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Ashlyn & Miles


Ashlyn & Miles | A Practical Wedding

Because APW is nothing if not a giant devil’s advocate argument, since I posted about my (very) un-married 20’s yesterday, today seemed the perfect day to post about Ashlyn’s wedding at 20. When Ashlyn sent me her wedding graduate post, I was immediately grateful. She writes, eloquently, about the pressures she faced for getting married that young and what she learned from that. I get a lot of emails from people who are getting married in their very early 20’s and are not sure if it’s the right thing to do, and I never know what to say. Getting married young is like everything else – sometimes it’s the right thing to do and sometimes it’s not, and you know deep down what the answer is for you. It wouldn’t have been right for me, but my mom got married at 23 and has been happily married for 35 years.  It clearly was the right thing for Ashlyn, and I’m proud to have her here, being brave, sharing her wisdom.

Ashlyn & Miles | A Practical Wedding

I am 20 years old. Miles is 25. Neither of us has graduated with our bachelors degree yet. But a month and a half ago, we got married in the Columbia, South Carolina LDS temple. It was never my plan to get married this young, but honestly, after our third date or so, I knew that we would be getting married in the summer of 2010. As so many said to us “When you know, you know.” And I think we did. You know those people who you place in memories that happened way before you ever knew them, because it seems like you’ve always known them? Miles wasn’t like that. I had never met anyone like him. I knew what life had been without him, and what it was with him, and they were completely different. It sounds trite, but he was what made me whole. He was my fresh start. He made me brave. So we fell in love. So we got engaged.

Ashlyn & Miles | A Practical Wedding

Unfortunately, the engagement went quickly from what I thought was going to be a blissful period of planning and of Miles and I strengthening our relationship, to a time of extreme stress. I changed my major from Printmaking to Biology; it turned out that planning a wedding on a budget was actually made to seem impossible; Miles and I (especially me, I am 20), began to face something I would call akin to discouragement from many of those around us. People didn’t understand why we couldn’t live together first, date longer, see the world. Getting married felt right to us. We are both religious, and honestly, we are both commitment minded people. The constant criticism started getting to me, though. It made me second guess myself; it made me second guess my ability to have a happy, strong, healthy marriage. And so the engagement got more stressful with my on and off cold feet, and my frustration with the feeling that people don’t think that marriage is a good thing anymore. I had started reading APW, and the story where Meg told a friend she was getting married, and the friend says “Oh, I don’t believe in marriage” like it’s some sort of thing that doesn’t exist, that really stuck with me. I think we’ve hit a point in our culture where marriage is out of style. Though I don’t think getting married at 20 was ever in style.

We were engaged for 9 months, and we got through it. Looking back on it, I wish I had just decided not to care what anyone thought. I think it would have been a much happier time. But, I feel like Miles and I are stronger for the fights that we had and the very strong opinions that we faced. I think if we really hadn’t wanted to get married, in the first few months of being engaged, we would have called the whole thing off. But we knew it was worth it.

Looking back on it, the planning wasn’t important, what people said wasn’t important, the fact that a lot of people chose not to come  wasn’t important.

Ashlyn & Miles | A Practical Wedding

What was important was walking out of the temple on May 21, at 4:32 in the afternoon, holding Miles hand, married. What was important was that we did things the way that we wanted them to be done, and that on May 22, at 6:30 in the evening, so many of the people that we love came to celebrate and affirm the decision that we had made.

Ashlyn & Miles | A Practical Wedding

So here is my advice for anyone getting married:

Don’t let little things define the bigger meaning: When I started planning our wedding and reception, I felt like if I had the perfect dress, and hair, and centerpieces, and whatever else, then that would mean I would have a perfect marriage. Which sounds nuts, but deep down, I think that’s why there is so much pressure to make everything perfect. Everyone wants to start out… perfectly. I soon realized that our wedding/reception was never going to be perfect, because I really suck at planning. And I made peace with that, and with all the “flaws” of our reception.

Ashlyn & Miles | A Practical Wedding

Our chairs were the $1.40 ones that turned out to be those plastic ones. But when I pulled up when everything was done, guess what? I couldn’t even tell. All of those tiny details, like what you sat on, or whether your cups were from the grocery store, or the fact that your mom wrapped half the silverware in the wrong twine, they don’t matter. At all. Our wedding and our marriage have nothing to do with chairs. Or plastic forks.

Ashlyn & Miles | A Practical Wedding

Haters are gonna hate: There will be people who don’t agree with you getting married. I swear, they will just pop up with their opinions. Do not listen to them. You know inside of yourself why you decided to do this. That is all that matters. If people don’t want to celebrate with you, they will miss out on an opportunity to be apart of something bigger than themselves. So big, I am just begin to grasp it.

Ashlyn & Miles | A Practical Wedding

I don’t even know how to describe this part: Another thing that stuck with me that Meg wrote about was how transcendent getting married was. I remember not understanding what she meant. I am so thankful that eventually I got to. I hope some day that every single person understands that. I have never felt so much love, for me, from me, all around me. For every one person that was discouraging, there were ten people that only wanted to support us.

Ashlyn & Miles | A Practical Wedding

My dad spent the entire day before the wedding, and the entire day of the reception setting up the lights that I had demanded; my brother and his fiancee helped string the lights; family from out of town set up the tables and the centerpieces; Miles’ mom altered my wedding dress; a friend baked the cake; our dear friend who did all of the flowers also became our photographer’s assistant. I could literally go on for a couple of hours describing the generosity, the incredible help and support that we received from so many people around us. That love was a thousand times over any of the strife we had felt. That day that you get married, that day that you make an unshakeable bond and share it with those around you, take the time to feel it. As we drove away from the reception for the hour and a half drive back to our home, I burst into tears, and I couldn’t stop crying for almost the entire ride home. The wonderful hugeness of it all hit me.

Ashlyn & Miles | A Practical Wedding

Our wedding and our reception and even our marriage, they were and they are not perfect. But they are so much better than perfection. They’re real. I get to forge my true character with another being who I am only beginning to understand. We got to become a part of bigger family, and at the same time, make our own tiny unit, where we learn and we laugh and we fight.

I guess what I am trying to say is, it’s worth it. Every second.

Photos by Jessica Colvin who is (get this) a student at Georgia State

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  • Jennifer

    I haven’t read the post yet, just Meg’s intro and looked at the first two pictures, and I *love* that dress. Enough so that I needed to comment on it before reading any of Ashlyn’s eloquent words.

    Now I will go read the post like a good girl.

    • Jennifer

      Okay, read! And you know, in the first couple of paragraphs especially, the experience described isn’t all that different for this bride-to-be who is old enough to be Ashlyn’s mother (okay, I would have had to get knocked up before I was legally able to vote, but still…). I’m in my late 30s, and I almost get the reverse thing from some people who seem to feel like we should be over the marriage thing by now and be happy just to live together. I think the biggest difference is that it’s more a shaking of the head than anyone trying to tell you not to. That, and I have many, many more years of practice in deciding when to care about what other people think and when not to. (Note: this is not a skill I’ve perfected by any means, I’m just much much better at it than I was at 20.) And I, too, am looking forward to continuing to grow and live the ___ out of my life, growing together with a partner — because just as marriage doesn’t mean you have to stop that, despite what people try to tell those marrying young, I don’t think heading into the 40s and onward stops that either. Ugh. Me = not eloquent this morning.

