Blushing Belle: Engagement & Wedding Planning Survival Guide

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CONGRATULATIONS! You found the one. You found the fanciest redneck, the sexiest southern bell, the classiest southern gentleman, a courageous cowboy or a cute cowgirl, no matter who you found, you found the one and that is spectacular that you two want to spend the rest of your lives together. Are you ready for the massive amount of questions, responsibility, crushing long hours, and ton of planning? WELL READY OR NOT, HERE IT ALL COMES! Being engaged is such an odd combination of bliss and indigestion. There are so many things that go into wedding planning. The internet and your family can prepare you the best they can, however, most of the time a wedding's details depend solely on the people planning it. Here are some tips, tricks and notes to survive the engagement and wedding planning.

Questions

You will be asked the same set of questions at least 36 times--and that's just within your first week of getting engaged. Here are some possible questions you may be asked:
-How did he propose?
-When's the wedding?
-Are you sure you're ready?
-Who's paying for the wedding?
-Who's your maid of honor?
-Who's the best man?
-When's the wedding?
-How many bridesmaids will you have?
-How many groomsmen will you have?
-Where are you going to go on your honeymoon? 
-Hold on, you're waiting how long to get married?
-When's the wedding?
-Are you pregnant?
-How long have you guys been together?
-Do you know what kind of dress you're going to want?
-What are your colors?
-How many people are you going to invite?
-SERIOUSLY, WHEN IS THE WEDDING?
I'm sure there are few really golden ones that I missed, but these are basically the questions everyone wants answers to immediately if not sooner.

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1. Don't Panic.

If seeing that list of questions overwhelmed you, oh honeybunchesofoats are you in for a ride. Don't panic. At the end of the day your wedding is exactly that---YOUR WEDDING. This is a special day about you and your special someone. You'll be able to figure it out. You have a ton of people willing to help you--family members, friends, a wedding planner, or even simply the internet. You have time. You have options. Take a breath.

2. It's Okay To Dream.

A lot of people have a "dream wedding" in mind whether it's this big fairy tale event that they have had a Pinterest board for since they were eight years old, or even simply just a couple of details that they have forever had their hearts set on. It is totally okay to have these dreams and goals and ideas. It is up to you to make them a reality. Sometimes, dreams don't work out--but that's okay! You do whatever you can to keep this wedding a dream of yours. Make compromises when you can, and fight for whatever it is that you need.

3. Making Sacrifices Is Part Of The Experience.

Remember how I just went over how you should fight for what you need? Well, you should also kind of know when to pick your battles. More often than not, you're going to have a final say in what happens at your wedding--especially if you are financing the whole shindig. However, there are those instances where some people that are contributing to the wedding, or are important to you, or are actual professionals with experience with this kind of thing, that will trample all over your dreams, ask for something that you think is ridiculous at the time, or will spend every waking moment of their lives making sure that something happens or doesn't happen at your wedding simply because it's something they want. Whether it's a mother-in-law that absolutely has to have lobster there, the maid of honor that hasn't looked good in purple since freshman year and refuses to wear that color dress, or even the wedding planner looks you dead in the eye and tells you, "You absolutely cannot have a breadstick fountain...how...how would that even work?" It happens. Everyone is going to want their own piece of this wedding cake (haha see what I did there?) and sometimes you're going to have to make compromises and sacrifices that you may not like. For example, if the parents' are paying for the wedding and they want to invite Aunt Helen and her smelly brat children, you might have to suck it up and let the kids and their weird stench come to the wedding. When you do make these "sacrifices" you have to remember something: this is your night that you get to share with people that you hold the closest to you. And at the end of the day...

4. Wedding Guests Only Remember The Food, The Booze, And The Music

Seriously, no one is going to remember the wedding favors, what kind of flowers were at every table, or the giant flower wall that took you three months to make because you saw it on a Buzzfeed list and absolutely had to make it because you wanted a DIY wedding. Details like these should absolutely be important to you, but don't sweat the small stuff if you don't have to.
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5. Write Everything Down.

Whether you are a note taker that needs a spiral bound notebook, an Excel sheet or a word document, figure out a system that works for you that allows you to keep track of all of your wedding planning. This will actually make your life much easier, believe it or not. If you have a detailed record of your planning, it will save you a lot of time in hassle in the long run. Keep track of it all so that you can refer back to it. Need to contact the venue because you have a guest list change? Boom you have the person's contact information on your Excel sheet. Wondering where in the world your bridesmaids' dresses are that you ordered? Check the tracking number you had saved in your word document. Keep track. Keep every single receipt. It's better to have it all then have nothing.

6. Make A Timeline.

No matter if you are getting married six months, a year or two years from the engagement, you should make and keep track of a timeline for your wedding planning. This way you can see when you need to have tasks done.
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6. There's An Infographic For It.

