How to Plan a Wedding

How to Choose a Ring

In decades past, the man got down on one knee, ring in hand, and proposed. Today, many couples jointly decide to become husband and wife. Likewise, they choose the rings together. It pays to know a few things first:

  • Find a jeweler you can trust. Use recommendations or family connections to find a jeweler you know to be honest and fair.
  • Select a style. There are many rings out there, with styles from heirloom to contemporary. Choose a style that reflects your personal tastes.
  • Set a price range. Have some sense of what you can afford before you even visit any jewelers. Most experts agree that the ring budget should total no more than the bride and groom's combined salaries for two months.
  • Know your diamond basics. There are four categories by which a jeweler assesses the worth of a diamond: cut, clarity, color, and carat (see "Knowing the Four C's").

Be sure to keep a good record of where the rings were purchased, how much they cost, the four C's of the diamond, etc. This will come in handy for insurance purposes and if you find something wrong with the rings after bringing them home.

Also, you both just spent potentially thousands of dollars with a jeweler, so take advantage of your new status as a valued customer and consider using the same jeweler to purchase the bride's attendants' gifts. Don't be timid about asking for a quantity price break.

Announcing the Engagement

One of the most wonderful duties the couple has during this period is announcing the engagement to the world. And while you both may have an urge to shout the news from a rooftop, there are a few more traditional ways to announce the engagement.

First, you'll need to call the "A" list -- friends and family who need to hear the news straight from the bride or groom. Take a moment to jot down the names and numbers; be certain you both don't forget anyone in your immediate circle. Schedule a few chunks of free time to make the calls. You both are going to have a lot to talk about!

Traditionally, the groom's mother contacts the bride's mother for congratulations and a get-acquainted chat. It's a nice gesture to write down the bride's mother's home phone number and mail it or personally give it to her future mother-in-law. If the two women have not yet officially met, the bride might want to add a few words of encouragement like, "My mom can't wait to hear from you. She already has lots of things to discuss!"