Cheryl and Omar's Heartwood Hall Wedding

You’re Engaged! Now What?

It’s engagement season. With Christmas and the New Year, there are a lot more new brides out there than at any other time of the year. I wanted to post a guide that would help all you newly engaged through the process. The problem? I’m not a bride! I haven’t been newly engaged for 20 years. So I called in some help…

Lucky for me, I have lots of clients who are also experts! Cheryl got married in April of 2014, and we were lucky enough to shoot her wedding!

Cheryl and Omar's Heartwood Hall Wedding

Cheryl is also a foodie, a fashionista, and a marketing genius. She owns her own social marketing business (I’d be lost without her!), which she runs while blogging and raising her brand new son. I am thrilled to have her as a guest blogger, and I hope you find her information and advice as invaluable as I did! I’ll let her take over now!

you're engaged

So, you’re engaged! First things first: congratulations! This marks the beginning of one of the most exciting (and stressful!) times of your life. Whether you’ve got your ideal wedding planned out to the tiniest detail on Pinterest or whether you were totally caught off-guard by those four big words, it helps to know what comes first after the most significant answer you’ve probably ever given anyone.

I’m a bride and blogger (find me at The Stylist Quo) using Amy Hutchinson Photography for my big day, and we’ve put our heads together to create a list of the most important things to do after getting engaged.

1. Get a manicure

You're Engaged! Now What?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it can easily get lost in the chaos, too. You’ll be showing off that ring everywhere you go, posing for Instagram photos (after you complete #3, of course), and having that hand yanked out by seemingly everyone to get a good look at that rock. Take some time for yourself and get a manicure so you feel confident when those buggers reach for your digits! Whether it’s a professional mani at your favorite spa or an at-home DIY treatment, pick a pretty color that’s not so bold that it will compete with the ring. Oh, and get used to it – I hear the same invasion of space happens when you’re pregnant!

2. Decide together whom you’ll tell first and how

Before you and your new fiancé go huddle over your smartphones to share the news with the world, take a minute and decide whom you’ll tell first. Family? Parents? Your sister and best friend? Your ex-boyfriend? Just kidding on that last one, but do put your heads together for a minute and think through the grapevine. You don’t want mom getting upset because your cousin posted her congratulations on your Facebook wall before she even know what was going down! After you’ve decided who gets the news first, make a decision together how you’ll deliver it. Maybe you’ll spend a bit of time on the phone gushing over details of the proposal and sharing wedding ideas. Maybe a text to your college roommate will do! Whatever the channel, take a little time to decide how these important people would like to receive the news. My mom was, of course, hiding in the bushes with a video camera wearing head-to-toe black during the proposal, but I know if it’d happened out of town and I texted her a picture of the ring.. we’d have a problem! The key here? Minimize stress anywhere you can!

3. Coordinate a mass sharing on social media

You're Engaged! Now What?

Now that the VIP’s of your lives have heard the good news, coordinate a mass sharing of this big change with your fiancé. Maybe you’d like to surprise a few more friends out at a party later that night, or maybe you’d just like a couple quiet days alone together to soak in your new status and dreams of what’s to come. Whatever your M.O., decide when and how you’ll both be sharing the news on social media. Maybe you want some photos together to share; figure those out. Maybe you don’t mind being a little slick about it and posting a simple change to your Facebook relationship; that’s great, too. Either way, coordinating helps you two stay in control of the frenzy. There’s nothing to say you both have to share, that you have to share at the same time, or that you have to share in the same way, but posting a string of OMGOMGOMGs on your Facebook without asking your new fiancé might not be the best way to start the road to ‘forever’ – maybe he was hoping for a couple of those quiet “soaking” days! You might assume he couldn’t care less about this part, but, trust me, at least in my case, he probably cares more than you think!

4. Choose a date and venue

Heartwood Hall in Piperton, TN

Maybe you’ve already picked a date and venue! Maybe you knew the proposal was coming, and so you toured venues months before he popped the big question (in my case, left hand stuck permanently in my pocket to veil its nudity!). But maybe it’s all new to you. If so, spend some time and decide with your fiancé where you’d like to get married. Do you want to get married in town? Are you entertaining the thought of a destination wedding? Maybe you’d like to get married in your hometown, even though you both since moved to D.C. or wherever. Once you’ve selected a city, it’s time to start looking at venues. Decide the general vision you have for your wedding and use that mental image to guide your venue search. Are you thinking rustic, yet elegant? Try a restored barn on a plantation. Modern and sleek? Try a historic ballroom downtown. Choosing a venue promptly is so important, because oftentimes, the best book more than a year in advance. A date might be more important to you than a venue, and if that’s the case, the date will guide you in your search. But most likely, if you’re completing this list right after getting engaged, you should have a good chance at securing the venue of your dreams. If you’re dead-set on a venue, for example, you might have to change the date, though, like we did. 16 months in advance, our dream venue was booked for the one weekend in April we wanted, but we loved the location so much that we moved our proposed date in order to book the venue. Work this out among yourselves, but book now rather than later.

