It’s no surprise that a lot of engagements happen over the holidays – 33%, according to most surveys. In the immediate flurry of euphoria, phone calls, engagement photos, and parties, it’s okay to forget practical things for a few days. When you finally come off Cloud 9 though, check these five items off your pre-wedding to-do list first.
1. Get Your Ring Insured and Re-sized
That dazzling ring isn’t just a sign of your fiancé’s enduring love – it’s an asset. First, get the ring resized if it’s a little loose so you’ll be less likely to lose it. Secondly, get insurance. According to theknot.com, the average ring costs $5,598 (wow, just wow). Even if yours only cost a 10th of that, it’s still worth adding it to either your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance. You’ll need to verify its worth by having it officially appraised. Count on most agencies charging $1-$2 for every $100 the ring is worth.
2. Pick a Season
Although brides are notoriously eager to pin down a wedding date after getting engaged, you don’t have to pick a date (or even the year) immediately – just the season. Choosing at least the season will immediately narrow down a lot of options, such as the wedding venue (indoor or outdoor), clothing styles, and even catering preferences, and give you a few guidelines to work with as you approach all the major decisions you’ll be making.
3. Settle on a Budget
Working on a wedding budget is one of the first opportunities you’ll get to practice making joint financial decisions with your future spouse (on a side note, if you find it impossible to work together and compromise on this first financial hurdle, you might want to postpone the wedding indefinitely and get some pre-marital counseling). The average American wedding costs just under $30,000, while the most expensive ones can climb as high as twice that. Look at your financial situation and decide what you can afford, considering your current and projected savings in the coming months. One of the primary budget-affecting decisions is how many guests you want to invite, since it will determine the size of your venues, catering options, and the cost of invitations and favors. Putting this number in the ballpark will give some shape to the budget you need, and can afford.
If you need help deciding how much each component will cost based on your preferences, you’ll find useful budget guidelines and spreadsheets on sites like theknot.com, costofwedding.com, weddingwire.com, or weddingtools.brides.com, just to name a few.
4. Start a Wedding Savings Account
Many decisions can wait, but the sooner you start saving money, the more you’ll have to work with. If you already have a savings account, designate a portion of it for wedding expenses. For ease of separation, you may want to start a new joint online savings account with high yield to maximize the savings potential of a short time frame.
5. Make Your Wedding a Financial Priority
Whatever your situation is before the engagement, now’s not the time to purchase a house or car, or go on a lavish vacation (remember – there’s that thing called a honeymoon in your future). Temporarily set aside any major financial decisions that will drain physical, emotional, and monetary resources from your wedding budget. Not only will you experience less stress, you’ll be in better financial shape to pursue those things later down the road if you focus on the important things first.
If you’re newly engaged after the holidays, congratulations. Enjoy the limelight for a while, but don’t forget to take these important financial steps as soon as you can.