      My mother was a few months shy of 20 when my parents married, and she too was in the middle of her bachelor’s degree, a change of majors, and such. They’ve got four decades of marriage under their belt now. :)

      • meg

        What IS that? It’s like there is a… 10 year window where it’s ok to get married (24-34?) and if you’re outside that window, everyone is going to think it’s ok to give you sh*t.

        • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

          it’s the same with babies.

          i’m constantly critiqued for how young i am (i didn’t put this guy in my uterus on purpose, fyi) but i know 35 year olds who are “too old.”

          there’s no winning.

          • ElfPuddle

            Well, this 38-yr-old is still planning her wedding and hoping for babies. Too old? Yes, there’s a point when you are…but my OB/Gyn would say it’s different for every woman. She’s 38 and just had her 3rd. I’m trusting her over some nay-sayer.

      • Englyn

        “…deciding when to care about what other people think and when not to.”
        Can I Exactly this bit? So many people give such flippant advice along the lines of “don’t worry what other people think, just do what you want”. I’m sure I’ve been one of them. But the deciding is the sticky point.

      • Sara A.

        Even getting married at 24 means you get crap from people for being too young. I’ve never had a doubt that Alden was the one for me. I feel like I don’t need the fail safe of just living together. (Why doesn’t anyone ever talk of the dangers of living together? Like the entangling finances, joint possessions, pets and how they weave over you in an entrapment of brambles strapping you in a relationship more securely as a ring, a ceremony and a 100 person party ever would? Why don’t people talk about how much more exponentially damaging a live-in break up is over divorce because of the lack of legal oversight?)

        I want to know when the golden age of societal approval is. Neither my parents or I have received it. My parents got married in 1971 when my mother was 19 and my father 23. Neither of them had graduated from college and neither of them knew what they wanted to do. They went from being dirt poor and living with roommates to owning their own house in under a decade. My mother became the first woman in her family to attend college and the first person to get an advanced degree. My father was also part of the first generation in his family to graduate college and went on to become a very successful programmer. They could never have gotten where they are today with out each other to motivate them. They are still together, still love each other and still respect each other. I hope to have that kind of relationship in 39 years.

  • http://katejwb.blogspot.com Kate

    Thank you for this post Meg and Ashlyn! As a 22-year-old recent bride, I’m familiar with the seeds of doubt that can result from what “people say” – be it specific people talking to me or “people” in general.

    I really appreciated what Ashlyn said about knowing inside yourself why you made the decision. What also backed me up in my own decision was that the people who expressed open skepticism to me were the ones who didn’t know me or my husband well. Our close families (parents included), and good friends who actually knew us and our relationship were all about affirming our decision and kept any doubts they may have had to themselves. The best example of someone who told me straight out not to get married was a taxi driver who had known me for all of 2 minutes – and as he talked and I just took it and nodded, I slowly realized he was talking more about (and to) his own daughter and her situation than he was to me, so there you have it. Nonetheless, it’s emotionally draining when people feel entitled to share their opinion about your personal decisions, whether you’re 22 or 42 I suppose.

    So I too will be finding out what it means to live my 20s to the fullest, with a husband alongside me. It won’t always be easy, but like Ashlyn said, I feel like it will be worth it, for me.

    • http://2500milewedding.blogspot.com Tamar

      the person who told me (and my fiance) not to get married was also a taxi driver. but he was talking about his own failed marriage.

      i agree that there’s no “right” age. my fiance and i started dating when we were 19 and i was pretty sure from the beginning that we would end up married (we were close friends and i wouldn’t have been willing to start dating if i thought it would mess things up) but for us, now (at 25 and 26) it seems like a good time. there are friends of ours who dated for shorter periods and got married younger, others who have been dating for longer periods and are unmarried. but regardless, it’s a personal decision and it’s really no one else’s business to say you’re “too young” or “too old.”

      but away from the negatives… what captivated me in this post is how eloquently ashlyn worded that it’s not about the 1 person who disagrees – it’s the 10 people who shower you with love. i can’t believe some of the love, support, and generosity that i’ve received as we’ve embarked on this journey towards marriage – and from some of the most surprising people, no less!

  • dev

    What a beautiful couple.

    This post made me tear up a little. I didn’t work up the courage to walk down the aisle until I was 30, but Ashlyn really makes it clear that marriage was the right choice for her. It really isn’t about age, but about knowing yourself, your partner, and your needs. Congratulations to you both! And, by the way, you did have the Perfect Dress- so gorgeous and understated. You look like a 1960s movie star.

    And Meg, I love that you introduced this post with “Because APW is nothing if not a giant devil’s advocate argument…” I think that is exactly why I adore this site so much. There are few (if any) easy answers in marriage and in life. APW showcases so many different people and different choices, without the need to validate one over the others.

  • http://missfancypantsthebride.blogspot.com/ miss fancy pants

    Amazing post! As a 21 year old wife, I can completely relate to everything that was said. And even aside from that, things like worrying about details and ignoring the haters seems to be a universal problem surrounding weddings, no matter what the age of the couple involved, so it’s great to hear about someone who came out on the other side with some seriously wise perspective. We dealt with a lot of the same issues and Ashlyn and Miles and like she said, every second really is worth it.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com JoLynn

    Extremely well written, very beautiful! I love all of the lights, and that awesome barn!

    I confess, I sort of have the opposite feeling on a wedding: I think that if the wedding is horrible in a fate kind of way (it rains, you get the wrong dress delivered, etc.–not in an “oh no! Shouldn’t have done this!”) that the marriage will be fantastic.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, and I’m so glad that you had love to balance out the negativity.

    • Alyssa

      Can I just say that Ashlyn, you are adorable! And not because you’re 20, I think you’ll be just as adorable at 30 or 40, but you’re just so dang cute.

      And really really smart. Haters gonna hate….love it. And I think that in the end you might be glad that you had to deal with that stress before your wedding, it just reaffirms the enormity of the decision you made and how right it was for you. And having all that love, it’s so wonderful. It makes you want to be a better person to earn it all.

      Love it, love it, love it. Now I’m all warm and fuzzy for the day.

      • Alyssa

        Oop. Sorry Jolynn, apparently I don’t know how to reply to a thread. *SIGH*.

        • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

          westillloveyou.

  • http://sunshine-rainbows-and-zombie-unicorns.blogspot.com/ Tegan

    I’m so happy for you two! I’m also getting married fairly young (am currently 20, FH 26). I actually only had to deal with one comment so far about getting married so young, and that was from my fiance’s mother. She is currently in Malaysia, which adds some difficulty to the problem as I’ve only communicated with her through email. After talking to her and reassuring her a bit, things are great. She told me to call her “Mummy,” as it’s the norm in Malaysia to do that, even before the wedding. So that’s fun. :)

    I think I’m also really aware of the fact that I’m so young, so I think I almost try to defend myself before anything is said. This is sort of the same as the whole “way we met” story. I used to feel almost ashamed that I met my fiance on a dating site. But you know what? If it wasn’t for that, there is probably little to no chance I would have met him, the man I love. :D

    • Megan

      @ TEGAN

      I used to feel weird also about telling ppl I had met my fiancé on a dating site. But really whether you find your soulmate online, in some bar, or behind a dumpster at a Wendys (I’m sure it’s happened at some point), the only part that matters is that you found eachother. And just like this post so wisely states haters are gonna hate, so forget them.

