• Chapter One

    The Engagement

First Things First

Pop the bubbly, admire that new sparkler, and proudly start throwing around that fancy new french word – fiancée.

You’re engaged! Aaah, feels good doesn’t it?!

A Day Just for YOU

And in the years to come when you reflect back on that day, it will seem like the most magical, romantic day you ever lived through together. Perhaps, in my opinion, even more so than the wedding day itself.

The engagement day is a momentous day planned in advance just for YOU, which is pretty special to think about.  It was a wonderful moment shared between you and your significant other.  Excitement, surprise, love, adoration, happiness, deep joy, romance, nostalgia, and sexual desire all mix together into a swirling pot of emotional joy.  Leaving you on cloud nine.  

Emotions

However, after the ring is on your well manicured finger and you’ve said ‘yes’, you must think about your next steps carefully. If you don’t, they may leave you feeling ALL 27 emotions, including the not so happy ones.

You may start out on cloud nine in your engagement period, but things easily become a roller coasters ride of emotions as budgets, family dynamics, and big decisions take over.

So, before you shift into full wedding planning ninja mode, you need to do a little ground work to make sure that you have a good foundation between you and your new fiancé (there it is again, love it) to insure, a smooth wedding planning experience with the least amount of acute stress.

What Next?

In this chapter of  your wedding planning journey we will discuss:

  • How to properly announce the big news to friends, family, or even co-workers
  • Dealing with the paparazzi of inquiring minds and opinions
  • Getting on the same page with your partner
  • How to throw the perfect engagement party

Get your notepad out and get comfy. Pop another bottle of celebratory bubbly and, most importantly, enjoy learning about the most essential part of this wild wedding ride.

Spreading the News: Engaged!

What to do immediately after getting engaged and coming down from a state of perfect bliss?

Am initial reaction might be to take a picture, jump on Instagram, and share this joyous occasion with the whole world.

Hold up! We can’t stress enough how emotionally driven weddings are, and you don’t want to step off on the wrong foot from the get go.

Parents First

First, think about each set of parents and how they would feel if they found out you didn’t share this huge, life changing news with them first. When appropriate, both of you should jump on a phone/video chat with each set of parents. Many times an engaged happens in far off travel places, and you may not have immediate phone or internet access. No problem, the excitement will still be there a day or two later.

Better yet, if you can pop over to visit parents in person with the news, it make for a very exciting surprise.

Making a big gesture for out of town parents, you might consider planning a surprise trip to break the news to them in person, which would be very meaningful. However, if this would be the first time your partner has met your parents, consider giving parents time to adjust to the idea of the engagement first, then plan a trip to visit them.

Family & Friends Next

Once both sets of parents have received the joyous news, then reach out to siblings, close friends, and relatives. And of course, don’t forget about grandma and grandpa.

Previous Marriage

If one of you has children from a previous marriage, you have a few options for sharing the news.  You may be tempted to give kids the news before anyone else. But just remember that most children are terrible at keeping secrets, and they are liable to let the news slip to grandparents or cousins. We think it best to tell your parents first, but do what feels right in your situation.

If it works out, another option is to gather all your closest family and friends together and tell the news that way.

Formal Engagement Announcement

Engagement Announcement

Once upon a time, not that long ago, parents of the bride-to-be would mail everyone a written engagement announcement. Quaint, and not that common nowadays. Many couples choose to host an engagement party, which acts as an announcement. If an engagement party is not within your budget (or you would prefer not to have one), the formal announcement route can be a nice alternative.

Engagement Stationery

When searching online for formal engagement announcement stationery, the results turn up pretty dry. Only a handful of online stationers still offer them.  So what other options exist? Homemade is always an option. Email, phone call, or even a Facebook/Instagram post are all acceptable ways to announce your wonderful news.

If you have an engagement period that runs past 12 months, and you would prefer to send out an announcement card, be sure to only send cards to guests that you plan on inviting to the wedding.  Traditionally the announcements would be sent by the brides parents, but some couples prefer to do this on their own.

Wording

The wording of the announcement card is fairly straight forward and wouldn’t mention a wedding date or location. Typically, wording includes the names of the couple, names of parents, and can include work or education credentials.

Making The Newspaper

A conventional way to make your new commitment public is one that some brides see as a complete throwback to the goold ol’ days – the newspaper engagement announcement!

