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I typed “engaged” into my phone the other day and it auto-corrected to “ENGAGED!!!”…and if that’s not a sign of engagement season, I don’t know what is! If you’re one of the sweet gals out there sporting a sparkly new ring, I’d love to be the first to give you a big welcome hug to Southern Weddings. We’re thrilled to have you here! You can learn more about us here and pick up our latest issue here, but in the meantime, I know you must be itching to get started planning your very special day.

And that’s exactly what this new series is for! The Southern Weddings team is passionate about making sure that our readers have the BEST information at their fingertips as they dive into wedding planning–our goal is to give you all the tools you need to plan a meaningful celebration while you also, first and foremost, prepare well for married life. This series will walk you through the very FIRST steps to take after getting engaged. It’s easy to get super overwhelmed by inspiration and checklists and timelines, but we’ll worry about all that later–here’s what you need to do right off the bat!

If you’re reading as a new bride-to-be, you may have already tackled this first step, so we’re backtracking for a second for any girls who are waiting on a proposal annnny day now ;) The FIRST thing to do after saying “yes” and celebrating with your brand new fiancé is to spread the good news! Start with your parents, and then move out in concentric circles to siblings, BFFs, and other close relatives (especially older ones who may particularly appreciate hearing from you directly). It’s always fun to share in person, but over the phone is great, too! A little tip: before letting loose on social media (and watching the congratulations roll in–so fun!), do a quick scroll through the contacts on your phone to make sure you didn’t accidentally forget anyone who should be called or texted first.

Moving right along to the first physical step of planning your wedding (!!), you’ll need to put an organizational system into place ASAP. Some people like creating an email account specifically for wedding planning, but a dedicated folder in your inbox works just as well. For all the physical papers, note taking, and magazine tear-outs, a wedding planning binder is a must-have–and to be honest, when I got engaged, I was a little let down by the options I found.

Thankfully, we started creating the Southern Weddings Planner just a few short months later, so along with all the information our team has gathered over a decade in the wedding industry and after working with hundreds of vendors, we included everything I personally wanted in a wedding binder as I walked through my own engagement (yes, major #jobperks :)). Since then, the Southern Weddings Planner has undergone two rounds of revisions, and the 2017 version is absolutely the best yet! You can learn all about it and pick one up for yourself in the Southern Weddings Shop.

We’ll be back with more steps to take after getting engaged next week! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss a single post of this special series–there’s lots more fun to share! As a bonus, when you sign up, you’ll receive an exclusive “Will You Be My Bridesmaid” card printable created just for Southern Weddings readers by Sage Paper Company. It is gorgeous, and will be perfect for asking your best gals to stand by you when you get to that step of planning!

See more from this engagement session by Leslie Hollingsworth on our Facebook page!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Alexandria Palmer reply

    Just got engaged but our wedding will be in may/June of 2019

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Hello, belles! We’ve LOVED hearing from so many newly-engaged friends on Instagram this month – we can’t help but be excited right alongside y’all! Today, we’re sharing our best tips for the first things you should do after you get engaged.

For those who weren’t able to watch the video, take a peek at this post for a full breakdown! Here are a few steps we discuss:

— Spreading the news
— Putting an organization system in place (may we recommend our planner?)
— Starting the budget conversation
— Dreaming!
— Making an initial guest count
— Figuring out the basics of location and time
— Booking a venue and other priority vendors
— Insuring your ring

Want to save this post for later? Here’s an easy to pin graphic!

We’ll be sharing a quick and simple piece of wedding planning advice based on our most frequently asked questions once a week! Feel free to email us with your own question, or pick up a copy of the Southern Weddings Planner for all of our best resources in one place!

emily Written with love by Emily

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Hello, friends! One of my great passions in life is making sure that brides get GOOD information throughout their wedding planning journey (because we all know there is a lot of BAD information out there). It’s probably no surprise, then, that one of the first things any friend or acquaintance of mine does upon getting engaged is call me up. AND I LOVE THAT!! Nothing makes me happier than helping others plan a wedding — in fact, I much prefer it to planning my own :) But, since I can’t consult with each of you individually, I thought I’d lay out some of the first advice I’d give to my own BFF, were she to ask. (She’s not engaged yet, but mercy you know I’m eagerly anticipating that phone call!)

1. Spread the news. Start with your parents, of course, then move out in concentric circles to siblings, best friends, and other close relatives (especially older ones who would appreciate hearing the news directly from you). If possible, deliver the news in person; if not, over the phone. Depending on your family dynamic, I think a group email to more distant relatives is perfectly acceptable. After all the VIPs have been notified, feel free to let loose on Facebook or Instagram!

Josh McCullock via Southern Weddings

2. Put an organization system in place. Once you’re engaged, paperwork and information will mysteriously start to accumulate faster than butter melting on a biscuit, so figure out a way to corral it. We can’t recommend our Joyful Wedding Planner enough, since it comes with tons of useful information AND allows you to clip in contracts and info from vendors along the way!

Al Gawlick

3. If you haven’t done so already, start saving — and start the budget conversation. Even if you might not know exactly how much your wedding will cost, it’s a pretty good bet that it will be expensive. Like all expensive things, the sooner you start saving, the smaller the amount per month you need to save, and therefore the less painful it will be. Thankfully, even though it’s nearly impossible to know how much the wedding in your head will cost before talking to vendors, it’s still possible to set your budget, because your budget should be based on the amount of money you have, not the amount of money you want to spend. In addition to tallying whatever you and your fiance will contribute, check in with both sets of parents (if they haven’t made the first move). I would recommend going into the conversation with a grateful heart and without expectations, and being thankful for any contribution they might want to make. Lots more budgeting advice here.

