When do you start talking about the wedding? While many people might start the conversation after they say “Yes!” to the engagements it may be wise to start a little sooner. It’s easy to assume that once you get engaged, things will just click. But in the same way that you want to talk about big life decisions before you get engaged—whether you want kids, where you want to live, and other major plans—you also want to touch base about the wedding. Because you may find that, no matter how much you love this person, you are not on the same page.
And that’s OK—there’s always room for compromise—but I promise, it’s easier to explain to them why you don’t want a themed wedding with 290 of your closest friends before you get engaged. After you’re engaged, the stakes feel higher and disagreements are more loaded. Sure, you don’t want to plan every detail of the day before you even decide to say “I do”, but it does really help to touch base on some of the general points. It means fewer surprises and, ultimately, fewer disagreements. Wedding planning is stressful enough, right?
So here are the things you might want to touch base on before you get engaged—because if they’re planning on an all-inclusive beach extravaganza and you were thinking quaint and whimsical, things might get awkward.
1. The Size
Wedding guest lists always have a way of growing and expanding far larger than you ever anticipated—but it can really help if you have some idea of what you’re both thinking. The words “large” or “initiate” can mean different things to different people, so just working out whether you’re both picturing the same type of affair can be helpful.
2. The Location
I’ve watched so many engagements get a little rocky when suddenly one partner announced they just assumed the wedding would be at their family home. Sometimes that works out great—but sometimes, it’s very complicated. If one of you has a set vision in mind, it might be best to float it as early as possible.
3. The Theme
You don’t need to work out whether you want greenery or what your color scheme is, but whether or not there’s going to be a theme is useful. People usually have strong feelings about theme weddings—one way or another—so you don’t want a surprise there.
4. The Budget
OK, this is probably the most uncomfortable thing to talk about—which is exactly why it’s so important. Talking about money is always emotive and some people find it incredibly difficult. You don’t need to break down exactly how much you want to spend, but you should feel out if you’re both thinking a blow-out blockbuster or a more humble affair that doesn’t affect your other financial goals. It may be a difficult subject to bring up, but it’s much better to do it when things feel a little less pressurized—or else, it can easily turn into a bigger disagreement than it needs to.
5. The Amount Of Work
Are you planning a professional-level event or a casual gathering? And if it’s the former, who’s doing the work? Planning a wedding can feel like a full-time job—ask anyone who’s done it—so touching base on just how elaborate it’s going to be is important. But it’s even more important to establish who’s going to be putting in all of those hours. Are you going to share the load? Is one person going to take the lead? Are you hiring someone? Talking about this first can make sure you don’t jump in and bite off more than you can chew, which leads to so much stress later down the line.
6. The Length Of Engagement
Does getting engaged mean that you’re running toward the altar—or is its own stage of your relationship? There’s no wrong answer, but it’s good to make sure you both know what being engaged means to you. I have a close friend who has been engaged for over four years, another who made it to the altar in just over four months. Everyone’s expectations are different.
7. Your Family Involvement
Like money, this can be really tricky to talk about—and really, really important. Some people assume that their family will be the focal point—right down to second cousins once removed. If one family is larger or more domineering, things can get uncomfortable. It's good to have a sense of how your families will be (and how to manage them) early in the game.
You probably don't want to plan your wedding before you get engaged—which is totally fair enough. But there are some key components that it might be good to feel out in advance. After the engagement, tempers run high and decisions can feel more weighty—so just think of it as prep work. That way, you know you're going into the engagement strong.