I'm Newly Engaged. What are the Next Steps?
Congratulations on your happy news! When you settle down following the rush of this exhilarating decision, you’ll probably start wondering: “now what?”
Before you start shopping for venues or get too overwhelmed (a common occurrence at this stage!), take a deep breath. And another. There’s no need to rush into planning just yet. The average length of an engagement is between 13 and 18 months, so you’ve got some time. There are, however, some important things to attend to in the first few hours, days, and weeks after getting engaged.
The next 20 steps: What to do after getting engaged
We’ve gathered the essential first steps to take after getting engaged, as well as some common mistakes to avoid in all the excitement. Keep this list bookmarked so you know you’ve covered all of the important bases without over-stressing or second-guessing yourself. Read on!
1. Share the information with loved ones personally
You just got engaged, and the people who are closest to you should be the first to know. If you can do this in person, that’s fantastic. If not, it’s time to share your happy news during phone or video calls. These family members and friends were with you every step of the way as your relationship blossomed. They’ll be so excited for you, and appreciate that you made an effort to include them in the celebration.
2. Refrain from making announcements on social media until everyone is informed
We know you’re impatient to snap that ring-selfie and post it to your social media feed. But hold off until you’ve been in touch with all your closest friends and family. Make a special effort to reach people you know aren’t on social media. Your aunt may get her feelings hurt if she learns about your engagement from your cousin before getting the call directly from you.
3. Share the news with everyone else
Now that close friends and family know about your life-changing event, you can pass the news along to everyone else. Social media is the best way to inform your wider circle about your fantastic news, and the story of how it happened. Snap that engagement selfie, change your status or pinned tweet, and share the joy with your followers far and wide.
4. Get a professional manicure
You may be a die-hard acrylic girl, or you might never get your nails done—but trust us on this one. Everyone you meet will ask to see your ring. You can go for a set of acrylics in your favorite bright color, or keep it simple with clear polish, if that’s more your style.
5. Keep it vague when people start asking about wedding details
Don’t set expectations about your wedding plans too early. They can easily change in a month as you begin discussing the details. This can add an element of unwelcome pressure you should avoid this early in the process. And, if you decide on a destination wedding, you don’t have to explain your choice to anyone. If anyone asks for specifics about the wedding, tell them you’re excited to start planning, but nothing is set in stone just yet.
6. Prepare your answers for the common questions
There are a handful of common questions people ask when a couple gets engaged. Know them, plan for them, and you’ll be ready to when they come fast and furious. Here are the questions to expect A LOT in the first few days:
How did he/she propose? Easy enough to answer. Share your sweet story.
Were you surprised? Honesty is easy enough here; you either were or you weren't.
When is the big day? Chances are you don’t know the date as of yet. You can share the general timeline if you know what it is and you want to.
Will you change your name? Even if you know the answer, you don’t have to share this unless you feel comfortable doing so.
Will you have a baby right away? This isn’t anyone’s business, but it still comes up. A good stock answer is “We’re focusing on the wedding first.”
7. Set a few possible dates
There’s no need to pinpoint an exact date just yet. Start with the season. Do you want a tropical summer soiree or a cold winter wonderland wedding? Maybe they both sound magical to you. Choose tentative dates in both June and December that you can narrow down when you begin the process of choosing your wedding venue. The more flexible you are with your date, the more relaxed you’ll be as you plan.
8. Throw an awesome engagement party
This can be a small cocktail party in your apartment or an extravagant sit-down dinner at an elegant restaurant. Don’t fret too much about this event and let others help you if they offer. This is a good time to set the tone for your wedding planning. Of course, you want everything to turn out lovely—but you also won’t fret when things aren’t perfect. The important thing is having your loved ones gathered around you, wherever you are and however you choose to celebrate this momentous decision. The engagement festivities are also a good time to get used to being the center of attention, and an abundance of hugs and tears.
