Timetable, Rings and Announcements
The engagement period will probably be the most
gloriously tranquil time of a couple's wedding process. You both
soon will be faced with decisions, compromises, and debates -- some
simple, some funny, some tough, but all important.
While it's important to bask in all the happiness,
there are also a few tasks that should be handled pretty quickly.
The couple need to set the budget and a timetable for planning the
wedding, buy the rings, and announce the engagement. Below are helpful
tips on making the many choices surrounding these aspects of the
wedding. Remember, you can click on the links for worksheets to
help with each step.
Building a Budget
Some couples decide to add a consultant into their budget. This
is definitely the way to go if you both don't have time to plan
the wedding or you know you both will argue over every minute detail.
Keep in mind that you can opt to choose a wedding consultant that
works by the hour. This allows you both to do most of the planning
but provides an outsider's perspective for some of the more difficult
Setting a budget for the ceremony and wedding reception
is somewhat easy -- you have what you have and that's that. Sticking
to the budget is where things get tough. For now, the engaged couple
needs to sit down with both sets of parents to discuss how much
money they have, how much money they need, and who will be footing
the bill for what part of the wedding.
It's going to be difficult at times, but try to plan
a wedding within your means. Before you begin, determine a priority
list for the ceremony and the reception. Ask yourselves a silent
question: Is what we are spending on this item really worth it to
both of us? After all, needing five years to pay off the reception
is not the way to go, especially since most newlyweds have a long
list of wanna-haves, such as a first home and/or new furniture.
Setting the Date
Sit down together to determine a wedding date priority
list. You both may want to include your families in this conversation,
especially if they live out of town. Here are several important
things to consider when choosing a date:
- The honeymoon: Consider the type of honeymoon you
both want. For instance, if you are both sun-worshipers, don't
plan a wedding date when your favorite island is experiencing
- Work schedules: You both may have work periods
when you can't take time off. Select a date when your lives are
- Holidays and family occasions: Some couples go
out of their way to schedule a wedding over a three-day weekend,
so everyone has more time together. This idea works best if you
send invitations at least eight weeks in advance; otherwise, people
might already have plans.
- The bride's menstrual cycle: The bride wants to
look and feel her best on her wedding day. If she suffers unpredictable
cycles, a quick chat with her gynecologist may bring up solutions.
- Day of the week: Saturdays are generally the preferred
wedding day. That way, out-of-town guests can easily stay overnight.
Weekday dates result in many regrets.
- Alternate dates: If possible, have a first-choice
date and at least one backup date.
Once the couple decides on a date, the real fun can
begin! Work backward from the chosen date to determine a timetable
of what needs to be done when. Some tasks, such as mailing invitations
and picking up the rings, obviously can't be checked off until two
months before the Big Day. On the other hand, you both want to take
care of other items -- booking a florist and reception site, for
example — at least a year in advance.
How to Choose a Ring
Knowing the Four C's
There are four qualities, or Four C's, that jewelers use to evaluate
Color: The closer a diamond is to colorless, the greater
its monetary value.
Clarity: This term refers to the number of interior
and exterior flaws that can be seen when the stone is magnified
Cut: A diamond should be proportioned and faceted
to bring out the stone's shine and clarity.
Carat: This refers to the size of the actual stone.
Per carat value is determined by color, cut, and clarity. A small
stone with flawless color, cut, and clarity can actually have a
higher value than a large stone with many imperfections.
In decades past, the man got down on one knee, ring in hand, and
proposed. Today, many couples jointly decide to become husband and
wife. Likewise, they choose the rings together. It pays to know
a few things first:
- Find a jeweler you can trust. Use recommendations
or family connections to find a jeweler you know to be honest
- Select a style. There are many rings out there,
with styles from heirloom to contemporary. Choose a style that
reflects your personal tastes.
- Set a price range. Have some sense of what you
can afford before you even visit any jewelers. Most experts agree
that the ring budget should total no more than
the bride and groom's combined salaries for two months.
- Know your diamond basics. There are four
categories by which a jeweler assesses the worth of a diamond:
cut, clarity, color, and carat (see "Knowing the Four C's").
Be sure to keep a good record of where the rings were
purchased, how much they cost, the four C's of the diamond, etc.
This will come in handy for insurance purposes and if you find something
wrong with the rings after bringing them home.
Also, you both just spent potentially thousands of
dollars with a jeweler, so take advantage of your new status as
a valued customer and consider using the same jeweler to purchase
the bride's attendants' gifts. Don't be timid about asking for a
quantity price break.
Announcing the Engagement
One of the most wonderful duties the couple has during
this period is announcing the engagement to the world. And while
you both may have an urge to shout the news from a rooftop, there
are a few more traditional ways to announce the engagement.
First, you'll need to call the "A" list
-- friends and family who need to hear the news straight from the
bride or groom. Take a moment to jot down the names and numbers;
be certain you both don't forget anyone in your immediate circle.
Schedule a few chunks of free time to make the calls. You both are
going to have a lot to talk about!
Traditionally, the groom's mother contacts the bride's
mother for congratulations and a get-acquainted chat. It's a nice
gesture to write down the bride's mother's home phone number and
mail it or personally give it to her future mother-in-law. If the
two women have not yet officially met, the bride might want to add
a few words of encouragement like, "My mom can't wait to hear
from you. She already has lots of things to discuss!"
Newspaper and Magazine Announcements
Newly engaged couples often send an official announcement
to their local newspaper and/or city magazine. They need to contact
the publications to find out the submission deadlines, run dates,
and photo requirements (you may want to keep an engagement photo
log with key information). Be sure to keep track of the newspapers
and magazines contacted so you both can buy up plenty of copies
when the announcement is published.
A proper announcement includes:
- Bride's full name
- Groom's full name
- Bride's mother's name
- Groom's mother's name
- Bride's father's name
- Groom's father's name
- Bride's parents' hometown and state
- Groom's parents' hometown and state
- Wedding site city, state
Season, month, and/or date of wedding
It is not recommended that the couple include addresses, since they
will receive many wonderful gifts during the next few months and
don't want to tip off burglars.
Engagement parties often occur soon after making the
official announcement. Presents are not generally given; if, however,
someone does bring a gift, be sure to promptly send a thank you
card. It's an easy gesture to forget, since about now both of your
minds are focused on wedding plans, and you probably do not yet
have official thank you cards printed.
Did you both get through the budget, timetable,
rings, and announcement without a hitch? Good for you! If not, take
a deep breath. It will all work out, and there's a lot more to do!