Monday, January 5, 2015

So you're engaged ... now what? (What to do before you say "I Do")

It's engagement season, which means your Facebook timeline has probably been filled with photos of gals showing off their new holiday bling. Between Christmas and Valentine's, a ton of couples get engaged. And maybe you're one of those lucky couples.

You're in love. You see a box in front of you with a very shiny ring inside. You say yes. You're engaged. Now what?

Did you get engaged recently? Find out everything you need to do to plan the perfect wedding in this So You're Engaged ... Now What? post from

What to do before you say "I Do"

What to do immediately after you get engaged

1. Tell your parents (before social media).

I know, this sounds like a no brainer, but it's something people often forget. You get so wrapped up in the moment, you immediately want to change your status on Facebook. Goodbye "in a relationship"; hello "engaged."

But, if you dare tell Mark Zuckerberg before your immediate family, you'll start your engagement off on the wrong foot.

Be sure to actually call your mother. Don't send her a text that says, "I said yes!" You can save that for your old chem lab partner and your next door neighbor. But for your parents and grandparents, you absolutely need to call them. No matter what time it is.

After we got engaged, I actually called my parents' house around 11pm. My little brother picked up and told me everyone was sleeping.

"I know," I said. "Just put mom on the phone."

She was startled from her slumber, worried that something was wrong, but there's nothing like letting your mom know she's getting a son-in-law that will change her tune.

Let her call her friends, and you call or text yours. Then, after everyone has pretty much heard already, and only then, change your status on social media.

Pete was ready to change his Facebook status the next morning, but I made him wait almost 48 hours. I needed to make sure my grandma had time to tell my great aunt before she saw the update in her notifications, stuffed between requests for lives on Candy Crush.

2. Paint your nails.

Everyone will want to see the ring. People who see you in real life will grab your hand and people you text will reply asking for a photo.

You don't want to show everyone a beautiful ring attached to a finger with chipped green polish.

Even if you're not a manicure type of girl, it's worth it to get one now (and another if you take engagement photos). Trust me.

Personally, I think OPI nail polishes last the longest of any brand, and neutral colors are your best friend, so look for something like OPI's Bubble Bath when you're at the salon. Or heck, grab a bottle off Amazon and keep it in the bathroom if you have an idea he's gonna pop the question.

3. Stop spending money.

Had your eye on that Jimmy Choo purse? It's gonna have to wait.

Actually, any sort of "extras" between now and the wedding will have to be put on hold.

Love going out for lunch every day for French onion soup? Sorry. You're gonna have to brown bag it for a while and google French onion soup recipes to learn to make it at home. Sure, it doesn't sound like a lot to spend $6 on soup or sandwich every day, but that's $30 a week, which is $1,560 a year and that's basically a wedding dress.

So what would you rather: lunch out or a wedding dress? Exactly. Bring your lunch.

What not to do immediately after you get engaged

1. Ask anyone to be in your wedding.

Through the years, you've probably told every female friend of yours that she is going to be a bridesmaid at your wedding. But, realistically, you have to talk with your fiancé about it. Because (yay!) you now have a fiancé.

You need to decide if either of you actually are having a bridal party and how many people you both want in it.

It's going to cause you to rank your friends, which is a terrible sounding thing but it's something every bride does. If you ask every woman in your life to be in your bridal party, you won't have anyone to sit in the pews when you're walking down the aisle.

Maybe one drunken night you promised your college roommate that she could sing "At Last" at the ceremony, but until you actually know how the ceremony is going to go, you can't ask her because maybe you'll be getting married at a church that doesn't allow anyone outside the congregation to sing and now you have the awkward task of un-asking her her.

So until you have some details ironed out, don't ask anyone to be anywhere at your wedding.

2. Set a date.

Setting a date is a whole heck of a lot harder than you can imagine. You don't just open your calendar, find your favorite date, and say that's when you're getting married.

You need to make sure the venue is available, you need to make sure your ceremony site is available, and you need to make sure you can afford that day (dates change price, days of the week change price, and if you pick a date too close to your engagement, you won't have time to save).

Your best bet is to pick a season and let everything else fall into place.

3. Take engagement photos.

No one takes their engagement photos immediately after they get engaged. Some people don't even take them until the month of their wedding. Just because you have a ring on your finger doesn't mean you have to take them right away.

Plus, a lot of engaged couples actually use engagement photos as a trial for their wedding photographer. If you run out to take them immediately, you're missing that opportunity (or risk retaking them, which means paying twice ... and trust me, you don't want to pay more for anything than you have to).

What to do eventually after you get engaged

In sequential-ish order, here's a list of everything you need to do before you say, "I Do." Just use this as a rough list to get you started.

1. Pick a venue (and make sure to check on date availability).

2. Pick a ceremony site (and coordinate the date with the venue).

3. Book them both. Schedule the rehearsal at the ceremony site the day before the wedding.

4. Book your photographer (I absolutely cannot stress how much you absolutely should do this before anything else. Your photographer is the most important vendor and you don't want to wait and risk your favorite photographer booked and unavailable on your wedding day).
Here's where the "ish" comes into play. You can do these in any order, but the first four things are set in stone.

