You're Engaged! What's Next?
Updated: Feb 21, 2022
Wow - you’re engaged! This is such an exciting time for both of you, but it can also be a little overwhelming, right?
There seems to be so much to think about, most of which wouldn’t even have occurred to you before (who knew how many shades of white a wedding dress could be ….), and it’s easy to think you have to tackle everything all at once, and as soon as possible.
You’re probably being bombarded with a million questions - “Have you set the date yet?” being right up there! - and being given all sorts of advice/suggestions from just about everyone you know!
But it’s important that you take things at your own pace and try to enjoy the planning process - it is possible, I promise!
As an experienced wedding Celebrant, I’ve been lucky enough to share in lots of couples’ plans and ideas for their wedding, and know how quickly you can feel information-overload coming on!
To help cut through some of the noise, I’ve asked some wonderful wedding suppliers to give us their top tips.
So, grab a cuppa and settle in for some valuable advice from fellow wedding fanatics who are dedicated to making the whole experience - from planning to the big day - as easy and as stress-free as possible.
The first tip might surprise you, but it is actually not to focus on your wedding day straight away, but to enjoy being engaged for a while. Mary Briscoe is an experienced wedding planner, and her number one tip is: Don’t Start Planning Yet!
She says “it’s so important to take the time to enjoy this special moment. Celebrate with family. Celebrate with friends but most of all celebrate together. Once the proposal has been made, and the stunning engagement ring proudly shown off, many couples rush headfirst into wedding planning mode, without savouring this most special time.”
Mary is absolutely right, of course! Take time to get used to being engaged and being in your loved-up bubble, with all your family and friends caught up in your happiness.
However long or short your engagement will be, there is plenty of time to get down to the nitty-gritty of planning - you can trust me on this one: we planned our wedding within 12 weeks (long story!) and people still talk about what a fantastic day it was (32 years ago - yikes!)
What better way to really make the most of being engaged than by booking an engagement photo shoot with your chosen photographer! There are so many reasons why this is a great idea, and an amazing photographer, Victoria Welton, sums it up like this:
“Not only does it give you the chance to get to know the person you will be spending the majority of your time with on your wedding day, it will help you understand better how they work, meaning you will feel more at ease with them on the big day. You could also use the images on your wedding stationery or as a way to collect your guests’ signatures and messages.“
She has also written a great blog post on the subject: https://victoriaweltonphotography.com/5-top-reasons-for-an-engagement-shoot/
Photo credit: Victoria Welton
Many couples choose to have the most beautiful stationery made especially for them, and which matches their theme perfectly. This is a great way to give all your guests a glimpse of the style and feel of your wedding day, and helps to build the anticipation even more (as if it needed it!)
Michelle Collingwood at MC Designs speaks from experience when she says “it’s a good idea for couples to start looking into their stationery as soon as their date and venue are confirmed as, quite often, they will have no idea of how long their chosen stationery may take to make.”
It’s important to keep in mind that bespoke stationery is just that: made to order, so really isn’t something that can be left until the last minute.
Your Wedding Ceremony
It’s no surprise that I’m going to advise thinking about your wedding ceremony! The whole reason for the day is that you are getting married (eek!), and all your friends and family are coming to help you celebrate, so why not take time to look at the options for your wedding ceremony in the same way as every other part of your day?
Of course, I’m going to say that a Celebrant-led wedding ceremony is the one to go for if you’re looking to elevate your wedding day to the next level, and to really make your day memorable for you and your guests.
But, you might decide that you prefer the idea of the standard Registrar-led ceremony. If that’s right for you, then absolutely go for it. The important thing is that you explore all the options and find out as much information as you can - just like trying on a few wedding dresses! - rather than just booking something because you thought you had to, or hadn’t realised that there even was another option.
It’s all about making an informed choice so that everything about your wedding day is exactly as you’d like it to be.
I’ve written a couple of blog posts which might help, too: What's the Difference Between a Celebrant and a Registrar? and What's the Difference Between an Independent Celebrant and a Celebrant Registrar?
I’m always happy to answer any questions about your ceremony which might help you make the right choice for you, so feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation chat (Click here to book a call with Tanya).
Have Your Cake and Eat It!
When it comes to the wedding cake, it can be so difficult to choose, and this is where you need to talk everything through with your chosen cake-maker - and, hopefully, sample a few different flavours along the way!
Lindsay Pemberton, luxury cake-maker, advises you to focus on the design of your cake, rather than worrying about the number of portions you’ll need.
As she says, “If you want a WOW cake design but don’t want lots of cake left over, you can incorporate faux tiers (made of polystyrene) into the design and no one will know the difference.”
Dancing the Night Away
Does the mere idea of a public first dance fill you with dread? Or will you and your partner go full Strictly, and learn a choreographed routine to amaze your family and friends? Are you somewhere in between and are not really sure about a first dance, but think it’s one of those things that you “have” to do at a wedding?
As with everything else, it really is completely up to you! The whole day should be choreographed (sorry, couldn’t resist!) around what makes both of you happy, and no part of it should make you feel anxious or worried.
Do your research and look at all the options available - you might come up with something you would never have thought of which might be just the thing! Something like a ceilidh, maybe?
As Schuggie, from Schuggies-Ceilidhs explains: “having a ceilidh first dance means all your guests get to join in from the first chord, making it much more memorable for everyone. It also gets that first dance monkey off your back, and means you can relax, socialise with your guests and not worry about having to “encourage” folk onto the floor.
They don’t need to know what to do, your ceilidh will have a caller to direct the action along, but remember, half the fun of a ceilidh is making mistakes!”
(And, as Schuggie says - “it’s pronounced key-lea, btw!”)
When thinking about your guests’ entertainment, don’t forget your younger guests who can easily become overwhelmed/bored/tired by everything that’s going on.
One idea is to plan little distractions for children, from table-top activities that keep them busy during the speeches, to a treasure hunt for slightly older children, with little prizes hidden around the venue.
An increasingly popular option is to bring in the professionals! Kimberley Bhagat from Little Wedding Creche says that it’s the ideal way for your guests to make sure they don’t miss any special moments, and “can really enjoy your big day to the fullest, whilst their little ones are being looked after and entertained by fully-qualified staff in their own dedicated play space.”
Definitely sounds like a win:win to me!
Enjoy the Planning
As I said at the start, take everything at your own pace and enjoy it! If it all starts to get too much, step away and take a break from it for a few days.
A friend told me how she and her partner made sure to have at least one wedding-free day each week, when there was no wedding talk at all, and they could just get on with enjoying their ‘normal’ life...
Sounds like they were off to a great start in their soon-to-be married life already!
With huge thanks to these lovely suppliers: