You're Engaged - Now What?
by Tiffany Babinsack
I was perusing the magazine section today and found myself wandering over to the wedding area. While I was flipping pages and daydreaming I came to a realization. How on earth do people who aren't engrossed in wedding research 24/7 DO THIS? You're engaged - NOW WHAT?
1. Be ENGAGED! This is a HUGE step in your relationship -- not to mention your LIFE. Slow down. Don't skip this phase just because you're excited to get to the next one.
2. Scream it from the rooftops! Traditionally, the bride's parents are told first, then the groom's. Also, you want to tell them in person if at all possible. From that point, feel free to flash that rock!
3. Pick a date! Choosing your wedding date not only determines the feel of your wedding, but effects logistics such as cost and availability. A Friday wedding may cost up to 50% less than a Saturday event. If you live in a snowy location, a winter wedding may lead to delays, cancellations and missing guests. Also, booking a wedding during "peak season" could mean that the best vendors get snatched up before you have a chance at them. What kind of bride do you want to be -- a chic fall bride? A classic summer bride? Start big and work your way down. Choose a season, then a month, week, etc. Also be sure to factor in how long you want to be engaged and how many months you think it will take to plan.
4. Go shopping! Make a list and hit the stores. You'll want to pick up tons of organizational things such as a 3-ring binder, post-it notes, sticky tabs, pens, highlighters, tape, etc. Hit the magazine section of your local bookstore and buy every title there is! Magazines are cheap and offer a boatload of inspiration.
5. Rip it out! Sit down on the floor, spread out your magazines and start flipping pages. Rip out anything that you like. You should start seeing repeating trends in color, style, etc. in what you're choosing. This is a great way to begin piecing together the details that make your wedding truly YOU. Once you've filled up on eye candy, separate everything into piles -- one for flowers, one for decor, dresses, etc. Put these pages in the appropriate section of your well organized 3-ring binder. Then...
6. Walk away. That's right... just walk away. Put the binder in a safe spot and head for step #1 -- be engaged. Make sure that every conversation with your beloved does not involve wedding planning. He'll be annoyed and you'll get burnt out. Bad situation all over. I recommend repeating this step every 1-2 weeks or as needed.
7. Start planning! By this point, you've floated down a bit from cloud 9, gotten organized, chosen a date, and have a binder full of ideas and inspiration. Time to get down to business! The top 2 tasks you need to accomplish are finding a checklist and making a budget. Your budget sets the tone for things to come, so be honest. Plan a time to sit down and go through things together. Don't argue or be embarrassed to face what you can and can not afford. Don't compare yourselves to others or stretch yourselves too thin. Your wedding day will be amazing because it's your wedding day, not because you spent an extra 20 grand. Although it is traditional that the bride's parents pay for the wedding, more and more couples have been footing some, if not all, of the bill. If you DO have help, make sure those people are included in the budget planning as well. Beware. Money equals power. It's hard to say no to the bridesmaids' dresses in Mom's favorite color (that you, of course, hate) when she's paying for them.
8. Start looking for vendors! You are a lady on a mission. By now you know what you want, when you want it, and how much you're willing to pay for it. All you need to do is find out who is going to give it to you! One of the best ways to find vendors is ask your recently married friends, family and coworkers for recommendations. They've been there! Once you have a list of people and places you're interested in, make sure they fit your budget and style. If they pass the test, give them a call! Most vendors are happy to set up a time to meet with you, discuss your plans and answer your questions.
9. Get out your checkbook! Once you've met with and decided on vendors LOCK THEM DOWN! The good ones go fast, and you don't want to be doing the same work and research over and over again. Make sure you read through the contract and fine print. Most vendors will ask for a deposit to secure services. This can range from a flat fee such as $200-$1500 to a percentage of the final cost. Also make sure that your deposit is applied to your final balance and you have a copy of the contract.
10. Don't sweat the small stuff! As cliche as it may sound, it's a solid piece of advice. Things will happen. Plans will change. At the end of the day, it is important to be thankful for what you have and remember why this all started -- because there is a great person out there that wants to spend the rest of their life with you!