What no one tells the newly-engaged: you don't have to plan it all today!

Clocks and Candles
Photo by Gathering Light Photography

Did you know that, in the more mainstream wedding industry world, we're in the midst of what's known as Engagement Season? A disproportionately large number of proposals tend to happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. Now, Offbeat Bride doesn't quite fit into the wedding industry's scheduling, but even among nontraditional couples, we do notice that this time of year there are more folks making the decision to get married.

This is all to say, we KNOW some of you just got engaged, and are now being bombarded with questions: When's it happening? What setting are you picturing? What's your theme? How can I help? Have you thought about decor? Can I get you in touch with my baker friend? Your friends and family are asking these questions because they're excited for you, and want to give you the opportunity to share your own excitement.

When you get peppered with these questions your response, however, may not be excitement… it may be anxiety. Wait, I'm supposed to have a theme? WTF is a wedding website even FOR, anyway? Should we just elope? And I'm supposed to already know who I'm going to ask to be my bridesmaids? Wait, I'm not even sure I WANT bridesmaids! And why do people keep talking about STDs?!

Deep breath. Exhale. Roll your shoulders a bit. I'm here to let you in on a little secret: You don't have to know the answers to any of these questions right now. Even those of you working with short engagements don't have to know your entire wedding planning vision in the first week.

We have a page specifically set up for the newly-engaged, which includes a link to the infamous Offbeat Bride checklist. Yes, there's lots of stuff to do, but you don't have to do it all today. (Side note: the checklist was just updated and improved for the first time in 5 years! Awesome.)

As with any enormous project, it's just a series of little tasks that you can break down and tackle one by one.

But for today? For this week? Just enjoy holding hands and smiling. Take all the questions from friends and family as what they are: an expression of joy and excitement, with a question mark on the end. You don't have to have the answers today, and for now, you can just enjoy the waves of excitement and love.

You can download the checklist, register for the Offbeat Bride Tribe, and get to work next week. For today, just hold hands, kiss your sweetie, and smile a lot.

Longtime readers: what do you wish you'd known your first week after getting engaged?

  1. What if you have decided on a faux-lopement in less than four months, any advice or checklist for quickie weddings?

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  2. One of the first things that I did was buy and read the Offbeat Bride and A Practical Wedding books. They're both reasonably easy reads and work together really well (I should probably write and save a blurb, since I feel like I've been recommending them all over the place recently). Also, having some real big picture conversations with your partner(s) about what a wedding means to you and how involved each of you wants to be in planning. I never realized that my usually crazy-offbeat partner would want a lot more traditional trappings than I expected, or that he would be enthusiastic about all the visual/design stuff. If you can figure some of that out in advance, it can streamline the decision-making process later.

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    • It has been two days since weve decided to marry on april 1 2014 and my fiance has already floored me that he wants to wear a bow tie. the man that only wears shorts in seattle wa and character tshirts, I thought getting him into a short sleeve button up was going to be the chore and now he wants to wear a bow tie well with comic characters, etsy to the rescue. He has also mentioned that he wants to go bowling after at our favorite bowling alley, I never would have thought of traveling one venue to another but why the heck not! Wa is beautiful and should be traveled! I love this comment! whats important to us and then go from there. as beatrix (LOVE the name!!) says prioritize, so first lists of things that mean something to us, then timeline then prioritize. feeling better! =) and looking forward to perusing the short engagement links!

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  3. OH yes. I was astonished that someone asked me if I had a date when I told them I'd just gotten engaged. To be fair, I don't know that they necessarily picked up on the fact that I had literally just gotten engaged moments before — but then they weren't the only person to ask something that felt rushed like that. Did I have a dress picked out? Where would our honeymoon be? I felt like people were assuming we'd planned it all out before the engagement, or that we were the world's fastest planners.

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    • We got that too. I have realized since that people are often just very excited about your engagement, but don't know what to say beyond "that's so exciting. Congrats!" So they fill in with asking questions that you have no idea about yet. At first, I was annoyed they thought we had figured it out the day after we got engaged but then I realized they just were looking for stuff to say.

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  4. We just would automatically say to people when the incessant questions started that, yes, we're quite excited but we're taking our time to plan and we would be happy to share our plans when we make them.

