Five top tips for newly-engaged couples

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Did you find that special ring underneath the Christmas tree this year? Did your partner propose to you at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve? If so, congratulations! After telling all your nearest and dearest, you’re probably wondering what to do next, right?

I’m getting married in two months – it’s crazy to think I started planning my own wedding just over a year ago! Getting engaged can seem a bit daunting; you’ll suddenly be hit with loads of people asking you when the big day is, if you’ve thought of a wedding theme, where you’re getting married, if they can they come, etc. It can get a little too much! When it comes to planning a wedding, where do you start?

Here are my five top tips.

Get advice from any newly-married couples you know

When we first got engaged, my partner and I paid our recently-married friends a visit to ask them a few (lot) of questions. Before speaking to them, I had no idea how much things cost, what I needed to include in my budget or what I had to book first. They mentioned things I had not even considered, and gave me some really practical advice. Their best tip was to create a spreadsheet which keeps track of the estimated cost of your flowers, cake, outfits, food, venue, etc. and what it actually cost you later down the line. This was ESSENTIAL to our wedding planning, as I knew approximately how much we needed to save and if we were over or under budget. Luckily it has mostly been the latter!

Visit wedding fairs

Wedding fairs are great for several reasons: they give you ideas for your big day, allow you to meet and find the very best vendors (who will likely be running a ‘special offer’ if you book with them that day) and you’ll pick up some awesome free goodie bags! Not only that, but they’ll help get you and your partner really excited for the wedding.

Don’t feel pressured to stick to tradition

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Tradition is an odd concept to me. Just because we’ve been doing things a certain way for so long doesn’t mean it’s the best way, or your way. Of course, if the whole ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ means a whole lot to you, then knock yourself out, but don’t be afraid to ignore any traditions you don’t want to follow.

Think about who (and how many) you want to invite early on

There are thousands of amazing wedding venues across the country and whilst you may be itching to visit them all right away, it’s wise to think about how many guests you want to invite before you do. Indeed, this is one of the first things my partner and I did – we always knew we wanted a fairly small, intimate wedding, so that helped narrow down our choice of venue. You may be surprised by how many people you actually want to invite, too, which is why it’s best to write a rough list as early into the planning process as possible.

Don’t rush yourselves

Hopefully, everyone is going to be really excited for you, and whilst that’s great, the big question: ‘When are you going to get married?’, might start to really piss you off.

Just because someone else you know got married within the year, don’t feel as if you have to race to the finish line. Planning a wedding, although sometimes stressful, is a wonderful thing to do as a couple – you don’t want to rush that experience. Take as long as you both need and try to ignore anyone who tells you to hurry up. You’re planning the damn thing, not them!

I hope my advice proves to be useful to you – if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments section. I’m no expert, but I’ll try to help as best I can.

You may also wish to read ‘5 things I’ve learned from planning my own wedding’.

Why are we so obsessed with tradition?

By Lindsey Child on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

By Lindsey Child on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

Exactly a week ago today, my partner proposed to me. I thought we were just going to Bath to meet up with our gaming friends, but it turned out he’d arranged the whole weekend around it – with the help of my friends, of course. He even designed the Portal-themed ring himself! He arranged all that, in secret – but do you know what he didn’t do? Ask my dad for permission to marry me.

Why? Well my answer is, why should he?

People start asking you a lot of questions when you get in engaged: When’s the wedding? Where’s the wedding? How did he propose? But both Alex and I have been asked a lot if he asked my dad before proposing. This struck us as odd; we assumed it was very old hat to do such a thing these days. I didn’t know people still did it! To those that asked me this question, I stated that I am not a piece of property. I don’t belong to my father. I own my own house, have my own job and live with my partner.

When Alex was asked that same question, some people were confused by his similar response. In their eyes, it’s tradition. Therefore, you just do it, without questioning. This is perhaps what angers me most about so-called ‘tradition’. Because it’s perceived normal to do things that are traditional, we stop asking why we do them. Back in the day, daughters did belong to their fathers. Traditionally, fathers pay for the wedding too, but I don’t expect, or even want, mine to. I am a big girl, I can pay for things myself.

Under marriage, I am also expected to take my partner’s name. We have discussed this before in length and I have already decided that I don’t want to do this. Not because I want to purposely break tradition, but because I like my name, and I feel as if I would be losing part of my identity by changing it. These days, the only real reason for a woman, or indeed a man, to change their name is for the sake of the children, should you have any. Sadly, society would probably laugh or look down upon any man who chooses to take his wife’s name. Sexism and marriage, it seems, go hand in hand.

Although gay people have long struggled for the right to be able to marry, now that they have that right they are lucky. The latest episode of ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ featured a gay couple, and the groom-to-be planning the wedding made a very good point: gay people don’t have any traditions when it comes to marriage. They don’t have to follow the rules, they can do anything they want when it comes to their big day. But really, don’t we all have that same opportunity?

Let’s drop the bullshit. No one has to ‘give you away’ if you don’t want them to. You don’t have to take someone’s name and you certainly don’t have to listen to anyone who says you have to do so for the sake of tradition. It’s time we all started making our own traditions.

Readers! I need your help!

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a Journalism student who’s in her final year. I’m currently planning to write two features for separate modules for University. One is about if Video Games are now regarded as art or not and the other is about whether marriage should be reformed or not. I know, they’re two quite different and random subject but if I could have your help it would be much appreciated. All you have to do if answer, and preferably share, these two surveys for me:

Are video games an art form?

Does marriage need a reform?

Thank you very much for your help. I hope to put these features on my blog after they’ve been graded.