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.}

A Little About Us

From before the aisle to after the plunge, the Plunge Project is a wedding and lifestyle blog for real women. The Plunge Project is a place for the detail-oriented woman to find ideas, inspiration and advice for everything that comes after that one little question, “will you marry me?”

From walking down the aisle, to building a home and entertaining, to keeping the spark alive (and one day even having babies…but we’re still getting there), the Plunge Project is written for the stylish, savvy, DIY loving, bargain hunting, detail-oriented, do-it-all woman who never lets a limited budget limit her style.

The Plunge Project’s mission is to provide wedding inspiration, stylish party ideas, unique DIY projects, tasty recipes and real world advice to the real woman.


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