    To the newly engaged: ENJOY IT!!! Going from calling each other boyfriend/girlfriend to fiancée is a big step and not just a stopover before husband/wife. Enjoy this new development in your relationship and celebrate it!

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  5. If you can, hold off on telling anyone you got engaged yet. My husband and I got engaged and then waited for about a month to tell anyone. I loved having that time to just enjoy it with him and absorb the fact that we were getting married soon. Then when we told people, we were less overwhelmed because we'd had time to think and talk about what we wanted to do.

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      • Why do you think I hang out here even though I'm single?

        Also I love that you remind people to bring a vibe to their wedding night.

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  6. I kind of wish this post had been written a year ago :-p that instant barrage of questions – though well meaning – was maddening. and then I thought I was crazy for being overwhelmed. it was also super frightening to be constantly repeating "I don't know" and the checklist was helpful in telling me when I might actually need to know.

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  7. We were engaged for all of three days when we found out that he had orders to Germany. We were married less than a week later. One thing that I'm crazy grateful for, looking back, is that we took that first night of being engaged just to ourselves. We didn't tell anyone until the next day and that was just the best decision. We really didn't end up with an opportunity to enjoy the engaged period, but that first night was all ours.

    Now that we're planning a wedding for our four year anniversary (this August!), I love that things don't feel rushed. We've been able to take our time in going over everything and it's been amazing.

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  8. I can't even begin to tell you how much I needed this. When we told my fiance's sister (three hours after he proposed), and she asked if we had a date, and a million other questions, I couldn't help but feel totally overwhelmed. And continue to feel overwhelmed with every dirge of questions I get. Now it feels like I have to rush and plan and have answers to everyone's questions, instead of angrily saying, "I DON'T KNOW. WE JUST GOT ENGAGED A WEEK AGO." Which is what I want to do.

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  9. While I was overwhelmed by the sheer length of the checklist, I didn't have the same reaction to the people asking questions.

    When we got engaged, it was more like:
    Okay, let's do it
    When?
    Um…month, day?
    Yup, that works for me…I can't believe this is actually happening!

    So, when people asked us when the date was, it was already set. Perhaps other couples' engagements don't start so pragmatically…we are kind of weird.

    Oh, and to the other brides who are overwhelmed by the list, don't worry. The panic fades more quickly than you expect.

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    • The joy of that list is that if you know lots of things are irrelevant to your wedding, you get the immediate satisfaction of checking off half the boxes. :)

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  10. I needed this post. I just got officially engaged on Christmas Eve (despite being pre-engaged for a couple odd years), and we have had people pressure us to set the date from Day 1. (I just contacted a venue coordinator a few hours ago for a price list so we're getting there!)

    Right now, I am also trying to make up two separate lists: a) things I am willing to compromise on and b) things I will absolutely not give up on no matter what. This is a must when you have family members who have significantly different ideas of what a wedding should be like.

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  11. Ok, this is really good to read. I got engaged on Xmas Eve and I have no clue where to start. My mum asked me when we thought we would get married and I said "oh, I don't know maybe next January or February (i.e. 2015)" and she went nuts and started panicking that it was too soon and we wouldn't be able to get a venue this "late in the day" (WTF??). Its stressing me out… and looking at venues and how much they charge for drinks packages and catering and shit. And then everyone keeps saying "when you book stuff, don't mention its for a wedding", but it's kind of hard to hide when we're booking a ceremony (in the UK, so it's a bit different in that there are limited buildings that are licenced for weddings)…

    The list I have made so far to help us figure out what to do says this "venue; photographer".

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  12. I've been planning my wedding for nearly two years. My fiancé and I didn't feel the need to rush anything. We're going to be together forever, and that's what we told everyone. "Why rush?" His brother and his (now) wife were together for less than the amount of time I've been engaged and are already married, and talking about divorce. So my advice to all newly engaged is to take it all one day at a time. If people ask, and you don't know, just say you're not sure yet and you don't want to rush into it. I felt overwhelmed at first, and I really shouldn't have because we did set the date 2 1/2 years after our engagement lol. But now it's coming up in a couple months, and I don't even have a reception hall or caterer yet! *panic*

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