Your Guide to Being Engaged in 2022

Engaged and confused? Here's your guide to planning a wedding in this age, and how to plan it your way, on your time, and on your budget.

By Rachel Varina

Your Guide to Being Engaged
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

For most couples, first comes love, then comes the engagement, and then comes the wedding planning. Whether you’ve been envisioning your nuptials since you were young, or you’re new to the concepts of vows, wedding bells, and “I do’s,” there’s a chance that all the details have you feeling a little lost. From selecting your colors and theme, to sending out invites and figuring out a budget, there’s a lot to consider. If you’re feeling engaged and confused, we’re here to help during every step of the way, and every step of your way.

What makes wedding planning feel especially tricky in 2022 is the number of influences that couples get from every angle. Between friends, family members, and social media, it seems like everywhere you look, someone else is telling you what you should—and shouldn’t—do at your celebration. And, for some reason, as soon as you say “Yes,” it feels like you’re expected to be a wedding planning professional and have all the answers.

That’s why we want to clear up some of that wedding planning confusion. Ultimately, the day is about celebrating the life that you’re building together, not completely taking it over. We’re here to break down exactly what it takes to plan a wedding today, plus show you exactly how you can make your day your own (on your terms and in budget).

2022 Wedding Planning Insight

First Look Report - Main Report EA Photo Credit // Zola

After a few years of less-than-celebratory spirit, 2022 couples are officially ready to celebrate. In fact, for many, the bigger the better—think large guest lists, spacious venues, big wedding parties, and plenty of memories in the making. Whether or not you choose to keep things small and intimate, or embrace the current trend, here are a few basics to consider based on The First Look Report from Zola:

Top Wedding Color Trends of 2022

Muted, earthy tones are officially in for 2022, but that doesn’t mean that people are simply opting for classic hues such as “red” or “orange.” A third of the couples surveyed said that they plan to get super specific about their exact hues—think burgundy, copper, sage, and terracotta. In fact, the top polling colors of 2022 couples are:

  • Dark reds
  • Burnt oranges
  • Shiny metallics
  • Nature-inspired greens
  • Non-royal blues
  • Dusty pinks

Whatever colors you choose, the key here is leaning into your personal/couple style or aesthetic. Don’t be afraid to get specific with your hues to find the color that best represents your big day vision.

Wedding Vendors That Couples Are Splurging on in 2022

With so many choices to make and vendors to choose from, you might be wondering which are the most important, and, thus, where the bulk of your budget should go. While all vendors add to the big day, there are a few that modern couples are willing to splurge a little extra on. As you’re searching for your vendor team (which Zola can help with), here are a few of the top vendor types that couples are willing to pay extra for:

  • Photographer
  • Open bar/bartending services
  • Venue
  • Day-of attire
  • Catering

It’s important to note that many of these vendors are big-picture. If you’re going to splurge on the best of the best, the above vendor types will help ensure that you get the most out of your day and the best bang for your buck.

Couples' Top Wedding Themes of 2022

Gone are the days of feeling like you have to have a traditional wedding. In fact, we’ve found that 2022 couples are being super specific with the details of their days, and are leaning toward unique themes for their days. While romantic, elegant, and rustic are still topping the themed charts, here are some new and exciting 2022 themes that couples are opting for:

  • Nature
  • Celestial
  • Vintage and books
  • Movies and sci-fi
  • Location inspired
  • Retro and campy

In addition to the above, we’re seeing everything from travel to cottagecore to Shrek-themed events, so don’t feel like you’re boxed into something traditional. At Zola, we know the best weddings are ones that feel true to you, which is why we encourage couples to lean into what makes them happiest, and then allow us (via our Real Weddings) to help with the specifics.

Top Wedding Reception Trends of 2022

Memorable receptions that showcase more than just first dances are all the rage of 2022. To ensure that you’re throwing a celebration that guests will remember, couples are opting for new, interactive ways for their guests to have a blast on the big day. In addition to dance floors, open bars, and photo booths, here are a few popular additions to 2022 receptions:

  • Video booths (also called “speech booths”)
  • Cigar bars/hookahs
  • Face painting
  • Entertainers/costumed character appearances
  • Interactive games

Most Popular Wedding Months for 2022

Everyone's Getting Engaged & Married in These Months (And We Don't Blame Them)Photo Credit // Zola

Making it through a pandemic together is a big deal, which is why the majority of 2022 weddings are couples who got engaged toward the end of 2020. While September and October are still expected to be big “I do” months (as per usual), we’re going to see a much earlier 2022 wedding season. In fact, April, May, and June will be the most popular celebration months this year, which means that those planning and attending should be prepared for warmer weather celebrations and perhaps fewer fall events.

Popular Wedding Traditions

Weddings of the past meant adhering to customary traditions such as throwing the bouquet or having a garter toss. In 2022, couples are pretty divided on what traditions they want to participate in, if any. Here are the American traditions still topping the 2022 wedding planning charts:

  • First dances
  • Being walked down the aisle
  • Wearing a veil
  • Cake cutting

That being said, if there’s an old tradition that you love, do it. And, if you want to modify a classic, go for it. The day is about your bond, not traditions that don’t hold value to you. Chat with your partner to figure out what you love and what you would rather celebrate without.

