Two people I’m close with just got engaged, and now I’m thinking about weddings again. I LOVE weddings. I even tear up at the weddings of people I don’t know and fictional character weddings. Josh and I got married almost three years ago, and our wedding was everything I hoped it would be. I attribute a lot of this to luck, but I also give myself some credit because I love to plan. I was thinking recently about what kind of advice I’d give to newly engaged couples planning their own weddings, which led me to the idea of preparing a few things ahead of time… before he even proposes.
I recently made a list of 10 things to buy yourself before getting pregnant – another “prep” list that I made after the fact. Maybe you can learn from my shopping mistakes? This list (probably) won’t force anyone into a proposal, but you most likely already know if one is imminent. Weddings come with enough purchases, so it’s easier if you can space out some of that spending. And you want to be ready when it happens, so you can just focus on the moment right? “Wow, she’s such a chill bride. She just goes with the flow.” To be fair, this is also an incredibly solid list if you are engaged already, and want to be on top of it, but none of these items are bridal-specific. So, here are 10 things you can buy for yourself before getting engaged:
1. (Future) Heirlooms
If you have actual family heirlooms you were hoping to include in your wedding outfit, now is the time to start asking about them – especially if you are hoping to borrow something that you’ll actually need to give back. If your family is lacking in the “accessories with a story behind them” department though, and it’s of interest to you, start thinking about how you could get something like this started. I had a blue brooch of my grandmothers that I wore in my hair, and I thought that was pretty neat. Etsy has an amazing selection of cool vintage pieces with their own story behind them that you can pass on to others in your family one day.
I did my own makeup for our wedding because it was important to me that I look like I usually do. I’ve had my makeup done before and even when I love it I feel like I look like a different person. I also looked at doing my own makeup as an opportunity to buy myself some high end clean makeup with the money I saved on not hiring a makeup artist. Since we were hoping to try for a baby soon after our wedding, clean ingredients were a priority for me.
Even if you plan to have a pro do your makeup for the actual wedding, being engaged tends to lead to a LOT more opportunities for photos. You may be interested in optimizing your makeup situation either way.
Makeup that looks natural and good in photos is not the same as makeup that looks good in real life. Primer, under tinted powder applied with a kabuki brush is the way to go. Also: YSL Rouge Volupte lipstick. I believe it is the best lipstick. If you buy the lipstick off the YSL website, you can have your name engraved on it. Doing it before you get engaged is an opportunity to commemorate your maiden name.
3. Nail Care
If you could be getting engaged any day, you might want your nails to look extra nice for photos of your hand. A light blue color is less aggressive than white, and just generally a pretty chill color, but it ALSO looks amazing with a diamond. I wish I had known this while I was engaged, or just before. I found this out maybe a year ago.
If your hands look ragged, filing and buffing them without nail polish a few times a week will get them in shape pretty quickly. I wash dishes with gloves so this isn’t an issue for me, but a lot of people benefit from cuticle cream. I love the one that Burt’s Bees makes. It smells amazing (lemony!!!) and I’m sad that I don’t really need it.
4. Travel steamer
Unless you’re taking engagement photos, celebrating your engagement, doing all the little parties, and getting married ALL in your backyard, chances are high that at some point during your engagement you will need to travel with your outfit. And chances are high that you will then be photographed in that outfit. Probably by a lot of different people. You’ll have zero opportunity to photoshop out the wrinkles in your outfit. It’s time to get a travel steamer.
As far as I know, there’s no real reason to buy a full size steamer ever. I use my travel steamer at home all the time. They are amazing to have for curtains, tablecloths, clothes I’m too lazy to iron, etc. Nobody will register the fact that you bought one of these because you’re about to get engaged. But you’ll totally want to have one ready.
5. White eyelet/soft sweater dress
Dependent on in which season you are proposed to, pick up a casual white dress. You never know when a cute pre-wedding opportunity could come up. Isn’t every bride-to-be’s goal to be both as bridal-looking and as chill-seeming as possible? What if some relatives are popping into town? You end up sharing a dessert at a cute cafe? You’re surprised with an engagement party? It’s too late to pop into Nordstrom or prime something at that point. And you’ll seem so much cooler if you can pull something out of your closet. This is also great to have for your eventual honeymoon, once your bank account is empty from having a wedding.