Ashley K Photography

4. Dream a little. Yep, even before thinking about a guest list, I’d encourage you to dream a little. After all, if you and your fiance decide that the perfect wedding for you is a intimate destination luau, that will certainly affect your guest list! Some gals will know right out of the gate what type of wedding they want (or, let’s be honest, years before) — and some will have absolutely no idea. Either way, it’s okay! Hop on Pinterest or crack open your issue of SW and start pulling images that appeal to you. Aside from individual details, I’d really encourage you to think about how you want your wedding to feel — the individual details will follow from there. John and I had a couple of key phrases for our wedding — classic elegance, tradition with a light heart, easy and effortless, and intentional — and I kept them in mind when making every decision. Super helpful.

Ben and Colleen

5. Draw up a guest count. Once you’ve got a rough idea of what sort of wedding you might be interested, it’s time to start thinking about who might attend. Ask your parents for their ideal lists, and draw up one of your own. There will be plenty of time later to add or subtract, but at this stage, all you want to know is whether you’re dealing with 50 people or 500.

Dixie Pixel

6. Figure out where (in general) and when (in general) you want to get married. For some couples, the where might be a snap decision — maybe it’s the bride’s hometown, a family vacation spot, or the city where you both live now. For others, there might be a range of possibilities that need to be narrowed down. Same with the when. John and I knew that there was no other month for us besides September, but my sister in law and future brother in law (who just got engaged — whoo!) were considering months from January 2014 to April 2014 to October 2014. Openness like that is great because it gives you more flexibility with venues, but it also leaves a lot of things in flux — namely, how much time you have to plan.

Polly Alexandre

7. Book a venue, and start thinking about priority vendors. I would not recommend booking any other vendor (or even buying your dress) before you’ve signed on the dotted line for a venue. However, if there’s a photographer or videographer or any other vendor you have your heart absolutely set on, absolutely reach out to them as you narrow down dates to make sure their schedules are clear. John and I knew that we needed a date that worked for our venue, photographer, and officiant, so we made sure all three were in the loop before confirming September 15.

Tec Petaja

8. Insure your ring. Your jeweler will likely have provided an appraisal by a certified independent gemologist with your purchase; if not, make sure you get one. Many existing homeowner’s or renter’s policies allow you to add a jewelery rider, but there are also great options for a separate policy. Whichever you choose, find out if you’re covered if the ring is lost, stolen, or damaged, as well as how the replacement value is calculated.

Friends! I’d love to hear from you. Who was the first person you told about your engagement? What did you book first?

Dixie Pixel and Josh McCullock are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Kristin reply

    Yes! I love this advice – both practical and thoughtful. The engagement season is so special. Our first phone call was to my parents – well after midnight!! Imagine my surprise when they were still awake and sitting by the phone waiting for us to call (I think they answered on half of a ring *wink*). We spent the next day calling family and close friends and soaking in the first moments of being engaged. It was so fun to get to share such big news with the people that mean the most to us before digging into all the planning.

  2. avatar Chamaine// All in a Soiree reply

    Great insightful article

  3. avatar Corinna Hoffman reply

    Great advice!

  4. avatar Ashleigh reply

    Very good advice! All the big things to consider when starting off- for sure! We called our parents first and then other family members and then BFFs, etc. We spent 3 hours calling people that night and a few the next day making sure everyone knew before it was leaked on social media. We booked our venue, photographer, caterer all within a week of getting engaged! And now we are just 10 tiny days away from the biggest one! Exciting to see it all coming together now!

  5. avatar Florida wedding inspiration- Advice on recipes, fashion, style, and events! reply

    […] So you said yes and now its time to start planning! Need a few hints on what to do after the engagement view this advice […]

  6. avatar 8.9.2013 | Madi Reid Sanders reply

    […] my newly engaged friend to “dream a little” with this awesome article written by my sweet Em. A must read for […]

  7. avatar Nancy Ray reply

    Love this helpful advice, Em! I agree wholeheartedly. In reference to #1, I called my mom and my sister first, followed by the concentric circles you recommended. However, I did not call or text my cousin Michael, who I grew up with and graduated HS with. He was pretty bummed that he found out through Facebook! So, to echo your words of wisdom, it’s important NOT to rush things on social media. Think through everyone who is important to you, and tell them first!

    Great post. I’m saving this for some friends who might be getting engaged soon!

  8. avatar Week in Review: August 2-8, 2013 reply

    […] Expert Advice: First Steps After Getting Engaged […]

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  10. avatar theresa ainsworth reply

    Recently I was asked to co-chair our church shower comittee and our 1st issue at hand is where is the cut off. ex. We are hosting a bridal shower for our 80 yr life long pianist/member’s grand-daughter who lives/grew up out of state, is not attending the shower and and most of us don’t know her. 2nd) We are holding shower for 2 ladies who have been previoously married. 3rd) We are having a shower for a members son and he does not attend church but his father is the “head decon”. Do we set and send out rules for future guidlines? Please help asap.

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  12. avatar Mary Funari reply

    Do you know where to find the little girls’ dresses with the monograms pictured above?

  13. avatar Rene reply

    WOW! I really needed to hear all of these tips! I am 20 years old and just recently got engaged to the love of my life and am beyond excited about planning our wedding. I am absolutely have always dreamed a real southern wedding! I would love to hear more advise!!!!!!!

  14. avatar Lindsay Everistta Bridal reply

    Very good advice! We booked our venue first to set the tone of the wedding and the photographer came next. This was before the days of Pinterest. I had a 100 page ppt deck of inspiration! Lol!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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