Moment of Truth: Important Topics to Cover Before Popping the Questions

You and your beau have been together for a while now and things have been going well. It’s only natural to start thinking about the future and what the next steps will be for your relationship. Traditionally, the next step will be engagement! Getting engaged is extremely exciting, but it’s important to make sure you’re both on the same page for a lot of big ticket items. Today, we’re going over some of the hard hitting discussion points you should cover before committing to forever with your significant other.

Image Source: @livvylandblog

Image Source: @livvylandblog

Finances

This is a multi-faceted discussion. Are you a saver and they’re a spender? Do you like buying expensive things and they prefer the be more frugal? Do you have any debt they don’t know about? It’s totally okay to have different habits, but you should definitely be able to come up with a plan together for your financial future. This includes discussing topics like how you’ll handle your banking (separate accounts or joint), taxes, retirement accounts, other savings, big purchase spending, etc. Financial struggles and disagreements are one of the leading causes of divorce, so be proactive and make sure that you can agree on how you want to handle things in the future.

Image Source: Brides

Image Source: Brides

This also carries over into things like paying for the wedding. Will you be asking your families to help or will you be shouldering the expenses as a couple? How much are you willing to set as a budget? And, the dreaded question that has become quite taboo… a prenup. Do you need one? It’s sad to think about the potential ending of your marriage before it even begins, but depending on your situation, it may be something to consider, but definitely something that needs to be discussed.

Careers & Lifestyle

Now, if you’ve been going strong for a while, chances are your careers and lifestyle choices already mesh well. That being said, it’s always good to connect and review. Things like where you want to live, how much traveling you would like to do, if you’re interested in switching jobs or going back to school. Do you want to keep renting or is it time to start considering buying a home of your own? All these things are topics usually discussed while you’re in a relationship anyways, but it can’t hurt to re-visit them!

Image Source: Bored Panda

Image Source: Bored Panda

Kids

Do you want kids? Or maybe you want to adopt. Or maybe you just don’t see kids in your future. Whatever you see is totally fine, that’s your choice! But it’s only fair that your partner knows what you’re thinking, too. Timeframe is really important here, too. Maybe you’re not ready yet and want to freeze your eggs and focus on your career. Maybe you want to start a family right away. There’s no right or wrong answer as long as you’re on the same page.

Religion & Holidays

Your religious and spiritual beliefs are really important to discuss too. Not just on a compatibility level, but also for things like your wedding and future children. It’s important to be open about whether or not you want to get married in a church, or by a minister versus a justice of the peace. It’s also a good idea to talk about how you want to raise any potential children, whether you have different views on religion or the same.

Image Source: Snippet and Ink

Image Source: Snippet and Ink

Holidays are also largely important to discuss. Do you go to church for the major holidays? What are your family traditions? Splitting up holidays between families can be an extremely stressful and difficult process. It seems like there’s always going to be at least one person who isn’t happy with your decisions. Before bringing other people into the discussion, sit down just the two of you and figure out what is most important to each of you. After you have a better grasp on that, feel out your families and see if they’re amenable with your plans and ideas.

Set the Scene for the Perfect V-Day Proposal or Engagement Shoot

Image Source: Wedding Forward

Image Source: Wedding Forward

Valentine’s Day is one of the most romantic days of the year. Why not cap it off with a picture perfect proposal or engagement shoot?! We love the idea of a swoon-worthy act of romance to play off of the holiday festivities and show the one you love just how much you care! Reds, pinks, hearts and flowers… utilize the stereotypical Valentine’s Day symbols for a statement sure to sweep your guy or gal off their feet in a day they’ll never forget.

Planning Your Engagement Photoshoot with Melanie Zacek

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‘Tis the season of engagements! After the initial excitement starts to ebb, it’s time to get down to business and make some fun decisions. One of the first tasks to handle: your engagement shoot! We had a chat with the amazingly talented Melanie Zacek to put together a full guide on planning your engagement shoot -- everything from timing to what you need to bring to make the day a success.

TIMING

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

How soon after your engagement should you be scheduling your engagement shoot? How far before your wedding should this happen? Well, it all depends! If you’re planning on using your photos for your Save the Date cards, you’ll want to schedule the shoot for 6-7 months before the wedding. Not including photos on your Save the Date? You have the flexibility of scheduling your engagement shoot anytime before the big day!

Should your engagement shoot match the season/theme for your wedding? It’s totally up to you! Sometimes it's nice to have a completely different look for your engagement session. For example if you are having a summer wedding, a cozy snowy day engagement session could be fun! Just make sure you time things properly if you are using images for your Save the Date cards! If you want these to have images with the fall foliage, make sure you plan with plenty of time in advance so you aren’t rushing to get your cards together at the last minute!

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

What is the average turnaround time a couple should expect to see images in? The turnaround time for photographers will really depend on the time of year you are getting photographed. If it’s during the summer or fall (the height of wedding season), turn around times may be slightly longer. Melanie’s average turnaround time for engagement photos is 3 weeks.

How far before a wedding should a couple plan to book their photographer? If you want to have your first choice of photographer booking about one year in advance is a good bet.

PREPARATION

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

What should you bring with you to your shoot? Melanie photographs with a timeless aesthetic that highlights the emotion between couples in gorgeous natural settings. Because of this, she finds that props aren't necessary for the shoot. Of course if couples would like to incorporate a prop, such as a picnic setting or something similar, they are more than welcome to bring whatever they like! She recommends bringing 2 outfits to the session. Typically one formal and one casual outfit works well! Pinterest is such a great resource to get outfit ideas. Melanie always tells her clients to go with light colors and neutral tones. Be sure to have your ring cleaned and your nails done before the shoot, as the ring will certainly be featured in the pictures!

