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Woohoo! You're engaged! That means it's time to book your venue, pick your wedding party, register for gifts, shop for a wedding gown, taste cake, and choose your dinner menu, right? Ready, set... WAIT!!! The worst thing you can do for your wedding planning is to jump into everything all at once.
The very first thing you need to do is SLOW DOWN and enjoy being engaged. Take your time — there's no rush! This is the honeymoon period of your engagement, the time when you can bask in the glow of your sparkly new ring and shop openly for glossy bridal magazines.
It's also the time for you and your fiancé to further discuss and explore what each of you envisions for your perfect wedding. You may have discussed some details prior to him popping the question, but now it's time to talk about the reality of your big day. Make sure you're both on the same page about the really important things. You may have casually mentioned items that were important to you in the past and thought your fiancé was on board. But until you discuss it in real time after you're engaged, all bets are off. His definition of small and your definition of small may be worlds apart.
Before you start planning anything, make sure you have the following questions sorted out between the two of you:
1. How big a wedding do you want to have?
If one of you envisions having a humungous blow out with everyone you've ever met, but the other half of the couple is shy and would much prefer just close friends and family, the two of you have to come to a compromise you're both comfortable with before you make any other decisions.
2. Where do you want to get married?
Your hometown or your fiancé's? The city you both live in now? A far-off destination? If you've ALWAYS wanted to get married in the little church where you went to pre-school, but your fiancé pictures a bash with all your business associates where you work, you're going to have to find a happy medium. Perhaps an engagement party where you live, and the fairytale hometown wedding you imagined with your mother when you were a little girl.
3. How many bridesmaids and groomsmen do you both want?
You don't have to both have the exact same number of attendants, but you don't want to ask six girls to stand up for you if he's only asking a best man. The bigger the wedding party, the more expensive it is to take care of them. Decide whether you both feel there are multiple people who need to be honored with a spot in the wedding party. Some brides and grooms limit the wedding party to strictly siblings. Others leave out their brothers and sisters completely. That's the kind of thing the two of you must sort out privately before anybody is asked — or you risk hurting feelings.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.