You’re Engaged! Now What? 8 Things to Do First

Recently engaged? From all of us here at the Plunge Project, congrats!!!

I remember the days after Michael and I got engaged…it was a whirlwind of excitement but also the time of most confusion. As one of the first of my friends to get married, I hadn’t been involved in much (or shall I say any) wedding planning to date, so I was a bit confused at where to begin. Being a wedding planning newby when I was going through the process, I definitely planned things a little out of order (resulting in a lot of changes after the fact), so for all you newly-engaged ladies out there, here are a few of the very first things you need to do after he pops the question.

1. Insure Your Ring

After you’re finished calling your parents, grandparents, siblings, best friends and whoever else is on your “guess what? We’re engaged!” call list, you need to make a call to your insurance provider to get that pretty ring a policy. Generally, you’ll be able to add your shiny new bling to either your homeowners policy or renters policy (or take out a new policy if you don’t have either of those). You’ll need an appraisal in order to get it insured, which you can get at most reputable jewelry stores; in many cases, the ring should come with one when your beau buys it.

2. Build Your Wedding Binder

As soon as you’re ready to really get into the planning process (after you’ve taken some time to enjoy being lovingly engaged and show off your new ring of course), it’s great to build yourself a wedding binder. After all, staying organized when planning your big day can be tough, and unless you’ve hired a wedding planner to plan your wedding from start to finish, one item you’re going to need is a wedding binder. How else are you going to keep track of your to do lists, inspiration, the mass amounts of vendors you’ve talked to, etc, etc.?!

Hint: One of the most popular posts on the Plunge Project teaches you how to build your own wedding binder. There are places that sell them pre-made, but with all the free resources available to us online, there’s no reason you can’t make a great wedding planning binder yourself (for a fraction of the cost).

3. Nail Down Your Budget

The first step in planning your big day is figuring out your budget. There’s a big difference between a $50,000 wedding and a $10,000 wedding, and the important thing to keep in mind is that weddings really add up. Chat with your parents, the grooms parents and your future hubby about who’s throwing in and how much you have to work with. If you’re short, give yourselves time to save; the last thing you want to do is enter wedding bliss with a boatload of wedding debt!

Your budget can really affect lots of parts of your big day — from the date (will you have it during peak wedding season or in the slower months?), and even the day of the week (did you know Fridays are a lot cheaper than Saturdays?), on to what vendors you choose and more.

Hint: Check out this article on nailing down a budget. It can help you figure out what percent of your budget should go where. There’s also a downloadable spreadsheet to help you give yourself a target cost for each item/vendor. That way, you’ll have an idea of how much you should be spending as you start chatting with vendors.

4. Set the Date …or at Least the Year and Season

The next step is deciding when your wedding will be. It’s great to start with a year and season (in our case, it was Fall 2010), and then narrow it down from there as you determine when your must-have vendors are available. Plus, that gives you something to tell all your curious friends and family when they ask.

Hint: Keep in mind that January through March are generally off-season wedding months in many parts of the country, and having your wedding during this time can often save you some big bucks.

5. Get Inspired

Start browsing online and in magazines to determine your vision. Ask yourself what kind of wedding you want: vintage, modern, traditional, rustic, offbeat, the list goes on… It’s completely up to you, and I’m a firm believer that with a little creativity, you can have any style of wedding you want, despite your budget. However, it’s important to figure this one out so you have as much time as possible to start turning your vision into reality.

Hint: We have a growing collection of wedding inspiration here at the Plunge Project that we’d love for you to take a look at! Beyond that, a few of our favorite places to get inspired are The Knot, Style Me Pretty and Ruffled Blog.

6. Decide on a Venue

Deciding on a venue is important to take care of early in the process. If you have a specific one in mind, its availability will likely effect the wedding date you choose. In addition, many brides have to work to match their venue with their chosen wedding theme. For example, Michael and I had our reception inside a very Victorian, early 1990′s restored train station, so a vintage theme seemed to work best. Figuring out your venue early on can really help you make other decisions.

Hint: Need ideas on venues to look at? We have a great post here with some tips to help you choose a venue and some interesting places to look at.

