagement session. (I’m doing these next two points as sub points because they’re important but fall under this same category) As we’ve gotten into this digital age it’s been a blessing and a curse.  We all take photos all the time, but we hardly have REAL ones taken, aka professional photographs.  And after getting engaged is the best reason/excuse to go ahead and have that done!  You’re about to start your life together and these images will give you a reason to look your best, get your hair and makeup done (again, a worthwhile expense!), go somewhere that has meaning for you both, and to spend an hour or so just loving on each other!  I tell my couples that the first 15 minutes might be awkward, but all I’m there for is to document their love.  So their only job is to love on the person they’ve fallen in love with and to dream about the future they’re going to have.  Yes, you’ll have photos of your wedding day, but these will give you some more casual photos to put up in your house and to share with others… and to show off your handsome/beautiful fiancé(e)!  Which also leads me to the next point…

4b. Send out Save the Dates.  The timing on this totally depends on the length of your engagement.  We were only engaged 4 months, so we had to send ours out ASAP.  So, once you have your engagement session, you have photos to put onto your save the dates so they then serve dual purpose… you’re letting people know that you’re getting married and they get to “meet” your future spouse!  Perfect!

5. Get on Pinterest and then get off.  Pinterest is brilliant.  You save a ton of money from buying magazines and your wedding notebook won’t have quite as many torn out magazine pages as it might have if this was 10-15 years ago.  But Pinterest is also a curse because you start seeing things and pinning things and before you know it you either have TOO many DIY projects (guilty as charged right here!) or you all of a sudden have planned a wedding that doesn’t actually fit who you and your groom are!  Plan your wedding and colors and decorations around you guys.  Look at your style, where you like to shop, the colors you like to wear, where you like to eat, and let the things you do on a regular basis be your inspiration!

 6. Choose your wedding party and ask them to stand by your side!  Sometimes this is a no-brainer and sometimes this is really difficult.  You may have known for ages the girls or guys that you wanted to stand by you when you got married.  Or, you’ve never thought about it in detail before and all of a sudden, you have 20 girls on your list!  This is usually more of an issue for the girls than for guys because we love our friends and it’s really not that hard to have that many really close friends!  But, that can also be overwhelming on your wedding day.  Think about getting ready, transportation, showers, gifts for each of them, etc.  Most definitely you want your close friends with you that day. And if there are 16 girls that fit that, then by all means, ask each of them to be in your wedding :-)  But having bridesmaids and honorary bridesmaids is also an option.  Then, those honoraries can also have other responsibilities on your big day… such as helping with the guest book or programs or reading during the ceremony.  The best part is that they can sit on the front row and still be close to you as you say, “I do!”

7. Have fun registering!  Once the planning has begun and most vendors have been booked, it’s almost like you can take a huge sigh of relief!  You’re on your way to your dream wedding day!  But let’s not forget that this day isn’t the end.  It’s just the beginning of your life together.  And one thing that means is that you’ll be combining households.  If you’re young and just out of college this is your chance to register for things that you’ll need to furnish your home!  My biggest advice for registering is to figure out ahead of time what you’re both thinking in terms of what you need and then once you’re at the store, take turns with the scanning gun (obviously that’s the MOST fun part about registering!).  And my second piece of advice with this is to HAVE FUN!  You’re two different people and possibly have two different styles and preferences.  But trust me, getting into an argument at the store over china is not how you want to spend your evening.  Make a date night out of it (with dinner before or after) and use the meal time to talk about what you want to put on your list, or what store to venture to next!  Also, don’t forget about doing a honeymoon registry!

8. Don’t be afraid of pre-marital counseling.  This was actually my most favorite part of being engaged (aside from calling Ben my fiancé and looking at my brand new diamond ring all the time).  Most churches or pastors have some kind of pre-marital option for engaged couples so check with them soon after he pops the question.  If you aren’t a part of a church, find an older couple that’s been married for a while and whose marriage you admire and ask them to mentor you.  If they’ve never done something like that before, there are plenty of books they could go through with you, but there’s one book in particular that I love called “The Most Important Year in a Woman’s Life/in a Man’s Life” and it’s two books in one.  One side is for the women, one side is for the men.  And there are questions about each chapter in the middle!  Of course you could do this on your own, but having someone older and wiser and who can speak wisdom into your own relationship is priceless.

9. Let your maid/matron of honor HELP you.  The week leading up to your wedding will be stressful.  There’s no way around that.  But having your maid/matron of honor by your side to help keep you calm, field questions, and help direct people (including you) will remind you of why she’s one of your best friends in the first place.  My maid and matron of honor were with me almost constantly from Thursday until after the wedding on Saturday.  And honestly, I don’t know that I would have made it if not for them!  As women, we tend to like to do things ourselves and we’re afraid to ask for help (or maybe that’s just me…).  But trust me when I say, you’re going to need it this week!

10. On the day of your wedding, let someone else be the point person.  I know we’re at that point of the checklist that seems SO FAR from where you are right now since you JUST got engaged, but it’s important.  And I tell each of my brides this during our first meeting before they even book me.  The day of your wedding should be FUN and EXCITING and full of no tears except for the happy kind!  There are too many people needed to make a wedding happen and even if each of them only asked you one question that day, you would be super overwhelmed and not able to just sit and relax and soak everything in as the bride should!  So, whether you hire a wedding coordinator and she takes on that on or that role falls to one of your bridesmaids or possibly a separate friend all together, SHE is the one that needs to field questions, let people know where they need to be (including you!), and handle emergencies should they arise (because there WILL be at least one thing to go wrong and you need someone that can step up to handle it well and with grace!).

Obviously there are other things that need to be done, but hopefully this will at least give some out there a jumping off point!

There’s just one last thing… keep going back to the first thin on this list… enjoy being engaged because it will FLY by!


  1. Katie says:

    love this post sabrina!!! such good advice!

  2. Carrie Logan says:

    SUCH a good post!! And wowwwww… that bridesmaid shot! Whew! So many bridesmaids and so well captured. XO!

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