Pop the champagne! Call the parents! Facetime your soon-to-be Maid of Honor!
…but now what?
Getting engaged is such an exciting time in a person’s life. It can feel like you’ve stepped right into your fairytale, your happily ever after. However, the time immediately following your engagement can often be a whirlwind. There’s joy to celebrate, people to contact, and plenty of decisions to make. Nobody ever posts about that part on social media when they get engaged, so what do you do first?
I’m here to tell you: there is no strict order or timeline. If you want a ten year engagement, do it. If your goal is to be married in less than one month, go for it. I’ve had couples inquire years in advance to two days before their wedding, and we made it work. The average engagement (according to Google) lasts about a year to a year-and-a-half. There are definitely things I would recommend you get started on sooner, but that’s just to make sure you’re getting your dream vendors, venue, and experience.
If you’re a Type A, list person like me then I definitely have your back. Feel free to read through through the below list of ideas. The very last thing I want to do is stress you out when you’re in engagement bliss.
What do I do once I’m engaged?
1. Call your people to share that you’re engaged
Parents, friends, relatives, anyone that you wouldn’t want to find out via social media. There’s a chance some of the people closest to you knew about the proposal before you, and they’ll be so excited to celebrate alongside you. If you want to share those proposal photos ASAP, you’ll want to make sure to call those people as soon as you can.
2. Take the selfie
When you do decide to share the news on social media, you’ll want that post-proposal selfie. Whether it’s a ring selfie or a cute candid of you and your new fiancé, you’ll love having those photos to enjoy. Bonus points a photographer was able to capture your proposal! You’ll have photos to share, and a beautiful moment of your life captured to preserve forever. Plus, Save the Dates will be a breeze. If you want to drop a hint to your soon-to-be about capturing your proposal on camera, just send them here.
3. Celebrate that you’re engaged
I know it’s sooooo tempting to jump into wedding planning the second you get engaged. However, you have the full engagement for that. Even if it’s just a few days, you’ll savor that special time together. You could take a trip, enjoy a lovely date night, or host a party with close family and friends.
4. Have the talk
Okay yes, that talk is important. But to clarify, I mean the talk about your wedding priorities. Does your partner have a small, intimate gathering in the woods in mind, while you want your entire 150+ family there? It’s time to sit down, and have an honest conversation about your goals for your wedding. Once you’ve decided your ideal wedding priorities, it’s time to chat about your budget. How much are you both able to contribute? Will relatives be able to help?
If this conversation sounds way over your head, I would recommend chatting with a wedding planner. Lots of wedding planners will offer consultations to help you two figure out those priorities, and can provide estimates on how much it may cost. Some of my local favorite wedding coordinators are Magnolia Events, and Shelley Ann Events.
5. Begin reaching out to wedding vendors
Notice that I didn’t say to pick a date right after you get engaged? Don’t get too attached to certain dates, unless you have a very specific reason for a particular wedding date. Your dream vendors may already be booked on your ideal date. Especially if your wedding will be in popular seasons like spring or fall.
I would reach out to your dream wedding coordinator, venue, photographer, and videographer first. They are likely going to be the biggest investment for your wedding, so you want them to be people that you connect with and can trust. These vendors will also likely have preferred vendors list, so you can more easily pick out your other wedding vendors that your wedding team has found trustworthy. You can look on Instagram, Pinterest, Google, and wedding websites like Zola and the Knot to find vendors. Note: some wedding websites will actually charge vendors in order to respond to you. If you have a certain vendor in mind, I would recommend reaching out via their website to get ahold of them ASAP.
6. Pick your wedding party
These people will be your support crew, your A-Team, and will be on the frontlines of the wedding. It’s a bigger decision than narrowing down your large group of friends. Wedding parties can range anywhere from a single person of honor, to more than a dozen wedding crew members on each side. However, once you ask someone to be in your wedding crew, it’s pretty hard to take that back. Try not to rush the process and keep a few things in mind.
You’ll want to take a look at your wedding budget. The cost goes up the bigger your wedding party, from the bachelor/bachelorette parties to wedding crew gifts. How many people can you afford in your wedding party?
It’s important to note that you need to ask someone to be in your wedding party just because you were in their wedding party. Years pass, and relationships change. If you aren’t sure, ask yourself: Will this person be a source of support/friendship for myself and my fiancé in the years to come? If you know you probably won’t talk much after the wedding, do you really want them in your wedding crew?
Lastly, there are a lot of responsibilities that go with being in a wedding party. Whether it’s party planning, helping with day-of wedding tasks, or just being a source of emotional support. It’s important to set expectations in terms of the level of involvement you’d like in your wedding party. I encourage you to have an honest conversation with the people you have in mind about the time, energy, and potential cost that will come with being in your wedding party. I know it can feel a little awkward to initiate, but it will save a lot of stress, confusion, and hurt feelings later on if your expectations weren’t clear.
7. Choose your guest list
Remember when you sat down to pick your priorities, and make a wedding budget? This is going to be one of those moments where you may find it very hard to stick to it. It can be tough to select guests for your wedding, because the more people you invite, the more expensive the wedding can get. Figure out how many people you can realistically invite within your budget. Your venue and wedding coordinator may be able to help you with that number if you aren’t sure.
I advise my coupled to first make a list of every single person they would consider inviting to the wedding if money and space weren’t an issue. This list could include close family and friends, mentors, neighbors, distant relatives, colleagues, along with partners and children. Now, who are the people on the list that you wouldn’t get married without? These are your non-negotiables, so to speak. They are Tier 1, on the guest list, no exceptions. Then it’s time to move onto Tier 2. These are the people you’d absolutely love if they could come, but the wedding could go on without them. I always recommend staggering your Save the Dates. When guests decline, you’ll be able to move other guests up a Tier.
If you’re having trouble narrowing guests down, it’s important to keep in mind that not every guest needs to attend the ceremony. You can have a small ceremony at a gorgeous venue, then move the reception to someone’s back yard with a taco truck and great DJ. It’s important to make sure the decisions you make align with the wedding priorities you two decided when you first got engaged.
8. Get your engagement ring sized and insured
If the ring fits, yay! If not, you will likely need to take it to a jeweler to get it properly sized. The last thing you want is for the ring to fall right off your finger in a crowded mall. (Yes, that has happened to a bride before).
If you and your fiancé spent a decent amount on the ring, it’s a good idea to get your ring insured. You’ll want to be sure that ring is protected if it was stolen, damaged, or just went missing. You may even be able to add it to your homeowners or rental insurance was very little per month.
9. Take engagement photos
Can you guess why this is one of my favorite steps? If you’ve found the first photographer, taking your engagement photos should be a stress-free, enjoyable, and romantic memory for you and your fiancé. You can use your engagement photos for your Save the Dates, wedding website, printed gifts, and wedding decorations. You can even turn your engagement session into a little weekend getaway to the coast, Yosemite, or somewhere else fun for you two. I love it when my couples choose to do that, because it makes your engagement photos even more special for you. My Adventure Collection is available for that very reason!
10. Create a wedding website
The main purpose of your wedding website is a be a central hub of information about your wedding for your guests. Wedding websites can include details about the date, time, location, dress code, registry, and travel plans/recommendations for out-of-town guests. You can also share details about how you met, how the proposal went down, and some fun facts about your wedding party. Bonus points if you use lots of your engagement photos throughout the website. Zola and the Knot have free templates you can use to easily create your own wedding website.
I hope this list helped calm some of the post-engagement whirlwind!
Ready to jump into wedding planning to find your Central California wedding photographer?
You can find information about my wedding collections if you’re ready to cross a few items off your list.
December 21, 2022