Did you receive an extra-sparkly gift under the Christmas tree or while ringing in The New Year? If so, congrats! One of my best friends just got engaged (hey Stella!) and I’m looking forward to sharing in her joy as a bridesmaid in the coming year.
Since she relocated to Jacksonville from New York a couple of months ago, I couldn’t celebrate with her in person and I was really bummed out about it. So, I did the next best thing I could think of: I mailed her a huge stack of my old bridal magazines and used Post-It notes to tag all of the things that reminded me of her, whether it be a dress, reception detail or bouquet. Stella loved it and she said my inspo package arrived at just the right time — the engagement euphoria was settling down and she was gearing up for planning.
Someone asked me recently how I still get so excited about weddings after marrying my husband Jason just four months ago. Shouldn't I be swearing off taffeta and color palettes forever and just indulge in all of this free time that I have, now that I'm not painstakingly coordinating a 300-person event?
Well, as the Senior Web Producer of Bridal Guide, it's my job to be passionate about weddings. But even if I didn't work here, I still think it's important to pass along the torch and support our friends and relatives during one of the biggest transitional periods of their lives. Getting engaged is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will fundamentally change your relationship forever.
When I was a newbie, I remember feeling panic-stricken a few months in, once I realized I had to stop daydreaming about my wedding and, you know, actually plan something. None of us are born knowing all of the answers overnight, even if we thought we were prepared before the proposal actually went down. I began to reach out to other couples that I trusted for advice and their small acts of kindness made my nuptials that much more amazing. (Note: Don't ask everyone for their opinion or you'll go nuts! Just use your best judgment.)
My wedding VIPs: Stella is pictured at the far left.
Photo Credit: Josh Lynn Photography
Contrary to the myth that we all morph into self-serving bridezillas once that ring gets placed on our finger — which has become the rule instead of the exception on TV shows and films about weddings — most women are happy to pass along their hard-earned knowledge. It’s gratifying to know that we can potentially save someone else the migraine or make their big day that much more fun. Besides, the "firsts" don’t end after marriage (I’ll be hitting up my old bride friends for advice on house mortgages and parenting someday).
If you’re getting married around the same time as another friend or relative, like I did, then this spirit of goodwill becomes even more important, since people may make unwarranted comparisons between the two events. Trust me: Even if you both have similar taste in bridesmaid dresses and centerpieces and cakes, your wedding will still be 100% unique since it's a reflection of you and your fiancé, no one else.
Since there’s power in community, I asked BG’s Facebook audience (over 218,000 brides and counting) what other advice they’d like to share with newly-engaged couples. Check out their best tips below!
Don't Rush Into Planning
"My biggest regret was rushing into planning. I made very quick decisions and put down deposits and then when I really began thinking about what I truly wanted in the day, it was too late to change things without losing a lot of money. I wish I had just enjoyed being engaged for a while and then examined all of my options." —Kristin S.
"Take some time to enjoy your engagement before you start planning anything. Talk with your fiancé about what you both want for the wedding — it’s important to include him. Also, make a budget and don’t get suckered in by the first offer from a vendor that blows your budget out of the window. Once you sign those contracts, you’re stuck with them." —Cha S.
"Don’t make any decisions on impulse, even if you feel like it’s the right choice. Walk away and sleep on it!" —Sammy B.
Discuss Your Vision Together and Decide What's Most Important
"Secure your big stuff first (e.g. your location, guest list, and dress), then take a month-long break and enjoy being engaged before you resume planning. Giving yourself breaks will help keep stress levels down." —Jenn S.
"Make your budget early, including a list of the things that are most important to you for your wedding. Then don’t stray away from it once you start getting everything planned. It will also help prevent your family from getting carried away with their vision, instead of what you and your fiancé want." —Katie T.
"Visit a couple of wedding fairs in your area to get the gist of what’s around. It’ll help you decide on what you need and don’t want. The venue is most important so take your time — it’s not unusual for some couples to plan two years in advance! Ask venues and other suppliers for their vendor recommendations." —Jayne M.
"Decide what you might be willing to let go or compromise on. Hopefully you won’t have to, but I ran into a few compromises early on and got super frustrated." —Melissa K.
Create Deadlines for Each Goal
"Don’t put anything off! Have everything set, booked, purchased and put together at least three months before your wedding, if possible. This will make the process more stress-free and it prevents you from making last-minute changes or rush ordering due to not planning ahead." –Becky H.
Find the Right Balance
"Be sure that the people you ask to be a part of your day are willing to help when you need them. Don’t make any promises before you know what your budget will allow you to do. Also, don’t give all the ‘good’ jobs away to your friends and family only – including the groom’s loved ones can help make everyone closer." –Keeta R.
"Take time to relax with your future hubby, perhaps a couple of days each week, and avoid talking about wedding-related things. Enjoy the time that you have together and continue to do the things you did before becoming engaged." —Jacklyne S.
Think About the Big Picture
"In your pursuit of the ‘perfect’ moment, don’t lose sight of the true purpose of the day. You’re marrying the person that you love — everything else is inconsequential!" —Nancy W.
“Ignore all the naysayers!” —Christi C.
"Remember that the day is about your relationship, not just about you or your groom. Start building a strong foundation for your marriage now, before you even get married." —Stephanie M.
What else would you add to our list, BG brides?