20 Dec 13 Things to Do as Soon as You Get Engaged
’Tis the season for proposals! We’re right in the middle of peak engagement season, which falls between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. All these winter holidays are a great time to pop the question when you’re already surrounded by family and festive celebrations. According to Wedding Wire, about 40 percent of couples get engaged during this time, and Christmas is the most popular day to get down on one knee.
As soon as you get engaged, you obviously need to first call your family and BFFs, craft the perfect Instagram announcement, show off your ring and re-tell your proposal story a million times. But once the celebrations have settled down, you might be wondering where to begin with the wedding planning. Unless you’ve decided to have a long engagement, you can get started right away. As a professional wedding planner and bride-to-be, I’ve learned it’s better to be early and organized so you can have your first choice of everything from dates to venues and vendors.
It’s a super exciting time in your life, but it can also be overwhelming when you’re navigating this new experience. Here’s your checklist with the 13 things you should do after getting engaged.
1. Get your ring sized
Don’t let that gorgeous diamond slip off your finger. If it’s a few sizes too big, take it to your jeweler. Keep in mind that it may fit differently once you have a wedding band on the same finger, so you may want to use sizing beads for now. These are two metal beads that are added to the interior of the ring to make it fit more snuggly without actually altering it.
2. Insure your ring
Your significant other spent a pretty penny on your ring, so get this taken care of right away. The day after I got engaged, I left my brand new bling on the hotel dresser because I wasn’t used to wearing it. Thankfully it was safe and sound when I returned, but I was so happy that my fiancé had bought insurance before even proposing. He did a ton of research on this and ended up adding coverage through Lemonade, which covers loss, theft or damage.
3. Plan an engagement party
Think about engagement party plans while the excitement is still fresh. This can be as fancy as a cocktail party at a trendy restaurant or as low-key as a get-together at your home. Personally, we skipped a big celebration and had a small brunch with immediate family and closest friends.
4. Discuss the big picture for your wedding
Grab a bottle of wine or cup of coffee and have a conversation about the main details for the wedding. Start with these questions: How soon do you want to get married? What time of the year do you prefer? Do you want a big or small guest list? Would you prefer a local or destination wedding? Do you want an indoor or outdoor event? It’s perfectly ok if you don’t know all the answers, but this will be a good jumping off point.
5. Make a list of top 3 things important to you
After your initial convo, I recommend that you both think about the top 3 things that are important to you at the wedding. For my fiancé, it was an open bar, delicious food (he requested steak as one of the entrée options) and a live band. My list included a venue where everyone could stay on or near the property, a great band and beautiful flowers. This helped us to understand each other’s priorities and what we wouldn’t be willing to compromise on.
6. Set a budget
Speak with both sets of parents to find out if they’re willing to contribute financially. Then as a couple, think about how much you’re willing to spend. It’s best to have a total number in mind before you start reaching out to any venues or vendors — that way you don’t start dreaming about The Ritz-Carlton when it’s out of budget.
7. Write out your guest list
Put pen to paper and write out the names of all the people you’d like to invite. Make sure to include parents in this process as well. (You should also think about whether you’ll be giving out plus ones as that can affect your headcount and budget dramatically.) You really should complete this step before you start looking at venues. Otherwise, you run the risk of booking a space that’s too small for all the loved ones you want to invite.
8. Make a Pinterest board
Find inspiration so you can settle on a wedding day aesthetic! Will there be a chic black and white theme or bold colors everywhere? Make a Pinterest board of your dream wedding, save pics you love on Instagram or cut photos out of magazines. (Check out my article on top wedding trends of 2021 for ideas.) It’s fun to have this as an ongoing project, and it comes in handy later. Vendors like planners, florists and stationers might ask for inspiration photos during initial calls so they can get a sense of what you want.
9. Hire a wedding planner
If you’re going to hire a planner, they should be the very first thing you book! I can’t stress enough that you should bring in a professional before securing your venue or any other vendors. It’s great to have your planner involved in the venue search because they can provide an expert opinion, foresee issues that you might not and help negotiate a fair contract with clauses that can protect you (which became very important during the Covid-19 pandemic). They have a whole rolodex of trusted partners, and they will be able to make recommendations based on personal experience.
10. Tour wedding venues
Start scheduling some venue tours to find your dream location. Whether you visit in person or see it virtually, this is such a fun step in the planning process. Even if you have your heart set on a certain place, I’d encourage you to look at a few other venues to confirm you’ve found the one. When you lock in a venue, it also means you have a confirmed date!
11. Create a planning timeline
Once you have an official wedding date, put together a spreadsheet with specific wedding planning tasks for each month. It helps break up a huge undertaking into smaller tasks and makes the whole process much more stress-free. This also holds you accountable to research videographers or make a decision on the caterer in a timely manner. If you have a full-service planner, they can create one for you. If you’re taking on the planning yourself, The Knot has a great tool for this. You answer a questionnaire and it creates a personalized planning checklist for you.
12. Start your registry
Go ahead and add items to your registry because friends and family may want to send you an engagement present. People will either try to find it via Google or ask your mom where you’re registered. It definitely doesn’t need to be complete, but you should add a few things at different price points from at least one store. Having this done will ensure you get engagement gifts you actually want or need for your home.
13. Begin booking the rest of your vendors
Now you’re ready to dive into the vendor search! While each wedding will be a bit different, the photographer should be one of the next vendors you hire so you can use them for your engagement photos. You will want these asap so you can incorporate the professional pics into your save the date, wedding website and more. After that, I would research stationers and music options such as a DJ or band.
Do you have any questions about what to do once you’re engaged? Ask away in the comments and I’m happy to offer advice.