      • Caroline

        Ha ha, I’m getting married this August at 21 AND I met my fiance on an online dating site.

        I’ve also had to learn that “haters gonna hate”, but I still feel self-conscious sometimes when I talk to people I don’t know well about my upcoming marriage. I believe that for at least 90% of people getting married at 21 would be a mark of insanity. Like Ashlyn and Miles, my fiance and I know it’s right for us, but unfortunately people who don’t know my fiance and I often assume we’re insane. I just have to keep reminding myself how incredibly supportive those close to me have been–those who know us best have said that they can’t imagine us NOT getting married this summer, so who cares about the occasional strange look or negative comment from someone’s mom’s third cousin?

  • Carbon Girl

    This post demonstrates that you can have wisdom at any age.

    • j

      “If people don’t want to celebrate with you, they will miss out on an opportunity to be apart of something bigger than themselves”

      I am 30 & haven’t been able to grasp this yet. We are 4 weeks away from our wedding & a few close members of my family have decided not to make the trip to our wedding for one reason or another. I am so trying not to take things personally, but it’s hard.

      Thank you wise, wise young one for sharing this perspective…

      • Debra

        Don’t take it personally. Believe me, it’s never about you . . . it’s always about them and their issues. It’s taken me 43 years to learn this.

  • Erin

    Hooray for such a beautiful, simple, and original dress!!!!! And congrats to you both for following your hearts and starting your marriage in a way that’s good for YOU.

  • http://onecatperperson.blogspot.com Angie

    I’m starting to believe that more and more that our weddings are just the beginning. Someone will always have something to say about our jobs, the home we choose to buy, the way we want to raise our children, or how we choose to invest our money… and it’s hard sifting through all of the caca to figure out what is really best for us.

    I think Ashlyn writes very well about her experience and although I’m not much older, I can relate. I think we all can. We’ll always be too young/too old to do something. We will constantly be faced with life transitions that may cause others think their opinions are welcome, but the best thing we can do is be brave. I think that’s been my biggest lesson as a reader of APW- be brave and be true.

    • http://www.mysanfranciscobudgetwedding.wordpress.com Sarah

      In my experience, people mostly butted out after the wedding (with the exception of a couple of people who were constitutionally incapable of butting out) until the babies. Babies drive the advice-givers back out of the closet, which can be frustrating.

  • CarMar

    I love your description of “being part of something so big, bigger than yourselves.” That was the single most important thing my husband and I took away from our wedding and reception. We were in awe of being surrounded by all of our nearest and dearest, and what it meant by their presence on our wedding day.

  • Mary

    Ah, Ashlyn, can we be friends? :D

    I’m getting married in December and the fiance and I will both be 21. I completely identify with everything you wrote, especially the part about the haters. We’re both in college now and the anti-young-marriage sentiment is so strong among my peers that I started refraining from telling strangers that I was engaged unless they got to know me. But like you said, haters gonna hate. Everyone who is close to us is in full support of our decision.

    I remember Meg did a few posts a while ago about how getting married makes you a Real Grown Up in the eyes of society, and I’m finding that that process is sort of amplified by doing it at this age. After college is generally the time when you really learn to stand up to your parents and represent yourself as an adult to the outside world. I don’t know about you, but doing this in the process of planning a wedding has been really formative for us.

  • http://www.fancynotion.blogspot.com/ Kerry

    I needed to read this post. I can oftentimes be the person critical of those who get married young, and even if I only think it in my head instead of commenting to the couple, it is still unfair. Thank you for being a great teacher on this topic!

  • Tess

    So happy to see this post. I have a draft wedding graduate submission which I was procrastinating sending because I didn’t think it was terribly insightful. Ashlyn put many of the sentiments that I shared in writing so much more eloquently than my attempt. Thanks Ashlyn from another 20-year-old bride!

  • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

    i always see the best dresses on this site. which is a little ironic-ish, no? or maybe a practical wedding involves some hot-ass clothes.

    i was engaged at 23 and faced the same issues.

    but you know what? caring about what these people say IS important. just flitting through life saying, “i don’t care what you think- i’m going to do what i want to do! la la la.” isn’t independence. it isn’t adulthood. and it isn’t altogether very wise. i listened when concerned friends or nosy strangers told me that i was too young to marry, and it allowed me a really good opportunity for introspection, weighing the options, assessing my motivation and state of mind. it was GOOD for me, and my relationship, to hear these criticisms. because it allowed me to be more certain that i was making the best choice.

    and in tandem with that- i do know people who married too young. and it had little do with age, and more to do with life experience, maturity, and self-knowledge.

    • meg

      Mmmmm…. you say the smartest things. Yes, several of our friends that married young and are now divorce entered into marriages doomed from the start. So, it wasn’t exactly their youth that doomed things but their judgement.

      • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

        Liz is BEYOND wise.

        • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

          you guys are flatterers.

    • http://agorillalibrarian.blogspot.com/ Mejane

      Liz, I think you’re absolutely right that listening to the criticism a bit can be a good thing. Goodness know it helps to prepare you for the unmitigated opinion sharing that seems to be a hallmark of all major life milestones (i.e. getting married, buying a house, having a baby, etc).

      That said, as a woman getting married at 23 (in one month – weeee!), I think much of the criticism is fairly insubstantial; it mostly seems to be about relativity. For instance, a few of my unmarried friends in their late 20s have some difficulty understanding why I’d want to get married at 23, but that’s essentially because they couldn’t imagine their own 23-year-old selves getting married. Likewise, 20 sounds young to me, because (you guessed it!) I wasn’t ready to get married at 20. Does that say anything about Ashlyn and Miles and their decision? No. Of course it doesn’t. The opinion only tells us something about the opinion maker.

      All of this is to say that I think it’s good to know when to ignore what people are saying. Not all the time, not in every situation, but sometimes. It’s good to be able to spot a poorly reasoned argument (or a non-argument) and just keep on moving.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        exactly!

        the majority of what i heard was unfounded, and mostly from strangers (who didn’t truly know me or my husband, or our life experiences- which were pretty substantial by the time of our marriage.) and i think that’s what i was trying to say- not necessarily to listen to every word of advice, but to weigh it. throw it out if it’s crap, and keep it in mind if it’s well-founded. because, yeah. i think there’s often a nugget of wisdom at the root of “too young to marry,” but it has less to do with numbered years and more to do with so many other factors- factors that may or may not be clear to the advice-giver.

        these things- weddings, and all of the decisions wrapped up therein- really teach you a thing or two about learning when to listen and when to block it out.

