Relax and enjoy the moment.
Wooohoo! He asked, you said yes…welcome to the wonderful world of wedding planning! But not so fast - before you start envisioning your wedding day place settings, stop, take a deep breath and ACTUALLY enjoy the moment. Too often, brides-to-be don’t take the time to actually enjoy being engaged, and before they know it, they’re up to their eyes in wedding planning and wedding costs. So why not REALLY let yourself experience the engagement phase before jumping into the wedding planning phase? Trust me, there is a huge difference. You’re only doing this once, remember? Enjoy it!
Call your mom.
Believe it or not, she’s been waiting for this moment for as long, if not longer, as you have. As a matter of fact, call everyone that is important to you and your new fiancé. Yes, CALL (read: a voice conversation) all of these important individuals before you even consider hitting the social media highway. As much as Aunt Cathy likes to keep up with what is going on in your life via Facebook, finding out that you are recently engaged is NOT one of the things that she’d like to discover. Trust me, Christmas dinner will never be the same.
Get the ring insured.
What’s the first thing people ask when they find out that you are engaged? They ask to see the ring. This ring, ladies and gentlemen, will be the single most important ring of your lives. It symbolizes your love for one another and all that will come in your future life together. That being said, what can go wrong most likely will at some point or another. While nothing will ever replace the sentimental value of “the ring” if something were to happen to it, it’s always comforting to have peace of mind knowing that IF Murphy’s Law occurs, you can at least get money towards a replacement.
Contact your insurance agent to price out getting the ring added to your homeowners or renters insurance plan. However, many homeowners and renters insurance policies only cover up to a certain amount. If this is the case for you, you can look into a personal property insurance policy extension that covers particular items. Another option is to look into insurance companies that specialize in jewelry items. Whatever your preferred plan of attack, don’t take the risk of waiting…he put a ring on it, so you’d both better make sure there’s an insurance policy on it.
Ballpark your date.
The second most popular question that you’ll hear after getting engaged is, “Did you set a date?” Do yourself a favor and at least have a ballpark estimate of when you’d like to get married. It doesn’t have to be a specific date - it can even be an entire season (i.e. summer of 2014), but at least have some sort of answer for your fan club.
Start a tentative guest list.
Ah, the guest list...depending on the size of your families, the guest list can be the most fun or the most stressful part of the wedding planning process. Either way, you’ll want to get an early jump on it. The earlier you figure out your “tentative” guest list, the sooner you can start looking at venues (depending on the size of your wedding, some venues may not be big or small enough), pricing out menus and playing the lovely game of “Do we REALLY need to invite so-and-so?” Most importantly, once you have a tentative list you can begin to develop your budget.
Develop a budget, prioritize and start saving (in that order).
At the end of the day, the budget that you, your fiancé and your families come up with will be the deciding factor in all future decisions to come. I strongly encourage sitting down with both the bride and groom’s families to have an initial conversation about who is paying for what. While traditionally the bride’s family is mainly responsible for the wedding, nowadays the groom’s family often takes on more responsibility as well as the bride and groom themselves. It’s very important to have all involved parties on the same page early on in order to prevent any drama or misunderstandings moving forward.
Next, prioritize, prioritize and prioritize some more. Depending on your budget, you will more than likely have to start sacrificing the less important things for the more important ones. For example, if you both have big families, you may have to sacrifice the expensive venue in order to pay for everyone you care about to be invited. Is having a full open bar at the reception important to you and your fiancé, or will beer and wine work? These are all conversations and decisions that you’ll come across as you move down your wedding planning checklist.
If you and your fiancé have been discussing getting married in the near future, chances are you’ve probably already started saving for the big day. If you haven’t, now is the time to start. If you are like most people, after the sticker shock of the average cost of a wedding in 2013 wears off, you’ll quickly realize that you have drastically been under budgeting for the past twenty or so years of your wedding day fantasizing life. Sit down and talk with your fiancé about the best approach to start a wedding fund. There are lots of flexible interest-bearing savings accounts out there that make it extremely convenient to start putting money away for the big day.
Rinse, repeat and revisit your budget.
Before you know it, you’ll quickly start to move down your wedding planning checklist. From finding a wedding photographer to spending endless hours on “wedding ideas on a budget” boards on Pinterest, you may find yourself so caught up in the fairytale that you forget to consult your budget. Every time you are tasked with making a wedding related decision, always, always, always consult your budget before falling in love with the idea. Wedding planning is emotional enough. Don’t set yourself up for heartbreak by not reminding yourself of your financial priorities and limitations.
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