9. Get the ring sized so you can start wearing it without worry
Sure, it looks pretty in that black velvet box, but you want to share your engagement ring with friends and family. Just get it sized first before wearing it out of the house! A ring that’s too big can easily slip off your finger and get lost, while one that’s too small may get stuck and require cutting to remove from your finger.
You should also get the ring insured (if it isn’t already) so that you can purchase a new one if the worst happens and your ring is lost, stolen, or damaged. Insurance is based on the cost of the ring, so you’ll need an appraisal first. Ring insurance can be purchased as soon as your fiance buys it, this way you’re covered before the question is even popped. Often the insurance is added as a rider to your existing renters’ or homeowners’ insurance, but coverage can also be purchased separately.
10. Sit down with your partner and talk about what you both want
People can have very different ideas of the perfect wedding. Some think eloping is the smart way to go, others want to have the full fairytale wedding. Hopefully you’ve discussed this prior to your engagement, but now is the time to clarify where you both fall on the ‘ideal wedding’ continuum.
This is a great time to practice listening without judgement and being patient with each other. You might have varied expectations and preferences, but you can learn to appreciate your differences and come to a compromise. Because that’s what marriage is all about.
11. Create a basic guest list together
Will you invite only close friends and family for an intimate affair, or will you expand the guest list to include your third cousins, twice removed? This is up to you to hammer out, and impacts the ‘feel’ of the wedding. Large weddings with your parents’ work friends on the guest list can be raucous, joyful celebrations, but they don’t boast the intimate vibe of smaller weddings.
Each of you should contribute names to the list so you get a basic idea of the wedding size. This will help you understand how much money you’ll need in your wedding coffers, or illustrate if you need to pare down the list.
12. Set a budget that gives you an outline for future planning
You don’t need to choose between broiled lobster or a pasta bar just yet, but it’s helpful to estimate your wedding budget before you dive into daydreaming about your big day. Every single step in your wedding planning will rely on your budget. Think of the difference in scope of two weddings for 75 guests: one that costs $15,000 and another that costs $150,000.
13. Indulge your wedding daydreams
Start exploring wedding options together, especially if you’re both unsure about the type of wedding you want. Search for wedding inspiration online, and look up ‘weddings’ on Pinterest. You’ll find an endless treasure trove of wedding images, and discover possibilities that never crossed your mind before. (Hello, vineyard wedding!) As you discover new ideas, the places where your wedding styles overlap will become clear.
14. Start looking at wedding venues
You may be ready to get hitched ASAP, or you may have a long engagement planned. Regardless of the wedding-day countdown, now is the time to start looking at possible places to hold your event. Similar to exploring Pinterest, venue research can help clarify where you both ‘see’ yourselves celebrating your big day. You may see a barn wedding venue and think it looks beautiful, but it’s just not your style. You may also spot a beach venue and know it’s the one. Hop on to the Wedding Spot and start exploring the various venues in your region, or explore destination weddings, too.
15. Remember that whatever you’re feeling is normal
A little bit of anxiety is normal for newly engaged couples. So is sadness. Some people cry for days after the engagement. Others become tense and anxious as soon as they say “yes.”
People rarely talk about post-engagement anxiety, but it’s out there. Don’t fret, pre-wedding anxiety is usually more about the massive changes headed your way than it is about your love for each other. You’re accustomed to being a boyfriend or a girlfriend; now you’re on your way to becoming a husband or a wife. The best way to deal with these feelings is to discuss it with your partner and trusted family and friends. Be honest. The sooner you put it out there and feel understood, the sooner you’ll be able to fully enjoy the next steps in your engagement.
16. Schedule ‘me time’ for both of you
Your fiance might need a round of golf on the weekends or a night out at the movies with friends. You might need a hike with your pals or an hour-long soak in the bathtub every Sunday night. Whatever it is that takes your mind to the good place and recharges your soul, make it a priority and carve out the time.