        • Morgan

          There are also probably a good number of people who look at who they were dating at 20/23/whatever age they are judging, and know that marrying that person would have been a disaster. And use that judgment about their life on someone else.

          • http://agorillalibrarian.blogspot.com/ Mejane

            P.S. – That’s a really good point, Morgan. It’s hard for me to imagine getting married at 20 without thinking about the dude I was dating then. Yikes.

          • http://faithintruth.wordpress.com Faith

            Words cannot express how thankful I am to not be with the guy I was with at 20.
            Blech.

        • http://agorillalibrarian.blogspot.com/ Mejane

          It’s true: you really do learn so much through this process. Getting engaged is like a crash course in figuring out how to deal with unsolicited advice. It’s good, though, in the long run. It makes us tough. And quick on our feet.

          • Rachel

            especially when that “advice” is coming from someone, like your mother, who you used to be really close with but who decided not to ever get to know you as an adult. I listen to her words of wisdom, because she’s my mother, but she also hasn’t taken the time to get to know me or my fiance, so I’ve also had to learn to tune a lot of it out.

      • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

        Hi Mejane! I’d like to add that when people give their two cents it’s often not something grounded in wisdom, but rather good intentions. There’s a difference.

        In my psychotherapy class, my professor said that we should take anyone’s opinion of us with a grain of salt…no, not because we should have an eff-the-world, I-am-gonna-do-my-thang attitude, but because what others perceive and judge about us says more about THEM and THEIR mistakes/ self-judgment/ baggage, and less about us.

        That being said, my prof. also thinks that if 75% of people all tell you the same thing, there’s probably *some* truth there. I guess it’s like what Liz says — the advice is something to weigh and ponder. It’s an invitation to reflect and grow.

      • Rachel

        I’m about to turn 25 and just got married (my husband is 9.5 years older than me). The notion that I might be young didn’t even cross people’s minds because of who I am as a person and who my husband and I are as a couple.

        Oddly enough, my oldest sister is 28 and still is too young to get married.

        Like some of the other wise ladies said, I think it has little (though I do believe some) to do with age and far more to do with maturity. If someone refuses to learn from their mistakes, commit to something with all their hearts understanding that it comes with serious sacrifice, or take advice from other people, they’re too young. Hell, Hugh Hefner is probably too young to get married (I’m sure he would happily concur).

    • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

      Yup. I almost got married at 25, and had I done so my wedding and the meaning of my vows would have meant something WAY different than what they will mean to me in 3 weeks. But it has nothing to do with being 25 vs. almost 30. It has to do with the fact that 25 kicked my butt. I got the wind knocked out of me and I’m a different person because of it. So yeah. Life experience, not age.

    • Jenn

      Amen to the hot dresses!

      I think in part, you could also say the dresses are all so fab because of the self confidence of the women wearing them: the self confidence to choose a dress perfectly suited to one individual and their personal style, without get lost in the style of sulky models in magazines.

      Ashlyn, you look completely lovely.

    • Caroline

      “i listened when concerned friends or nosy strangers told me that i was too young to marry, and it allowed me a really good opportunity for introspection, weighing the options, assessing my motivation and state of mind. it was GOOD for me, and my relationship, to hear these criticisms. because it allowed me to be more certain that i was making the best choice.”

      I completely agree that it is important to listen when friends and family are concerned, and use it as a chance for reflection. We recently told my dad we were going to get engaged. We talked about why we felt we were ready. I had been 100% certain I was ready to get married already gosh dang it. Somehow, from that conversation, even though I had my reasons ready, since I knew he’d ask, I realized I’m not ready to get married yet. It has not much to do with my readiness to commit to my partner, and everything to do with my readiness (or lack there-of) to be a fully real grown up adult, as Meg says. I think. I’m not really sure what it is that made me certain that I’m not ready. I do know that I will marry my partner (and he still wants to marry me someday. he agrees that it might be a good thing to wait). I don’t really know why I feel not ready, and that’s ok.

      I’m really glad we ended up talking to my dad about it, and that we had the pretty calm conversation we did. Because as embarassing, and surprising as it was to change my mind then, it’s a heck of a lot better to realize you aren’t ready to get married after telling one parent you are going to get engaged than after you’ve sent out invites, or put down a deposit on something expensive, or your wedding day, or a week after you get married, or three years later.

      I heartily suggest listening calmly to concerned people who think you are too young, not because you necessarily are, but let it help you reflect and make sure you are ready.

  • EK

    Thank you so much for sharing this post. I love APW, but sometimes worry I “shouldn’t” be reading it, even though it speaks to things I’m thinking about and constantly gives me food for thought and really just speaks to my soul…

    Also “Haters are gonna hate” is the best thing to remember, ever. You gotta ignore them, cause… haters are gonna hate.

    • EK

      PS: The REASON I feel sometimes I don’t have any business being here is my age… I’m Ashlyn’s age, and I’m not engaged, but as she says “when you know, you know”… Age shouldn’t matter, right?

      • Chelsea

        No, definitely read now! Take it from someone who started reading APW months before I even got engaged (and is still reading almost a month after actually getting married): having your head and heart in the right place from the beginning will save you SO MUCH stress down the road. Think of it as the wedding planning equivalent of premarital counseling – it’ll help you see where potential problems might come up and help you learn to deal with them BEFORE you encounter them.

  • http://ironandspice.com Meghan

    This is amazing. I keep having moments reading APW where I say “Yes, EXACTLY!” (I guess that’s why the EXACTLY button is so helpful!) I’ve also had a short engagement and a short relationship that really broke all the rules, but the way I define it to the naysayers is that obviously we had a much smaller window in our respective universes/timelines to meet eachother, and we’re so lucky that we didn’t miss it.

  • Abby C.

    Go Ashlyn! My brother and sister-in-law got married 3 years ago, when he was 21 and she was 20. They were both still in school, and he was Baptist and she was Catholic. They both go a huge amount of flack from both sides of the family questioning the rightness of their decision, and while I never said anything to their faces, I definately always thought to myself that they were a little bit crazy to get married so quickly instead of waiting a few years.

    Now that several years have passed, however, they’ve turned out to be a fine, strong couple. They balance each other well, and even an outsider can see that getting married was right for them. Having a sister-in-law has been wonderful for me, too – she’s a gem!

    Three cheers for all those making their own paths!

    • http://christytylerphotography.blogspot.com Christy

      Abby – I agree! One of my great friends and roommates in college got married to her high school sweetheart after our junior year of college. They both had just turned 21 and she finished her college career as a married woman. My other friends and I thought it mighty insane at the time (especially since her now-husband was in the navy – i.e. their relationship had been long distance for over 3 years…) mostly because all of us were still in the “let’s date around and party a lot and live with a bunch of girls stage.” But now, almost 7 years later, they continue to be ridiculously happy, great for each other and are expecting their first baby. So anyways – just another tale of people getting married young for the right reasons and at the right time for them — which is sooooo important for anyone at any age! :) (obviously.)