How Couples Are Integrating Culture into Their Weddings

Just like American traditions, many cultures have additional wedding traditions seen at typical celebrations. According to our research, 70 percent of 2022 couples don’t feel pressure to incorporate any specific traditions—American, cultural, or otherwise. The reason for this, for them, is because they find meaning in it.

Whether it’s jumping the broom, performing a handfasting, having a dollar dance, or doing the Hora, some families lean heavy into cultural traditions and others don’t. Take some time to think about where your feelings lie, and consider chatting with a loved one or house of worship leader to figure out which traditional celebratory additions to include and which ones to forget.

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Planning Your Wedding Your Way

When it comes to planning your wedding, there’s so much to consider. But, before you feel overwhelmed, here are a few of the basics that’ll help you get started (and don’t worry, we’re here for the rest as well).

The First Things to Do When Planning a Wedding

first 10 thingsPhoto Credit // Zola

As soon as you get engaged, you’re probably wondering which to-do’s you need to check off your list first. Secure a vendor? Pick a date? Stare at your ring? We’ve talked to the experts, and here are the top 10 things that you’ll want to accomplish after saying “Yes”:

  1. Share the news with loved ones.
  2. Enjoy being engaged.
  3. Daydream about the big day.
  4. Talk about your wedding budget.
  5. Choose a year and season to say “I do.”
  6. Get a rough guest count.
  7. Set up your Zola account.
  8. Share the news via social media, newspaper, and/or snail mail.
  9. Insure your ring.
  10. Consider hiring a planner/coordinator.

How to Pick a Wedding Theme That Highlights Your Personalities

As mentioned above, more and more couples are opting for unique and very specific wedding themes over broad traditional ones. If you’re trying to figure out how to land on the perfect theme that highlights your personalities, consider having fun with it. Sit down for a date night and talk about elements that you love about weddings, about your relationship, and about each other.

Think about your favorite movies, songs, inside jokes, shared passions, and favorite memories. Now, think about ways to incorporate those details and see if there’s an underlying theme to pull, such as retro cinema, vintage literature, or even just “us.” There’s no reason why you can’t mix and match themes to create the perfect one that reflects your one-of-a-kind bond.

How to Find Wedding Vendors Who Align With Your Values

If finding the best vendor for you means ensuring that they support and align with your personal values, you might be wondering how to ascertain who’s a fit and who isn’t. Luckily, Zola makes it easy, as all of our vendors commit to our Vendor Vows.

These vows state that all of our vendors support all couples’ right to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, or budget. Additionally, we make it our mission to bring together vendors who are diverse in background, budget, and style. Plus, we never promote “plantation” venues or ones linked to a history of slavery. At Zola, you can be sure that you’ll be hiring the most ethically supportive vendors around.

Navigating the Noise Around Wedding Planning: How to Focus on What Really Matters

When it comes to planning your 2022 wedding, there’s one thing that really matters: your relationship! This year, we’re seeing more and more couples being intentional with their energy, and putting their own wants/needs ahead of wedding planning.

While external pressures and family circumstances can sometimes distract from focusing on the celebratory aspect, remember that this event is about love. Take plenty of planning breaks and use the tools at your disposal to ease as much stress as possible. Don’t forget, if you have a wedding party, delegate tasks and ask for help. That way you can spend less time planning and more time simply enjoying being engaged until the big day.

How to Handle a Long Engagement

If you’re taking longer than the average year timeframe to go from engaged to married, chances are that you’re feeling all kinds of emotions, ranging from relaxed to stressed to impatient. If you’re trying to navigate the wait, use this time to tune out all the excess noise and enjoy the planning process at your own pace. Take the time to not only enjoy your engagement, but also to enjoy breaks from the planning, plus plenty of time to daydream and explore different celebration options.

Luckily, we have timelines for every length of engagement so that you can be sure that everything will get done and you’ll still feel celebratory, no matter how long your engagement might be.

How to Announce Your Engagement

Whether you’ve been waiting for the engagement, knew it was coming, or it caught you by a wonderful surprise, as soon as you say “Yes,” the next step is to announce your big news. Before shouting it from the virtual rooftops, be sure to take a beat to simply enjoy the time with your fiance. For some people, this is a few moments, while for others it’s a few days, but, nevertheless, bask in that “I just said yes” glow for a bit.

Then, you’ll want to share the news with your family and inner circle first. Some people might be hurt to learn the news second-hand, so take the time to tell them before everyone else. Finally, consider spreading the word via phone, social media, newspaper, or even formal announcement to let everyone else know about the exciting next chapter of your life.

Planning Your Wedding on Your Time

Pros and Cons of Allowing +1s at Your WeddingPhoto Credit // Zola

With a big event looming ahead, you might feel like you want to drop everything and dedicate all your time to wedding planning. For most couples, that’s not exactly realistic, and, for all of them, it’s not exactly healthy. Between work and friendships and personal time, you can’t be working on your wedding 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Here’s how to make sure that you get everything done for your “I do’s,” while ensuring that you don’t let any non-wedding related essentials fall by the wayside.