6. Cute white top/sweater (hair and makeup)
This one follows the same logic as the previous one but more casual (because you can wear it with jeans / pants).
Reason #2 that you need a cute but sexy but bridal white top is for hair / makeup trials. Since statistically you will be wearing white on the big day, it can be helpful to have white clothing next to your face when planning your hair and makeup for the occasion to make sure it has the intended effect. As someone who wears mostly black, it surprised me how much of a difference it makes in reflecting light back at my face. It completely alters the look of makeup or hair color.
7. White Swimwear
White is the best color to wear at the beach or the pool. It sets off the bright sun. It’s universally flattering (how is this possible). With white linen or blue and white stripes, it has the best tropical vibe. It makes you look like a Bond girl.
Sometime, while engaged, you might get an opportunity to get into a pool or go to the beach. Scrambling for bridal swimwear is not cute. You know what is cute? The bride having a white bikini or maillot, ready to go, with a straw hat and a wrap skirt for beach day. And you can bring it on your honeymoon.
8. Pale Blue Nightie
Pale blue is the most bridal color that isn’t white. This is probably a fact. If you buying white lingerie/sleepwear while waiting to be proposed to, could read as just a tiny bit desperate.
You 100% want something cute to wear to bed after getting engaged. Even if it’s just for yourself. When I got engaged I hadn’t thought about this ahead of time, and had nothing ready. What I should have had: a pale blue nightie. Something cute, but attractive, but that can be slept in comfortably. Trying too hard is not cute. Someone more bridal than me would have had one already. She just keeps it in one of those small lingerie chests, for celebratory occasions.
9. Shapewear (& Rit dye)
Several million articles about the foundation garments you wear under your wedding dress have already been written. I’m not going to address that. They are also probably specific to your dress that you DEFINITELY have not picked out yet, prior to getting engaged.
However. Going dress shopping is not an occasion for regular underwear. There will be help getting into and out of the dresses. There will be styles for which regular underwear is not intended. There will be dresses that can be ordered but they only have a 00 in stock so they leave the back open while you try it on. Maybe friends or family in the dressing room with you.
In my professional(?) opinion, the best shapewear to wear wedding dress shopping is a strapless bra and a skort. Like the shorts with a skirt over it. This keeps the midsection open in case there’s a see through lace situation. You can be flexible with straps. Your butt is kind of covered, more than with shorts or underwear. Your thighs won’t touch.
Most shapewear comes in black or beige. I know beige is the “correct” color here but I hate it. As I’ve mentioned previously, beige undergarments are just the worst. They look like medical equipment and they don’t even blend in better under clothing than a comparably toned pink or purple. So what *I* would have done if I had thought of it? Buy the set in beige, and then dye them pale pink. That’s so much cuter and more romantic and probably feels more like clothing than underwear at that point. I suspect a light pink dye over beige gives it a little more of a peach cast. I’m not 100% sure about it. Please let me know if anyone ever tries this. I’ve searched all of Pinterest for an image of what I’m talking about. I’m a completionist and my Genius Solutions Pinterest board requires it.
10. Beige Wedge Sandals / Low-heeled Boots
So first of all, beige shoes are pretty universally flattering. Almost as good as black, and far more bridal. White shoes can be pretty hit and miss. I can also say from experience, you’ll maybe feel a little silly wearing them afterwards because they are so specific.
Whether or not you are getting married, a nice-looking pair of beige shoes that are comfortable and go with lots of different outfits is a completely reasonable purchase. However – with all the cool events leading up to a wedding, cute shoes that go with everything you already own can possibly prevent you from overdoing it and buying a full outfit plus shoes for every occasion. I recommended wedge sandals or boots (depending on the season) because being comfortable is important if you’re the center of attention. You can’t just sit in a corner at your wedding shower. You have to get up and talk to everyone – possibly walk across a lawn. Who knows what you might need to do. And if the proposal comes a little later than you thought it might (which I assume happens every time), at least you have cute shoes, and you know you’re adorable.
I hope my list was helpful. None of these items are specifically bridal, so collecting these items in advance shouldn’t make it too obvious what’s on your mind, but all will hopefully come in handy once you’re engaged and planning a wedding. Best of luck – and I hope he asks soon!