what to do when you're engaged

Congratulations to you both, can you believe it, you’re getting married!

Welcome to the world of wedding planning. The door has opened on a very special time in your lives together. So what do you do now? How do you get started on planning your wedding? Some brides-to-be have “Plan A” ready to go, just waiting for the the question to be popped before getting busy. But what if you are someone who isn’t familiar with all things wedding? Now that the ring is securely On our finger what do you do now ?

1. Tell everyone the fabulous news 

Ok, you’ve probably visited your immediate family and told them the good news, its time to share your excitement with  your friends and family. Grab your phone and call people personally, your friends will be so excited for you. Yes, you’ll probably have to recount the proposal story to everyone, this moment is too precious to be just another Facebook update.

2. Insure that rock pronto 

Of course nothing is going to happen to your engagement ring but misfortune  will strike another bride to be. How many movies have there been with engagement rings falling off fingers or rolling down drains…Your engagement ring (and wedding rings) are one of the most sentimental purchases you will make, it’s important to arrange insurance before disaster strikes. When I was a teenager, our house was robbed, among other things, my mum’s rings were stolen.  Insurance did cover the loss of making new rings but new rings don’t have the same sentimental value as the rings exchanged on my parent’s wedding day.

When organising insurance, an accidental loss and damage policy will offer more flexible protection than a defined events policy.

When ring shopping, many grooms-to-be seem to get the ring size right by “secretly borrowing” another ring that fits correctly, if your ring does not fit perfectly, have it resized.

3. Chat about your wedding day vision with your fiancée

Getting a shared vision on what your wedding day is all about will really help guide your planing efforts. Here are just a few thoughts to get you started:

  •  What do you want for your wedding?
  • Will it be a church wedding or outdoor celebration?
  • How many guests would you like to have at your wedding?
  • What are the most important things about your wedding day for you?
  • Who would you like to have in your bridal party?
  • What style of wedding reception appeals to you?
  • How would you like to be photographed on your wedding day and what level of service do you want from your wedding photographer?
  • Where would you like to go for your honeymoon?

As you consider these questions, do some exploratory research to find out  options available and what you prefer before you set anything in stone. Successful relationships are often founded on shared beliefs and values; as you plan your wedding having a shared view on what’s important about your day really helps guide your decision making process.

Spicers Clovelly Estate, Montville, Sunshine Coast wedding photographer John Reyment

4. Set a wedding date

Ah yes the date. The all important date can depend on your preference on a whole range of thing including:

  • How quickly you want to get married.
  • The season you want to marry and weather forecast.
  • Work commitments and leave availability. Teachers nearly always get married in school holidays.
  • Where you live, different regions have different wedding seasons. Brisbane is blessed with beautiful weather nearly all year round, we find most weddings are between the start of March and end of November. March/April/May and August/September/October are peak months for weddings in Brisbane.
  • Public holidays available to minimise the leave time you have to take. In Queensland, weddings are very popular around Easter, Anzac Day and Labour Day.
  • Who is coming to your wedding, guests form overseas typically need more notice.
  • Sentimental anniversaries including when you met, the date of your engagement, parents or grandparents anniversaries.
  • Availability of the service providers and venues you want, couples do book 12-18 months in advance for popular dates.
  • Family circumstances. Being surrounded by family and friends on your wedding day is so special. Some wedding dates are set for not too far in advance to allow guests who may be aged or ill to attend. Having these guests able to attend is precious for all concerned.

 5. Make a savings plan

A wedding day brings a lot of once in a lifetime expenses. Your wedding day will probably be the most significant personal event you’ll organise. Just as shouting 80 friends to dinner  at a fine restaurant would cost you a packet, a wedding day does cost. Like anything, there is a wide range of prices available from cheap to expensive for most wedding day items and services. What you ultimately invest in your wedding is a personal preference. A reader survey in Bride to Be Magazine reported that the average cost of a wedding is over $48,296 – almost the same amount as the respondents average income. All this for just one day???  EEK! The day after the wedding, nearly everything is gone, the bar is dry, the cake is eaten, the meal is finished, the suits are returned. The trick in managing your budget is to perhaps take the long term view, what expenditure gives you something to enjoy forever? It’s been said that your rings and photography are perhaps the most sentimental investments you can make, you’ll be able to enjoy your wedding day photos for generations  to come.

When forming your wedding budget, do some research first to find how much things cost before allocating fixed amounts to each area. Some things may cost a little more than you expect, others a little less. Using realistic, researched figures in your budget gives you a greater chance of meeting your budget. Be prepared to be flexible though, perhaps that first gown you tried on is THE perfect dress, that resort with the magnificent views is THE place to honeymoon and that wedding album with the complete story of your wedding day is THE album you just have to have.

