So, you’re engaged! Congratulations! You’ve made it through the dating phase and are ready to take your relationship to the next level. Engagement is an exciting time, but before you tie the knot, there are some things to consider about what this means for your future.
Head on down the page to discover seven things you and your partner need to consider when you get engaged.
Understand What You’re Saying Yes (and No) To
When you get engaged, you’re agreeing to spend the rest of your life with your partner—that means the ups and the downs. So, you need to be aware of what You should be aware of what you want from the relationship. If you’re not sure at this point, then it’s probably best to wait until you are more certain.
Is your partner the kind of person who will truly make a great life partner in your eyes? Do your goals align? Do they share similar values and beliefs? Do they have the traits that matter most?
If you’re both honest with each other (and yourselves) about this, you’ll likely be able to work through anything life throws your way!
Get Clear About Your Life Goals
Both you and your partner are going to have goals you want to achieve in your lives. Make sure you’re both clear about them before you tie the knot.
Think about things like your careers—if your partner wants to become a doctor, that could mean spending a significant amount of time away from the house. If you want to work at a non-profit, you might not be bringing in the same kind of money as a CEO.
You’ll also want to get clear about your lifestyle goals. If one of you wants to move across the country and build a life from scratch while the other wants to stay close to home to be with family, that could cause some problems down the road.
Be Open About Finances
Money is one of the leading causes of disagreements in marriages. Getting the facts straight about your finances now will solve a lot of future problems for both you and your partner. Don’t be afraid to jump in and talk about topics like joint bank accounts. Will you keep things separate? Have a single joint account? A system that combines the two options? Decisions like this will affect several aspects of your relationship, such as taxes and retirement savings.
You’ll also want to talk about how you will manage debt together—especially if one of you has more debt than the other. Make sure that both of you know what your debts are, where you stand interest-wise, and what your payment plans look like now and after getting married and moving in together.
This will help set expectations right from the start and can give you both a good idea of what you need to work on to improve your situation. And whatever you do, don’t wait until you’re about to have kids or start house shopping to have this conversation.
Discuss a Prenup
Combining your lives is complicated. You each have things you’re bringing into the relationship, and you’ll continue to earn your own money and build your own life even after you’ve tied the knot. A prenup is a great way to open up communication about what you’re future will look like together, and simplify the separation process if you ever do get divorced.
Set Family Expectations
What kind of family do you want to have? How does that compare to your partner’s hopes for the future? Starting a family is a dream that many people have, but it’s also not part of everyone’s plans. Either way, it’s an important conversation to have before you get married. Discovering that your partner doesn’t want kids at all when it’s one of your goals in life could cause some serious tension.
You should also take some time to chat about the circumstances around existing families. Are they close with their relatives? Will they expect you to be a part of that larger family unit? While your relationship is between you and your partner, your individual families may still be a big part of your lives and it’s important to be on the same page from the start.
Start Planning Together
Remember, this wedding is for both you and your partner! Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in what you always envisioned your dream wedding to be. While your big day will have elements that each of you bring to the table, you should set aside time to plan the details together.
Decide On a Date
Give yourself enough time between getting engaged and walking down the aisle so that everyone can plan accordingly without rushing through announcements and details. While you’re excited to make things happen, there are a lot of details to figure out and people will want to plan for the event well in advance.
When you’re picking a day, you should also keep significant dates in mind. It might be tempting to get married around the holidays if that’s when you got engaged or became a couple, but your potential guests might not be so thrilled with the choice. These times are busy and stressful for folks already.
Pick a Location
When you’re deciding on a location, keep your guests in mind. You might be dreaming of a luxurious destination wedding, but does that make sense for everyone else you want to see there? If you’re wedding party is small and you know those people have the time and means to get there, maybe it does. But picking something local might make more sense if you’re hoping to have a lot of family and friends there.
Pick Your Guest List
When you’re preparing to get married, it’s important to consider who exactly you want at your wedding. While some people might be tempted to invite everyone they know, this can lead to a big guest list and a stressful situation for both partners during the planning process.
Have this discussion early on in your engagement. Not only does it prevent tension as you get closer to the big day, it also gives your guests plenty of time to prepare for your big day.
Engagement is an Exciting Time. Be Sure to Enjoy It.
Engagement is a wonderful time, and it’s important to remember that in all the planning. Be sure to enjoy yourself and cherish this stage of your relationship as much as possible.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your fiancé knows how excited you are about being engaged. If your partner isn’t feeling quite so giddy, give them some time; this might be an especially stressful time for him or her. Letting them know that their feelings matter will help them feel more secure about their decision—and ultimately lead to a happier marriage!
If you can approach engagement with a clear head and an open heart, your wedding will be just as special—and maybe even more so—than any other couple’s. Remember that this is only the beginning of your life together. Your relationship will change over time; it will grow and evolve as you do. And that’s okay!
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].