7. Dream in Color

Once you have your date, visions and venue(s) situated, work on figuring out your colors. The easiest way to do this is to go shopping for bridesmaid dresses. (And it doesn’t hurt to find your dress around that time too so you can make sure the bridesmaid dresses go with yours.) Really, until you have your exact shades picked out, it can be a waste of time to chat with any other vendors about anything that involves color (such as linens, flowers, etc.). Michael and I spent hours choosing linens only to have to re-decide on all of them after picking our official colors. Save yourself the trouble and choose exact colors first. Pick out ‘maid dresses and then match everything else as closely as you can to those.

8. Prioritize

When planning a wedding, it’s easy to get caught up in your wedding dreams, but for budget-constrained brides, learning how to prioritize will bring you back down to reality. When Michael and I embarked on the journey of planning our dream wedding, I’ll admit that I wanted a lot. And in my defense, I truly though my $10,000 budget was a massive. Boy, was I wrong! Either way, we still made our budget work for us, and I got fairly good at cutting things that didn’t quite matter and prioritizing the things that did. I think that’s really the key to savvy planning — being able to prioritize what you want and what you’re able to do without.

Hint: I wrote a post back during my own wedding planning to help brides like myself prioritize if you’d like to take a look.

Now that you’re armed with those 8 tips and tasks, do you feel more prepared to delve deep into the wedding planning process? We sure hope so! Wedding planning is an exciting, emotional and stressful time, but don’t fret. Enjoy the process and remember, although it is an important day, it’s just one day. Plan the wedding of your dreams (within budget of course), but never forget why you’re doing it — to start your life with the person of your dreams!

{Ring photo by Rose Robinson. Used under Creative Commons.}

About Nicole Denton

With a love of planning just about anything — from her own wedding, to bridal and baby showers, to dinner parties, and more – Nicole is the Plunge Project’s founder and former editor-in-chief. A New Jersey native, Nicole has called Chandler, Arizona home since 2013, where she currently lives with her husband Michael; two pit bulls, Shelby and Link; and cat, Kity Perry. A University of Tennessee graduate, Nicole has a bachelors in communications and a career at a rapidly-growing digital marketing firm.

7 Comments on You’re Engaged! Now What? 8 Things to Do First

  1. samantha
    July 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm (3 years ago)

    Keep this

    Reply
  2. Jacqueline
    August 1, 2011 at 2:02 am (3 years ago)

    What a great article! SO TRUE about figuring out the budget first (I didn’t do that at all, my parents kind of took an idea and went crazy haha!) It’s definitely overwhelming the first bit of being engaged, and now I only have 2 months to go (Ahhhhhhhh!!!!) But it’s such a unique, blessed, crazy busy time in our lives, and I’ve really been enjoying it, even though I complain about the stress!
    Another tip I would add is “don’t try to please everyone” because you’ll just drive yourself crazy, and you’ll NEVER be able to please everyone, so just worry about the important opinions and values, and you’re good to go. And pick a few close BFFs to be your bridesmaids- people who love you and want you to be happy:) That’s my bridal advice!!

    http://jacquelineparis.wordpress.com/

    Abientot xx
    Jacqueline

    Reply
  3. kristind
    July 9, 2012 at 8:50 pm (2 years ago)

    Great advice!!

    Reply
  4. Pastor Mary
    October 18, 2012 at 11:35 am (2 years ago)

    Hello Brides to Be ~
    In seeking places to let Brides know about our big 12-12-12 ceremony for weddings & vow renewals, I found your blog in the Top 100 wedding blogs !! Congratulations!! Awesome accomplishment.
    My business, as well as this special celebration, fit right in with your presentations to Brides.
    I want to be able to reach out to as many couples as possible who are looking for an inexpensive and unique adventure to be married or renew vows. We are limited to 450 couples by the venue.
    Not only are we having the ceremony, and hope to set the record for the MOST couples married / renewing vows in once ceremony on 12-12-12 , we also are going for Largest Parade of Brides & Grooms; Largest Reception of Brides & Grooms and LARGEST TRASH THE GOWN EVENT !!

    The largest and most popular nite club in Ocean CIty MD. on the water, has agreed to co-host the event. NI have lots of vendors dropping in and sending “stuff” – but now I need to be able to find the couples who want to participate and also help me celebrate 12 years of weddings on the beach.
    Would you be able to post a blurb about it on your blog?
    Thank you – please send me any questions you have.
    Pastor Mary

    Reply

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  1. Your Engaged!!!!…..Now What? | The Spring Mills
    January 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm (2 years ago)

    [...] The Knot, Glamour Weddings,  Perfect Wedding Guide and The Plunge Project. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted in Engagements | [...]

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