OK I am engaged, what’s next?

by | Dec 31, 2018

So it’s been quite an eventful time for you hasn’t it? All romantic sunsets, butterflies, bubbly and sparkly diamonds?  Getting engaged is a super exciting time in one’s life and we are here to help you make the most of it:


So it has taken a lot of courage to get there. To finally ask the question. After saying yes, tell him you love him and give him the biggest hug possible. It does take courage.


  1. Call your mom and dad. And your best friend.
  2. Only this one time in life you are allowed to ever-so-slightly shake the champagne and pop the cork.
  3. Celebrate!The adrenalin rush is real – do something memorable – eating ice cream on the beach or dining in a fancy restaurant all counts.
  4. Take the iconic Instagram ring photo
  5. Update your Facebook status.

Once you Facebook Status has been updated, parents and besties have been notified, reality sets in. And the first of the big questions are: How long should we be engaged?

There are definite Pro’s and Con’s to each scenario. Easyweddings.com shed some light on American stats:  “A short engagement is usually classified as less than a year, while a long engagement is 18 months or longer. Engagements that are closer to the 12-month mark are often seen as “just right,” but at the end of the day, it’s all about what works for you and your fiancé.”

A quick (and admittedly informal) opinion poll amongst friends in SA shows engagements ranging between 5 weeks and three years, with the average being 1 year. The ages for participants in this pole range from 19 to 52. Longer engagements were mostly necessitated by families living overseas and complicated travel arrangements.

Zanne and Gerrie, high school sweethearts  ‘went out’ for seven year and progressed from there straight to the wedding – no engagement at all –  it was a matter of practicalities as she chose one ring only and not the engagement and wedding band combination.

Wanita and Zelko have been together for 13 years and decided a while ago that enough is enough. One week later wedding arrangements were done and dusted. One of the days even included a Spa day for the bride-to-be! Being connected in the hotel and wedding industry as owner of @LekkerPlaces and #ConferenceConnections did help tremendously though.

And may I add, the couple who were engaged for five weeks are still happily together after 31 years and many grandchildren later. Seems there is absolutely no correlation between the length of engagement and the success rate of the marriage.


Short engagements have a few things going for them – the excitement factor stays real, there is no time to waste (great for those who tend to procrastinate) and less time for stress. The title of fiancé is also a really nice one!

The cons include your guests wondering if there is a bun in the oven. Let them gossip all they want – we all know the proof is in the pudding nine months later. A real drawback is that not everyone you want there may be able to attend due to prior commitments. (This, in my mind, only applies to engagements of less than three months.)

A real deal-breaker in my books, is not being able to book the venue or photographer of choice. Pretty much everything else is negotiable.  Good venues and photographer are usually booked 12 months is advance.

Umthunzi Hotel is perfect venue for engagement parties and weddings


The most important plus factor is that there is more time  – time to save up; time to plan your wedding; time to save for your honeymoon and also time to accumulate leave days if you are working for a company.

Guests are really grateful when they have a bit of time to plan their attendance of the wedding. Those who travel far may have to make costly travel arrangements. To them a “Save-the date” helps tremendously.

Often bridal suppliers and venues reward brides by offering discounts for advance bookings. Longer planning time also opens up the opportunity to engage in more DIY projects, which in turn saves money.

While a long engagement affords one more time, you have to be so careful how you apply it. Don’t get cold feet. Don’t double guess your original decisions. And don’t add items to your wedding as time goes by, which is not really necessary and definitely not in the original budget.


On a less frivolous note, when getting engaged, you are in it for the long run. New Orleans wedding and event planner, Omishan Williams, advocates that engagements serve two purposes: “The short-term purpose is to plan for the wedding. It’s considered short term because you are literally planning for one day.  The long-term purpose is to prepare for a healthy and happy marriage.”

Her top tips and important discussions to have before getting married include:

  • Learn how to communicate effectively with each other.
  • Money problems are the number one cause of divorce. Be in sync with your fiancé about your money and each other’s spending and saving patterns.
  • Do you want to have children? Not something you want to find out a year down the line.
  • How involved do you see your families to be in our relationship and decisions?
  • Maybe your spiritual path is more intense than your fiancé’s. You may not have the same beliefs, but you must respect the differences.

