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You're Engaged! Now What!?

Posted in Resources by Justin Hankins

5 Tips for the Newly Engaged Couple

Holy cow, you’re engaged! It’s real! It’s really happening. OMG! WTF! Whether you’ve been dreaming of this fairytale moment since you were a little kid, or you’re merely elated to have finally found a route to affordable healthcare, you’ve just crossed the threshold into a weird, emotional, crazy, frustrating, exciting time in your lives. Congratulations.

There are ten million websites that can provide you with the nuts and bolts of all the logistical steps you should to take toward planning your wedding. Like when should I take engagement portraits?” But I’ll share a few tips I’ve encountered over the years that don’t involve creating “vision boards” or building “planning binders.”

1. Breathe in and savor this moment

Washington DC Smithsonian Engagement Photos

This is such a unique and special time in your lives, and it can easily get overlooked or pushed aside once the overwhelming planning process kicks into gear. Make a constant effort to be present in the moment and to appreciate the foundation you two have built together and the goals you’re working toward. Treat yourselves. Relish in the excitement and enjoy the ride. Even (and especially) when things get frustrating. Use the headaches and speed bumps as opportunities to reflect on how grateful you are for the moments when everything goes smoothly.

2. Get a manicure

Engagement Ring Manicure

From now until your wedding is over, you’ll be working a second career as a hand model. Every person you inform about your engagement is going to ask to see your ring or snap a pic. The only other time in your life that more people will invade your personal space and put their hands on you is when you’re pregnant and they demand to touch your belly. Treat yourself to a manicure so the experience doesn’t feel any more awkward than it already will. (It’s gonna get a little weird.)

3. Have a heart-to-heart with mom

Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Norfolk Virginia Photographer

Take all the emotions you have inside you and multiply them by 10. That’s what’s going on inside your mother right now. Take your mom by both hands, look her in the eyes, and say “I love you right now, and I’m going to love you after all this is over. No matter what. We will have disagreements. We will get on each others’ nerves. But whatever stress arises, let us both agree and acknowledge that it is rooted in love. Let’s do our best to be compassionate and forgiving along the way. And let’s celebrate once we get through it all together.” Your mom’s gonna get a little nuts. And thats okay. Be patient. #MomsGonnaMom

Be graciously selfish

Conflict is inherent to anything that involves bringing a bunch of people together. But don’t be shy about asserting your vision. You’ll soon discover that everybody has a different opinion about how you should plan your wedding. Additionally, you’ll learn that some people will try to make your wedding about them. Be polite. And be patient with people. Even when your MoH decides to get a massive pirate ship tattoo across her back a month before your wedding. Even when a bridesmaid gripes about the color of the dresses you choose. Even when your future mother-in-law demands special gluten-free, vegetarian burritos instead of the elegant fare you’re catering. (It’s happened.) Learn how to become comfortable saying “no” in creative, positive ways. (“Wow, that’s and interesting idea! I’ve never heard of that” will get you started.) And don’t feel guilty about sticking to your own vision. It’s your wedding. You do you.

4. Invest in stamps and stationery

Wedding Thank You Notes

You’ll soon discover that well-wishes and even gifts will begin magically falling from the heavens after you announce your engagement. Stock up on stamps and stationery so you won’t get caught behind on thank you notes. Why? Because once you fall behind, it’ll become insurmountable to get ahead again. And it’ll add a heaping dose of guilt on top of the already mounting pressure.

Pro tip 1: buy small! The more you feel compelled to write, the more it’ll feel like a chore (and the more you’ll procrastinate). Small notecards and postcards allow you to express your gratitude without feeling like you need to write a novel. (Bonus: postcards will save you money as well.)

Pro tip 2: Keep a list of every note you send. You’ll be cranking these puppies out left and right and you’ll want to make sure you don’t send people duplicates. Especially if you’re writing the same general thing in every note. Everyone agrees that form letters are the key to efficiency, but nobody enjoys feeling like they received a form letter. :O (Not sure how to keep track of what you’re sending? Just snap a cell phone shot before you mail it.)

5. Prepare your answer for “when is the wedding?”

You’ll find that people automatically assume that getting engaged means you’ve already planned your entire wedding. But picking a date is a challenge that most people face, and there’s no rush and certainly no shame in taking some time to line everything up. Everyone will inquire, however, so it’s smart to go ahead and think up a few stock phrases. Like “we’re just savoring the moment right now.” Or “Next week! You didn’t get the invite??” Or “mind your own damn business.”

(And once you’ve crossed that off, begin thinking up an answer for “when are you going to have kids?” Because that’s the question that’s gonna pummel you as soon as your ceremony is over.) (People, amiright?)

The lead-up to your wedding is a very special time in your lives, but one that certainly introduces all sorts of stress. Acknowledge things that upset you, but resist the urge to lash out. Be patient and accept that you can’t control everything. When in doubt, be gracious for both the good and bad that come your way.

And seriously… get a manicure. Have you seen your nails lately?

Congratulations on your engagement!

Hi, there! My name is Justin Hankins, and I’d like to photograph the happiest day of your life. I have a reputation for taking incredible care of couples just like you, and can’t wait to surprise and delight you!

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