You may want to let people in on your engagement as soon as the ring is slipped on your finger. Or you might want to keep the moment private a bit longer. However you share the information, even if you veer from tradition, you should tell your parents first, then other family and friends. You'll make phone calls, of course, but you can also send email or a letter or use a service like pingg to send an announcement. You could even throw a party.
Photography: Johnny Miller
DISCUSS A DATE
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Once the word is out, expect lots of questions, including "When are you getting married?" Reveal a date if you have one, or let curious friends know plans are in the works -- as they should be, especially if you want to hold your wedding at a popular time of year, such as June or over a holiday. Locations, photographers, caterers, and other professionals book up early, sometimes a year in advance.
Photography: Courtesy of Delphine Press
THINK ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE
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Envision the type of wedding you both want -- maybe it's the event of childhood dreams or one that reflects your grown-up tastes. Even if you are set on a formal event in a ballroom, considering other possibilities, such as a seaside ceremony or a Sunday brunch, may change your mind or reinforce your choice. The same holds true for selecting the time of day and mood of the wedding.
Photography: Lisa Lefkowitz
SET A BUDGET
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Prior to making any decisions about the style, location, etc., figure out what you have to spend and whether your families will contribute. Make sure you and your fiance are in agreement about your priorities before talking to your parents about budget and logistics.
REGISTER FOR GIFTS
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As soon as people find out about your impending nuptials, presents will likely start flowing in. It's never too early to register, not only to help ensure you get something you like and need, but also to make it easier on friends and family who are pondering what to purchase. Even if you don't select everything right away, at least go to one store and decide on some things for your list. Try to limit your registry to three places. This way, it'll be easier to manage. And, in case you don't get everything you put down, many stores will keep your registry active for as long as a few years.
Make sure you talk to an insurance agent about coverage in case your ring or its stones ever need to be repaired or replaced. First, get an appraisal by a certified independent gemologist; most jewelers will provide this service upon purchase and make sure you understand all the terms of the policy. Find out whether you are covered if the ring is lost, stolen, or damaged, what stipulations there are, if any, and how long the claims process takes. You might be able to add a jewelry rider to your existing homeowner's or renter's policy; if not, set up a separate policy.