Did you get one of these recently? Something shiny and diamond-y perhaps?!
Pop the champagne, YOU'RE GETTING MARRIED!
Congratulations on your new engagement, such a fun and exciting time! Your mind is probably RACING with thoughts, feelings, things to-do, and just all.the.things. It's hard to know where to begin. Well take it from someone who's been through it herself and has seen many, many other couples navigate through as well.
Read along below for my 4 tips for the newly engaged to kick-start a stress-free engagement, a hello joyful wedding day, and a happy and healthy marriage.
1. Pause the Planning. It can be all too easy to dive right into wedding planning, cause you're SO dang excited - I know! But you're in this special season for a short time. Put all the to-dos and wedding plans on hold for just a bit, and be present for a moment. Savor the proposal, how you were asked, and all the special moments that you as a couple to today. Enjoy the newness of the word fiancé and the way your smile peaks as you say it. Admire the twinkling ring on your hand and all the ways bright lights make it shine larger than life.
Simply soak up all the new feelings of finding your person, and all the joy and love to come with them. You'll have all the months ahead to hit the ground running in planning mode. But you only get this just engaged phase once. Don't rush through it. Spend time journaling and taking notes of all you're experience. Celebrate with your friends and loved ones, and invite them into the excitement. And allow yourself some special quality time, just you and your fiance, to simply treasuring the thrilling season of engagement. Celebrate where you have been and where you've chosen to go together. You've taken a big step together. Take a pause, and soak it all up.
2. Set a Realistic Budget Together. One of the very first things you should, before you do any actual planning, is to determine your budget. Modern-day weddings are not a cheap party, so it's important to be realistic about costs and what you can afford together. Talk through what you each want to prioritize on your wedding day, and research the expected costs for that investment. This will help you accurately allocate your budget.
While you're on the topic of money. Now could be a good time to talk about financial goals together. What are your views on debt and how do plan to take on debt you'll have together? What are your goals for retirement and how do you plan to prepare for that today? If you want to have children, how do you wish to adjust your careers and finances to prepare? Where do you want to be financially in 5 years? I know these can be some tricky conversations to navigate (tip 4 can help with this). And you don't necessarily need to be in agreement right this second. For now, the value these conversations bring is a shared vision. This helps give more weight to why your wedding budget matters. And what you're working towards when you don't include some elements in your wedding day because it's outside of the budget.
A few last thoughts about money. Wedding days are a blast! And I love photographing them, but you guys. It's still just one day. However, your financial decisions follow you from your wedding day into your marriage for years to come. So set yourself up to enter marriage together as prepared as possible when it comes to your finances. You'll probably not look back and wished you spent more money on your wedding. But it's possible you might look back and wish you spent less.
3. Keep Your Relationship a Priority. Wedding planning can easily feel like a full-time job. I don't think people grasp how much goes into a wedding day until they're smack dab in the middle of it. Especially if you have chosen not to have a wedding planner. It can quickly encompass much of your time, energy, and thoughts. And before you know it, you and your partner go from fiancés to co-leaders of the party planning committee.
Here's the thing. I get it. I really do! Maybe you've been dreaming of your wedding day since you were little, and the moment to plan it has finally come! Just remember though, the relationship you are in is with another human, not your wedding day. So it's important to unplug from the planning once in a while and just enjoy each other without any wedding talk. Honestly, this is a really good habit we never stop cultivating. A work-life balance so to speak.
So keep your relationship a priority amidst planning. Because everything you plan on the wedding day eventually ends. Except for your relationship. And that's what you're doing this whole party for anyways. To celebrate the start of your marriage. So make sure you're keeping your priorities straight. Close the wedding binder and be intentional to spend quality time together not consumed by planning.
4. Invest in Pre-Marital Counseling. Say what? Yes, you read that right. I think a big shocker for newly married folks is how HUMAN their spouse is and *surprise surprise* how human they themselves are. And how much marriage reveals that. I think counseling is one of the best investments you can make for your marriage. Communicating your needs and navigating conflict are big parts of marriage. And we don't always know what we don't know. Meeting with a counselor can help walkthrough conversations and issues. And share tools that can help improve communication skills to build a happy and healthy marriage.
Another benefit of pre-marital counseling is that when and if a time comes and your marriage needs outside help, it's easier to take that step when it's a bit familiar. I want to emphasize that there is no shame in meeting with a professional to improve your marriage. Absolutely none. The stigma surrounding help infuriates me. It's getting better, but not nearly where it could be.