Lots of people get engaged over the holidays, in fact I was one of those many, many years ago.  Just hours later, everyone started asking about the timeframe, location, what kinds of flowers, venue ideas, etc.  If there is one piece of advice I can give to those about to embark on this journey, it would be this: take your time, and do things your way.

It actually doesn’t take long to plan the major logistics– your party size will dictate the venue options, and your budget will really drive everything else.  Keep in mind that the average U.S. wedding costs about $22,000, although in places like NYC and DC this might barely cover the flower budget for some couples.   And this is why a lot of family dynamics will play into the whole planning process.

Now, as a matrimonial attorney the most interesting trend I’ve seen over the last 15 years is the tremendous rise in families insisting upon prenuptial agreements.  Let me be brutally honest, a lot of trust funds and family corporations now have written into their operating agreements that the beneficiary or shareholder must have a valid prenup in order to protect his/her interest in the family trust or corporation.  Not very romantic, but super smart– just in case things go south, it’s nice to know what’s off limits vs. what’s up for grabs.

So, before you start making all sorts of announcements and posting things on social media sites, you may want to have a little talk with your beloved about whether s/he is thinking about doing a prenup, and if so, you may want to find out sooner rather than later what the terms of that agreement will include– some are fairly straightforward, but more and more we are seeing some very strict or rather harsh provisions.   I know most people like to postpone unpleasant conversations, but honestly this is not something you should leave to the last minute. The sooner you get these difficult discussions out of the way, the sooner you can focus on the more enjoyable tasks, like tastings and shopping for the perfect outfit.

Another thing I would suggest looking into is a marriage prep class.  There are some great non-secular weekend programs available that cover a lot of topics that you may not have really considered.  If you have not done so already, you really need to talk about your views on managing money, balancing careers and home life, the importance of family and your plans for building a life together.  Be candid about your needs and your deal-breakers– and maybe try to come up with some rules of engagement when dealing with conflict.  It is bound to happen, we all get into arguments, but set up some ground rules, so this way you can prevent World War III from erupting.

Finally, don’t skimp on the honeymoon.  The party only lasts one day, and let’s face it you are way too busy running around and playing host to fully enjoy that moment.  On the other hand, the honeymoon is all about the couple– the drama should be over, and this is your time together to relax and enjoy being Mr. & Mrs. Right for Each Other.

Congrats to all those out there getting engaged this time of year– truly this is a very special moment in your life that you should treasure!  Just take your time and be smart by laying the right foundation for your happily ever after.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.