5. Choose a photographer

Why do you need a photographer already? Isn’t our wedding still a year away?! OMGSOMUCHTODO–I hear ya, I do. A photographer is going to be one of the most important vendors on your big day, providing you with one of your only solid souvenirs and ways to remember the joy. However, most engaged couples these days plan great engagement shoots to celebrate their new lives together, and if you’re thinking about these, you need to start planning with a photographer now! Additionally, many of the best photographers book up well in advance–take Amy, for instance. We booked her more than a year ahead! Like your venue, if you’re attached to a particular photographer, it’s better to book sooner rather than later. This will bring up the budget and all sorts of other less-exciting details, but choosing a photographer straight-away can be one of your best moves.

6. Begin brainstorming engagement photo session ideas

Spend some time on Pinterest and WeddingGawker looking at engagement photoshoot ideas that other couples have done. What do you love? What makes you cringe? What makes you want to squeal, “Get a room!” and not in a good way? Take note of your favorite sessions–the props, the setting, the outfits, the poses–and keep up with the inspiration to show your photographer. If they’re a great photographer, they’ll be able to work with you to produce your dream engagement photos.. which can lead to your dream engagement party invitations! Even if you don’t plan to use the photos on engagement party invitations, there will be countless uses for these later on, from save-the-dates and wedding website graphics to wedding favor tags and decor.. to heck, really awesome Facebook photos. Amy includes an engagement session for her couples, because she believes it’s critical to getting to know a couple and sharing in this incredibly exciting time. We absolutely adore the photos from our session!

7. Begin thinking about engagement parties

With all of this talk about engagement party invitations, it’s time to wonder if you’d like to have an engagement party and who might throw it. Maybe you have twenty sorority sisters just chomping at the bit to throw your engagement bash, or maybe you have fewer close friends in town since you’ve moved. Maybe you’ll throw one for yourselves, or with your parents. Traditionally, the engagement party is thrown by the bride’s parents (like everything else, it seems!), but our modern times are less than traditional. Do what works for you–for both of you. Whichever approach suits you and yours best, begin thinking about these details.

8. Plan basic engagement party details

Take into consideration when your wedding date is–this will determine when the engagement party should be. The engagement party packs maximum festive punch when it’s close to the proposal, but, because of the engagement party you have your heart set on or any other details, that might not be possible. However, as long as the engagement party is closer to the proposal than it is to the wedding, you’re squared away. Depending on when the engagement party is, then, ask yourself about invitations and other print materials. Are you even doing invitations, or are you rocking the eco- (and wallet-) friendly evites? Either way, you might like to sport your engagement photos on the invitations, so keep this in mind. Depending on when your engagement party is, you might not have time to setup your engagement shoot, wait for edits, and then order invitations in time. In our case, we wanted an outdoor engagement party in April, and we also dreamed of a gorgeous outdoor engagement photo session. However, the trees were still completely bare when we needed to do our engagement shoot to get photos on the invitations in time. Instead, we went with elegant photo-less invitations, but we’d have loved to have our mugs grinning all over the invites! Even with evites you’ll likely want photos on there. Talk this over with your photographer and see what you two can make happen. It might seem like an extremely detailed detail, but trust me, when you smack an engagement party invitation with a favorite engagement photo up on your fridge, you’ll thank me!

9. Book a hair and makeup artist for your engagement photos

We all know that we feel a bit better when we know we look good, and that bit of swagger and confidence can work wonders on your engagement photos. Especially if you’re not the camera-happy type, that added boost of beautiful will make you more confident in front of the camera, and engagement photos should look happy and relaxed! Additionally, picking a hair and makeup artist for your engagement photos will help you select one for the wedding day.

Above all, ENJOY IT!!! This is the only time in your life that you will be able to experience all the joys of being engaged. Take time to breathe it in and make some memories!