Congrats!! If you are a newly engaged bride-to-be, I hope you are still reveling in the magical moments and sweet details of your proposal and engagement celebration. Whether he mapped out the proposal intricately, planned a small party to celebrate with your people, or simply asked you lovingly to be his bride for life, the proposal is a special memory because it is a memory the two of you share, and, regardless of all the other “stuff,” that is special in and of itself.
I’ve been married just over a year, and I still remember our proposal and season of engagement fondly. It is a time for celebration, giddiness, and joy, alongside plans and preparations for your wedding day and new life together as husband and wife. Although the excitement doesn’t mean stress and anxiety will not creep in here and there, it is nonetheless a unique season that holds great potential for you personally and together as a couple. As I reminisce and reflect on our engagement, I’d like to share 7 tips for newly engaged brides-to-be to help prioritize and maximize this memorable time in your life.
TIP #1: Enjoy! Celebrate!
One of the best tips I received immediately once we got engaged was to enjoy ourselves and sit in the goodness of our joy and excitement. The temptation was present to start asking ourselves the long laundry list of questions, but take some time for the two of you before jumping into all of the logistics. When we got engaged, my fiancé and I spent a long weekend reveling in the newness of our relationship status and reliving sweet moments of our dating history. Don’t miss out on this! We had a lot of fun with one another before diving into the details and decisions that come once a ring is in the mix.
TIP #2: Decide what’s important
Woah — this feels vague, right? The truth is that the season of engagement brings into question a variety of different logistics. Some are related to your wedding day (when do we want to get married? where? how much can we budget? etc.) and others are related to your life together (where do we want to live? what essentials do we register for? how do we manage our families’ opinions? etc.) It is crucial to discuss what is important to you as the bride and as the groom, and how to come to an agreement. Compromise will most likely need to happen. For us, the date of our wedding day was non-negotiable. Several factors were at play that required us to get married on August 12th (which may seem funny, but that’s the way it was). As a result, we chose vendors based on their availability on our wedding day. On a more comical note, my fiancé really wanted a Nespresso machine, which I saw no need for. We put it on our registry anyways, and now we have one in our coffee nook…All that to say, have conversations about your priorities as a couple; it may be exhausting to communicate about #allthethings, but you’ll be glad you did.
TIP #3: Ask friends for dos and don’ts
This tip relates specifically to your wedding day. If you have friends that have gone before you when it comes to planning a wedding, ask for their advice and expertise. Each person has their own experience and opinions, but chances are you’ll learn something that will be helpful to keep in mind. I was fortunate to have my twin sister go before me, so she was incredibly helpful in the planning process. You don’t know what you don’t know, and trustworthy friends can bring your attention to matters that may be overlooked in the process. One of my friends expressed regret about missing out on bridal portraits — because she told me about her experience, I made sure our photographer took a photo of me in my dress by myself. Remember to take each piece of advice with a grain of salt, though — not everyone knows all the ins and outs of where you’re coming from.
TIP #4: Where are you willing to DIY?
If you and your fiancé are working within a budget for your big day, chances are you’ll have to limit yourselves when it comes to a few categories. What are the must-haves? What are the we-can-do-withouts? Where is it possible to save a little money? This will vary from couple to couple, but resourcefulness will help you rein in your spending. We chose an option which saved us money on entertainment and dessert, which gave us room to splurge for a videographer and a photo booth. Figure out where you are comfortable to do-it-yourself; your wallet will thank you!
TIP #5: Set aside time for strict wedding-talk
This may sound harsh, but at times it will be essential to set aside time for strict wedding-talk. There will be decisions to make and deadlines to meet in the midst of the day-to-day demands of life, and, trust me, you won’t want to get into it, but you’ll have to. That’s part of being an adult, too (*eye-roll* at adulting). Treat it like a business meeting, which, I know I know, feels very weird with your future husband. It can feel unnatural, but it is important nevertheless. I can recall sitting down to discuss the order of events for the ceremony with my fiancé and receiving some pushback, which led to a very heartfelt conversation about the need to make it happen, even though it wasn’t a “fun” task. Sometimes, you may have your own make-it-happen moments, but take heart. You can and will make it happen.
TIP #6: Go on dates with no wedding talk
Let’s be real - wedding talk is fun, but it can also be draining and stress-filled. It is important to remember why you’re deciding to get married and have fun! I would encourage you to go on dates with your fiancé where you both refrain from wedding talk altogether. It may be harder than you think, but it’s important to fight for it. Pick a buzz word before you go out together and give one another permission to say the buzz word if the other person slips into wedding talk. Make it silly if you want, but just remember to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. (“Avocado!”)
TIP #7: Prepare for your marriage, not just the celebration
It’s easy to get wrapped up in all of the details and decisions (trust me, I know), but don’t forget to invest in your future marriage, too. You can spend countless hours planning for your big day, but what would it look like to equip yourself for your future partnership as husband and wife? We approached our preparation and equipment for marriage in several different ways, and now, I’m SO thankful that we did. My fiancé and I met with two couples who agreed to mentor us in what marriage practically looks like (life-on-life) and also pursued pre-marital counseling. Each of these avenues helped us with self-awareness and expectations when it came to tough topics like finances, family history, and physical/emotional intimacy. Marriage is a sweet gift, but keep in mind that the marital covenant and commitment requires some serious consideration, too.
Hopefully these seven tips help to usher you through a sweet season in your life. Take advantage of all the memory-making opportunities in engagement and lean in with everything you’ve got! Here’s to you modeling wedding dresses, taste-testing appetizer samples, and assembling carefully-crafted table decor like a champ.…Cheers to you!
(Click the pictures below to see a small gallery from my own wedding!)