From the School of Life, it is wise to add:

  • Learn how to fight fair. Because you will have disagreements. That’s a given. But there is a way of disagreeing without trashing the person in front of you which results in some kind of an agreement. Even if it’s just the downing of weapons at that stage.

“If you want your marriage to be more special than your wedding day, don’t hesitate in this. Don’t move forward in your wedding planning until you have talked through these topics”, Omishan Williams advises. And once you have talked it out, and come to the necessary agreements, you will feel confident that your marriage will last for the long term.”


Will you be doing an official engagement shoot? This is super handy and great fun. Pics are used for the website, “Save the date” cards and wedding invites.

Select a few wedding dates. Take note of low season weddings which are most cost-effective and Saturdays, holidays and high season which carry a premium price.

Venue hunting –depending on how involved your other half is, you (and your girlfriend or mom) may want to visit a few venues. This could easily be up to ten venues. Compile a short list and let him do the final site inspections with you. Set up meetings with your wedding venue to discuss venue availability, menus and bar requirements. Menus are often only finalised closer to the time and certain deadlines are set for deposits to be paid.

Select your wedding suppliers. The venue of our choice will often assist with this and supply you with a Preferred Suppliers List – tried and tested companies who won’t let you down last minute.  Meet the dress designer, wedding photographer, wedding planner, drone photographer, DJ, florist, cake designer, hair/make-up artists, officiant, and any other suppliers before making any deposits. Set up meetings and visit your wedding venue possibilities. Do sample menu tasting at your venue if possible, or at least have a lunch or meal there to make sure that they are up to the task of hosting your wedding. Keep in mind that the good and popular wedding suppliers are often booked up 12 months in advance.

Create your Wedding Website. Your website will include downloadable “Save The Date” notifications, your wedding gift register, honeymoon register, wedding invites, maps, where to stay. Be careful not to be ripped off when doing a wedding website – it does not have to be complicated at all and many website templates are available to this end.

Create your Wedding Website

Keep in mind that not all information has to be added in one go, and once the website it set up, a small hosting fee will be applicable. You could do your own updates. (Click here for wedding website templates, but more about this in one of our next blogs).

The Knot wedding website sets the following crucial dates and items aside for planning purposes:

  1. Around the 4-6 month mark, nail down things like wedding day transportation, the final guest list, pick out wedding invitations.
  2. Shop for Wedding Bands.
  3. Around the 6 week mark you need to start making inquiries about your marriage licence. The officiant will also be able to assist with this.
  4. Schedule trial run hair and make-up appointments
  5. Around 3-6 Weeks before the big day, meet with your wedding planner to decide on wedding favoursthank you gifts, seating chart, wedding day timeline, and figure out any tasks you’d like to delegate to wedding party, friends and family.
  6. Bridal Shower and Bachelors party – 1 month prior to the big day
  7. Around the 2 week mark, be sure to confirm the final plan with wedding vendors (or delegate to your wedding planner) and plan for any final payments.  Make the best of any beauty regimes and Spa days.
  8. The Week of the wedding: Stay healthy. Get enough sleep. Take vitamins and take it easy.

To help you with the process, we have a number of Wedding Planners for you to download. My favourites include MrsWilley Diaries planner, Marrythis.com month by month breakdown of tasks and aisleperfect.com.

If the love of your life completely missed the boat this Festive Season, fret not. We still have Valentine’s Day. Even the folk with the least romantic disposition can’t miss this opportunity.



She knows her Merlot from her Mojito, her hotel from her motel. From craft food to caviar, her innate curiosity about life and wanderlust provide inspiration for her blogs, articles and press releases about the travel, wedding and Spa industry. Over twenty years in the hotel marketing & PR arena with impressive hotel groups, from Dubai to Durbanville, has evolved into the pure enjoyment of freelance projects under the banner of About Branding.


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