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Newly Engaged Starter Guide Part 1: Words of Wisdom

Congratulations on your engagement! What an exciting and happy time!

There is a lot to do and I often hear from couples that they are immediately overwhelmed with the multitude of tasks looming ahead. Everyone starts to ask “when is the wedding” or “have you picked a location yet” and you keep saying “we haven’t decided yet.” The more people ask, the more you feel like you are falling behind some imaginery schedule or asking yourself “shouldn’t I be doing more?” Worse is when you have other friends engaged the same time as you and they’ve already picked a location, date, bought a dress, and you have done none of that.

Well, don’t feel that way. Besides these tips on being engaged, I wanted to add a few others:

  1. Do it on your own time. Really, what’s the hurry? Unless you are being deployed or have some other circumstances that is putting a time restriction on your wedding, don’t feel like you need to start planning your wedding the minute you get engaged. I’m not advocating long engagements at all but rather that you shouldn’t feel pressured to plan on someone else’s schedule. There are plenty of planning to-do lists out there that tell you that you should do this task and that task by 12+ months or 9+ months or whatever their deadlines are. Throw those out the window. Ignore them. (The tasks on those lists are still good, just not the timeframes.) If you go by them, I will guarantee that you will drive yourself insane. I don’t believe in haulting your life to plan a wedding. Plan on your own terms – on your own schedule.  If you can only spare a few hours per week, so be it. It may take you longer to plan or you have to  adjust how the planning will be done. If you have more free time and your life is more flexible, then great! You can plan faster or plan in more detail. If you need to stop planning for a few months, it’s OK. Keep in mind that there are plenty of people out there that can plan a wedding in just a short few weeks. Fit planning a wedding around what your life will allow for, not the other way around. 
  2. Getting your head around it all. Once you are ready to start planning, be honest with yourselves. How much time do you have on your regular weekly schedule that you can devote to planning? What events might be happening in the near future that can affect planning? Are you good at planning and organzing a big party? How are you at making decisions? Prioritizing? Handling stress? Talking about money? Making compromises? Are you and your fiance able to discuss a big project openly and work collaboratively? No matter which way you slice it, planning a wedding could be the biggest project that the two of you may be tackling together for the first time. Knowing how to work with each other on a project like this is no different than working with teams at your work place. I promise that this will become useful later in your marriage like doing major home improvements (ask me how I know).
  3. Knowing when to ask for help. Once you start planning and figured out how it fits into your life, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know this is tough for us “do it all” women but seriously, the stress is just not worth it. Decide on which tasks you are willing to spend time on worrying about the details and which ones you are not. Then delegate. It’s ok to delegate a task to your mother and she generally would really like it too! Give her some guidelines and then let go. God forbid but you may need to let go a little bit of control.   
  4. Do Your Own Thing. If you don’t remember anything else, remember this one. Over the course of the next few months, you will be reading lots of wedding magazines and wedding blogs. You will see some beautiful images of other people’s weddings and they will undoubtedly inspire you in some ways. They will show you the possibilities but don’t let these glossy images dictate or persuade you into thinking that your wedding should be a certain way. You may, as my friend said, quickly go from “inspired to lost in a blog haze.” It’s important to find your own voice in all this – your own style, your way of doing things. Ignore the trends and only incorporate them if they really reflect who you are and make sense. Cupcakes and candy buffets are trendy but if you hate cupcakes and don’t really eat candy, what’s the point? If you don’t like to dance, don’t. Don’t do a first dance. Don’t have any dancing at all by doing a causal brunch reception where people would not feel obligated to do so. Twenty years from now, you want to look back and still recognize yourselves in those wedding pictures and not ask “why did we choose to do that?’ Or better yet, when people ask you if you were to do it all over again, would you do it the same way? Your answer should be, “I would not change a thing.”

More to come in Part 2 — Vicky

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