Special Edition: So, you’re engaged. What happens next? I thought it. I’m sure you will think it as well. 

April 16, 2016

Well, for starters, get that rock insured! I don’t think it’s fair to review the provider we selected, as I haven’t had to place a claim. I won’t be able to REALLY critique them unless I have to place a claim, which hopefully I won’t ever have to, because let’s be real, I’ll probably cry if I do. If you are looking to obtain more info on the company, they are called Jewelers Mutual Insurance. They were highly recommended by the jeweler and are reasonably priced.

  1. Talk budget! Not only wedding budget, but house budget, and savings plan budget. Figure out what you are willing to spend on a wedding, what you want to spend on a house, what you can afford once you move in together, and how much money you can save jointly to reach all your goals. During this phase, MS Excel became my biffle. Start by setting up a joint account (I had a shit just got real moment when this particular step happened, so don’t be surprised if you do too). I recommend doing your research. Look for a bank that’ll waive all maintenance fees and offer a sign on bonus (might as well get something out of it). We went with Regions at the time because they were offering a $200 cash bonus for meeting their reasonable criteria (i.e. Direct deposit of at least $500, 10 purchases, etc.). This was fantastic! Especially since every penny counts now! If you don’t already have one, you might also want to consider a new credit card with good rewards. This will come in handy for travel. Don’t forget what I’m about to tell you… Always remember to pay off what you charge. Now is not the time to get in debt. In most cases, that’s the best way to maximize your rewards. You can usually get points for spending and more points for paying off the balances.  Also, do your research since offers are always changing. There are tons of websites out there, but I like NerdWallet. If I could have done anything differently, I would have started a joint savings plan even before we got engaged. It would have helped SO much to have a nice little cushion set aside for the wedding. I mean, we both knew we were going to get married, it was just a matter of when, so why not start savings early? This way you don’t have to scramble during your engagement to save for both the wedding and a house, which can be stressful.
  1. Talk destination! Do you want a local wedding or a destination wedding? In our case, since our budget is small and since we want an intimate wedding, we chose a destination wedding. This is a whole other topic in itself, which I’ll get into later. Stay tuned.
  1. Set a date! So you can finally answer the million-dollar question people start asking like the day after you get engaged. I mean, seriously, who knows when or where they’re getting married that soon?! You have no idea how much this question stressed me out.  It made me feel like I must be super disorganized for not having it all figured out so quickly. Talk about pressure. Once we got into it, this was actually a lot harder than we expected. We knew we wanted a date tied to our dating anniversary or engagement anniversary. It was basically a game of process of elimination. Since we’re going tropical, hurricane season was out of the question. That’s like five months out of the year, including summer vacation for the kids.  Now what do we do with the kids of the family if they can’t miss school? What’s the weather like? Is it rainy season? Any major holidays? The list goes on…. The best piece of advice we got was to worry only about what we want because it’s our wedding. This helped tremendously! At that point, we were left with January through May or October through December. Working backwards and from our perspective, October through December was too far away and an expensive time of the year for our guests.  January through February were a little too early in the year. Plus, we were worried traveling would be hard for those still recovering from the holidays. April is my birthday and a busy month in my family, so April was a no go. After all the eliminations, we were left with March or May. Given our date requirements, we only had two options. We ultimately went with the later date just because we felt it gave our guests more time to save and it’s after tax refund season, so hopefully this makes it a little easier on our guests to travel. At the end of the day, every couple has different requirements and perspectives; just talk about it and you’ll figure it out. Like we were told, it’s all about the two of you and what you want. As long as you don’t lose sight of that, you’ll be fine.
  1. Figure out your guest list. This is important because your guest list is directly tied to your budget. You want to celebrate with everyone but that’s not realistic on a small budget. If you’re like us and have a combination of a large family and a lot of friends, things can get expensive pretty quickly. To be honest, this task has been the most difficult one for us so far. It’s actually still in progress. There are so many politics involved with putting together a wedding guest list. Do I invite this person even though I haven’t seen or talked to him or her in over six months? Will he/she be offended? If I went to his/her wedding, do they have to come to mine even if we don’t talk anymore? Is a third cousin you haven’t talked to in years going to cause family drama if he/she doesn’t get invited? You get the idea. Here’s our strategy, I’ll let you know later how it works out for us. We started with a MS Excel list of everyone we could think of, which resulted in 185 guests and it keeps growing. Then, we flagged those we knew wouldn’t miss our big day like immediate family members and close friends. Then, we flagged everyone we haven’t seen or spoken to in six months or more. Those guests will get invited in waves, so we can control our guest count as other guests start to rsvp. All we can do is hope it all works out and no one gets offended, but at the end of the day we have to work within our budget.
  1. Set up a wedding website. I used weddingwire.com because it’s free and they have an rsvp feature I want to use instead of the traditional rsvp cards that go out with the invitations. From my perspective,  it’s easier and more convenient because it’s automated and can be exported to excel. Also, let’s be real, Im exaggerating if I say I check my mailbox twice a week. Plus, it’ll save us some money. My perspective is that invitations end up in the garbage, so I don’t want to spend much money on them. Quite honestly, if it were up to me, I’d send an evite, but we’re not there yet. It’s very frowned upon. I understand that I’ll probably have to manually rsvp some of the less technological savvy guests myself, but I’m ok with that. Who knows, I might even decide to order a small bunch of rsvp cards for those individuals. We’ll see, I’ll figure it out later. Aside from the rsvp feature, what I love about this website is that it’s EASY and they have SOOOO many website themes to pick from. I did everything in a few hours. I highly recommend this site. I know it’s going to make my life easy and save me money on invitations because I’ll have to print less information out on them. Convenience and effectiveness, two things I love!
  1. Save the Dates. Send out save the dates as soon as you have all the information sorted out. The sooner the better, but you have to have all the important stuff ironed out before you send them out or you’re going to get A LOT of phone calls and texts asking you where it is, how much it costs, how do they book, etc. Again, you want to make it convenient for yourself and your guests by getting all the relevant information together. In my case, I’m just waiting for the travel agent to finalize the travel packages and I’m sending those bad boys out with a link to my handy dandy website.
  1. Set up your registry. We picked Bed Bath and Beyond because you can get just about anything there, they have good sales, coupons, and it was easy to start online. They also have a fantastic consultant you can meet with who will help you finish your registry. She thought of tons of things we needed, that we didn’t even know we needed. Our favorite part is that we get 20% off of every item that’s left in our registry up to a year after our wedding date. This way, we can buy whatever we’re missing.
  1. Pick your bridal party (or propose to them). This whole wedding has brought out my sentimental side, so I chose to propose to everyone with a handwritten card. My fiancé refuses to-do something cute because “guys just don’t do that kind of stuff” but I wish he would listen to me.
  1. Pinterest Pinterest Pinterest! If you don’t already have one, get a Pinterest account and please make your boards private (thank goodness for this feature). I’m sure no one wants to see the hundreds of wedding related posts you will make throughout your journey. Plus, you don’t want everyone to see your ideas. Keep them guessing so they’re surprised the day of the wedding.

I think I’ve given you plenty to think of and keep you busy until my next post. This is a good “phase one” approach for the first 4 months or so of engagement. I hope this helps. I’ll be back for the next “phase” for the lack of a better word. I hope you stay tuned.