If there was just one day in your life where you could spoil yourself, would your wedding day be that day?

6. Enjoy the planning process 

Your wedding day will be a pretty special milestone, I remember our day vividly. At times, we had to do stuff that involved lots of to do lists, especially at the start and then in the last few months. It was satisfying crossing things I had to do off the list and exciting making decisions about what we wanted.

Finding time to chat about your wedding can be a drama in today’s buy world, perhaps chat over dinner at your favourite restaurant, go on a picnic, go where you can be away from Facebook, Twitter, the TV and other distractions. Focus on listening to each other.

7. Make a guest list 

Who is going to come to your wedding? Chat with your parents about who they would like to include on the guest list. How do you decide who to keep on or leave off your list? It is your wedding, being surrounded by family and friends can make it all the more special. Some couples choose to have a more intimate wedding with smaller numbers, this gives more opportunity to spend time with each guest. More than 100 guests makes it harder for you to get around everyone. Some cultures have big numbers with hundreds of guests at the reception, this is a real cultural experience to be a part of (and photograph). 

save the date idea, John Reyment

8. Save the date 

Everyone is so busy these days with schedules filled long in advance. Many couples are sending out “save the date” notices to prospective guests. This is especially helpful for international or interstate guests where they often have to arrange their annual leave around the date of your wedding. The more notice given the better.

9. Plan your leave from work

When you’ve set the date, start saving and apply to use your your recreation leave entitlement. Australians these days seem to just work and work, accumulating their leave entitlement. Less than a generation ago, people took a block of 4 weeks off every year. I’ve photographed some couples who finish work a day or two before the wedding and have just a few days off after the wedding before rushing back to work. Are we really that indispensable? Can your boss do without you for a few weeks? In most cases, of course they can… with planning. Couples who seem the most relaxed on their wedding day are those who take most of the week off the week before their wedding and then a few weeks after the wedding. It is always nice to have a few days at home after the honeymoon before going back to work. When I got married we took 5 weeks off, it was just amazing.

So once you’ve set the date, get your recreation leave application in!

10. Get healthy 

As every summer approaches, many people start dieting hoping to look great for summer. Many couples are also turning to training or exercising together before their wedding so they can look their best on their wedding day. Our lifestyle in Australia is increasingly sedentary. In Brisbane, it’s relatively easy to drive everywhere from door to door. You really have to make an effort to get exercise. When I lived in Europe, we walked everywhere and got lots of what I call “accidental exercise” we were simply much more active despite the weather. The Paris Metro was fabulous for a step class workout.

To get fit, you could join a gym or get a personal trainer. If your wedding budget doesn’t stretch to training fees, some simple ideas to get more active that won’t cost you the earth include:

  • Get up half an hour earlier and going for a walk together.
  • Park 1-2km away from work and walk the final distance to the office.
  • Take your own lunch to work, leftovers are great and save you dollars.
  • Go for a walk at lunch time. If you are in front of a computer all day, this will energise you and make you more productive.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift when you can.
  • Eat smaller portions more regularly, this helps speed up your metabolism.
  • Exercise in front of the TV.
  • Commit to exercise with a buddy or group, you will be less tempted to pike out of your session if it will let someone else down.
  • Swap that piece of cake for some fruit, the natural sugars will help satisfy sweet cravings.
  • Drink at least two litres of water a day, its good for your system and your skin.

Whatever exercise you do, just make a start. Set yourself a realistic goal and build from there, just get started.

Wedding car with bride and groom, wedding photographer Brisbane, John Reyment

11. Get started on securing the wedding services prefect for you

“How long in advance should we book providers for our wedding?”

This is a question I get asked frequently. There is no simple answer as circumstances are so individual for each couple. When setting a date, I do recommend you know that your preferred wedding venue, reception venue and wedding photographer are all available on your wedding date. Why include your preferred photographer in setting your date? Photographers are like artists with a signature style individual to them. If you have your heart set on securing the services of a professional photographer recommended to you, do so as soon as possible before another couple beats you to it.

To be sure the venues and services you want are available to you, planning 12-18 months in advance can be necessary for peak times. Having said that, we’ve had clients book everything they wanted for their wedding with just over two weeks notice! They were being transferred to London with their jobs and wanted to marry before they left.

I hope this helps get you get started in planning your wedding day, enjoy this special moment in your lives together and all the very best for your wedding day.