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

Image Courtesy of Melanie Zacek

How can a couple help make the shoot run smoothly? One of the most common concerns from brides is that they are worried their fiancé doesn't like having their photos taken. Spend some time looking at your photographer's blog and showing your fiancé some engagement photos so they know what to expect. Melanie photographs in an easygoing way and gives directions to guide couples into natural poses. More times than not, grooms will end up coming back after the shoot to tell her that they actually had fun! Picking a photographer that you are comfortable with and feel a connection to will really help. Another huge part of making sure the shoot goes smoothly is to give yourselves plenty of time to arrive on time. No one wants to feel frazzled if they’re running late!

Any other tips/tricks for a recently engaged couple? At the end of the day, you want to relax and enjoy your shoot and entire wedding planning process. It’ll fly by and be over before you know it! Make sure you’re creating and documenting the happy memories to look back on for years to come.

Are you looking for a photographer for your wedding or engagement shoot? Be sure to check out the incredibly talented Melanie Zacek to document your special day!

Creative Ways to Pop the Question

IMAGE SOURCE: BLOGLOVIN

IMAGE SOURCE: BLOGLOVIN

One of the most stressful and exciting days, aside from your wedding day, is the day you decide to propose to your significant other! With a once in a lifetime chance, you want this proposal to be perfect and memorable for the both of you.

IMAGE SOURCE: ALBERTO LAMA PHOTOGRAPHY

IMAGE SOURCE: ALBERTO LAMA PHOTOGRAPHY

IMAGE SOURCE: WEDDING PARTY

IMAGE SOURCE: WEDDING PARTY

Take your loved one to your favorite place, one that is special for the both of you. By proposing at, let’s say, your favorite park, restaurant, or beach, it will make that place even more special!

To make it very public for everyone to see, try having a skywriter spell out your proposal in the sky, or have a plane with a banner trailing along asking the big question!

Have a flash mob or a public band/choir to help build up the excitement of asking your significant other to spend the rest of your life with you!

 

image source: cultural bindings

image source: cultural bindings

Want a more sentimental and private proposal? Go to where you two had your first date together! It will make that day and place incredibly sweet and special!  

Send your lover on a scavenger hunt using notes and clues that include memories, inside jokes, and photos of you both. The overall hunt will tell your love story, and end in a proposal! 

image source: lovely rustic weddings

image source: lovely rustic weddings

Similar to a scavenger hunt, leave little love notes around your house for them to find, leading up to you with the ring!

You're engaged! Now what?

You're engaged! Now what?

Question popped.  They said yes! So exciting, congratulations! After you have stopped crying and called your mom, here are the first few things to jump start your wedding planning process.

Step One- Get the Word Out! 

In the era of social media, we think you should pause before making it Facebook official. This is such a big and personal moment of your life, we think it requires a real human connection to share it. So depending on who you want to tell and where they live, either pick up the phone, stop by for coffee or start your Skype video. These moments of real connection only add to the special feeling that the engagement brings. Once you have shared the news with all your close loved ones, time to start posting, Tweeting and Instagramming. 

Step Two- What season speaks to you?

Close your eyes and envision you and your partner on your wedding day. What do you see? Snow covered mountains? Crisp air and falling leaves? Sand under your feet? Or trees budding with the smell of dew in the air? This will let you know if you are a winter, fall, spring or summer couple. From experience, this is the easiest decision to make.  A lot of the time the season you pick will influence your design. Once you know your season, pick a date and start planning!

Step Three- Draft Your Guest List 

This daunting task rates as one of the hardest parts about planning a wedding. While a standard approach is to draft a budget and then a guest list, we like to switch it up. We find that couples have an easier time starting with their big wish list and then once a budget is established, whittling it down based on their established per person costs. It makes taking people off the list a little more logical than emotional. 

We suggest making a spreadsheet and have a tab for "A" and a tab for "B."  The "A" list should consist of close family members, close friends and any other must haves. The "B" list should consist of anyone that you would love to have there but don't have the budget for. 

Be strategic when sending out your invites! The standard is to mail out the invitations 6-8 weeks before your wedding date. We suggest mailing to your "A" list 10 weeks out. This will give you an extra two weeks to send out invitations to your "B" list as you receive regrets from the "A" list. Not everyone will be able to join, so if you stay on top of the RSVP list you will be able to supplement from your "B" list and end up having the exact guest list that you were hoping for!  

Step Four- Let's Talk Budget! 

Whether you want a lavish affair or an intimate backyard wedding, you need to have a budget that works for you and helps you make informed decisions as you go through the planning process.

The first step in budget planning is to have honest conversations with yourself, your partner and any family members that might be contributing to the wedding. We suggest talking with each family separately. This allows the conversation to be honest and private. If there are family members that are going to contribute, ask them to commit to a certain dollar amount so you know what you should be adding to your overall budget. 

As you will come to understand your budget is a fluid thing, you will adjust it as you go. For your reference here is a standard breakdown of how your budget should be allocated but make it work for you and your wants and needs

Reception: 48%-50%
Ceremony: 2%-3%
Attire: 8%-10%
Flowers: 8%-10%
Entertainment/Music: 8%-10%
Photography/Videography: 10%-12%
Stationery: 2%-3%
Wedding Rings: 2%-3%
Parking/Transportation: 2%-3%
Gifts: 2%-3%
Miscellaneous: 8%

With these first few steps you will be on your way to planning an amazing and meaningful day for both you and your guests! Have any questions or other concerns? Comment below and we will do our best to answer them!