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What to Do After You Get Engaged

Life Update: I GOT ENGAGED! Ya girl said yes and now it’s onto wedding planning! Maybe you’re also engaged and now you’re questioning what happens next. Well, you’re in the right place! Read on for what to do after you get engaged.

hand showing off engagement ring against portland scenery

1. Relax and enjoy yourself.

You’re engaged! Congratulations! This is a very exciting time in your life. It’s also VERY busy. Take a few days, or even a week or two to relax with your love and soak in that newly-engaged feeling. If you’re planning on having an engagement party, now is the perfect time to have one.

2. Have an initial conversation with your partner about expectations for how you both want to get married.

Are you eloping? Having a courthouse wedding? Hosting a small, intimate gathering with friends or a big bash with everyone you know and love? Destination wedding? These questions determine the scope of what you’re planning and make a huge difference when deciding on your budget.

My fiance and I made this into a date. We went out for boba and then had a heart to heart about our wedding expectations. I definitely think that this helped us a lot. We quickly realized that while we are on the same page for many topics, we have some very different ideas about getting married. For example, my fiance and I come from two very different cultural backgrounds (Chinese and American) and this has influenced the way both of us view weddings.

Here are some good questions to think about:
  • What expectations do you have for your wedding?
  • What expectations does your partner have for your wedding?
  • What expectations do your parents and your partner’s parents have for your wedding?
    • Note: I’m not saying you need to adhere to all or even any of them, but it’s good to at least know if you’re going against those expectations.
  • Who do you want with you when you get married?

Again, this is a high level overview to make sure you’re on the same page. If you’re envisioning a small affair with less than 50 people, but your partner is looking to host a large party to celebrate with 300 people, you’re going to have a difficult time planning your event until you settle on something you’re both happy with.

3. Create a tentative draft of your guest list.

Now you may be asking, “shouldn’t we talk about budget first?” No. Your guest list determines so much of your wedding. I’m talking about potential venues, costs, location, etc.

During this step, you should also make sure that you’re writing this list out. Sometimes you may think that this group of friends is only ten people, but have you considered their spouses or dates? What about family? Parent’s friends?

You don’t need to know exactly who you’re going to invite, or who is getting a plus one. You don’t need to determine your tiers of guests (also known as guest list A, B, C, etc.). That can, and will be done later. This list just opens you up to possibilities and can be added to or slashed later on.

4. Decide on the three things that are most important to you for your wedding.

I cannot stress this enough. Decide on the three things that are most important to you for your wedding. This can range from your ceremony, entertainment, wardrobe, food, open bar, flowers, venue, stationary, etc. But soon you’ll be creating a budget and this list can help you decide where you want to allocate your money. Plus, eventually you’ll have to make some decisions about things to cut or cut back on unless you have unlimited resource and this list will remind you of its relative importance.

Compare your list to your partner’s list. Is there any overlap?

5. Come up with an initial budget for your wedding.

When thinking of what to do after you get engaged, this may be one item you’re tempted to skip over. However, this is one of the key items to do after you get engaged. Weddings, large or small, can be expensive. That’s why making a budget (and sticking to it) is so important. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment or in your Pinterest dream board, that you can find yourself quickly over-budget if you’re not careful. Remember your three most important things!

Also, please note how above I said *initial* budget. Personally, I think this works best when you make your ideal budget first (this step). You can use this for when you’re looking for venues or getting quotes and filtering through possible vendors. However, I know I was surprised by some costs when I did my research. That’s why I think it’s good to go back and redo your budget later (if necessary), after you’ve received estimates from certain vendors. I’ll do a separate post on this later!

Here are some good questions to discuss:
  • Who will be contributing to the wedding? Will you and your partner be paying for the entire thing?
    • Note: If someone else is going to be contributing, that’s great! However, sometimes these contributions come with strings. Be prepared to discuss these with your partner. Common examples include parents wanting to add people to the guest list, stating what they want the money to be spent on, etc.
  • What can you afford to spend on a wedding?
  • Do you have any large expenditures coming up? If so, how do you plan on saving for both?
  • How many people do you want to invite? See step 3 above.

6. Discuss the timing of your wedding with your partner.

This doesn’t have to be very specific, but it may impact your venue search. Your venue’s availability will also determine the specific date, but they will generally ask you for your preferred timing.