    • Nataliah

      This is another one of those ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ things. My fiance and I are 29 and 31, but we’ve been together since 2001. We ALWAYS get dissed for waiting so long, like we’re two morons who didn’t realise what we had and it struck us suddenly so we got engaged. Though I’m sure had we got engaged back then, the haters would have come out saying “why rush”… Yet another small window of acceptability I guess…

  • Sophia

    Love this post! Ashlyn is clearly wise and mature and I loved reading her thoughtful words. There are always people who think they know/understand your life better than you do (why is that!?!). I’ve heard SOO many “wait until….” since I met my fiance almost 8 years ago. Liz wisely pointed out that, to some extent, it gives opportunity for introspection but at some point it also feels patronizing. I love the women who share their gutsy stories on this site. It reminds me to be a little more brave in my own life.

  • hk

    I think most of us face small life-changes and budget woes during the time of our engagement, and that is stressful enough, but I’m very sorry that this bride had to face adversity from those around her because of age. I’m so thankful that although my fiance and I are in our very early 20’s we have full support from our families and friends. The issue of age hasn’t occured to me once until I read this post. I think I’ve been in early engagement la-la land. I’m a little more thankful now, so thank you for sharing. Your wedding was beautiful.

  • Chelsea

    So much of what Ashlyn says here is true of brides of ANY age – I got married at the “perfect,” slightly-above-the-national-average age, had lived alone in several cities, traveled, dated my fiancé for 4 years… in other words, did everything you’re supposed to do, and I STILL felt too young and inexperienced sometimes. But, like you said, “you know inside of yourself why you decided to do this” and I think that self-assurance is necessary whether you’re 20, or 30, or 60.

    And, on a completely different note, I’m always slightly jealous of people who got married young and go on to have a long and happy marriage… my parents got married when they were 21 and 22, and now they get to look back on all their shared youthful crazy years and the growing up that they did together.

  • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

    Oh my goodness, that dress is adorable! Just had to say that. Now time to actually read the post…

  • Class of 1980

    Ashlyn,

    First, I love your dress.

    As you said “When it’s right; it’s right.” Thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to track a group of women I went to church with who married at the ages of 19 to 22 (Gasp!). All but one of them is still married and have been for over 30 years now.

    It wasn’t my path or the path of everyone in my generation. But looking back, I can see that those women really were mature for their ages AND they happened to have met the right guy. They are all happy with their lives and can’t believe how time has flown!

    I also had an aunt and uncle who secretly married in 1960 when they were in high school. They continued to live at home and attend school, and they kept the marriage a secret until they graduated. They are now in their sixties with four children and grandchildren and very happy. They are by nature mature and responsible people. The secret marriage was the “craziest” thing they ever did. But everything fell into place because they were too in love and too responsible to fail.

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      that’s an awesome, awesome story.

  • http://anyotherwedding.blogspot.com/ Fliss

    Why is it that society provides us with this fixed timeline that no-one should deviate from, for fear of reprisals from others (others indeed who more often than not, are not entitled to have an opinnion on what is essentially, your life)?

    And why is it that, as a woman, 30 is the all encompassing ‘desired’ age to do anything? Buying a house, settling down, getting married, having children – all should be undertaken within a year or two either side of the big three o, or you have either rushed into things, or have left it too late.

    As a 27 year old who is getting married this year, and who may have children before I’m 30, I get this pressure from my friends and family, and somehow feel as though I’m a disappointment to them, and should therefore be disappointed in myself. And I’m TWENTY SEVEN. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to fight the prejudice as a 20 year old.

    I have lived the hell out of my twenties so far, and I don’t intend to stop now. I still have my career, we will still travel, and now, I get to do it all with my best friend, and know that he will always be there to back me up. How is that a dissapointment?

    I don’t know but some people in my life seem to see it that way.

    Oh and lastly – getting married at 20 was in style when our grandparents and even parents were doing it. It’s just that over the years, marrying young has become seen as some sort of failure to ‘live the dream’. Why can’t I live the dream with my man?

    • http://faithintruth.wordpress.com Faith

      There is this thought that a person, more specifically a woman, has to have a list of accomplishments crossed off by the “magic” age or before she gets marriend in order to be successful. Or in order to be “ready” to get married, she better have her own individual life and she had better done everything on her bucket list because she won’t be able to once she’s married. It’s insane to think that marriage means the end of your dreams and your own life.
      Yes, you are joining your life to another and your goals shift and change, but living life to the fullest only gets better with someone with which to share those experiences.
      I think these ideas came from people who have reached a point in their lives where they are unhappy and need something to blame. So they find the easiest target, their decision to get married (let’s face it, not many people in their right mind are going to blame their children for being born) and perpetuate this idea that there is a “magic” age where you are ready to marry. Or that you must accomplish all your goals in order to be ready.

      I’m sorry, but if I were going to accomplish everything I think I want to do in my life before marriage, what in the world would I have to look forward to FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?

      It’s like the thought that your wedding day is the single most wonderful day of your life.
      Well, that would be a disappointing, thought, huh?

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        yes yes!

        and conversely, in our parents’ and grandparents’ time, “get married and pop out kids” as the end-all, be-all goal of life was a much more prevalent mindset. we still face parts of it today (obviously) but for the most part, the pendulum seems to have swung in the opposite direction. no longer is marriage the end-all goal- it’s the end-all, period. it’s the end of life and experiences and dreams. once you’re married, you’re DONE. mondo depressing.

      • Lisa

        “Or in order to be “ready” to get married, she better have her own individual life and she had better done everything on her bucket list because she won’t be able to once she’s married.”

        Great observation. I was also a young bride at 23, and have only ever dated my now husband. We met when I was 14 and have been together ever since. For us, it was surprisingly the staying together when we graduated high school thing that we got the most flack for. I can’t tell you how often I heard things like, don’t you want to go out and explore the world first etc, develop your own individuality. I don’t disagree with these statements, I think that it’s extremely important to be your own person and have your own interests and passions, even as part of a couple. But it’s an incomplete thought, and no one ever stops to think that you and your partner can grow and learn and change alongside each other, and even encourage and help each other. That’s how it’s been for us. I’m way less terrified of going back to school because my man’s got my back. He was less terrified of taking a scarily responsible job promotion because I knew he could do it. In the best relationships, you help each other grow. Age is irrelevant. Care and nourishment is everything.

      • Vmed

        This is really hard, though. It’s taken me some time and a lot of energy to untangle my own weirdness about marriage and success, and to unpack where it all came from. Mainly: my mom’s regrets, and my academic peers (omg academia is weird sometimes guys, when I said I was engaged half of my coworkers were like ….why.).

        My mother married at 20 (my dad is about a decade older) 30 years ago and I grew up knowing that she gave up a lot to be a wife and mother. Even in kindergarten I was aware that my mom didn’t have her college degree because she was expecting my older sister, and my dad’s job required them to move to another country in her last year of school. She left the program and never finished.

        That’s not to say that she isn’t living the fuck out of her life (or that she hasn’t, I mean she speaks 2 languages fluently and 3 more passably, she’s experienced many cultures, traveled, worked, lived on 2 continents, had friends all over, is still totally in love with my dad and she’s a smart, strong, stylish woman who I am *really* lucky to have as my mom) but I’d be lying if I said her regrets didn’t inform my life choices sometimes- to enter a PhD program and value academic achievement over all, and until recently to look down on girls who married young or graduated and immediately got hitched and CERTAINLY not to have any plans to get stuck with a man and a kid myself OH no.