5. Put together a list of your guests. Get their addresses.

6. Decide on a wedding theme.

7. Order save the date cards. Send them as soon as possible (but not longer than a year before).

8. Buy your dress, shoes, veil, and any accessories.

9. Choose your bridesmaids. Ask them. Hope they say yes. Choose their dresses and shoes.

10. Rent your fiance's tux (or suit). Find out more about that process here.

11. Let your fiance choose his groomsmen. Have him ask them. Hope they say yes. Choose their tuxes or suits.

12. Order wedding invitations. Send them (with a stamped RSVP card) three months before the wedding.

13. Order your flowers.

14. Order your cake. Ask if you can borrow a cake stand and cake knife (if the bakery says no, ask your venue).

15. Go for a tasting. Choose your menu.

16. Book a band or DJ. Be sure to sit down with them and make a playlist, including songs on your do not play list.

17. Choose a wedding song.

18. Book a limo. Find out more about that here.

19. Book a videographer, if you so choose.

20. Figure out where you are staying that night and book it.

21. Purchase thank you gifts for everyone in your wedding (including anyone helping at the ceremony).

22. Book a hair and makeup person/people.

23. Set a block of hotel rooms at a local hotel for out of town guests.

24. Put together wedding welcome bags for out of town guests.

25. Decide on your wedding favors. Order them.

26. Figure out the rehearsal dinner (if you're ordering food, having it at a restaurant, etc.).

27. If you're getting married at a church, take your marriage prep/pre-cana course(s). Find out more about those here.

28. Figure out if you are having readings at the ceremony and ask people to read. Be sure to have the readings selected so you can give them to the readers early so they can practice.

29. Choose the music for the ceremony.

30. Order menu cards.

31. Order wedding programs.

32. Create a seating chart. Order escort cards and table numbers. Don't let anyone bully you and tell you where they want to sit. People will mingle anyway.

33. Decide on centerpiece decorations

34. Decide on additional venue decorations.

35. Purchase your wedding rings. (Get yours cleaned two weeks before and do not wear it until the day of).

36. Get your marriage license (do this the week of).

37. Get your nails done (do this the day before).

38. Pay everyone.

39. Say "I Do."

40. Enjoy your wedding day.
BRIDAL BABBLE: Anyone scared yet?

And a big thank you to my beautiful wedding twin Kay who is in the photo above.

That's her actual proposal from her now-husband Scott. They went to JMU together and got engaged at the Kissing Rock.

She said to me: It's actually cute because legend says whoever you kiss on the rock is who you marry. When I gave tours of JMU, I would tell my tour groups, "Don't kiss on the rock if you can't afford a rock."

Her husband's sister and friend actually hid in the bushes to get that series of shots. Love it!


  1. Oh wow! Before I wasn't too worried about wedding planning, but now that I'm officially in countdown mode, I'm starting to panic about all the things I have to do. Lol I'm bookmarking this page..thanks!! 😊👏💜

  2. This is a great list. It's so important to give the important people in your life the courtesy of a personal phone call or visit regarding the announcement before putting on social media. Once it's on social media, word will spread immediately. I'm getting ready to write a post about this same topic.:)

  3. Thank you for sharing this list.

  4. Thanks, I'll be sharing this with my cousin.

  5. Great list, especially the Not to Do's. Couples get ahead of themselves without taking the time to consider and discuss their wedding planning options.

  6. These are great tips for any gal getting engaged. My daughter lost her husband in a car accident over seven years ago and sure will be marrying in the future. I've been divorced now for over eight years and have not dated now for over three years. I have not had a desire lately but you never know if someone will come along that may interest me. Thanks again!

  7. Oh my goodness, that is a lot to do! Definitely helps to have a good list like this.

  8. Wow, what a great and detailed list. This has a lot of things I haven't thought of!

  9. This is a great list. Every bride to be needs this!

  10. I so agree with the social media note! I've found out about several engagements and babies through social media, and it's so disappointing and frustrating when it's close family.

  11. I'm the MoH in my BFF's wedding and I soooooo wish she had seen a post like this after getting engaged because she is now stuck with a flower girl that she realizes does not want. Oops! (Not that the little girl isn't cute, but the venue/"feel" of the wedding is a lot more "adult," also it's another expense in an already very tight budget!)

  12. Wow! There are so many things to do and a very long checklist!

  13. Great tips - I would honestly say that booking a DJ or band should be right after booking your photographer - especially if you are getting married in the summer or fall seasons - the really quality DJ's will be booked sometimes a year or more so out - so don't make that a low priority on your list! I cant tell you how many brides have come to us between 3-6 months away from their wedding only for us to tell them we have been booked for their date for 9-12 months. Music is 80% success of your wedding reception - so book your favorite entertainer early!

  14. I love the tip about not immediately posting via social media. I agree with you! It's so important that Brides & Grooms ( both together) wait until they change their Facebook status, ect; also, love the tip about the nail polish! Yes, absolutely a engaged bride should have fun and play with some colors ( try a new color perhaps) and get a manicure or DIY it! Excellent advice, I think this truly prepares a Bride for her special wedding day!

    Thank you for posting that awesome list!

    Clarissa - The Sweetest Thing Events