The Season.


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief
The Season. | A Practical Wedding“Engagement season: it’s like hunting season, with slightly more tulle.” – Elizabeth

Which reminds me. You’ve all read, or at least seen Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband*, yes? Of course you have. So apparently, we’re in ‘the season.’ I’m glad to see we’ve progressed so far in the last 100 years. Though, when we were planning our engagement, I did warn David that if I didn’t feel the proposal was up to snuff, I’d go wait by the ‘usual palm tree’ for him to try again. I’m pushy, even when I’m feeling traditional.

*I often describe my real-life self as a blend of Mabel Chiltern and Hermione Granger. Which is just about exactly right.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • Anonymous

    I've never heard of planning an engagement before. What is that?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Oh, it's when you decide you're going to get engaged, and then you decide who's going to propose, and if it will be a surprise or not.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14592134684232246855 Seanie

    I'm in a pre-wedding phase then…the planning an engagement phase! :-P

    And also, yes, I have read An Ideal Husband (though it has been several years), and yes, I too call myself a Hermione Granger :-D

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06985820953743653787 Ms. Bunny

    Another book to add to the post-graduate school reading list. It just keeps growing and growing!

    We semi planned our engagement as well. Designed the ring together, talked about wanting the final thing/proposal to be a surprise, and things I definitely did not want (ie. ring in the food). I also kept emphasizing that he did not have to do some crazy big grand gesture.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    … then don't do it. Our engagement wasn't grand, but, we're theatre people, and wanted the moment. So we had it. We'd known we would get married for a long time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12533569387066582865 Grace

    Ahh, yes… the planned engagement. Well, if it's any consolation to the ladies (or men) out there waiting by their own palm trees of anticipation, I simply assumed that because my partner and I had already booked a venue, photographer, and gone dress shopping that the engagement was going to be simply an order of business. Not so. Tears, snot, and emotions galore. You'd be surprised at how pivotal those four little words are.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06008386302876377978 Lyssachelle

    @Anonymous #2

    I don't know, but I think engagement planning is less of an actual planning session and more of a series of conversations that kind of happen over time. Then afterward that counts as your engagement planning. So if you're sitting around eating breakfast and you say, "You're not going to propose in public, are you? Cause I would hate that and I'll say no and stab you," and he mumbles "Okay," around a mouth full of Cheerios, that counts as engagement planning.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12997875522614810785 Mouse

    Hee hee. I have a proposal story for you sometime.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08921799458850000661 Victoria

    I don't begrudge you or anyone the moment they want. I do think it is very strange. I also think it's exactly the kind of thing that the ladies on this blog mock mercilessly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Victoria
    Nonsense. We got married, many of us in white dresses, some of us to men. Which is us having a moment, same as one of us asking another one of us if they'd like to spend the rest of their lives together, you know, offically. Life transitions are important, and marking them in a way that you find meaningful is important. That's what we're talking about here. That's my overarching personal theame, so this should not be surprising. Besides, it was gender normative enough of us as it was. Me not having a say in when/how/why? Blergh. Not for me.

    And if you notice, I was mocking it mercilisly, with palm trees and the like.

    @Lysachelle
    Exactly. Except for us it was the other way around.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08921799458850000661 Victoria

    Meg, from your answer not sure it was clear which part I found strange. I find it strange that couples (at least 90%) who have agreed to spend the rest of their lives together and get married manufacture an entirely artificial moment when someone "asks". It doesn't hurt anyone, except for when the guy wants to surprise the girl and the girl goes through emotional breakdowns for six months waiting (real situations! insane but real!). To me, whenever the two of you had that conversation about hey, this is forever isn't it? or when one of you said you know how about marriage? that is the proposal and doing an expected proposal when one person knows the other will ask and the answer has already been given is weird. I actually think the expectation of the proposal causes a fair amount of misery but obviously not in your case so I'm glad it worked for you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @Victoria
    Misery? H*ll no! That's why I was involved in calling the shots. If I hadn't wanted one, we would have skipped it. To me, NOT planning a proposal together is what leads to misery. We were on the same page, we knew what we wanted, but we also had discussed and decided that we wanted a formal proposal. So. We did that.

    It's a formality. So is a wedding. Are they important to everyone? No. Were they important to me? Yes. Did I want to be involved in the discussion and planning of both? HELL yes.

    I graciously let David pick the time and place ;)

    And yes, in most case that forever idea works. But not for us. We were born in the same hospital. We've known each other well since we were 14. We were very platonic best friends and owned a business together for several years before we ever kissed. By the time we kissed, it WAS forever. But, we were not emotionally ready to get married or to think about getting married. For us, the formal proposal was a life marker, it marked the point in time we decided we were emotionally ready for marriage. Powerful stuff that. And not a show. Real.

    So. Again. It's different for everyone. As I ALWAYS say, dismissing something as wrong or weird because it's traditional, is for me as unhelpful as doing things just because they are traditional. Why? Because traditions have tremendous power, sometimes for bad, but sometimes for enormous good.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08169407356570837365 D-Day

    I'm just catching up on this conversation.. Meg's pretty well given the last word but I'm going to share anyway. :)

    I think Zach would have been happy to be like "mmk, we got the ring, I talked to your dad, we're good to go, you wanna wear this thing now?" but I'm theatrical, I needed a bit more than that. I needed the grand gesture. We talked about it, he understood, he went with the grand gesture and it was lovely for both of us (and secretly I think he's relieved that he has a good story to tell because he had No idea beforehand how many people would ask us How It Happened).

    At this point I can look back on it and say Meh, I don't know why I cared so much, I'm just happy to be about to marry him. There was definitely a time between the Hey I want to marry you someday talk, and the Hmm you wanna help me pick out this ring? where I was going a little nuts wondering when it would happen. If only I had had APW back then, I probably would have been a bit cooler about it. ;)

    I would recommend, if you are in the pre-engagement time period and you want the big proposal, make sure you are both on the same page about the approximate time line you're talking about, in addition to the who's going to propose, surprise or not, ring shopping together or not, and all that. After talking with other friends about it, it seems like a common trend where "soon" means something very different in each partner's mind, and that can be where you get the 6 months of angst.

    and if you don't care for a big proposal, of course it's not necessary. Meg's last comment really says everything I could say about that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    @D-Day
    Hum. While I don't want to turn pre-engagement into a word for the WIC, I kind of want to do a post about this now. For those people interested in proposals. I mean, god knows, if you're not you're not. But the idea of women feeling like they just have to wait around, well, waiting, and guys thinking they have to put on some grand piece of performance art? Gives me the feeling of little tulle spiders running down my arms ;)

  • http://www.actsofbeauty.co.uk/wordpress ActsofBeauty

    Ok, this is late to the party, but this conversation has REALLY helped me let go of any guilt about not being the sweet maiden who waits patiently while never talking about what she really wants. Thanks for this, it should be published in Vogue (or somewhere more women frequent)