        It has been a painful process to say wait. What is really going on here.

        I don’t have to be single to achieve my goals. I don’t have to get a PhD(or any degree) to prove my worth. I don’t have to be done with MY life before sharing it with someone else. There is value in what my mom has spent her life doing. (It does make me sad that she questions her own “success”.)

        Whenever we decide to marry, there is no reason for regrets.

        • meg

          Yes. I agree it’s complicated. Of course you don’t need to *do* everything before you marry, and plenty of women keep exploring the world after they marry. But, that advice is grounded in some truth. I know lots of women who married young, swore they were still going to adventure… and then didn’t. And three kids and a mortgage later, there are some regrets.

          Marriage pushes you towards settling down in a certain way. And I think for ALL of us at ANY age, we have to make the choice over an over again to choose to live our lives fully as married women, and not let the four walls of our household close around us.

          Plus, remember, there is huge historical weight here. Until a generation or so ago, once you got married, you gave up your other choices. With no birth control and few (empowering, at least) jobs out side the home, you had one path ahead of you after wedlock. It might be a wonderful path, but it closed most other doors. So, there is that cultural weight when we marry. Sometimes to me it feels like a responsibility. While I may have kids and I may stay home with them (who knows) I feel like I owe it to past generations to keep using the power and opportunities that they fought so hard for me to have.

  • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

    Girl, I can’t believe you’re 20 writin’ all eloquent ‘n all. ;)

    I think there are people who are a “young 20″ and then there are those with an old soul. (Like you?) And for the “young 20’s” especially, all anyone wants to do is warn them, scare them, preach to them. Understandable. But it doesn’t mean that 20-yr-olds are only capable of making catastrophic mistakes that they will regret and/ or never learn from. 20-yr-olds are like the rest of us – just trying to make the best of what they have and what they know at the time. They’re trying to be brave. And really, that’s the best any of us can do.

    Ashlyn, your story was so inspiring. Wishing many blessings upon your marriage with Miles!

    Oh, and with humility and wisdom like this: “I get to forge my true character with another being who I am only beginning to understand” I know you guys will be just fine.

  • http://www.katiejaneparker.com Katie Jane Parker

    First of all… that dress is GORGEOUS. Unbelievably lovely, and kind of making me wish I didn’t have my dress already, so I could go out and find one with a collar like that.

    Secondly, although I would *never* say anything to someone getting married about their age, I do have a tendency to look at younger people getting married and silently kind of wonder if that’s the best idea. And I think that’s because I could never have married at 20… but that is really about my maturity level at that age – or rather, lack of maturity, perhaps. So this is a good reminder to me to not be so quick to sort of judge younger people getting married… just because I was not prepared to get married young. There are certainly 20 year olds with the maturity to handle marriage… and certainly 30 year olds who still lack that maturity. So age shouldn’t automatically be a factor.

    So thank you, Ashlyn, for opening my eyes and being a good reminder that I shouldn’t automatically assume every young person getting married is rushing into something and ill-prepared for marriage.

  • ashley

    You know, if you read some of the old Beat Generation literature, you find that getting married young was very cool and typical of a sort of Bohemian lifestyle. The fashionable age for getting married goes up and down…. so does the length of skirts. Who cares? If you are doing what’s right for you, you’ll be fine. Also, probably the judgment won’t stop there. People have a funny way of becoming authorities on other peoples lives, from their wall color choices to their parenting approach. When I figured out that I can just smile and say, “Well, it’s what works for me,” they pretty much always back down. Also, beautiful wedding! I’m piling on the “I love the dress” bandwagon.

  • kristen

    This is the post I’ve been waiting for! I’m 21 and engaged, and although I haven’t gone through the wedding, I completely understand what Ashlyn is saying. I had been going through the on-and-off cold feet, but reading APW just makes me realize that I made this decision, and I don’t regret it. The cold feet have basically gone away.

    And I know what you mean about haters. I was so taken aback when I told my best college friend I was getting married and she said, “that’s weird, you’re going to be a wife” and meant it. yikes. Not exactly the support I had hoped for.

    So thanks for this post! It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone!

  • http://frecklesandblondie.blogspot.com/ Adina

    amazing post :-) that makes me feel so hopefull in all this turmoil of wedding planning :-)

  • RKELZ

    Meg, thank you for another wonderful post.

    Superficiality first – that dress is amazing! You look so lovely and comfortable too. It’s always good to see that beautiful MODEST wedding dresses DO EXIST, and I love the retro style and the lace is gorgeous…. gives me hope. :)

    My parents got married at 21 and 23, and 27 years (and 7 kids) later they are still as googly-eyed as ever. My mom just gave my dad a kidney – now that is love! I’ve been told their family and friends were doubtful they’d make it, but when you know, you know. People love to tell you how to live your life and think they know best even when they don’t know you at all (loved Kate’s taxi driver story). These biases are of course painted by our own experiences and just because I can’t imagine X not working for me at Y age doesn’t mean it isn’t the absolute right thing for you.

    • RKELZ

      Also my parents have the same wedding anniversary as you guys… can’t believe I forgot to mention that.
      Congratulations!!!!!!!!!

  • E (anon today)

    You know, I was one of those people who looked down on young marriage. Marriage, in general. Not that I don’t have a great example to look up to (my parents, who have been together for 30+ years and are still very happy), it’s just that I didn’t think it was for me. I berated people who chose to get married young, and then when I met my husband… within the first few weeks of getting to know him, I was just like, “Shit.” because I knew he was the one. (Like Ashlyn and everybody says, when you know, you know..) And then I promptly ate my words. I got married at 24, which in theory sounds pretty young, but to me it felt right. And I was glad to have the support I received from my family and friends.

    One girl, however… one of my good friends, my old roommate, who had always agreed with me about the ill logic of young marriages, claimed she was happy for me and even attended the wedding… but on her facebook page she lambasted young marriages (she didn’t call me out by name, but she wrote several statuses before AND after my wedding date that I saw during the honeymoon) and it really hurt. Yeah, haters are gonna hate, but she must have known that I would see it… what good is espousing such a hateful opinion during such a happy time for someone else? I haven’t talked to her about it but I also don’t talk to her much anymore. I can only hope that one day she will meet the man of her dreams and she will realize how amazing it can be to share life with another person.

    To Ashlyn: congratulations. You have a good head on your shoulders. You sound like you thought everything through and you made the right decision for your life.

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      “what good is espousing such a hateful opinion during such a happy time for someone else?”

      especially as it IS (as you said) hateful, and not rooted in concern for you.

      some “friend.”

  • Sarah Beth

    Oh…wow. I needed this. I was beginning to think the “married young” discussion would never come up.

    The guy and I were 18 and 19 when we got engaged. And I wasn’t pregnant, which is the only socially acceptable reason to marry so early, apparently. And we’re still not married, more than three years later. The anger/guilt/hating/youth trashing started on the day we got engaged and didn’t let up for two years.