I love the internet. It's a beautiful (and sometimes horrible) place that is full of wedding help. It's a lot to slog through bridal magazines and wedding blogs--so sometimes browsing Pinterest and finding infographics with tons of really great information is a lot easier. They are also super helpful when you are showing it to a person that is involved in the wedding planning, but isn't very detail oriented. Look, sometimes grooms aren't exactly gun-ho about wedding planning--but looking at a fun picture can be informative and easy to look at!
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7. Budget!

Weddings cost a crap ton of money. There are so many things at play when it comes to having a wedding. Did you know that 23% of wedding budgets go to just flowers? Well that's a made up statistic, but it sounds pretty accurate right? That's because people blow a ton of real, factual money on flowers that will be dead halfway through the reception. Come up with 3 budgets:
1. The Dream Budget--which isn't a budget at all. Come up with all of the things, number of people, and details that you want your dream wedding to have.
2. The Scale Down--this is your first budget. Now that you have a reality to face of what money you actually have to work with, see how you want to cut your budget up. Are flowers absolutely not important to you, but you still think you might want your bridesmaids to hold something (although I am definitely a supporter in bridesmaids holding puppies instead of flowers)? Contribute 2% of your budget to flowers, while you know that the food will be super important to you and your family and will get 45% of the budget.
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8. Your Gift Registry Shouldn't Be Treated Like A Christmas List.

That sounded much harsher than I wanted it to, but I hope you get what I'm trying to get at. The idea of people getting you tons of super cool stuff is an amazing one, however you really have to be realistic about what you need and what you want. A lot of power will rush to your head when you're at Target or Nordstrom and you're holding that price gun to scan all of the super cool things in the store to go on your registry! Both of you should sit down and figure out what you want, what you need, and what people can afford to get you. Also, register somewhere that you actually shop or can benefit from! Amazon is great because the registry comes with deals (for example, if you put a Keurig coffee maker on there and someone buys it, Amazon will throw in a month's worth of coffee for the Keurig). For those reading this that know someone with a registry that may be out of your "price range," check to see if you can get the same product somewhere else. (Have those obnoxious Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons? Utilize those!).
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9. You Have A Million And Eight Food Options--Be Realistic.

Your venue may have catering options for you (example: the venue can charge you $94.00 per person, but that will include a full buffet of food, appetizers, cake, bar, etc.), your friends may know a guy, you can also take on the giant task of making your own food. Whatever you choose make sure that the food is good, in budget, and that you can handle it.

10. Relationship First. Wedding Second.

If people put a fraction of the time, effort, Pinterest boarding, agony, blood, sweat and tears that they do into the relationship as they do wedding planning then most marriages nowadays probably wouldn't end in divorce. Getting married and having a wedding is so splendid, fun, crazy and spectacular. The details that go into it are so important, and the day itself will be in your hearts for forever--but make sure that after that fairy tale day is over, that prince and princess charming can continue to live happily ever after. Take silly relationship quizzes and learn your love languages, try to find out something new about one another every day up until the wedding. Pick a new hobby to learn together--start a new TV show every few months. Keep the relationship strong.

Blushing Belle: Engagement Party Themes

Engagement Parties are a fairly new tradition in the getting married game. Since the dating game has changed so exponentially, Engagement Parties were created in order to bring the families of the bride and groom together under the same roof to meet and mingle. We are a generation of celebration. Any kind of accomplishment is a reason to party, so an accomplishment in finding a soul mate is DEFINITELY a reason to party.

There are a lot of gray areas surrounding Engagement Parties because none of them are the same. Some common questions are:

When should the engagement party be?

Give yourselves a minute to revel in your newly engaged bliss. However, it's absolutely up to you. Some couples have their engagement party two weeks after they get engaged, while others wait up to three months after the engagement. It all depends on what kind of details you wish to share at the engagement party. You'll get asked a ton of questions that you might not be able to answer two weeks in.

Do people bring gifts to an engagement party?

They most definitely can! Again, it's all about how long you wait. Some couples have the engagement party and are already registered. Some party guests can use your registry as a reference to see what they can get you. However, some other parties have more congratulatory gifts (gift cards, bottles of wine, etc) or just cards. 

Who should be invited to the engagement party?

If they are invited to the wedding, they should be invited to the engagement party. If they are not going to be invited to the wedding, it may be awkward to have them at the party. However, if you want all of your friends and family to be there, but you know you're only going to have a small wedding, inform the guests of that. "Hey, we want a very small wedding of only twenty people, but we still wanted to share this special time with all of you. I hope that's okay." People will understand, and they will appreciate feeling included.

Where should the engagement party be?

Depends on what kind of party you are thinking to have, who is throwing the party, how many people are going, what time of year, etc. More often than not, the parents of the bride or groom host the party. That way it's a literal welcoming the other family into their home. However, couples can host their own parties, or even rent a venue.

What actually happens at an engagement party?

Have you tracked a theme here yet? EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE COUPLE. So, here are a few Engagement Party themes and ideas to make your celebration FANCY.

