Congratulations, you’ve just gotten engaged!
You’re probably still caught up in the whirlwind of your engagement — from the knee drop to the ring, the question, and the “yes!”
Joining the ranks of the “just engaged” can bring on an overwhelming number of changes and choices.
We asked couples and financial experts to share their thoughts for the newly engaged. Here’s what they think you should tackle together first.
1. Bask in the just-engaged glow
Getting engaged is a joyful occasion, so take time to feel and share that joy before jumping to wedding planning. Make time to enjoy each other one-on-one and reminisce on how far you’ve come as a couple.
That’s what Bethany McCamish did after getting engaged in March 2019. “We spent some time talking about how much we cared about one another and the traits that helped balance each other out,” McCamish said.
Another fun part of getting engaged is deciding how to share the big news with friends and family. McCamish, the founder of His and Her FI, a blog about money for couples, had been with her partner for 7 years, so she relished the chance to announce her engagement. “The ‘couple who would never get married’ was finally going to tie the knot.”
Lastly, commemorate this beautiful event. Take pictures, capture the engagement or your recounting of it on video, or write down your memories.
2. Get the engagement ring insured
An engagement ring has significant sentimental value — and material value, with the average engagement ring costing $5,000 according to WeddingWire’s 2019 Newlywed Report. As with anything valuable, it’s wise to insure the ring to cover the cost of repairs or replacement.
Eighteen months after my wedding, my engagement ring went missing. Devastated, I gave up looking after weeks of searching and filed a claim to my renters’ insurance. I received a payout that helped cover the cost of replacing the ring and was able to buy the exact style as the original.
This coverage can be worth it, so look into taking out a jewelry insurance policy or adding a rider to your renters or homeowners insurance to cover the ring.
3. Discuss your wedding dreams
Since you’re already engaged, chances are good you’ve had at least some discussions about your wedding.
Did You Know? Two-thirds of millennials start planning their wedding before getting engaged, according to WeddingWire.
With a wedding now officially in the works, you should get on the same page about what you want. Katie Utterback, a writer for DebtWave, got engaged in July 2017 and married in November 2018. As a just-engaged couple, she and her new fiancé tackled these wedding conversations first. “It was really important to me that [we] have a wedding that celebrated who we are as individuals, but also who we are as a couple,” Utterback said.
Don’t get bogged down in the details just yet. For initial conversations, keep the focus on the overall wedding experience you both want. Even if you don’t initially agree, these discussions will give you two the chance to prioritize what’s most important and figure out where to compromise.
4. Start thinking about a wedding budget and timeline
With a basic idea of what you want your wedding day to be like, you can start discussing the next big question — how to pay for it.
“Discuss it and figure out how much it will cost and whether or not that’s feasible in your current financial situation,” advised Jarek Grochal, owner of personal finance blog Time In The Market, who got married in September 2018.
Be honest about what’s doable, and err on the side of frugality. Grochal advises picking two or three wedding expenses to splurge on, and get “creative and frugal on some of the things that aren’t as important to you.”
A big part of paying for a wedding is the timeline, too; a longer engagement can give you more time to save or stretch out wedding deposits and payments. “You have plenty of time to plan the right wedding for you,” Grochal said, “so take it slow and enjoy the ride!”
5. Envision your future lives together
Planning a wedding is so much work, but don’t let this day overshadow the many more days you’ll share as a married couple. It’s important for married couples to set big-picture goals together and build a shared vision for the future, says R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner and founder of the personal finance site The Ways to Wealth.
“Think ahead to the next year or even decade, and identify goals that money will allow you to achieve as a couple,” Weiss said. “By no means do you need to plan every detail, but consider the big things such as where you want to live, where you plan on travel[ing], your plan for having kids, and future career plans.”
Every engaged or newlywed couple we spoke with took time for this joint goal setting. McCamish and her fiancé, for example, talked about goals to repay debt and travel to Thailand.
“It was fun to talk about our dream life, but this time thinking in terms of forever,” she said. It “really solidified our future as husband and wife.”
6. Explore how to handle finances as a newly engaged couple
With the higher level of commitment, newly engaged couples should take this opportunity to talk about how to manage money together.
This requires each person to be transparent about income, assets, and debts. Learning more about each other’s’ financial situations and money habits can also help you decide if, when, and how you want to combine finances.
“Organizing your finances in a way that works for both parties isn’t an easy task,” Weiss acknowledged. “The important thing to realize is that managing money as a couple is a skill you’re going to need to make your marriage thrive, and as a skill, the more you practice, the more you can improve.”
7. Keep the focus on the two of you
Last of all, remember that your engagement and wedding day is all about you. From planning the wedding to combining finances, you two get to decide what’s best for you.
Others may chime in with their opinions or requests, and you can hear them out — or not — but remember to prioritize you and your partner first.
Utterback and her fiancé, for example, chose invitations that listed only their own names. The groom’s parents took issue with this decision. They wanted more traditional invitations that included the parent’s names, and even offered to pay to print them.
Ultimately, “We decided that this was our day [and] we wanted to have a say in the information that was going out,” Utterback said.
From that experience, “We really learned through the wedding planning process how to be a team,” Utterback said. “How to handle issues together as they arise, and how to develop solutions that work for both of us.”
The bottom line
There’s a lot you’ll want to tackle in the months ahead. Resist that temptation for just a bit. Breathe, soak up the moment, and revel in this window of time you have together as an engaged couple. Then, start to tackle this to-do – together – in whatever timeline works for you.