What to Expect the First Few Weeks of Your Engagement
Your partner finally popped the question! You're high on love and can't stop looking at your sparkly new ring. Then the calls start: Everyone wants to know the date, the bridesmaids' dress color and where you're registered. Suddenly, you've gone from heartfelt proposal to fever-pitched negotiations (read: fights) about the wedding guest list, china patterns, the number of reception entrees and a ton of other brand-new wedding elements. Just breathe and remember these tidbits of wisdom from those who've experienced the madness firsthand.
Stop the Insanity
More often than not, moms are often the first to start asking questions. "The first thing my mother-in-law wanted to know when we announced our engagement was what kind of dress she should shop for," remembers Rebecca Menkens, a newlywed marketing director in Charleston, South Carolina. "And my fiance's grandmother wouldn't stop asking us about the date. She told us to hurry because her calendar was filling up already."
Sound familiar? It's easy to let people stress you out during the newly-engaged phase. Don't let them, warns Myrna Ruskin, a marriage stress specialist in New York City. "You're probably bombarded with questions from all sides," Ruskin says. "If people keep pressuring you about the date, don't be intimidated. Instead, say, 'Once we come off our cloud, you'll be the first to know the wedding date.' Whatever you do, don't miss the chance to bask in your new status and enjoy those first few weeks free from planning pressure."
Your moms (and other family members) also may not be thrilled by your decision to postpone wedding planning while you feel out your new commitment. "Some moms are very understanding and laid back, and others will be totally on top of the bride in particular," Ruskin says. "It's important that you respectfully ask your moms to back off for a couple of weeks. Most parents will get the message, even though they can't wait to start helping you plan." When you start to want input, you'll ask.
The First To-Do
Definitely revel in your new engagement, but don't linger for too long—that's where couples fall into the tricky snare of procrastination. It's overwhelming to consider every tiny detail so early in the game, but many things do require planning ahead (some wedding reception venues are booked a year or two in advance!).
So when the time is right and you get the itch to begin, don't freak out if your new fiance(e) seems disinterested or overly relaxed. One half of the couple is often the first to catch wedding planning fever while the other needs to recover from plotting the proposal.
And before you open the floor to family input, sit down with your spouse-to-be and privately discuss your wedding dreams (and nightmares). "Maybe you both always wanted an outdoor wedding on a mountaintop," Ruskin says. "Find out what's non-negotiable." Also, talk about how much you want your families involved in the planning and what specific tasks you will ask them to oversee. Being on the same page and having an organized game plan (even if it ends up changing) will give you both a sense of calm and control
The First To-Do
If both sets of parents haven't already met, this is the time to introduce them. Traditionally, the groom's parents call on the bride's (if they live far away, the groom's mother might call the bride's mother or send a note). Every family is different, though! If one set of parents are divorced (or vice versa), talk to your partner about the best way to bring the in-laws together.
Finally, a great way to approach this colossal project is to tackle some tasks together and split the rest fairly. For example, you'll probably want to choose ceremony and reception locations as a team. From there, it's easiest to assign responsibilities by interest—but resolve to make planning everything as fun as possible, from the tastings to sometimes-sticky budgeting talks.
The moral of this story? Don't let the logistics and people involved in your big day confuse your newly-engaged bliss! Treasure this exciting time -- you'll have plenty of time to deal with planning headaches later on (but we hope they're minimal!).