You’ve got the ring and you’re starting to make wedding plans, but have you prepared for your first holiday season together as an engaged couple? Things can become a bit more complicated as you start to combine families, traditions, and expectations. We’ve got you covered with advice for handling 12 of the season’s biggest challenges!
Twelve Aunts Asking
“When is the big day?!” You will likely be bombarded with this question if you attend any family gathering. If you haven’t set a date yet, don’t be shy about letting people know you are just enjoying being engaged right now and will figure out the details later. If you’ve set a date and you don’t feel like sharing that information with Great Aunt Shirley, feel free to give a non-committal answer like, “We’re not sure yet!” However you choose to answer this probing question, make sure you are confident, calm, and casual. Most people will take their cue from your response and move on to other topics.
Eleven Cousins Coming
Is everyone you see expecting an invitation? If relatives you only see at the holidays didn’t make the invite list, you may have to deal with this uncomfortable confrontation. Our best advice is to be kind and let them know that you would love to be able to celebrate with everyone you know, but your venue or budget limits the number of people you can invite. Let them know you appreciate their support and that you look forward to celebrating the holidays with them and your new spouse next year.
Ten Traditions Clashing
Are you used to celebrating Christmas Eve with your extended family and spending Christmas morning around the tree at your parents’ house? Is New Year’s Eve a big traditional night out with your college besties? Now that you are officially engaged, you may have to accommodate your new fiancé and his or her celebrations as well. Our advice: prioritize and communicate. Decide what aspect of your family’s celebrations is a must-do for you and let your partner know. Think of this process as the first step in creating a whole new family and approach it with a generous spirit.
Nine Champagnes Toasting
If this is the first time you’ve seen family members since getting engaged, expect to be in the spotlight for a little bit. Everyone will want to congratulate you, see the ring, and hear about the proposal. If you love attention, then this probably sounds fabulous. If you’re a bit more private, prepare yourself ahead of time or ask your partner to field most of the questions if they are more outgoing. It’s also a great time to get a manicure if you have a new rock to show off.
Eight Cameras Snapping
Consider having your engagement photos taken around the holidays for a festive feel. Some time in front of the camera together will help you feel more comfortable when it comes time to take your wedding portraits. If you don’t do your professional shoot, at least make sure to have some quality photos taken with your fiancé so you can look back and remember your first holiday season as an engaged couple. The holidays can be hectic and pass by in a flash, so you’ll be thankful for the photographic memories once it’s all over.
Seven Gifts a Giving
Make sure you register before the holidays! That way anyone who is unsure of what to gift you or your partner can go ahead and swipe something off your registry that they know you want and need.
Six Friends Begging
If you catch up with high school or college besties over the holidays, you may have to field tricky inquiries about if they are going to be in the wedding party. If you’ve already asked your bridal party and the friend isn’t included, let them know you are excited to celebrate your Big Day with them and that you appreciate their support. You can always blame your partner for only having a few friends as part of the wedding party, having several siblings to include, or wanting to keep the wedding party small. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but it does help to offer a legitimate reason to help any unintentionally hurt feelings. If you haven’t asked anyone to be in your wedding party, you can always just let them know that you haven’t asked anyone yet and move on to discussing more interesting topics.
Five Golden Rings
With holiday sales and the shopping season in full swing, it’s a great time to go ahead and buy your wedding bands! Make a fun date night out of ring shopping and grab a peppermint mocha and some other gifts on your holiday list while you’re at it.
Four Books of Stamps
Do you send holiday cards together now that you’re engaged? That’s completely up to you! Some couples like to wait until they are officially married, some couples send a mutual card if they are living with their partner, and some couples feel like being engaged is “official” enough to mark the occasion with a combined holiday card. If it feels weird to you, hold off until after the wedding. If you haven’t announced your engagement officially, you can always send a holiday-themed announcement to take care of both tasks.
Wise may be a bit of a stretch, but be aware that your uncles (and aunts, cousins, and random coworkers) will all be chiming in with plenty of marriage advice. Some advice may be helpful (think: “Never stop dating your spouse.”) and some may be hurtful (think: “Don’t do it!”). The best way to handle most unsolicited advice is with a pleasant “I’ll think about that,” but a well-timed eye roll can also do the trick when the words of wisdom are less than helpful. Try not to let obnoxious ‘advice’ get to you, and pay attention to the sincere tips as they could be particularly useful.
Two Hands Holding
Don’t forget to enjoy the season with your special someone. Take a break from wedding planning and go enjoy the falling snow and twinkling lights. Don’t let pressure or questions from your family get in the way of your love for each other and your enjoyment of the season. This is your chance to start creating some of your own, new holiday traditions together!
And one new fiancé!
Buying a Christmas gift for your new fiancé may feel more confusing than usual. Do you splurge on something nice because it’s your first engaged Christmas together or do you do something smaller because you’re saving for a wedding and your new life together? There’s no “right” answer, you just need to do what feels right and makes sense in your situation. If you decide not to spend a lot of money on each other before your wedding, make sure you still do something thoughtful. If you do decide on gifts, make sure you discuss a mutual budget so you’re both on the same page with expectations. Some couples may decide to forego the Christmas gift in lieu of a special wedding day gift. Talk it over and make sure you are both happy with what you decide to do.