breakfast at the beach engagement 13 Breakfast At The Beach Emma and Ruans Engagement Photos

Photo by Luisa Brimble from Breakfast At The Beach – Emma and Ruan’s Engagement Photos

Chances are, if you’re reading Polka Dot Bride today you might be newly engaged! If so, a very massive, ice cream truck sized congratulations to you! Here’s a few little tips we’ve picked up along the way about being engaged (and we’d love to hear what you’ve learnt or want to know, so leave a comment!)

You never have to give answers straight away

If you are newly engaged, you’ll know one of the most frequent sentences you hear is “When’s the date?”. You don’t have to have one yet! In fact, you don’t have to have one for as long as you like, because there are no rules! You don’t have to pick your bridal party, you don’t have to decide on a dress, you can just enjoy being engaged and soak it all in!

You don’t have to wear a diamond ring if it’s not what you want

Fancy a topaz? An opal? A ruby? Perhaps something a little Gothic inspired?  Something with Morganite? Or if you love diamonds how about a coloured option? a creamy yellow diamond perhaps? The possibilities are almost as endless as your imagination. Pick something that you adore – you’ll have it forever.

river engagement shoot024 Kristine and Chris River Engagement Photos

Photo by Julian Beattie from Kristine and Chris’ River Engagement Photos

Engagement parties are the best kind of parties

I adore a wonderful engagement party! It has that sparkle and giddiness of something fresh and new, a journey about to begin and it doesn’t need to have the formalities a wedding should (because regardless, there needs to be a ceremony!). Engagement parties can be whatever you like too – from a black tie sit down dinner to a picnic in the park.

Read my top ten tips for engagement parties here and here’s five engagement parties we’ve featured and loved

country engagement shoot013 Laurine And Adam’s Mount Macedon Engagement Photos

Photo by Woodnote Photography from Laurine And Adam’s Mount Macedon Engagement Photos

You can have an engagement shoot… or not

Many photographers offer engagement photo shoots now as a fun way to get comfortable in front of the camera, get to know them and commemorate your engagement. You can do whatever you like – literally whatever. Powder paint fights? A trek to the cliffs at sunrise? Inspired by your favourite movie? with incredible flowers? the laneways of your favourite city? or maybe just having breakfast at the beach?

My tip? Pick something that is ‘you’. Do you spend your weekends cooking together? Have an engagement shoot at home in your kitchen. Do you adore scouring old book shops? Take your photographer there and spend an afternoon scouring the shelves.

Engagement photos aren’t mandatory (like most things when it comes to weddings) but they are fun and can be a wonderful way to celebrate this time in your life.

pillow fight engagement002 Nicola and Timothys Pillow Fight Engagement

Photo by Frame and Bloom Photography from Nicola and Timothy’s Pillow Fight Engagement

Figuring out what you want is the most important thing

Before you look at me with a “Well that’s obvious” face, hear me out! Weddings involve so many people – everyone will have an opinion on what you should do, everyone has advice and everyone has their own ideas of what is the most important thing to do.

The best thing you can do as a couple is sit down together, away from it all and figure out what kind of day you want. How does it look? How does it feel? Do you want to elope? Do you want a farm wedding? Do you value photography? Great food? Pick three things you just won’t budge from (like flowers, photographer and food) and allow yourself not to compromise on them, giving you wriggle room on everything else.

Figure out who you are and what you love as a couple – if you live in the city and spend your free time hanging out at amazing restaurants then maybe a restaurant wedding in the CBD suits you better than a rustic barn celebration. If you can’t live anywhere but by the water- choose a venue that overlooks the beach. Adore a flower? A colour? Figuring what says “you” will help you get well on your way to deciding on the type of wedding that is right for you.

manly sunrise engagement34 Julia and Adams Manly Sunrise Engagement Photos

Photo by Stephen Govel from Julia and Adam’s Manly Sunrise Engagement Photos

Feeling overwhelmed is normal

Which is why I suggested figuring out what you want. Suddenly you’ll notice the stacks of bridal magazines, the world of Pinterest, the suggested timelines and to do lists that can feel like you have to do everything… yesterday, it’s normal and it’s okay to feel it. Stick to your plan of what you want and tackle your tasks one by one (better yet? hire a wedding planner to help you manage everything!). Chances are you have a 6-12 month engagement. Which means there is plenty of time to get everything done!

rock and roll engagement shoot121 Julian and Amys Rock And Roll Engagement Shoot

Photo by Dan O’Day from Julian and Amy’s Rock And Roll Engagement Shoot

Venues and photographers normally book out fast

Popular vendors and photographers can book up two years in advance for popular seasons and dates (generally September-November and February-April). So when you do decide to start booking, look at these vendors first. Your venue will also determine a lot of your wedding aspects – like styling, guest lists and the style of other vendors you might hire.

Relaxed engagement shoot005 Allie and Toms Relaxed Engagement Shoot

Photo by Ben Adams from Allie and Tom’s Relaxed Engagement Shoot

Don’t forget the others

I know weddings are just about two people getting married. but to me it’s also about two families coming together and working out how to balance that. It’s completely fine if you’re going to say “Well it’s our wedding and I don’t care what anyone else thinks”. But think of how life might play out after the wedding – the family members you might choose to ditch off the guest list might be really special to your mum and the bridge it burns may take a while to heal. Treading on people’s feelings is never a good thing, but around weddings when everything is emotional and messy it pays to take a little extra time to think about how decisions you make might affect things long-term.

There will be ugly parts

Discussions about money are never fun, discussions about guest lists can be difficult and emotionally fraught and let’s not even enter the territory of family politics. But you will be able to get through them and navigate them if you’re ready for the emotions and anxiety it may produce – a bottle of bubbles always helps, right?

Bridge Engagement Session0941 Jacqui and James Melbourne Engagement Session

Photo by Stewart Leishman from Jacqui and James’ Melbourne Engagement Session

Enjoy it!

When you’re knee deep in guest lists, money talk, details and discussions it can be hard to lose sight of how fun this process is! Have fun with it – go and have a cake tasting and pour over the decadent flavours. Have a girly day out and choose your dress. Make a day of choosing your venue. Go out to dinner after booking your photographer. Cherish the moments, the excitement, the well wishes, it’s a really special time and I beg of you to not let it pass you by.

Over to you – what do you wish you’d known before you got engaged? Or what have you learnt that you’d love to pass on? We’d love to hear it!