So you are engaged...now what?! Kicking off your engagement with top tips and tricks
The ring has been selected, the question has been popped, and now, there are a lot of important decisions involving other people to address. Announcements, parties, questions about the ring, the engagements, the plans, all of the wedding details, and new future in-laws to work with. In order to keep your sanity and to keep from any avoidable faux-pas, here are the top tips to consider in starting the sweetest time of your engagement!
Making The Announcement
Announcing your engagement is an exciting occasion for you and your partner, but it can get you into some hot water if you do not think to tell certain people first. In this age of social media, it's easy to get excited and post an announcement or photo the moment the big occasion happens! Please, consider taking some time to enjoy the moment and share it with those who matter most first. Of course, if you have children, they need to be told personally about your engagement decision. Speak to them in private so that you can answer any questions they may have. Encourage them to talk to you honestly and openly about their feelings, and reassure them (depending on their ages) that they are always your number one priority. Otherwise, you should consider going to both sets of parents and sharing the exciting news in person if at all possible. It is not usually best for your mother or father to find out about your engagement on social media, especially if you are counting on them contributing to the wedding fund. Telling them can be a longer process if there are divorces involved, but be sure to tell all sets of parents at the same time as closely as possible. The rest of your family should follow closely behind your parents, especially those who might not be on social media, such as grandparents. Then you can spread the news to your extended family, best friends, and all of the people closest to you and your fiancé. Your public announcement via social media and/or newspaper should be the last way to announce your big day after those close to you have had the privilege of finding out first. There will be the possibility of someone purposely or accidently posting before you on social media and spoiling the surprise, so you can be upfront with your family about their special early news, but let it be known that you would like them to keep it under wraps until you choose to publicly announce.
Important First Decisions
In order for all your planning to go smoothly, you will need to get some major details in order first; before you work on the smaller sidebar details. Usually, the first detail is your wedding date. While it is up to your and your partner to choose the date that suits you best, as a courtesy you should check with your immediate family to be sure the date does not conflict with other big events such as graduations. Along these same lines, something you will want to consider early is your location. Do you want to be closer to family or closer to your current living location if is not the same? Do you want to have a destination wedding or get married in your family’s home church? There are many location details that should be figured out rather quickly so the people you invite can make appropriate plans such as saving for vacation days or purchasing airfare. Venue will impact pretty much all the rest of the details, so pick early if you are wanting an outside or inside wedding, church or wedding venue, etc... Once you have your date, location, and venue, you should choose your bridal party. Close friends and family will want to be there to stand up for you and represent you on your big day. Next, you’ll need to decide on your theme, to go with your venue. You can choose from a casual wedding, a traditional formal wedding, a farm theme, or whatever you heart desires. This day should be about you, and you should have the theme picked out before you delve into attire, décor, or reception food. After you’ve chosen your theme, make sure you lock in your caterer, then start with your colors and go straight into your bridesmaids’ attire, groomsmen’s attire, and one of your biggest decisions: your dress! Details that can wait just a bit might include your cake, your DJ or band, and your honeymoon location.
Once you have announced your big news to everyone, your friends might start to talk about an engagement party. The best time to have it is between eight weeks and four months after you’ve gotten engaged. This will give you time to start planning major details, that everyone at the party will ask you about and allow you to start a registry. Keep in mind that most engagement party guests will assume that they will be invited to the wedding, so check the invitation list beforehand. If you have chosen to have a smaller wedding, be sure to let your friends know this in advance. If your engagement party is your opportunity to have both your parents get to know each other, then a loud celebration with tons of friends may not be the best idea. People are starting to bring gifts for the happy couple to engagement parties, so it may be necessary to start registering for your smaller gift items before your engagement party. Wait to unwrap these gifts, in case some guests did not bring anything. Normally, the engagement party is not the time to open gifts, but the time to share the story of how you met and how you plan to start your life together. It is time to celebrate, but keep in mind that this isn’t your biggest affair to throw. Let your friends enjoying planning this day and sit back to enjoy, as you'll have bigger parties to throw coming your way soon.