Classic Engagement Party

You can't go wrong with a classic. This includes the bride's parents hosting the party--which luckily takes a lot of pressure off of the bride and groom to plan party details. 

The party will be a nice dinner at the brides' parents' house, at a restaurant or perhaps even at a venue to fit the amount of people on the guest list (which the groom and bride should consult on). Be prepared for a lot of questions during this event. Announce your bridal and grooms parties at a designated time in the evening for a personal touch.

Holiday Engagement Party

I am obsessed with Christmas. What some people call a problem, I call holiday spirit. So it made sense that I wanted to have a Christmas themed engagement party. Luckily, my fiancé and I got engaged in October, so it was perfect timing to wait until December to host the party. The party is a mash up of engagement and Christmas themes.

The music and decor are a combination of congratulations, wedding and Christmas.

The Bridesmaid Proposals

I bought these giant ornaments at Dollar Tree, along with the stockings. My bridesmaids will be wearing custom Boot Bling to match their dresses, so I wrapped the Bling around the stocking to present it to them. This way, the proposal is personal for me, and it's something they can keep forever--both the ornament and the Boot Bling.

You aren't just limited to a Christmas engagement party though. You can do a theme for any holiday (Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Fourth of July, etc). Doing a holiday themed party allows you to kill two birds with one stone: you can celebrate the holiday with your friends, as well as this special time. It also makes shopping for decorations, food, drink, and games much easier!

Murder Mystery Engagement Party

Please don't actually murder someone for this party theme. However, there are a ton of fun ways to play a murder mystery game with your guests. Come up with a super fun narrative, or download a game and template online! This is a fun and classic way to engage your guests, and get to know the people in each family.

Throwback Engagement Party

Remember the 90s? How about the 80s? 70s? You've probably been to a retro party where everyone dresses up in mullets and tie-dye, but this party is actually about nostalgia for an era that you participated in beyond pooping your pants for the last few years of that decade. This allows for you guys to relive your childhoods or teen years together, but this time as a soon to be Mr. & Mrs. 
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90s, 80s, high school, elementary school, summer camp, college, etc. Have everyone dress up from that nostalgia period and bring things to really set the mood: photo albums, other clothes, vintage items, music, yearbooks, toys, etc. Bring it all together and go back in time for a night. Include mementos from your pasts specifically so that you and your future spouse and reminisce (or cringe) at your previous selves. You're about to reinvent yourselves for a future together, take one last look back before you do.

The actual theme, decorations, food and drink of your party entirely depends on which nostalgic time you select. For a 90s party you might want to go with grunge, movie posters from that time period, run some old Nicktoons in the background, etc. If you go high school, bring back your school colors, mascot, and leave the cliques at the door.

Fairy Tale Engagement Party

Let everyone become the prince and princess they were always meant to be. You can go Disney themed, to straight up classical fairy tale with knights and shit. Give out little plastic tiaras to the women of the party, and the men can get foam swords. This is your happily ever after.

Luau of Love Engagement Party

This theme depends on where you're hosting the party and when you are hosting the party. If you are having a summertime engagement, then this is perfect! Get your beach bunnies together for a luau of love! Celebrate your love "by the beach" with these fun luau ideas.

Flip Flops made from frosting and Nutter Butter cookies on some graham cracker sand.

Buy some new sand buckets to use as serving dishes. Twizzlers make for cute pool noodles!

Make a sandy beach cake with graham cracker sand, and blue frosting sand. Carve the initials of you and your fiancé right on the "beach."

Everyone can get "lei"ed at this party.

Give out treat bags as party favors, or even utilize this super simple DIY design for your bridesmaid proposals.

Game Night Engagement Party

Gather for board games, video games, hide and seek, and more! Get together for a night of friendly competition. Get your friends and family members to bring their favorite games to the party, surf online for fun engagement party games (like the ones here, here, here and here) or take a game that you know and love and make it into an Engagement Party game!

A Bar Engagement Party

Yes, you could all just go out for drinks at your favorite watering hole, but this is not the kind of bar I'm talking about. This party theme is set up around bars:

Dessert Bar
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Cocktail Bar
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Candy Bar
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Sandwich Bar
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Popcorn Bar
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Ice Cream Sundae Bar
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Keep the options open to a variety of people and flavors, and let your guests serve themselves.

A Night At The Movies Engagement Party

Do you and your spouse love Netflix? Binge watching? Going to the movies? Then have a movie themed Engagement Party! Feature popcorn and boxed candy as the main snacks for the party, give everyone name tags that correspond with a famous movie or TV character, make fun banners featuring the best, romantic movie lines, and more. Transport the party to the silver screen for the night, and feature your Oscar winning romance story.

Remember:
Your Engagement Party is about you and your soon to be spouse. No matter what kind of party you choose to throw, who is going to be there and so on and so forth, the most important part of the event is that you two get the opportunity to celebrate your love with the people you both care about the most. Have fun!