Stressed about a wedding to-do list? First of all, take a deep breath—you just got engaged, which means you’ve just agreed to spend the rest of your life with the person you love, and you have so much to look forward to. But with an engagement comes wedding planning, which can be a highly stressful time to say the least. With the decisions of when, where, and what flowers looming over your head, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by what’s to come instead of enjoying the engagement, but this should be one of the happiest times of your life. So how do you make sure to do it right? Start by putting these 11 items on your wedding to-do list and you’ll be on your way to a happy, stress-free (as much as possible) engagement.
1. Enjoy the moment with your partner
Whether your new fiance proposed over a takeout dinner in your apartment with just the two of you or on a romantic getaway with your closest friends and family waiting for you in the wings, this is a moment you will want to remember for the rest of your life. You will be feeling a rush of emotions, but do your best to stay present. Avoid any desire to jump right into making decisions or wedding planning and just enjoy the present moment with your partner and loved ones.
If there were other people present during the engagement or you have party after party to celebrate, make sure to take time for just the two of you in the upcoming days. Your engagement signifies your decision to build a life with each other, and it is important for you both to enjoy that together. Maybe you had a photographer hiding during the engagement or maybe it was just the two of you, but either way, you will want pictures. Snap a selfie if it’s just you two, and don’t worry about your makeup, your manicure, or your outfit. You’ll have plenty of professional photos in your future if you want them—this time is all about the two of you.
2. Start spreading the news
As important as it is to enjoy the moment with your partner, there are likely some people you will be bursting to share your engagement with. Start with those closest to you and start making the calls (and FaceTimes) or sending the texts. Decide which people you want to make sure hear the news from you, and let them know before posting anything on social media. Once you’ve talked with those closest to you, feel free to head to social media and post the update there for your wider net of friends and family. No need to overthink this post either! This is a big moment in your life, and witty caption or not, your friends and family will be ecstatic to see the update.
3. Perfect and protect the ring
If the engagement included a sparkly new ring for you or your partner, I get it: You probably can’t stop staring at it or you can’t believe this sparkling piece of jewelry is yours to keep for the rest of your life. But after you take all the time you want to marvel at its beauty, make sure it fits. An engagement ring is not something you want to lose on account of a loose fit or get stuck on your finger if it’s too tight, so it’s crucial that the fit is just right. If the sizing is off (even slightly), make an appointment to see the jeweler to get it right as soon as possible. You will also need to get it insured and learn the ins and outs of when to take it off and how to clean it.
4. Find a photographer
There are a lot of wedding decisions you’ll be making in your near future and a photographer is just one of them, but it is one that you’ll want to choose early on if you are planning on having engagement photos. While wedding photographers tend to be one of the more expensive items on the checklist, these photos will be with you for the rest of your life, so it is a decision you’ll want to feel confident in. Photos to announce or commemorate your engagement can not only serve as a beautiful keepsake you’ll have forever but will also be a good test run to try out a photographer for the wedding and get to know them ahead of time. If you are taking engagement photos, plan in advance what you’re going to be using them for, where you want to take them, and what you want to wear.
5. Celebrate with family and friends
No matter how you decide to celebrate, don’t skip to the wedding planning without taking the time to celebrate getting engaged. Even if you don’t have the time, ability, or desire to have a formal engagement party, you still can celebrate with your family and friends. Plan a dinner with friends or send out a calendar invite for a virtual party on Zoom, and take the time to surround yourself with the people you love. Also, be prepared for a lot of questions from family and friends about the wedding planning process. Discuss with your fiance in advance about what details you’re sharing and what you want to keep as a surprise for the big day or which details about the engagement you want to keep between the two of you.
6. Talk with your partner about each of your visions for the wedding
While you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed about wedding planning, now is the time to start setting a clear vision with your partner on a date and some of the bigger wedding details. Have conversations about budget, ideal size (do you want a 50-person wedding or more like 500?), and any other initial preferences that comes to mind. Start collecting ideas and thoughts in a shared Google Doc or Excel spreadsheet or go old-school with a wedding binder to begin bringing those Pinterest boards to life. It’s highly unlikely you’ll agree on every detail of the big day, so establish your must-haves and non-negotiables while compromising on any disagreements that come up. The most important pieces to agree on are budget, guest list, and venue, but be ready to compromise or talk through the smaller details that won’t matter as much.
7. Decide if you want a wedding planner and schedule planning
While it may seem like you’ll be spending every second planning leading up to your wedding day, set aside specific times to plan to avoid overwhelm. First of all, decide if you want to enlist in a wedding planner and make a schedule of when to meet with them. Get clear on what details you want them to handle and if there are any specific responsibilities that you want to keep for yourselves. Also, don’t panic at the idea of shelling out money on a planner—often times, a planner can save you money because they are trained to negotiate the best rates and can work within your budget guidelines. If you choose not to hire a wedding planner, schedule time for you and your partner (and anyone else helping) to dedicate to wedding planning, whether it’s scheduling a few hours every week or dedicating each month to a different task (i.e. booking the venue this month, hiring a florist next month, etc.).
8. Create your wedding website and registry
As the news starts to spread of your engagement, your friends and family will want to know all the details. Create a wedding website where you can share as much (or as little) detail as you want about the proposal, how you met, and so on. More importantly, this is where you can house the answers to your most commonly asked questions about your wedding date, location, and registry. Be thoughtful with your registry. Chat with your partner about what you both want and what will be most impactful in your lives. For some people, this may mean a lot of kitchen and home supplies, and for others, you may want to ask for money for honeymoon experiences. Before adding something to your registry, decide if you actually have use for it or if it will end up collecting dust.
9. Determine your wedding party
For many people, the most challenging part of wedding planning is finalizing the guest list. Of course you might want as many people as possible to be a part of your special day, but most budgets do not allow for your entire social network to attend. The same goes for choosing your wedding party—while you may have a list of 20 people who you want to stand at the altar with you, that number is likely not logical (and photos would take forever). Determine the number of people you will have in your wedding party and take time to decide who those people will be. Know that your true friends will understand if you choose to have them as a guest rather than putting them in the wedding, and let them know how excited you are for them to be there on your wedding day. For the people you do decide to include in your wedding party, plan a special way to ask them. This could be a gift basket, handwritten letter, or simple conversation over drinks or dinner.
10. Don’t forget about your self-care
What better time to treat yourself to a massage or bubble bath than when you have a lot of wedding planning on your plate? Whatever your favorite method of self-care is, don’t let it fall by the wayside while you’re focusing on your upcoming big day. That means keeping up with your exercise or meditation routine, scheduling consistent alone time, and de-stressing in whatever way works best for you. Your calendar will only get busier as you get closer to your wedding, and you’re going to want to take these relaxing moments when you can. P.S. Don’t forget to allow time for self-care on your actual wedding day as well.
11. Make time to connect with your fiance throughout the engagement
Feeling overwhelmed or stressed? When you start to worry about everything being perfect, remind yourself that this is just one day in the rest of your life with your partner. PSA: Wedding planning should be enjoyable, and it really doesn’t have to be as stressful as many people make it out to be. You only have a limited amount of time to call your significant other your fiance, so enjoy this time and stay as present as possible, even through the busier moments. Also, don’t let wedding planning be your only time together. Set aside alone time for the two of you to reconnect outside of planning, and always remember that there’s a big difference between your wedding and your marriage.