Introducing the In-Laws
If both sets of parents don’t already know each other, then the engagement party is a great time to have them meet. If that isn’t doable, or if you’d rather have a huge (loud) party now and then introduce them later, then you’ll need to have a special event just for the parents. A great idea for this is to have a meal together. Set up reservations at a great restaurant that isn’t loud, so that you can talk easily to get to know each other. If this isn’t an option, have a home-cooked meal together one Saturday afternoon so that you’ll have time to sit and chat afterward. Plan to really get to know your in-laws, and have your parents get to know them well, too. Talk about wedding plans, funny stories, desires for the big day, and plans for afterward as well. Use this time to start to flush out expectations and gently lay out your plans for the big day to avoid any other expectations being laid on you.
Please remember that as much as your friends are happy for you and are excited for your big day to arrive, it is not their wedding, and they may not want to hear or talk about it nonstop for six months straight. It is OK to talk about your exciting plans, but don’t let them be the focus of every girls’ night out or every work lunch at work. As far as showing off your ring, it is customary to announce your engagement with a picture of your ring. Engagement shoots that feature the ring are also common and fun. However, discussing where it was purchased or the size and price should be avoided unless asked. When posting a picture of the ring (plus you and your partner,) be sure to thank every well-wisher on social media. Wedding details also should not be handled at work, taking calls from vendors and calling your mom with color ideas all day will not go over well with your co-workers, be sure to use lunch, breaks, or after work to do the heavy lifting of your planning.
Uh-Oh… You Hate the Ring
There are a few things to consider in this situation. Some brides-to-be tell their significant others that they want to be surprised, so their intended has to pick out the ring on their own. If this is the case, then you will have to be prepared for receiving something that you wouldn’t have picked out yourself. The romantic idea of your partner picking the perfect ring, is very much subjective. There are a ton of factors to consider in picking a ring and if your partner is faced with this on their own, they will go with their best guess, which might not be your favorite. You will have to decide if you will like to keep the one your partner picked because it was their decision or if you will exchange it for one of your tastes. If you just can’t bring yourself to keep the ring, then there are a few things to do. First, with respect and tact, let them know how you feel about the ring and be sensitive to their feelings. Let them know that you don’t see yourself wearing that style, but really appreciate the thought and effort they put into picking it. Suggest that you both go together to pick another ring out. If you look at it as a partnership, maybe they will be more inclined to look for something that suits your tastes. Remind them that they spent a lot of money, and it would be a shame if it were on something that you didn’t care for. If you can’t bring yourself to say anything, then you can set your mind to appreciate the work they put into selecting the ring and try to see what they saw in it that made them think of you. Remember that you aren’t in it for the ring: You’re in it for the person and for the relationship that the ring represents. If the ring is a family heirloom, then it would be very difficult (and possibly insulting to their family) to complain about the ring. If you feel strongly about a ring style, then this would be a conversation that would be best to have prior to having the question popped.
Etiquette with Questions
With social media, there are not many things that are kept private. Unfortunately, many people feel it is acceptable to ask questions that are downright rude. In this case, be prepared to respond to any impolite questions with a deflecting answer. If the amount of money spent comes up, be sure to come back with how cherished the ring is and how meaningful it is that this person asked you to be their partner. Always remember that it is the thought that truly counts.
Asking about being in your wedding party can also be an embarrassing situation. Honestly, it is always best for the bride to ask instead of someone eagerly asking her to be in her bridal party. This could risk making the relationship, and subsequent answer, awkward. The bride should clearly ask and communicate who she would like to be in her bridal party and her friends should wait to be asked and not bring up the topic unannounced. There are lots of situations where the bride might not have a lot of flexibility in how many or who she has in her bridal party and friends and family should respect her decision.