Parents and grandparents may be fond of the idea of sharing the exciting news with their local community, especially if they live in a smaller town and have watched all the kids grow up.

If you are not as keen on this idea, we’ll offer a word of advice: give them this one.

The key to stress management throughout the wedding process can be summed up in an apt cliche: choose your battles carefully.  Having your picture in the local newspaper is usually not a battle worth arguing over. Believe me, you will have many more trying times ahead!

Delegate Tasks

Managers know all too well that team success comes from everyone pitching in to help. This is a great opportunity to learn to delegate tasks. At times, your wedding will be an overload of work and emotions. Learning to let others take the reigns and complete tasks should help to reduce your stress level immensely.

So, if putting together a feature for the local news is not on your priority to-do list, enlist the ‘rents who will likely be happy to take charge of this task. Traditionally this task falls to the brides parents. Send them the photo that you would like published of the two of you, and let them deal with the rest.

Time-frame

Normally an engagement announcement is published 3 to 8 months before the wedding.  For those planning a smaller wedding, you might want to rethink publishing the news to the world, to avoid unwanted acquaintances reaching out for an invite.

Whether you are into the announcement or not, look at it this way: the newspaper cut-out will make for a fantastic addition when you sit down to scrapbook later on!

Ignition Points for Stress

A Word to the Wise

After your special someone has popped the question, your natural expectation is for the big news to be met with lots of well wishes, shrieks of excitement, and heaps of congratulations. Rarely is “Congratulations! How did he propose?” the last words out of anyone’s mouth.

Questions, We’ve got Questions

You will soon find out that a large tsunami sized wave of questions is headed your way. Inquiring minds each want to know:

  • When is the wedding?
  • Where will you have it?
  • How many people are coming?
  • Have you thought about Pantone’s color of the year (Ultra Violet) for your theme?

The list of questions is seemingly endless.

Questions that you may have not even discussed with your significant other crop up. If your parents are really vocal, they might even bring up questions about the wedding budget or trickier subjects around you and your fiance’s lifestyle (e.g., differing cultural and religious backgrounds), and how you will be solving these issues.

My advise: be strong and do not attempt to answer these questions yet!

This is the beginning after all.  Just because inquiring minds are demanding immediate answers, doesn’t mean you have to provide them. And you probably shouldn’t!

The Main Takeaway

With time comes experience. You learn that many people in life hold their self interest in mind  at all times — even when it comes to something like your wedding.  I could diverge on a complete tangent, but I will save that for another post.

Two key words to remember: opinion and expectation.

People tend to not look at the grand picture of what an engaged couple are thinking, or the fact that there could be a bundle of other family and friends all tugging for attention — all wanting to share their own opinion and expectations for your wedding.

When it comes to weddings, those beyond the couple getting married are more than willing to chime in and share personal experiences. Two points here:

  1. That is all fine and dandy, but it can become very overwhelming for a couple new to wedding planning — especially if that couple is indecisive and finds themselves with 15 new ideas to process.
  2. You may unintentionally give the person offering advice (e.g., a parent) the impression that you like and agree to their idea and not even realising that you did so.  Once that individual finds out that their idea isn’t being used, it has the potential to start conflict.

“Weddings are never about the bride and groom, weddings are public platforms for dysfunctional families.”

Lisa Kleypas

The quote above sums it up.

Which is why it is so important that until you have really taken a moment to process it all, make sure to discuss with your future spouse and get on the same page about what you want for your big day. Come up with a firm plan together.

DO NOT attempt to answer questions from friends and family!!

The minute you start responding to these questions, you might find that you have gone down a rabbit hole that can very easily turn into a serious disagreement over something you don’t really care about. Or, you may find that you are unintentionally backed into a corner, or worse find yourself at odds with your fiance because your future mother-in-law doesn’t agree.

So, if you haven’t yet agreed upon a few basics for your big day, we highly recommend using the following diplomatic professional PR response:

“We’re just enjoying this time and we will start planning later”

That’ll do just fine (donkey) … that’ll do.

Negative Response to Engagement News

Your Parents

Do you already know that engagement news will not be well received from one or both set of parents?

Have parents already made it clear to you that they don’t approve of the union?

