1. Tell your parents
They’ve been there for you since the beginning and stuck with you during the troublesome toddler and awkward teen years. They deserve to be the first ones to know the big news. Even if your partner had them in on the plan the whole time.
2. Call your relatives
Yes, call, or tell them in person. Don’t text, email, or message them online. Even if you don’t talk regularly, they’re still family and should hear the news directly from you. Only after you’ve made those calls should you post your “Facebook official” announcement. A note about social media etiquette: This post is one of the few times when kissing selfies are exempt from the list of things about your relationship to never post on social media.
You’ve just committed to spending the rest of your life with your true love. That’s definitely cause for celebration, especially since the actual ceremony won’t take place for months. Invite close family and friends over for drinks and appetizers, or go out on the town for the first time as an engaged couple.
4. Choose a venue
Wedding venues have always and will continue to book up fast, so that should be the first thing you cross off your wedding checklist. Think about the style and size of wedding you want, and then brainstorm locations that would compliment your theme. A traditional church? An elegant hotel? A casual outdoor ceremony? Or maybe you want a destination wedding, in which case you need these golden rules for stress-free air travel.
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5. Book a date
Unless you have an exact date in mind—maybe you want to get married on your grandparents’ anniversary—the date is somewhat dependent on your venue. Being lenient on which day you get marries makes you more likely to celebrate your marriage in the venue of your dreams. Be mindful of family events when scheduling, and send out “Save the Dates” to the people you definitely want to invite as soon as you set yours. (These are the anniversary traditions that keep happy couples happy.)
6. Get your ring sized
That thing is going to last you the rest of your life. You better make sure it fits. Also, here’s why we propose with engagement rings in the first place.
7. Then get it appraised and insured
No matter how many times you say that you’ll never let that ring out of your sight and you’ll guard it with your life, accidents happen. It’s always better to have a safety net just in case. (Here’s how you can save on insurance.) You can either add it as an extension of your home owner’s or renter’s insurance, or use a company that specializes in jewelry insurance. Here’s some great advice from theknot.com that explains everything you should know about protecting your ring: “Insurance 101: Engagement Ring Insurance.”
8. Make a blog
Besides just a place to share your engagement story (even though you’ll likely never tire of reminding everyone how it happened), wedding blogs are extremely handy for posting wedding and reception details, linking to your gift registry, and updating everyone on how simultaneously stressed, nervous, and excited you are. Just be careful how—and how much—you complain online.
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9. Set a budget
It’s easy to get carried away planning for the happiest day of your life, but ask yourself: Do you want to be paying for the wedding years after the honeymoon, or would you rather go house hunting? An easy solution is setting up a basic savings account at the right bank and making regular wedding-expenses-only deposits. Now is also the time to have the all-important, whole-family conversation: Who’s paying for what?
10. Draft the guest list
Back when you were looking at a venue, you had some idea of just how big your wedding would be. Now it’s time to nail down the final count. Your venue may do some of the hard work for you, depending on its maximum capacity and how much it charges per guest. If your parents are footing most of the bill, be sure to get their input as well. No matter who you end up inviting, though, you are guaranteed to have all 11 types of annoying guests at your wedding. Sorry to break it to you.
11. Decide what kind of planner you want
That is, a human one or a notebook one. Hiring a professional wedding planner can save you a lot of time and stress, but it may not be in your budget. If you’re planning a smaller gathering, a paper planner could work just as efficiently. (This is what wedding planners won’t tell you.)
12. Find the perfect photographer
The flowers will wither. The cake will be eaten. The only parts of your wedding that will actually last as long as your marriage are the wedding bands and the photos. Make sure you hire the right person to preserve those memories, and it wouldn’t help to use these tricks to look better in photos.
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13. Browse wedding magazines
Hitting a wedding planning roadblock? Overwhelmed by suggestions? Browsing through wedding magazines and blogs can help remedy that feeling. Between folding pages and bookmarking websites, you’ll find creative ways to plan a memorable day without breaking bank.
14. Register. Soon.
Your guests will be thankful, not annoyed, that you started a gift registry a good chunk of time before the rapidly approaching festivities, including your engagement party. The sooner you register, the more time they have to plan their gifts, store bought or homemade.
Do your best to avoid any unnecessary stress. You don’t want anyone cracking Bridezilla jokes, right? Some days will feel completely overwhelming, and that’s totally normal. When this happens, take a walk, grab a latte, and take a step back from your situation. Put into perspective, a few months of crazy is worth the lifetime of memories you’ll make on your wedding day.