17. Take time to work on yourself
If you’re still following an ex on Instagram or you find trust issues cropping up, now is the time to clear away any excess emotional baggage. You want a fresh start with your spouse-to-be, and any unresolved issues of the past can hinder one of the happiest times of your life.
Be honest with yourself and your spouse-to-be, and ask for the support you need. Talk it out with someone you trust, grab a self-help book, or schedule a few sessions with a therapist, life coach, or clergyperson.
18. Schedule ‘we time’ too
Continue doing all the things that made you happy as a couple even as you embark on a deeper commitment. Whatever your favorite activities, whether it’s rock climbing, visiting museums, or taking cooking classes—keep enjoying them. And keep laughing together through it all. Science says that a couple who laughs together, stays together. Go ahead and binge on Netflix comedies to your heart’s content.
19. Consider premarital relationship counseling or coaching
Hopefully you two already communicate well, and have discussed what you want out of life. But engagement raises the stakes—and new issues and stressors can crop up unexpectedly. This is when couples experience pressure from family members about the upcoming wedding, or stark differences of opinion about your wedding budget.
Even if you have a storybook relationship, premarital counseling, coaching, or classes can help you navigate the bumps in the road that come with any relationship. You’re going to be making a lot of decisions together during the course of the engagement and throughout your life afterward. A coach or counselor can help you learn how to:
Be vulnerable and honest
Resolve conflicts peacefully
Listen actively and empathetically
Support each other
Work together as a team
20. Enjoy the engagement
You’d think this is a no-brainer, but unfortunately it isn’t. Stress has a sneaky way of getting the better of people who are in the process of making important decisions while in the midst of a life-changing event. When you look back at this time, you want to have fond memories, not dreadful ones. Tips 16 through 20 will help enormously. But here are two more easy ones that go a long way: Focus on the good, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Here are 5 things not to do after getting engaged
For every one thing to do after getting engaged, there will be three things you shouldn’t do. We’ve already gone over the importance of informing your friends and family before your followers, but that’s the least of your worries. Keep a level head throughout the euphoria, and follow these 5 tips.
1. Don’t commit to anything or anyone (else)
Just because your cousin offered to get ordained online and perform the wedding ceremony, it doesn’t mean that he should. Refrain from agreeing now because it will be harder to get out of it later.
2. Don’t ask people to be in your wedding party just yet
You might have a basic idea of who you want standing by your side on your big day, but don’t choose your party just yet. Especially if you have a long engagement. A lot can change between ‘yes’ and ‘I do’. People move away, friendships evolve, new relationships form. Talk it over with your fiancé and give it some time before you start asking.
3. Don’t make any drastic physical changes
You might feel like you want to lose a drastic amount of weight, have reconstructive surgery, or get your teeth straightened. But drastic changes before the wedding are unnecessary. After all, your partner chose you just the way you are. If you want to make a few small changes for the sake of your health, go for it. But now is not the time to cut out bread, wine, and chocolate (perish the thought) to drop a few dress sizes.
4. Don’t invite anyone to your wedding (yet)
Don’t get so wrapped up in the excitement of announcing your engagement that you invite every person you tell. Unfortunately, you’re bound to tell a few people who will respond with, “Am I invited?” Word to the wise: Do not blurt out “Of course!” Instead, flash a smile and tell them that you haven’t even thought about a guest list yet. As uncomfortable as that might be, it will be more uncomfortable when you tell them yes--and never send an invitation.
5. Don’t forget to thank people
You might be surprised at how many gifts and kind gestures you’ll receive after you announce your engagement. Keep a list of everyone who sends you a gift and be sure to send out a thank you (either by text or a card) within six to eight weeks. You’re going to be sending a lot more thank-yous after your shower and your wedding, so get in the habit now.
Now you know what to do after getting engaged. Time to get your wedding planning underway!
Ready to look at more ideas for planning your wedding? Here’s what you can expect from bridal expos as you embark on this exciting process.