Be cognisant of that fact and do not bring your fiance with you when you share the news with parents. Needless to say, the whole situation will be stressful enough, and it isn’t fair for your fiance to be subjected to unwanted negative responses.

Emotions can overcome anyone. If emotions get the best of parents and they decide to take up the decibel level by screaming something to the effect of, “are you crazy?” or “what are you thinking” … be strong and make it clear that your plans to marry are non negotiable.

The most important thing in an emotionally charged conversation is to stay calm and keep your tone respectful. If you need to remove yourself from the conversation because it has gotten too heated, that is always an option. You can try again once everyone has calmed down and emotions have subsided. However, be sure that you tell your parents how important it is to have them be part of your wedding process.

Your Fiance’s Parents

If the loud noises happen to be coming from your future-in-laws, try not to take it to heart.

Weddings are very much an emotionally driven process. The negative reaction of your fiance’s parents could actually be about something completely different — it might be a deep rooted issue from long ago.

Furthermore, not everyone enters adulthood equipped with the right tools to control emotions or know how to properly explain what they are really feeling.

Lashing out and using you as a scapegoat might be the easiest explanation. The blame game is always easier than facing reality. The real reasons for overcharged emotions might be due to control issues or even separation anxiety.

Either way, choosing to stay calm and not verbally striking back is in everyone’s best interest.

Mo Money, Mo Problems

You may have life experience to know that money almost always comes with strings attached!

This is especially true when spending someone else’s money on something that they don’t agree with, and a sure way to lead down a path of heartache and all kinds of tension.  Even if you have to scale down your big day, or wait a couple years to save up, it is always best to take full financial control in your hands and preserve meaningful relationships.

If the reaction is not a good one, it is a wise choice not to accept funding. Tell them that they will be included in the day and you love them very much. Whatever you decide, we highly recommend that you NOT accept their money, ask for their money, or feel that you need to involve them in the planning.  

We hope that you don’t have to cross this financial bridge. But if you do, be prepared for all responses.

Even if you have been with your partner for years and marriage is the expected next step, from your parents point of view it is a life-changing event.  It means that you are officially starting a family of your own – a huge deal.

Engagement Photos

Why take engagement photos?

Well, besides submitting them to us to be featured on the blog, engagement photos a really good way to find a wedding photographer whose work you love, and to be able to work with them before the big day arrives.

Depending on how important photography is to you, an engagement shoot can give you the chance to get to know a photographer, feel more comfortable in front of the lens, and learn the photographer’s style of shooting.

Trust me, you are gonna want to know that you get along with your photographer. Besides your fiance, a photographer is the one person who will be following you around all day long!

Once you get your engagement photos back you can use them for all sorts of things in the lead up to your wedding day. For example:

  • Announcing your engagement in the local newspaper
  • Many couples use engagement photos for save-the-dates
  • It can be nice to include the photos in your wedding decor
  • Give them as a framed gift to your family

Money Saving Tip: look for a photographer that includes engagement session as part of a wedding photography package.

Photography by: Walking Eagle Photography

Engagement Shoot Examples


We love all the engagement shoots featured on the blog.

Here is a look at different shoot ideas you can do too.

A classic engagement photo session is captured in a timeless moment with the couple and a gorgeous background such as a cityscape, sunset, water view, park or garden.

The end result is an incredible photo that should be framed and hung on your wall. Such pictures are fantastic to use for ‘save-the-date’ cards.  To achieve the perfect shot, ask your photographer for great location suggestions.

Photo: Made to be Mine

A styled engagement shoot is like setting up a set for a spread in a Vogue magazine. It requires the couple along with photographer to think outside the box and come up with creative and unique ideas.  Think about props or themes you could incorporate into the shoot that really speak to the both of you.

Styling of the shoot is really about having fun and showcasing personalities. For those who are not so keen on being in front of the camera, props to play with can really ease your mind to let you be more natural.

Photographer: Artful Adventures Photography

Choosing a theme for your engagement shoot really makes it personal and unique.

Make a shared hobby come to life through photos

For example, this is a picture of my good friend and her fiance during their engagement shoot.  They are both huge into motorcycles and decided to incorporate that shared passion into the shoot.  They said they were, “much more comfortable in front of the camera, because we were just having fun on our bikes.”

