Have you been plotting your wedding day since you were a little girl? Or at least since you met the love of your life? Even if your significant other hasn’t quite built up the courage to get down on one knee, there’s a lot you can do to prepare for the big day. If you are ready for marriage and eager to get the planning rolling, even before getting that diamond ring, you are not crazy.
Actually, many experts agree that even a small jump-start on wedding planning is a wise move. Once you become engaged, the ball can get rolling pretty fast. But if you get started ahead of schedule, the days leading up to your wedding can go that much more smoothly and stress-free. So if you’re ready for marriage, here are six things to do before an engagement so that getting hitched can go off without a hitch.
#1 Discuss the Rings
Back in the day, the engagement ring was a surprise. The person proposing had most, if not all of them say, choosing the diamond ring that their partner would forever wear. However, times have changed. According to Brides.com, today 62 percent of couples shop for engagement rings together. Often, couples might shop for wedding ring sets so the bands and engagement ring match once they tie the knot. Another way you can shop together is by exploring semi-mount rings and allowing the diamond or stone itself to be the surprise.
However, if one partner prefers for the entire thing to be a surprise, there are a few extra tricks to get it right. Reach out to relatives and even their best friends for advice on your partner’s style. They can often point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a ring they will love, whether it’s halo engagement rings or a floating diamond on a tension mount.
#2 Collect Your Best Couple Photos
Another thing you can do before the engagement is to collect your best couple of photos. If you love to take snapshots or selfies of the two of you all the time, this can take you a long time, so you might as well get started.
To start, create a designated folder to store your collection. Then, if you use Google Photos or iCloud, train it to auto-store photos of both you and your S.O. Go through the album and download or star your favorite photos. This way, you will be prepared and know exactly where to hunt down images for an engagement announcement, Save-the-Date cards, or even your wedding website or add photos to wedding decor on the big day.
Don’t have a whole lot of decent snapshots of just the two of you? Take more leading up to the engagement or throw some hints that you’d love an engagement photographer.
#3 Nail Down the Wedding Style
Let’s be honest: You already have a secret Pinterest board with thousands of wedding-related items. Now you just need to peruse them and finally nail down a style. While you probably collected lots of ideas, the trick is narrowing it down. For this step, do a deep search and reflect on your history together. Don’t go with whatever wedding style is trending; you want to choose something that fits you as a couple. That’s what will make your wedding the most memorable.
For example, if you are an outdoorsy couple, an outdoor venue is more suitable, so aim for a wedding style that is bohemian and rustic. On the other hand, if you like the idea of a tropical wedding, consider something along the beach. With a wedding style in mind, you can search for the perfect venue or destination, as well as the style of wedding dress and flowers you prefer. This way, you’ll know what to expect budget-wise.
#4 Create the Guest List
Another step you can take before the engagement is to create a guest list. Whether you intend to have an intimate gathering of close family and friends or invite everyone you possibly know, creating a guest list can help organize your wedding day.
Create your dream guest list first. Then, divide it up by importance, labeling names. Obviously, your closest friends and family members come first and, if the wedding budget allows, you would love your coworkers. But ultimately, you might need to make some tough choices and have a cut-off point.
Feel even more motivated? Take the preliminary guest list and create a seating chart. Even if you don’t know exactly who will RSVP just yet, a seating chart will help you begin to strategize who should be seated where and — let’s be honest — who should be separated.
#5 Start Getting Addresses
With your guest list prepared, start getting addresses. Even if you don’t know how many guests you can swing for, you can start on the top tier of must-have guests and work your way down. If you want to act discreetly and keep the potential engagement a surprise, start casually asking for addresses as if you’re just going to send a birthday card or holiday card. This might be tedious, but it will be less noticeable when your two nosy aunts connect the dots (you know who they are).
At this point, you might as well start a wedding planner to keep your guest list and addresses. Make it digital so you can easily keep track of RSVPs, meal choices and whether you sent a thank you note for the wedding gifts in the future too.
#6 Talk About the Wedding Budget with Your Partner
Before the engagement, make sure you and your partner are on the same wavelength regarding finances. This is important not just for the wedding planning, but as a married couple too. Being open and honest about finances is a key to a healthy relationship, so it might as well start now.
When it comes to your wedding, create a list of must-haves and decide what is most important to you. Maybe it’s the venue or perhaps it’s the bands that will forever symbolize your commitment to each other. Either way, talk to each other and set a budget. Find out who might be able to contribute — parents or grandparents or even a loan if needed. Give yourself some wiggle room once you start the planning process, but try not to blow it out of the water. Don’t start a marriage already in debt.
Hopefully, these six pre-planning steps can get you one foot forward to planning the wedding of your dreams. But, until the big day arrives, just remember to enjoy being engaged too!