Congratulations - you're engaged! You’re about to start planning an incredible event that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. To make sure you and your groom-to-be have the wedding of your dreams, it’s a good idea to start thinking about some of the basics as soon as you reasonably can. Here are our top tips for making the most of your engagement, and getting ahead with your wedmin...
Tell the family first
Before you update your Facebook status to ‘engaged’ and tweet to the world, remember to get straight on the phone to your mum and dad. Telling them first will mean everything - and the rest of the family will appreciate a phone call, too! *Must resist posting a ring selfie, must resist posting a ring selfie...*
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Get a manicure to show off that ring
Chances are you’ll be showing off your diamonds to quite a few people over the next few weeks. Make it shine in all its glory by placing it next to a gleaming manicure. Keep it simple with a glossy nude polish if your ring has coloured stones, or if you’re a diamonds-only girl, off-set it with classic red nails or even a darker burgundy hue. Starting a regular hand care regime is also a great idea to make sure your paws are silky smooth for the big day - try incorporating an exfoliant into your regime, and avoid using harsh soaps.
Have your ring sized and insured
Although that sparkler on your finger is irreplaceable, if anything really did happen, you’ll kick yourself for not getting it properly insured. If you already have home or contents insurance, a quick phone call will allow them to add your ring to the policy - if not, there are plenty of independent companies that will insure your new rock for a good price.
If your ring also needs resizing, it’s best to do it now - otherwise you’ll panic about it slipping off your finger for weeks! Most highstreet jewellers can get it done for you within a short time period, so you won't have to part with it for too long...
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Celebrate just the two of you
Amidst the flurry of phonecalls and congratulations cards, your engagement can start to feel a bit like public property. Set an evening aside to go for a low-key dinner to get away from the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, and enjoy time just being a couple. Try to keep the conversation away from your upcoming nuptials too - sometimes it's nice to take some time out from it all!
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Book yourself in for regular facials
Whether you suffer from problem skin or just want to make sure you’re looking picture-perfect for the big day, a monthly facial is the best way to get your skin primed and ready for those wedding photos. Starting up a dedicated skincare routine now is also a great idea to keep your complexion in great condition between appointments. We recommend a good cleanser, serum and moisturiser as a starting point. You can find plenty of other beauty tips and tricks here on the Y&YW website - but remember that putting time (and a little investment!) into your skin now will reap the benefits on your wedding day.
Think about planning a weekly chat with your fiancé
Finding time to talk seriously about your wedding and make concrete plans can be difficult, especially when factored into chaotic everyday life. Many brides find that setting aside a dedicated time slot each week to sit down with hubby-to-be and talk weddings is invaluable - you'll avoid unnecessary stress and it will bring you even closer together.
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Treat yourself to some wedmin stationery
Obviously, it's essential that throughout the next months of planning you have your very own beautiful selection of wedding planning stationary so you can add ideas and capture inspiration whenever and wherever it strikes you. Not On The High Street, Etsy and Paperchase do some lovely planners at good prices, but you could always DIY your own with a ring binder and whatever extra accessories you want to add. Fluffy pen = essential!
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Choose a wedding date
Do you see yourself as a summer bride or are you dreaming of a winter celebration with all the trimmings? The season will not only dictate the style of wedding you have, it will also have an effect on what is available. Summer is still the most popular time to get married and some venues are likely to be booked up several years in advance. If you do have a particular place in mind, you might have to be flexible and consider marrying at a different time of year.
Other factors will also have a bearing on your choice of date: If you're inviting lots of people with children you might want to avoid choosing a date in the middle of the school summer holidays when many of your guests are likely to be away, and it's always a good idea to skip the Saturday of the FA Cup Final if you don't want some guests sneaking in an earpiece at some point during your wedding day.
In the early stages you don't have to set an exact date in stone, but it's good to have an idea of what time of year you would like to get married. If anything, it's just handy for the many inevitable "have you set the date yet?" conversations - at least you can say about when you're aiming for.
Work out your wedding budget
It's very easy to get carried away when planning your dream wedding, and before you know it you've spent a small fortune. Before you commit yourself to anything, sit down with your fiancé and work out what you can afford to spend, what your priorities are and where you could cut costs if necessary. If either set of parents is contributing, it makes sense to involve them in the discussions too.
The average wedding now costs around £20,000, but only you know what you can afford. Decide on a budget and then stick to it. If you over-spend in one area, work out how you can economise elsewhere. There are plenty of ways to save money if you need to - whether it's DIY hacks, going high street instead of designer or choosing a mid-week date.
Compile a guest list
You don't need to have the names finalised but it does make sense to work out exactly how many friends and family you want to invite. The size of your guest list has a huge impact on where you can marry. If you've set your heart on tying the knot in the local village church near your parents' home but it only holds 50, you're going to have a re-think if a rough totting-up of guests is running at 150.
Likewise, your choice of reception venue and the type of function you have will be determined by the number of guests – a sit-down do at your favourite hotel might be perfect for 80, but with a cocktails-and-canapés party it might accommodate 120. Many venues offer standing and sitting capacity numbers, which will give you a rough idea. You should also have a think about whether you want separate day and evening guests, or if you'd like to invite the whole guest list to all of your celebrations.
Start looking at wedding dresses
Obviously you don't need to make a final decision on what you're going to wear right now, but it could take you a long time to find the wedding dress of your dreams - so it makes sense to start your research early. Look through magazines (You & Your Wedding is a great place to start!) and mark any dresses that catch your eye, then begin to narrow down your choices. Pinterest is another great source of inspiration.
Once you've got a better idea of what you want, you can start making appointments to try on different styles. Think about how you would describe your ideal wedding dress - one of the first things the bridal consultant will ask is "what do you have in mind?" Have an idea of the most common shapes - princess, fishtail, column, mermaid and A-line - so you can better explain your vision. Allow yourself plenty of time to find the right one; you don't want to be rushed into making the wrong decision.
Think about a venue
We're sure we don't need to tell you that wedding venues can get booked up years in advance. But don't panic! Our Venue Finder tool is on-hand to guide you through the whole process. Head to Hitched.co.uk's wedding venues section to explore our dazzling selection of amazing places to tie the knot at... it would be rude not to!
Ask yourself - do you want a religious ceremony in a church/chapel/synagogue, or would you prefer a civil ceremony at either a register office or licensed premises? And where have you envisaged holding your reception? If your ceremony and reception are both in the same place it will be easier to sort out a date, rather than having to liaise with two different places over availability (you also won't have to worry about transport between the two!).
The location of your venue – close to where you live or near your parents' home – will also have an impact on guests who may need to find overnight accommodation or make travel arrangements. Also consider catering arrangements. Venue fees are often a separate rate with many other add-ons, including food and other costs - so consider that before you decide on anything.
Phew! Want to know what other tasks you'll have coming up? Take a look at our full wedding planning checklist.