Photography by: Marcus Ducayen Photography

This is an aside, but one that we thought would be useful.  If you have a tight budget or don’t care to have a full engagement shoot, do what we did and DIY your engagement photos. Prop up the point and shoot camera against an object like your purse, set the timer, and grab a couple fun shots!

We hosted an impromptu engagement shoot in Florence the day after Andrew popped the question. I think ours turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. The photos came in handy for our engagement party invites too.

Photography: Love & Lavender

Engagement Party – Any Excuse to Celebrate

An engagement party is the first true public celebration of your newly engaged status. It is a day to loudly and proudly say, “meet my my fiance(e)!

There is no obligation to host a party, but it is a wonderful way to introduce each side of the family as well as different groups of friends.

Engagement parties date back centuries, and nowadays there is no real formal protocol for throwing one. This gives the host plenty of options for style and budget: a catered BBQ in the backyard, Sunday brunch, or elaborate cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in a swanky ball room would all fit the engagement party bill.

Engagement Party Invitation Wording Examples

How to Write Them

Bride’s Parents Hosting

You are cordially invited to attend an
engagement party given in honor of
Elizabeth Colthart and Jeremiah Conrad

(Insert Date & Time)
(Insert Address)

The favor of a reply is requested by (Date)

Hosted by Bride and Groom

Please join us in celebrating
our engagement

On (Insert Date & Time) at our home
(Insert Address)

Julia Sampson & David Fader

No Gifts Please
Please respond by (Date) to (Insert Email)

Hosted by a Single Parent

She finally said YES!

Join Rachel and Andrew
in celebrating their engagement

(Insert Date & Time)
(Insert Address)

Hosted by Samantha Harvey

RSVP to (Insert Contact Number) by April 28th

Engagement Timeframe

What’s the Point?

Many cultures and faiths have a betrothal period that stems from traditions that have evolved over time. For the most part, the engagement time period is for the same purpose: to make sure that the couple are a good match and that all family and friends are on board.

The “engagement” that many in Western society are used to seeing carries a distinctly North American classification.

The engagement period has come full circle, almost becoming a right of passage on its own.  It has become more elaborate, with higher expectation from all involved (can you say bachelorette trip to Vegas), more commercialised, and much longer.

According to a 2016 Real Weddings Study, the engagement period now averages 15 months long.  This is a modern day revelation, as no point in history have couples waited so long to say “I-Do!”

One might say that the engagement period has been extended because, well, it takes that long to organize and plan the perfect wedding that we have all become accustomed to thanks to TLC and all the wedding shows.

Or perhaps it’s that we need more time to save the funds and get a side hustle gig to afford those pretty extras that we think we need.

Or maybe it just that we don’t need to rush it.  Women make their own money now, and they are no longer being handed off from parents to husband, meaning the transition between dating life and married life isn’t as dramatic.  Many more couples nowadays live together before getting married.  So why rush?

No matter how long or short your engagement period, one important fact is to savour this in-between time and use it to explore each other more fully.

Besides calling each other “fiance” is just plain fun!

Discuss all topics. Everything should be fare game, like how to handle the in- laws, finances, long term goals and even communication patterns you want to implement.

Best to step in the right direction from day one. It is much harder to break bad habits (and expectations) down the line rather than just forming good habits from the get-go.

An engagement period is an emotional transition for everyone, which is why it is so important to take good care of yourself.

You may have never known what real stress or anxiety is before this time. Nonetheless, you need to know how to properly handle stress by tracking down root causes and implementing viable solutions.

It is important to look out for each other as well. Most couples report fighting more frequently, feeling less close and having less sex than they did before they got engaged. For a time in your life that should be super happy, those facts are unfortunately true.  

Look at the engagement period this way: after saying “yes!” all sorts of new guests – your family, his family, friends – show up to your previously cosy party of two. Throw in the biggest event you have ever planned (not to mention the financial budget to go with it), and it’s no wonder that you are no longer living in domestic bliss.

An important part is to have the right tools, guides, and be able to ask for help when you need it.

Wow! Was That a Good Introduction To Wedding Planning?

Congratulations! You are now official engaged with all the bells and whistles.  The first step towards the wedding of your dreams? We hope so.

Up next is all about defining your wedding style and getting everyone on the same page.

Be Notified The Minute Chapter 2 is Released.