(And no, it does not involve bridal magazines or Pinterest!)
In this post, I really want to have a look at what it means to be engaged, to wear a shiny ring on your finger which lets the world know that you are journeying towards marriage.
There is nothing more beautiful than a couple saying ‘yes,’ to their future together and giving their commitment a huge high-five. To continue shaping a relationship that has already formed, to lay more foundations, build on existing ones and cement everything for a wonderful future together.
Being engaged is a time to savour and enjoy. To reflect and to think about what you both want out of life and how you’re going to go about doing it. It’s a time to be engaged, not just to be married but engaged with your thoughts and ideas for your shared life ahead. To savour in the fact that you and your soul mate are mapping out your lives together and working out how you’re going to kick ass and be your own little dream team duo.
But I’ve got a bit of a feeling that this in fact is not quite what happens when couples get engaged. In fact, I’ve got a sneaky feeling that when most couples get engaged after the initial euphoria and moon-walking round the living room, the next thing that people think about is their wedding day.
Now let me just say, there is nothing wrong with this. Of course there isn’t. There’s nothing like getting engaged and having the perfect excuse to check out wedding dresses online and even send out a cheeky email off to a venue to see what their availability is looking like. Of course you should! Part of the reason for getting engaged is to signify that you’re leading towards marriage and marriage starts (officially) with a wedding day. So yes, it is more than natural to think about your wedding day when you get engaged, BUT, it shouldn’t be the first and only thing you think about and worst still, become consumed by.
The benefits of being engaged
If you haven’t been engaged for long, you may not realise it, but being engaged is a very special thing and it’s a really precious moment which can often be overshadowed by the planning of a wedding. Your period of engagement can be over in a blink, so you should really savour it and give it the attention it deserves.
There were eleven months between us getting engaged and married and when I look back on that period, I really do remember it so fondly and remember it being such an exciting time. There was for us a definite shift from being boyfriend and girlfriend. We were still the same people, but our relationship felt different. Not different on a day to day basis. No way José. We still had our moments of bickering, our obsession with cooking or finding great places to eat and drink and the mutual capping of our desire to rescue and home nearly every homeless and stray dog that we came across. (We stopped at one and he still is alive and kicking, an ever-present feature in our house!)
Maybe our engagement felt really special because after getting engaged we moved abroad to Mexico, and so we were starting our engagement with a big mental and physical challenge that needed us to be one hell of a team. Or maybe, it was because we’d only been together for six months before we got engaged and so there really was a true transition for us, unlike I suppose, couples who have been together for longer and are really already living as a married couple, without being a married couple! Or maybe we simply embraced being engaged and loving every moment of this transitional period. Who knows exactly? The point is, it’s good to embrace this special period of time and I think it’s special no matter how long you’ve been together.
It is easy for couples to forget that being engaged is a milestone in itself. It is a period of time in between being a steady couple to becoming a married couple, but I think somewhere along the line, being engaged has become a lot about planning for a wedding and not so much about planning for the future. Engagement has been reduced to a tiny stepping stone to marriage and not an actual functioning bridge to marriage. Hopefully, most of you won’t treat it like some kind of limbo state that you find yourself in, whilst you wish time away for your big day to arrive. I really hope not.
Wedding resources don’t help either. As brilliant and useful as they are, everyone everywhere wants to help you to start planning (and spending for) your wedding from the moment you get engaged, which in turn pushes you straight into the wedding planning mindset and not the planning for the future mindset.
Sometimes an engagement period doesn’t end with a marriage, because the couple use that time (whether intentionally or not) to work out that actually getting married is not for them, as in, not for them as the couple they are. It’s sad, but this does happen. Sometimes a couple need the pressure of marriage to make them feel 100% sure that this is what they both want. I wrote a post about when an engagement doesn’t work out and why actually, although it doesn’t feel like it at the time, it is a good thing to happen, if it happens to you.
If I could share just one tip, it would be to enjoy your engagement, especially if you’ve got a good chunk of time between your engagement and your wedding day. Don’t overwhelm yourself with what needs to be done for your wedding day, because this might make you forgot to enjoy being engaged. Perhaps try to be a bit more organic in your approach with your wedding planning and that way the process might be less stressful and more enjoyable, because your ideas are developing naturally and mutually.
Use your engagement period to strengthen the team that you’ve become. To really get a feel for how you want to start off your married life. To get an appreciation of your ideals, your goals, your ambitions. Remind yourselves of what you want and what you absolutely don’t want out of your relationship and life in general. Know yourselves inside out, who each other is and what your individual and team goals are.
Enjoy this new phase in your relationship and don’t let it become swallowed up and devoured by the planning of your wedding, as after all, your wedding day is just one day and your marriage is for a huge chunk of your life, if not all of it.
Photo by Eloy Muñoz