    My parents actually said things like “I wish you would date other people.” and “I don’t know why it can’t be a promise ring…” My parents were never happy about it, even though they like my fiance. Despite knowing in my heart that this is right, our engagement has been the most exhausting, horrible experience.

    I can definitely testify to having the criticism weigh on you and second guessing yourself. But we are still together and still happy, despite the haters, and next summer, we’re doing this thing. Getting married young, for the right reasons, takes more courage than I could have imagined.

    • Alis

      I’m sorry to hear you had such a rough time of it with regards to your engagement. Thank you for bringing up “youth trashing”! I’m an undergraduate, and in my adolescent development class, we discussed how teenagers/emerging adults/young adults are looked down upon, especially in the work force. And how that changes in times of war, because young people are needed for the work force and the military, then they are responsible/heroic/grown up/etc. When the work force has plenty of people, the idea of teenagerhood changes, and teens are called lazy/irresponsible/unready to be a productive citizen/etc. The same thing with making big life decisions… Teens and young adults throughout time have variously been thought capable or incapable of making decisions for themselves. Hello, social construction!

      • Sarah Beth

        Indeed. Only in the last century did the average age for marriage exceed 20 in the developed world. It’s odd that they trust teenagers to vote and fight in wars, but not to marry.

        • meg

          I think part of this is protecting our youth. We want teenagers to have options and opportunities open to them. Past generations didn’t have those choices, no matter how badly they wanted them.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

        i think we coddle our teens. mainly through our educational structure.

        it once was that college was a place for maturing and beginning adulthood. now it’s just a means of prolonging high school (and its accompanying immaturity) for 4 more years.

        but this is the perspective of someone who teaches high school seniors, ha. as you said, they’re capable of so much intelligence and maturity! but, yes. i think we coddle them. and that’s why so little is expected of them.

        • http://faithintruth.wordpress.com Faith

          I could not agree with you more. Peter Pan Syndrome is an epidemic today.

  • http://staircasewitch.blogspot.com Staircase Witch

    First, let me add my voice to the growing chorus–I love that dress. Absolutely love it. To be honest, I find strapless dresses a little monotonous–I really can’t tell them apart. This is refreshing, and elegant.

    Second…I was married at 21. I have been married for almost 20 years now, and like Ashlyn, I knew within weeks that this would probably be forever. The rest was mere details. It’s not for everyone. And there was a time when I would have said, don’t do what I did; we were simply lucky.

    A colleague of mine met his wife when they were eleven or twelve (no, this was not an arranged marriage); they married at 21 and have, like us, been together all through graduate school and beyond, including a terrifying, life-threatening illness. They are celebrating 25 years this fall. He says simply, “We grew up together.”

    That is, I think, what happened to my husband and me. I didn’t have the glorious unmarried girl-about-New-York 20s (or, in my case, girl-about-Chicago 20s) that Meg describes having had in a previous post, and while I occasionally wonder, idly, even a bit wistfully, what might have been, I really have no regrets. I shared that decade instead with my husband, and it was a gift to both of us. We encouraged and supported each other through a great deal of uncertainty and difficulty, providing for each other, in a way, the things our parents failed to give us.

    I wish a lifetime of happiness to Ashlyn and Miles, with all my heart. Take care of each other.

    • Maddie

      “We grew up together” – Yes! I don’t know how to say it any better. I started dating my husband when I was 15, so by the time our wedding rolled around he was already family. I just turned 24 (two days ago, eek!) and we’ll celebrate two years of marriage in September.

    • Kate

      “He says simply, “We grew up together.” ”

      I totally get that.

      My older cousin was really shocked that my (now) husband and I moved in together at twenty-three and got married at twenty-six. I, on the other hand, was shocked that my cousin never lived with any of his long term girlfriends until he got married in his mid-thirties. For him, I think he was independent for so long and only had to think about his own needs that the idea of giving that up was really, really hard. Whereas I’ve never made a home by myself, and so sharing my life more fully with my guy was an opportunity, not something to give up. And having been together for eight years before we got married, I think we really learnt to compromise and consider the needs of another person in the choices we made.

  • Michele

    I think what makes some folks uncomfortable with the idea of “young” people getting married is that they seem to be disproportionately (though certainly not exclusively) Christian, and they in turn suspect/assume that the couple in question is ONLY getting married at their age so they can have sex.

    Which is ignorant, of course, but also not a completely unfounded proposition, as the average age of first time brides and grooms HAS steadily increased since the sexual revolution.

  • Benny

    Meg and Ashlyn, I cannot thank you enough for posting this! It was exactly what I needed to read right now. Ashlyn, you are eloquent and intelligent and you have serious guts. All things that I believe are necessary to build a good marriage.

    It’s so funny to think of Ashlyn and I as sharing a specific aspect of our experience so strongly, since I’m engaged to another woman at 23. We had been best friends for a year and then dated for two years when we got engaged, and my family has been nothing but negative about almost every aspect about our marriage. (I have also had family members suggest I should “date other people.”) Luckily, her family is hugely supportive, as are all of our friends. But having my family outright refuse to financially contribute to our wedding has been a major source of pain and anger. I have to continually remind myself to act with love, and trust my wisdom and my relationship with my partner.

    May you have a happy, blessed marriage!

  • Anna P

    that first photograph!
    timeless. and beeeeeeautiful.

    plus, yes to all the other things already said: awesome dress (and bouquet that looks like wildflowers. sigh) and awesome old soul wisdom from a young’un!

  • Sarah M.

    I’ll echo all the comments in saying this post was sooo refreshing to read. My fiance and I are both 23 and despite the fact that we have lived together for 4 years and are just as in love as when we first met, I still feel as though many judge us for getting married “so young.” It doesn’t help that we are having a really short engagement (~ 3 months) which makes people think it must be a shotgun wedding (which its not). We just knew we were ready to get married, and decided to have a really small and intimate wedding ceremony in a national park. Neither of us are particularly interested in party planning and figured we might as well do it this year while the weather is still nice instead of waiting the whole way until next summer for no particular reason.

    I guess the fact that we know we’re doing the right thing helps us stand up against some of the people that question our decision. C’est la vie. I suppose no wedding will be free from judgement (even if it’s just “you waited THIS long to get married?”). Judgement is inevitable – but dealing with it is good practice for life.

  • http://starryknit.blogspot.com Jessica

    “But they are so much better than perfection. They’re real.”

    That’s my favorite bit, because it rings so true for me. We met when we were both 18, and by the time we were 21 I knew neither of us were going anywhere. I sometimes wish we’d had such a fantastically strong relationship at that point, and have been able to get married earlier, because I always knew that being married would rock so hard. But the truth is that we needed another 6 years together, unmarried, to work out for ourselves that reality is better than perfection. We were still growing up, and now that I am 28 I am SO glad we didn’t get married at 21 or 22 or 23. That’s kind of the Team Practical mantra, though, right? That you should make the choices that are right for you and the new family you’re forming with your partner. The choices you make may not be right for anyone else, but if they’re right for you, then you need to go for it.

