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Engagement Issues: What to Expect the First Few Weeks

Just engaged and already feeling the crunch? Here's how to relax and revel in your first few weeks of engaged bliss.

He finally popped the question! You're high on love and can't stop looking at that brand-new sparkly ring. Then the calls start: Everyone wants to know the date, what the bridesmaids are going to wear, and where you're registered. Suddenly, you've gone from heartfelt proposal to fever-pitched negotiations (read: fights) about the wedding guest list, china patterns, and whether you'll offer one reception entree or two.

Stop the Insanity

Moms are often the first to start asking questions. "The first thing my mother-in-law wanted to know when we announced our engagement was what kind of dress she should shop for," remembers Rebecca Menkens, a newlywed marketing director in Charleston, South Carolina. "And my fiance's grandmother wouldn't stop asking us about the date. She told us to hurry because her calendar was filling up already."

Sound familiar? It's easy to let people stress you out during the "newly engaged" phase. Don't let them, warns Myrna Ruskin, a marriage stress specialist in New York City. "You're probably bombarded with questions from all sides," Ruskin says. "If people keep pressuring you about the date, don't be intimidated. Instead, say, 'Once we come off our cloud, you'll be the first to know the wedding date.' Whatever you do, don't miss the chance to bask in your new status and enjoy those first few weeks free from planning pressure."

Treasure this time and revel in your excitement -- you'll have plenty of planning headaches to worry about later.

Your moms may not be too happy that you've decided to abandon (their word) the wedding plans while you feel out your new commitment. "Some moms are very understanding and laid back, and others will be totally on top of the bride in particular," Ruskin says. "It's important that you respectfully ask your moms to back off for a couple of weeks. Most parents will get the message, even though they can't wait to start helping you plan."

Get Crackin'

When the time is right, one of you -- usually the bride -- will get the itch to start planning (some wedding reception venues are booked a year in advance, so don't linger in your just-asked glow for too long). "Often the bride is motivated before the groom because he feels like he's already done enough work for the moment -- he planned the proposal!" Ruskin explains. Not to worry, she says: "It's not that he isn't excited about the wedding, he just has to refuel and absorb what's happened."

Before you open the floor to family input, sit down with your spouse-to-be and privately discuss your wedding priorities. "Maybe you both always wanted an outdoor wedding on a mountaintop," Ruskin says. "Find out what's non-negotiable." Also, talk about how much you want your families involved in the planning and what specific tasks you will ask them to oversee.

The First To-Do

If they haven't yet met, this is a good time to introduce both sets of parents. Traditionally, the groom's parents call on the bride's (if they live far away, the groom's mother might call the bride's mother or send a note). If the groom's parents are divorced (or vice versa) the bride's parents might first extend an invitation to the parent who raised the groom, and then meet the other parent.

Finally, to get you two pumped up about this colossal project, tackle some tasks together and split the rest fairly. For example, you'll want to choose ceremony and reception locations as a team. From there it's easiest to assign responsibilities by interest: Perhaps the bride can focus on invitations, flowers, and a string quartet for the ceremony (not to mention her gown and attendant dresses). The groom may dig planning the honeymoon, choosing a menu and music for the reception, or researching kitchen appliances for the bridal registry. Resolve to make planning as fun as possible.

The moral of this story? Don't let the logistics and people involved in your big day ruin your newly engaged bliss! Treasure this time and revel in your excitement -- you'll have plenty of planning headaches to worry about later.

-- Lambeth Hochwald

See More: Just Engaged?