Engaged now what?

Wedding Planing

Getting engaged is a momentous event and something that you’ll never forget. Whether the proposal is incredibly elaborate or perfectly simple, it is that life event that changes everything.
Some brides know exactly, word for word, what her fiancé said or did while proposing. For other brides, it’s a bit a blur. In any case, when the dust has settled and you are, in fact, officially engaged, all brides-to-be ask: “Now what?”

Take a moment to enjoy your engagement with just you and your fiancé. That wonderful feeling and excitement inside can be shared between just the two of you for as long as you like. Don’t rush the calls and frenzy to announce the news.

According to Peggy Post, it’s proper etiquette to call the bride’s parents first, then the groom’s. Notify your family and then close friends before posting anything on any type of social media. (Your uncle for example, should not hear news of your engagement on Facebook.)

Consider hiring a professional photographer to take engagement portraits of you and your finance. Oftentimes, the photographer will include the portrait session in the price of the wedding day. If you aren’t sure who you are going to use for your wedding day photographer, an engagement portrait session is a great way to “interview” and test out the photographer. There are some fantastic wedding photographers on Hilton Head and in Bluffton.

Along with your favorite photo, consider writing a brief announcement to be released to newspapers and magazines to let the local community learn the news of your engagement.  Be sure to send one to Hilton Head Monthly!

After the news has spread and you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy your engagement, you’ll want to start planning. But where should you start?  
Some brides know exactly, word for word, what her fiancé said or did while proposing. For other brides, it’s a bit a blur. In any case, when the dust has settled and you are, in fact, officially engaged, all brides-to-be ask: “Now what?”

Do you want a casual beach affair? Or do you want a luxurious, formal event in a ballroom? Getting on the same page with the style and feel of your wedding is no doubt the first step.

Your second step will be to determine your guest list, followed closely by a third step, which is determining your budget. Often steps 2 and 3 are directly related.  

This is a good time to talk to your family about who’s paying for what. Traditionally the entire cost of the wedding ceremony and reception has been absorbed by the bride’s parents, but that has changed in recent years with many couples paying for aspects of their own wedding. The groom’s parents may contribute as well. The only way you’ll know is to be open and honest with all members of your family participating in the planning process. Don’t be shy to discuss the money subject. Be sure to have the conversation early on in the planning process to avoid confusion down the road.  

During these early planning stages, consider hiring a wedding planner. A wedding planner is so much more than someone who coordinates your wedding on the big day. Wedding planners help design your overall look and feel of your wedding and bring your wedding day vision to life.  

They keep track of budgets, payments and source local vendors to get you the best prices. They walk you through wedding timelines, help you through nitty-gritty logistics of getting married and provide peace of mind that everything will go according to plan on the day of the wedding. Many brides and their families say it’s the best money they spent on their wedding.

If you choose to do all the planning yourself, we recommend the following timeline:


9-12 months in advance

  • Choose your ceremony location and reception venue. Hilton Head and Bluffton have a wide array of options from which to choose. Your catering and sales manager will work closely with you throughout the planning process so make sure you click.
  • Be sure to attend the Hilton Head Monthly Bridal Show at The Westin on Feb. 8. The show features a variety of wedding vendors and specialists in their field. You’ll be inspired with ideas for your wedding and source local vendors.
  • When your guest list is finalized and your venue booked, you can send save-the-date cards. Remember that etiquette dictates if a person is sent a save-the-date card, they will be invited to the wedding. Visit a local stationery store to see, touch and get the right paper look for your wedding (it can be very difficult online).
  • After you have booked your ceremony and reception venue, you have big decisions to make. You’ll need to hire a florist, wedding photographer, entertainment (band or DJ) and consider a videographer.  
  • Wedding videography has changed substantially over the last several years. Rather than a long, drawn-out movie of your wedding, videographers now make 3-minute clips called “trailers.” These trailers are short highlight reels of the wedding. They’re often very moving (grab the tissues!) and set to the music of your choice.  
  • Wedding film “features” are a bit longer, ranging from 10-15 minutes, but encompass all the highlights from the day, such as the bride getting dressed, her father seeing her for the first time, speeches, vow exchange and dance floor highlights.  
  • Many brides and grooms who choose professional videographers say it is money well spent. With the day all being a blur, it’s wonderful to be able to relive the day on video.

6-8 months in advance

  • During this time, you can have a bit more fun with the planning process and breathe a sigh of relief that your major points are covered. You’ll want to shop for a wedding gown, which, depending on the designer, can be made to order and can take several months.  
  • These days there is no one style that’s in. There are a variety of choices and your bridal salon will walk you through them all. Check off groomsmen and bridesmaids attire during this time.

4-5 months in advance

  • Details, details and more details. Here you will want to finalize flowers and work with all your wedding vendors on the details.
  • Order your invitations and select your calligrapher, if you so choose.
  • You’ll also have your tasting for your food during this time.

2 months in advance

  • Send out your invitations. Upon receiving responses, you can work on seating charts if you are having a plated dinner.  
  • Be sure to order favors, items for your welcome bags, and pick up accessories like jewelry and clutch. Have your hair and makeup trial during this time.

1 month in advance

  • Confirm all of your guests and give final numbers to caterer.
  • Finalize seating charts, transportation for your guests and have your final dress fitting.  
  • Confirm all of your vendors and payments, as many of them are due 30 days before your wedding date.
  • Before the big weekend, make sure you take some time to relax. No doubt right before your wedding there is a frenzy of things to do but carving out time for yourself is absolutely essential.
  • Go on a date with your fiancé and make a rule: no wedding talk! Ensuring your focus is not entirely on your wedding but on your marriage is the recipe for the best wedding of all.