You said yes — congrats! Now that you’re rocking that sparkly stunner on your finger, you might be wondering: what next? Planning a wedding is a multifaceted process that takes time and energy to pull off. Don’t worry, though! You’ll be backed up by a team full of professionals ready to turn your dreams into a reality.
We asked wedding experts about the most important things to do when newly engaged — here’s what they had to say.
First things first: Enjoy it!
Pop the bubbly, snuggle your partner, and cherish the moment — you’re engaged! “The absolute first thing you should do when getting engaged is to do NOTHING!” shares Gretchen Culver, creative director and owner of Rocket Science Events. “Life is about to get real hectic with wedding planning so take some time to enjoy just being engaged. There’s no rush to start making plans immediately, you are in complete control of the process, so tell your family and friends to relax. Celebrate this time together as it is such a joyful, loving moment you should savor for as long as you can.”
Share the news.
Next up, it’s time to spread the joy. Jamie Chang, destination wedding planner and owner of Mango Muse Events says: “When you’re ready to come out of your bubble, it’s time to share the good news. If you plan to share on social media, make sure you call/text/zoom the important people in your life first. You don’t want them finding out from Facebook that you got engaged. And then, once again rejoice in the happy news and congratulations. Savor it before you begin planning because everyone’s excitement for you is infectious and feels good.”
Splurge a bit.
Would it be a real engagement without a little bit of swag? Chief Bridal Stylist for The Last Minute Bride, Jennifer Feldstein, claims not! “Everyone needs a new coffee mug that says ‘Does this make me look engaged?’” she affirms. “Grab a t-shirt with ‘Future Mr.’ or ‘Future Mrs.’ printed on it. Prepare for future vendor appointments with a tote bag customized with ‘Bride’ or ‘Groom’ on the front. The possibilities are endless, but wedding swag is a fun way to celebrate and commemorate this special time between the engagement and wedding.”
Submit your proposal.
Love stories never get old and your own tale may serve as inspiration for another proposal. “There are so many wedding blogs or local online resources in your area that would be interested in featuring your love story,” assures Shannon Tarrant, founder of WeddingVenueMap.com. “Gather photos and video of that special moment and do a quick writeup about how your fiancé popped the question. Then, look online to see what blogs or magazines feature proposal stories as they often have a simple form you can submit. Share the special story of how your relationship came to be and that single moment that you will never forget.”
Insure the ring.
You might spend all your waking hours staring at your new bling, so it’s essential to purchase ring insurance before it’s too late. “I cannot tell you how many brides have horror stories about losing their ring in the first couple weeks post engagement,” shares Kimberly Morrill, wedding planner and owner of Your Perfect Bridesmaid. “It’s new and brides aren’t used to it, so they haven’t developed their routine in terms of where to put it when showering or getting their nails done. Also, so many people want to look at it, and things just happen. Trust me, insure the ring.”
Do some basic budget research.
Weddings cost money — there’s no getting around that. However, the average cost of a wedding varies depending on where you expect to tie the knot. Juls Sharpley, founder of Bubbles & Bowties, encourages newly engaged couples to do some research on their area: “There are tons of very broad articles out there that claim what the national averages are, or even the state, but know, that costs can vary greatly from city to city and region to region. Most areas have local resources available that speak to what you can expect there. You can also talk to friends who’ve gotten married in the same location as you are looking to do as a point of reference.”
Talk wedding plans with your partner.
The money talk isn’t the most exciting (or enjoyable) part of wedding planning, but it’s arguably the most important. Your budget will dictate the choices you make later in the planning process, so don’t skip over this step. “Sit down with your partner and any family members who will be financially supporting your wedding to discuss expectations when it comes to budget, guest list, and the overall look and feel of the wedding,” urges Katherine Healy Brown, lead planner and owner of Clover Events. “It may feel uncomfortable to have these conversations, but trust us when we say, getting them out of the way right from the start will make for a much more enjoyable engagement!”
Keith Willard, owner of Keith Willard Events, elaborates, adding that setting priorities will help iron out your budget: “Pick your top five must haves. As couples go through the process of planning their wedding, there are going to be a lot of items that you will have to compromise on. If you have five things that are must haves, you’ll be in a better position to adjust on all of the other items knowing that the core of the wedding is protected.”
Finalize a budget and plan accordingly.
When you’ve got your budget down on paper (and agreed upon!), you can start planning to save money specifically for the wedding. “Establish a realistic wedding budget and set up a joint checking account to monitor the expenses more efficiently,” encourages JoAnn Gregoli, owner of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli.
Morrill adds: “Having a separate account allows you to keep track of expenses, it avoids budget creep, and it ensures transparency. Throw $100 bucks in there at the beginning and then once you tackle the wedding budget portion of planning you can fund that account accordingly. Trust me, it is a relationship saver.”
Draft a guest list.
Alongside budget talks, a realistic headcount must also be discussed as it will influence your venue selection and how you allocate your budget. Beth Bernstein, event director and owner of SQN Events explains: “While it might seem harsh and you might be concerned with hurting someone’s feelings, unless you have an unlimited budget, it isn’t realistic to include everyone. It helps to have a rule or guideline that you use to help make some of these tough decisions. Is this someone you would take out to dinner? Have you seen or spoken to this person in the last year?”
If you’re having trouble narrowing it down, Bernstein suggests breaking down the guest list: “If there is someone you would really like to have attend the wedding but you have other friends and family you need to invite first, keep them on your “b-list” and reevaluate your numbers a few weeks before the wedding.”
Start researching vendors.
With your budget and tentative headcount settled, you can start moving onto the big picture plans and begin hiring the vendors that will make up your wedding team. Nora Sheils, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and founder of Bridal Bliss, encourages couples to hire a planner first. “They will help you secure your venue and vendors, and likely negotiate better rates than you can get on your own,” she explains. “Plus, the reduced stress alone should be enough to make you run to a planner! One-third of engagements occur over the holidays, so you are in competition with the rest of the newly engaged couples to book your vendors first.”
However, that’s not to say you shouldn’t prioritize other areas if you have must-have vendors to hire. “Most people book their venue or wedding planner first,” explains Janice Carnevale, owner of Bellwether Events. “But if there is a particular band or DJ or photographer that you just have to have, there is nothing wrong with starting with them and finding out what dates they still have available for your ideal wedding date timeframe.”
Plan your engagement shoot.
Once you’ve nailed down your date and selected your photographer, you can start to plan your engagement shoot! Now, engagement pictures aren’t just for show; they also serve as an opportunity to get to know your photographer and practice being on camera in a low-stress environment. “I like to think of engagement pictures as being just as important as wedding photos, except way more lowkey,” says Emily Loxtercamp, social media, marketing, and events specialist for The Renaissance. “Have fun with them! Not only will you have some super cute pictures to post on social media, but when it comes to sending out your save-the-date cards, you’ll be set!”
Rest assured, planning a wedding isn’t all about timelines and budgets — there is a lot of fun and excitement to be had along the way! From bridal showers to cake tastings to dress or suit fittings, the next year or so will be whirlwind of activities that you’ll remember for life. So, what are you waiting for? Ready, set, plan!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.
We’ve partnered with OFD Consulting to bring you this great advice from their collective of wedding professionals.