Questions to ask:

  • How long of an engagement would you ideally have?
  • When you picture your wedding, does season impact it?
    • Ex: if you want to wear a long sleeved dress, maybe a July or August wedding isn’t the best timing. It may seem silly, but it’s something to consider.
  • Does your work have really busy seasons where you wouldn’t want to be out? Or maybe one of you is a teacher so the summer or a holiday weekend makes more sense.
  • Do you mind sharing your anniversary with a holiday or your birthday month?

7. Make a Pinterest board or a mood board for your wedding!

Now is when it starts to get fun. You get to collect new ideas for your wedding! Personally, I’m a huge fan of mood boards, so that’s what I do, but at the very least, I’d create a *new* wedding pinterest board. The keyword there is new. So many of my friends and I started our wedding boards a long time ago and while it has some great ideas on it, my tastes have definitely changed from ten years ago.

Your tastes may change even as you plan your wedding. However, having a rough idea will help you get started in your vendor search!

You should also have your partner do the same thing or get their input on what you have on your mood board. After all, the day is about the two of you. If your partner doesn’t care or know what they like (my fiance definitely did not and had not interest in creating a mood board lol), I’d start by asking some of these questions:

  • Do you want an indoor wedding, outdoor wedding, or both?
  • What vibes/style are you going for?
    • Ex: Modern, Classic, Traditional, Beachy, Romantic, Bohemian, Rustic

8. Decide whether or not you want to hire a wedding planner.

Wedding planners are awesome and can definitely help you plan your wedding and they’re a great resource to help you figure out what to do after you get engaged. However, it’s a service you have to pay for, so you should see if there’s space in your budget for one! They usually have different packages ranging from full service where you only have to be as involved as you want to and they plan it all, partial planning (varies depending on the planner), or day of coordination.

Wedding planners can help you search for venues, recommend vendors, read over contracts, etc. so the earlier they’re involved, the better!

Sometimes your venue will require one, provide one, or have a list to choose from. At the very least, budget permitting, I’d recommend getting a day of coordinator who can help you on the day manage your vendors and take care of the behind the scenes so you can focus on celebrating your love with your friends and family.

9. Create a wedding email.

Believe me, it’ll be so helpful to keep all wedding information in one place for you and your partner. This way you won’t have to search through your personal emails, shopping promotions, etc. to get to your vendor contracts.

10. Start looking for a venue.

Your venue will be one of the largest costs so it’s an important piece to start with. Plus, your venue will often determine the date of your actual wedding! This piece of information is crucial for looking for your vendors as you want to make sure they’re available on your wedding day.

Here’s a list of some of the tools I used to search for a venue:

  • HereComestheGuide
    • This site is similar to The Knot and WeddingWire. It has helpful guides to venues and a very useful search function! I especially liked that you could search for venues that would allow you to BYOB, self-cater, etc.
  • The Knot
    • This wedding giant is well known for a reason. The site is easy to use and I love that you can read reviews!
  • WeddingWire
    • Similar to The Knot, Wedding Wire has a very full directory of venues and vendors with tons of images for yout to look at. I love that they group their venues by type and you can see real weddings done at the venues. Of course, the reviews for each are super helpful as well!
  • Instagram
    • Of course, insta is on this list because who doesn’t want to see beautiful venue photos?
  • TikTok
    • Believe it or not, TikTok is quite helpful. You can search your location and weddings and see what pops up. Or, if you have a venue in mind, try searching for it! You can see what other Brides have thought of the venue, actual weddings, and other inspiration!

11. Begin your initial search for vendors.

Time to start building you team who will help you execute your vision! Go search for your vendors. Just like the venue search, I used HereComestheGuide, The Knot, WeddingWire, Instagram, TikTok, as well as groups on Facebook to help me with my search.

Ideally, I would start with the people who matter the most to you. For me, this was my photographer and videographer as I know they get booked quite far in advance.

Also, do NOT forget to keep track! It’s quite helpful to have a document that tracks who you’ve reached out to, pricing, and details on what they offer so you can compare vendors without having to dig through your inbox. Plus, if you have any friends who are getting married after you, it’s a nice resource!

Congratulations on your engagement! I hope this post with the 11 things to do after you get engaged has helped you organize your thoughts and figure out what to do after you get engaged!

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