After being engaged for nearly 2 years (with another 8 months to go), I can honestly say that a long engagement is both a good and bad thing. There are times when it’s been great, and times when I’ve been frustrated and wondered “Can we just BE MARRIED already?!”
Pro – Plenty of Time
– Time to Enjoy Us – Being in grad school has the tendency to monopolize my time outside of my full-time work, and having a part-time job just pushes me over the edge some days. Therefore, having a long engagement was kind of necessary for me to be able to manage everything without completely losing my mind. We took advantage of the time and wanted to just enjoy being engaged before we started planning – so we didn’t make any wedding moves for nearly 6 months after we got engaged. Obviously we never could have done that if we had a more typical engagement.
– Time to Relax and Read – A few months before we got engaged, my best friend (Mrs. Palm Tree) and her now-husband got engaged. I got to throw myself into wedding stuff on her behalf, and focused on being a good bridesmaid. Of course, I also started thinking about things for our own eventual wedding. Once we (finally) got engaged ourselves, I was “allowed” to plan these things for real, so I loaded up on wedding books and read tons of planning tips. With a long engagement, I had plenty of time to just kick back and make friends with wedding planning books, magazines, and blogs. If you have the time, I wholeheartedly suggest taking some time to read some wedding books before you start planning. This was such a great time for me to get some ideas, break into planning mode, and just enjoy the flutters of new engagement!
– Time to Save Up – This one is pretty obvious. The longer the engagement, the more time you have to save up money for the wedding. It’s been a huge help for us to have 6 tax returns (between the two of us), 3 summers of part-time work (in addition to our full-time jobs), and plenty of birthdays and holidays to allow us to save up the extra money needed for the wedding. The extra time allowed us to make payments on vendors without stretching ourselves too thin, and also gave us plenty of time to track down deals to help save us money as well!
Con – TOO Much Time
– Time for Lots of Things to Change – Over the course of our engagement, a lot of things have changed. Both Monsieur P and I have changed jobs, we bought a house and moved, and adopted a dog. All of those things have impacted our finances, and the wedding in turn, both positively and negatively. Planning-wise, things have changed as well. The wedding consultant with whom we worked at one of our venues has since left and been replaced by someone new. Our reception venue has changed their caterer options twice. Bridesmaid dresses we liked have been discontinued. All of these changes require me to be pretty flexible and able to adapt, but they could also be very stress-inducing!
– Time for You to Second-Guess Decisions and to Change Your Mind – This one is interesting. Thankfully, I have not had any major regrets regarding decisions that we made in the beginning of our engagement, but the possibility is there. Two-plus years is a lot of time for your friends to change, impacting the guest list, and potentially your bridal party. I avoided this potential drama by having only sisters and one friend as my bridesmaids, but we did end up changing a groomsman over the course of the engagement, which will be its own post later. When you have so much time for things to change, it’s easy to second-guess yourself and find things to regret. I’m trying really hard to avoid this trap, but it’s easy enough to fall into!
– Time for Engagements, Weddings, and Babies – When you’re engaged longer than the average couple, you’re bound to witness these things throughout the course of your engagement. We have had numerous friends who have gotten engaged after us, annnnnnd still gotten married before us. The mister even has a fraternity brother getting married the same day as us, which is going to cut back on the number of fraternity brothers who will be attending our wedding now. MOH Big Sis got pregnant and gave birth to our second nephew during the course of our engagement, which made bridesmaid dress shopping interesting. Friend G had two more babies, which further convoluted the flower girl/ring bearer situation. Obviously all of these things are happy occasions, but having so much time for these things to happen throughout the engagement can make planning difficult at times.
– Time for Ups and Downs – The engagement is supposed to be a super happy time in your relationship, right? Well, when you spend almost two and a half years being engaged, that’s plenty of time to hit some bumps in the road for your relationship. The majority of the time has been spent in the “Ups,” it’s true, but there have been a few “Downs” over the years as well. With both of us working full-time and part-time, plus me being in grad school, there have been stressful periods. Last semester, I spent 3-4 nights a week at school, and usually the other nights I was working my part-time job, which didn’t leave a lot of time for me to spend with Monsieur P. There have been times where our relationship has been strained by the outside stressors, and though that could have happened in a shorter engagement (or marriage, for that matter) as well, just having ALL.THAT.TIME means that there are going to be both highs and lows.
Are you having a long engagement? If so, what was your biggest advantage? Did you feel like you weren’t “allowed” to do any wedding planning until you got that big shiny on your finger?