What Can Wait After Getting Engaged

After getting engaged a zillion to-do’s likely popped in your head, but, before you start making dress appointments and picking your bridesmaids, take a second to get the initial tasks done and enjoy those just engaged feels. Here are a few tasks that can wait at least one month (or two) after getting engaged:

  • Picking your day-of look
  • Choosing your wedding party
  • Planning your guest list
  • Figuring out the seating chart
  • Hiring your vendors
  • Figuring out the legalities
  • Building your wedding website
  • Nailing down your wedding style

While all of the above tasks eventually have to get done, don’t feel like they need to be checked off before your ring is insured or your grandma knows you’re engaged. Remember: It’s a marathon to the aisle, not a sprint.

How to Fit Wedding Planning into Your Schedule

While it might not seem super romantic, the best way to fit wedding planning into your schedule is to literally schedule it. Set an hour or so aside each day with a specific task item in mind, and try not to over-schedule your planning sessions to avoid burnout. If you find that time management and juggling your tasks, in addition to planning, just isn’t working, consider hiring a planner or coordinator to ease some of the burdens and free up some of your schedule.

How to Make Wedding Planning Easier (and Stress-Free)

Many couples—no matter how deep into planning they are—can end up finding the process a little (or a lot!) stressful. In addition to setting and adhering to a planning timeline, reaching out to your planner/party for help, and putting planning time on your daily/weekly schedule, we suggest scheduling at least one day a week where you and your partner steer clear of wedding planning and, instead, focus on your bond.

Not only will this help ease some of the post-wedding blues after your wedding day is through, but it’ll help you remember what the celebration is about in the first place, and it will give you the chance to recoup from a week of planning.

Planning Your Wedding on Your Budget

One of the biggest questions that just engaged couples have is how to plan a wedding on their budget. Setting and sticking to your wedding budget is essential to creating a day that’s not only beautiful, but also doesn’t jeopardize your financial future. Here’s what to keep in mind as you start figuring out your 2022 wedding budget.

How to Set a Wedding Budget That's Realistic for You

How to Set a Wedding Budget That's Realistic for YouPhoto Credit // Zola

When it comes to budgets, 2022 couples are all over the board, and there’s s no real “average” cost of weddings; however, we’re seeing events ranging from a few thousand dollars to $100,000, with about a quarter of Zola couples budgeting between $10k and $20k for the big day.

That being said, there are ranges that many couples are working within to make their weddings a reality. To figure out your range, it’s a good idea to figure out who’s contributing what, and then take a look at your finances as well as your future plans. Some couples prefer to keep their weddings simple to save up for a house or trip, while others want to spend it all on a jaw-dropping celebration. Consider the goal of your event and the few years following your wedding to help you figure out where your priorities might lie.

Everything You May Be Forgetting to Add to Your Wedding Budget

When planning out your wedding budget, there are a few things that you won’t want to forget. First, budget for even the smallest details, such as an Uber to the venue, stamps for invitations, ink for printing, and that post-reception pizza you order to the honeymoon suite. Additionally, it’s a good idea to budget in case of unexpected events, such as employment changes, medical bills, or loved ones who have to pull their contributions. While we hope nothing like that happens, being prepared will ensure that you still have your dream day without scrambling due to a financial crisis.

How to Balance Budgeting for Your Wedding and Budgeting for Everything Else

No matter how amazing you want your wedding day to be, it’s important to remember: The purpose of the celebration is the life you want to spend with your person. Before putting money aside for the big day, make sure that you’re also budgeting for the necessities such as food, rent, and medical bills, as well as emergency savings.

If you’re having trouble saving extra money, consider looking into odd jobs, selling some old items (chances are that you have some great yard sale pieces in your closet!), or chatting with your vendors to figure out payment plans. Figuring out your personal expenses can help you figure out your wedding budget, as well as find a number that you can feel good about.

7 Reasons You May Go Over Your Wedding Budget—and How to Not To

If the first step is creating a budget, the second step is sticking to it. And, unfortunately, that’s a task that many couples have trouble with. According to our research, 70 percent of 2022 couples are going over budget. Here’s why, plus tips on how to avoid it so that you don’t end up spending more than you intended:

  • Your budget was too low.
  • You weren’t upfront with your vendors about your budget.
  • You didn’t set or stick to a guest count.
  • You did the math in your head, instead of by hand or virtually.
  • You didn’t plan for the extras.
  • You’re not open to compromises or substitutions.
  • You didn’t pay attention to your contracts.

Budgeting for Your Wedding, While Attending Others’ Weddings

Not only is throwing a wedding expensive, but attending them is too. If the invitations keep rolling in while you’re planning your special day, keep in mind that you need to budget for those events too. Consider re-wearing, renting, or borrowing outfits instead of buying something new for each event, and also look into splitting hotel rooms and carpooling with friends. Additionally, don’t feel like you have to say yes to every wedding and wedding-related activity. Pick and choose the events that work best for you, and feel confident that your guests will do the same.

While that’s just the start of what to consider when you get engaged, we’re here every step of the way to ease confusion and help you plan the best, on-budget event that’s perfectly and positively “you.”

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