It may be a day you have dreamed of since childhood, but an engagement brings about a unique set of challenges for any soon-to-be bride and groom. Though it is tempting to rest on your laurels through the initial engagement buzz, it’s vital to quickly establish a to-do list so your wedding planning keeps a good pace in the lead-up to the momentous day. We’ve put together a list of the top 15 things you should consider in those first heady days and weeks after your loved one has popped the question.
1. Perfect your proposal story
You are going to get this question a lot from this moment on, and you will want to have your story straight. Exactly how did he propose? Talk with your newly betrothed about the details you want to share and those you wish to keep between the two of you. Then practice a succinct, romantic account of the magical moment – giving just enough detail to make your social circle green with envy without driving yourself crazy every time you have to repeat it. If you’re not a natural off-the-cuff storyteller, consider jotting down key points when rehearsing your fairy-tale proposal story: How was your other half acting in the lead-up? What were the smells and sights and sounds around you at the time? Did your heart race when he got down on one knee? Giving more than a simple blow-by-blow account will make your love story that much more special and memorable to those who hear it.
2. Manage the announcement
Once you have your beautiful proposal story on the tip of your tongue, you’re ready to announce your engagement to the world! But don’t rush in and immediately Instagram the dazzling rock on your finger to every stranger on the internet. Be diplomatic. It is courteous and appropriate to call your immediate family and share the good news with them first. From there, phone a select circle of friends and family with whom you absolutely cannot wait to share the news. Think before you dial. Will anyone be hurt to be missed out of the first round of calls? Your engagement is one of the happiest days of your life, but don’t forget that weddings can also be very political, and the sooner you start being strategic, the better prepared you’ll be to ward off any wedding tiffs.
3. Get a manicure to show off the ring
You’ve told your nearest and dearest about the engagement. But your wider social circle remains woefully uninformed about your big news! Before you rush to social media with pictures of the big rock on your finger, take a moment to get those hands camera ready. For the next few weeks, your hands are going to be the center of attention as friends, family and colleagues all take the time to congratulate you and admire the shine and sparkle on your finger. Ragged nails, chipped polish and rough skin all threaten to distract from the romance of your engagement. Head to the nail parlor, get a manicure with soft pink or nude polish, and take a snap of your ring. Then use it to announce the happy news on your social media pages and watch as your friends flood you with congratulatory messages!
4. Resize the engagement ring and insure it
No matter how hard your future husband has tried to get the right-sized ring, chances are it might not be a completely perfect fit. If you have a loose ring on your finger you are asking for a diamond-hungry garbage disposal disaster, or a similar slippery escape. Though you may be caught up in the excitement of the engagement, take a moment to have your ring re-sized and insured. Once it fits properly there is less chance of it going walkabout, and even if it does, your insurance will guarantee that you soon have a replacement. Add the ring as an extension to your homeowners insurance, or take out coverage from a company specializing in jewelry.
5. Indulge in some wedding planning literature
Now that you have done something so sensible as insurance shopping, you can indulge the little girl within who is jumping for joy at the idea of a big, beautiful wedding. Pop to the bookstore and pick up a stack of bridal books and magazines, curl up on the couch with some champagne and a few fine chocolates, and take a moment to embrace the wonderful feeling that soon it will be you in that iconic white dress.
6. Think about a date
There are several reasons to think about a date as soon as possible after your engagement. First, it is a necessary part of wedding venue hunting, and venues can be a difficult business. Many sought-after locations can be booked up one or two years in advance. Second, every person who admires your ring in the coming weeks will want to ask when the wedding is. Even if you are not entirely sure, it is best to have a rough date to offer them so you can breeze through this part of the conversation and avoid seeming uncertain and unorganized.
7. Research wedding venues
Once you and your other half have settled on an approximate date, start researching wedding venues as soon as possible. The great plans in your head are sure to be scuppered if you delay contacting venues only to find they are booked out for the next two years.
8. Decide on wedding size
Before you go ahead and book any venue, make sure you have sat down and thought about the wedding size in detail with your fiancé. This will give you some idea as to who will be invited and who won't be, and will help you to avoid making informal invitation blunders with those who won't make the final guest list.
9. Register for gifts
It may seem too soon to register for wedding gifts, but with an engagement party in your immediate future, there is no time like the present. Discuss with your fiancé the type of gifts you would like to receive and then register with a store. Boulesse.com lets you open an online wedding registry where guests can also order stunning customized wedding presents.
10. Wedding website
Although any cultured wedding should make use of classic handwritten communications as much as possible, the newly vogue ‘wedding website’ remains a great option for the recently engaged. Wedding websites are an online haven where you can start to plan and share all of the most important details of your big day. In the early stages of your engagement you can write updates about your wedding planning, posts pictures of you and your beloved, and generally celebrate your romance for the world to see! Though it remains more stylish to send invitations by mail, e-invites via your wedding website are also an option. Some websites can be built for free, but consider Riley&Grey or AppyCouple as more elegant options.
11. Start a wedding Pinterest board or scrapbook
At this point, wedding ideas will be swirling in your head, and you will want to find some order to them. Create a Pinterest account to get wedding day inspiration and to keep track of ideas and styles that you have seen and liked. If you want to keep your browsing away from prying eyes, make your Pinterest board private. Better still, go for the classic option and start a beautiful paper scrapbook. Not only will it become a personalized work of art, but also a keepsake you can pass down to your daughter who will no doubt delight in looking back at Mommy’s wedding plans.
12. Propose to your bridesmaids and groomsmen
The success of your wedding will rest in large part on those you have in your inner circle. A few weeks after your engagement, start thinking about who you wish to have at your side on your big day. Make sure you pick bridesmaids and groomsmen who are responsible and who get along well with each other. Propose to them with a beautiful hand-written card and a classic piece of bespoke jewelry such as an infinity ring or pearl necklace. For groomsmen, send a monogrammed watch, hip flask or a stylish pair of cuff links.
13. Date your wedding planner
We live in the era of the DIY wedding, but there is a lot to be said for the services of a wedding planner. To pull off a truly high-class, stylish affair, a professional planner is a must. Remember, these experts have seen and done it all before, and they will ensure that you get hitched without a hitch. Most importantly, see a couple of planners before you decide on 'the one', and go with your gut feeling. Good references mean nothing if you don’t connect with your planner when meeting him or her. You will be entrusting your most important day to this person, so it is vital that you all get along.
14. Engagement party
You’re engaged, so it’s time to party! Don’t forgo the chance to celebrate your new status with all your loved ones. Throw a classy cocktail party to show off your ring and your soon-to-be-hubby, and invite all your nearest and dearest. But as always, diplomacy is key: Be careful that those in attendance will ultimately be on the wedding invitation list!
15. Have a break and reconnect
The most important thing to do after your engagement is to look after your relationship. This is the foundation of your wedding and your marriage, and you do not want it buried under an avalanche of preparations and wedding planning stresses. Take a break from the flurry of engagement activities and have a romantic mini-break with your beloved. Head for a cozy cottage by the sea or to a luxury spa in the countryside, and treat yourselves to a weekend of good champagne, fine dining and pampering. This is your chance to take a breath from all things 'wedding' before you move from post-engagement 'to-do' lists to pre-wedding ones.
The weeks after your engagement can be some of the most exhilarating of your life, but try to keep your feet on the ground long enough to manage these key post-engagement issues. Though they might not seem a priority at the time, in retrospect you will be happy you took note. So get planning today - but first, let's raise a glass to you and yours: Congratulations, you're engaged!