Congratulations, the proposal has been made and accepted and now the two of you are engaged to be married. Advice will start to flow from all directions from well-meaning friends and family once you start telling your news. Take a deep breath and smile, you may have been dreaming of this very moment for some time, and now it is here; you are engaged! Your engagement period may be a few days, a few weeks, months or even years; no matter how long the period of engagement, all couples use the time to plan their wedding, and to get to know each other better. This time should also be used to plan some fundamentals about your life together. Some of the major issues that should be discussed are: extended families, holidays and vacations, finances, major purchases, careers, and children. The engagement is not just about planning the wedding; it is about how you will handle the major issues that will come up once you are man and wife. Making decisions now will avoid major surprises or disagreements in the future. Here are some tips that you may wish to discuss during your engagement.
SPREADING THE NEWS
This is the fun part; you get to tell everyone that you are engaged. You curb the urge to shout it from the mountaintops, especially if there are no mountains around. The obvious ones to tell about your engagement are your parents, close friends and siblings. These people will want to know about the news direct from you instead of reading about it in the newspaper. If you live in your parent’s house this will be easy to do as when you return home from the big event, they will see your news all over your face. If you do not live with your parents and siblings at the time of your engagement, arrange to meet them for lunch, dinner or if your family is the totally spontaneous kind, just drop over to break your news to them. No matter how you do it, this kind of news is best told face to face. Loved ones will want to share in your happiness as soon as possible.
Once all your loved ones have been told it’s time to tell all the other essential people in your life. These people may include but not be limited to: your boss and coworkers, friends and persons you share a portion of your life with like those who are in organizations with you, committee members, neighbors.
Now that all your close family members, friends and acquaintances have been told it’s time to make the general public announcement. Not all couples chose to do a public announcement, but if you do decide to put an announcement in the newspaper it may be a good idea to consult both sets of parents as to anything they would like to include and what papers they may wish the announcement to be included in.
An engagement party informal or formal is also a fun way to spread the news about your engagement. The party can include just your close group of family and friends or you can have a bigger party with everyone you know. Usually the party is not a big affair and usually includes finger type foods and drinks. Toasts are usually made to the happy couple and the parents are usually in attendance and introduced.
The best purchase an engaged couple can make early on, is a wedding planner. This planner will give you focus and keep you on track when it comes to wedding planning. There are many details that can easily be forgot in the flurry of wedding happenings. Have one calendar between the two of you to jot down important wedding appointments like fittings, cake tastings, showers, and the million other tasks that will require either one or both of you to be in attendance. If you keep separate calendars the chance of a double booking for the same date and time is more likely to occur. Technology today has given us so many gadgets to keep calendars on like palm organizers, or shared computer software calendars that having the ability to see what both have entered on the calendar at a glance can save time and prevent double bookings.
Some of the things you may want to discuss as an engaged couple involve finances. Some of the items to discuss are:
Separate or Joint savings and checking accounts or would a joint account be best. During this discussion it is important that both of you disclose all of your financial holdings, accounts and financial portfolios. If either of you have been saving for the big day, now would be the time to disclose how much and where the account is. Knowing in advance how much is already available to spend on your wedding day will help you to decide how much if any is still needed to be able to afford the wedding of your dreams. A discussion on whether you are any good at saving would be a good idea. You may also want to let each other know what kind of spender you are while you are discussing finances. At the end of this discussion you will both have a better idea of which one of you will be best at keeping financial records once you are married, who will be best to pay the bills, and how any financial decisions will be decided once you marry.
Another topic to be discussed is how the two of you will handle extended family issues like do you expect them to just drop over unannounced, and how often you will be seeing each others family members. Does either side expect the two of you to spend weekly Sunday dinners with them? Will either or both sides expect you to spend holidays and vacations with them? When there is a problem to be handled with either extended family, who will decide how to address the issue? Does he handle his family and you handle your family members, or do you both discuss and agree how family members are handled?
Another issue you will definitely need to talk about is the matter of children. Do both of you want to have children, and if so, when and how many? You may already have discussed this issue while you were dating, but now that you are engaged, this discussion becomes more real. Not only talk about if you want to have kids, but you need to talk about how you will raise them. Who will be the disciplinarian? Will either of you become a stay at home mom or dad? Now is the time to talk about things like how they will be educated. These issues will come up again in more detail of course once you have conceived your first child. It is a good idea though to at least discuss basics about the issue of children now, while you are engaged sometimes these issues can be complicated if the two of you were raised in different religions, or were brought up in extremely different cultures.
Once you have discussed finances it will be easier to outline a budget for your wedding. It is not unusual to have both families involved financially in your wedding and it is wise to have a talk with both families to find out if they wish to contribute financially to your wedding. The bride should talk alone with her family and the groom with his. The talks should start out with a description of the proposed wedding and the ideal budget. Then it should be detailed what the bride and groom have to spend on the wedding and how much more is needed to have the wedding of their dreams. Then ask if they would like to contribute, and if so, how much. Accept what ever their answer is and be considerate and appreciative of whatever the family answer. Once you have have this talk with both sides you can sit down with the combined answers and now what a realistic budget will be for your wedding. Once the budget is known, then you can start planning the wedding details.
There are many professional you can consult when planning your wedding. You can consult your parents, if you will be having a church wedding you can consult with the clergy who will be marrying you. There are wedding consultants who will plan your wedding for a fee. There are many bridal magazines that have wonderful articles on planning your wedding. Don’t forget your local library as a resource for many books on wedding planning.
The engagement period should be a happy time for both of you. A time to get to know each other and your families better and for them to get to know you as a couple. This is the time when you are not only planning the wedding, but planning your life together; where you will live, how you will live and many details of your life together will be discussed. Your wedding is just the beginning of the life that the two of you will share. The engagement period is a time to explore, discover and plan things about the life you will soon share.