  • Allison

    I haven’t read all of the comments yet…mostly because once it gets over 60 I get a little overwhelmed and want to read them all with great care.

    All I really wanted to say was YES, THANK YOU, THIS IS JUST WHAT I NEEDED. Living in the bay area I think that I see a lot of age discrimination when it comes to marriage and babies. Our marriage age is usually higher so getting married at 23 and owning my own home while all of my friends are partying and living in cramped apartments I am starting to feel a little alone.

    Luckily, my best friend was married at 19 and has 2 young children. Her and her husband are coming up on their 6 year anniversary! I find that their marriage and partnership is the best example of how I want MY marriage to be and you know what? I’m sure I would have felt that way no matter WHAT age they were married at.

  • http://www.bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

    Ashlyn, this post just went into my “Wedding Sanity” folder. :) Thank you for sharing so bravely!

  • Michele

    Couple more things: First, I just realized that I age-discriminated someone the other day. My husband’s 18 year old niece has been with her boyfriend for 2 years, and a bunch of her Facebook friends were posting ‘When is he going to pop the question!?!?’ comments on her page, and I posted ‘UM. TEN YEARS FROM NOW SOUNDS GOOD TO ME!’

    I’m sorry you guys, but eighteeeeeen! I just don’t know if I’m ever going to be OK with that!

    Second, lately I’ve been finding myself feeling a little peeved with the use of ‘do what feels right for you’ style statements, because I think that line of thinking can be a slippery slope. ‘It feels right’ can be used as a very convenient excuse for doing almost anything one wants, because it’s very difficult to argue (or even reason) with feelings, given their entirely subjective nature. I’m a big, big advocate for following your instincts, but on the same token, I don’t think it’s wise for people to make decisions entirely based on what they FEEL in their heart, or their bones or their gut; they should also consider what they KNOW in their brain.

    • http://www.bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

      I like what Liz said above to the tune of knowing when to listen to other people’s advice and knowing when to parse through said advice for what will and won’t be applicable to your situation. I do absolutely believe that we can be swept away by our emotions into making choices that don’t turn out for the best, but part of maturity, I think, is recognizing which feelings we should sit up and listen to and which we should think twice on.

    • http://www.mysanfranciscobudgetwedding.wordpress.com Sarah

      I find it fascinating how there are so many assumptions made about what dooms a marriage, or what makes it successful. Certainly, there are eighteen-year-olds who are not ready for marriage, but there are also those who are ready and who were lucky enough to find the right person at an unusually young age.

      Age can be a factor, but it doesn’t have to be. There are good marriages, there are marriages that should never have been, and there are marriages that change from good to bad — traumatic circumstances often will change individuals so much that they are no longer the same people who married.

      Within my own family, I have plenty of examples.

      My brother married his wife when he was 20 and she was 19. They dated for three years before they married, starting during my brother’s last year of high school. They celebrated their 19th anniversary in May, and are two of the happiest, most lovey-dovey people I know. My oldest brother waited for a long time to get married. When he finally married, he was nearly 40, but he married someone who is just absolutely perfect for him. He was right to wait. I married when I was 21 and my then-husband was 22. We’re now divorced. Here’s the irony: I am now engaged to my first boyfriend. We dated exclusively from the time I was 14 until 2 weeks before my 16th birthday. Although my parents loved Tony, they were worried about me being “exclusive” too young and encouraged me to date other people. They. Were. Wrong. Had I stayed with my love, we would have both been spared two miserable marriages to people with whom we were not compatible and who were hurt in the process.

      My parents married young, when my mom was 19 and my dad was 21. They were married for 35 years, but are now divorced (friends, but divorced).

      Besides the average maturity levels of people at certain ages, demographic statistics on young couples who marry are far too generalized to tell you anything meaningful about the likelihood of success of your marriage. The success of a marriage rides on so much: compatability, support from your community, commitment to one another and to building a life together, deep and abiding love, chemistry…. One factor alone cannot determine success or failure.

      One of my facebook friends has a series of pictures of: his senior prom, his wedding in the following fall, his wife’s senior prom the following year. Our 20-year HS reunion is coming up next year. They’re still married.

      We as a society have created this idealized “norm” of when it is okay to hit certain milestones in life, but what if we’re causing young people to walk away from relationships that really were right just because we can’t understand? I know personally the pressure that I felt to not date exclusively when I was 16. I walked away from a boy I loved dearly and who never left my heart. The first time we saw each other again, we pressed our foreheads together like we used to as kids — and neither of us even remembered that we did that. It was instinct. I held his hand, and we both immediately felt at “home” in a way we hadn’t felt for two decades.

      I had plenty of rational “brain” reasons for marrying my first husband. Tons of them. But I ignored my heart. Big mistake. While I agree that “just do what feels right” can be used to justify all sorts of bad, in the circumstance of choosing your life partner, your love and lover, doing what feels right is an absolute must.

      • Englyn

        Thanks for such a lovely story!
        I have a friend who seperated from her boyfriend for the same reason. I hope it works out right for them.

      • meg

        That said, look, I would tell my kids 18 was too early. I’m not going to lie to you all here. I would, and I’ll stick to that.

        • Olivia

          Why would you, Meg?

          I’m with you on that.

          But nobody in all of these conversations has really elaborated on their opinion about marrying young or not.

          • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

            there are things that are just bad ideas. and then there are exceptions to every rule.

            yes- i think it’s a bad idea to marry young. a bad idea to marry someone you haven’t known very long. a bad idea to marry, when you’ve only had a long distance relationship. each of these things has some propensity to go terribly wrong. (alright, go ahead and flame me) but, like i said, there are always, always exceptions. marrying young runs into trouble because most 18 year olds don’t know themselves. they don’t know what they want out of life. they don’t have realistic expectations for love, relationships, marriage. GENERALLY speaking. but then, there are 18 year olds that do. and marriages between 18 year olds that don’t- they sometimes work out anyway. as moms, i think we’ll always err on the side of caution.

            i knew josh was going to be my husband a few days after i met him. i even have the text message saved that i sent to my best friend- “i’m going to marry this guy.” yet, we dated for 3 more years after that. because i wanted to leave as little to chance (or, more like, my stupid naivete) as possible.

            marriage- even more than most things- needs to be entered with care and thought. i put a lot of care and thought into my decision- and i’m going to encourage my kids to do the same.

        • http://www.mysanfranciscobudgetwedding.wordpress.com Sarah

          Oh, us too. We’ll look like total hypocrites, but that’s what will come out of our mouths.

  • http://www.koruwedding.com Koru Kate

    Congratulations & best wishes!

    My cousin & his wife got married at 19; now 14 years later, they’re still happily married with three kids (aged 9, 5 & 1). When they got married, many people suspected she was pregnant. They remained strong & steadfast but I know the rumors were hurtful. They didn’t have kids until several years into their marriage so they proved people wrong. Not that they cared about proving people wrong. They just wanted to get married & live their life without other people’s expectations or opinions. Kind of like all of us, no matter our age!

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      mmm, but isn’t it so lovely when you can prove em all wrong at the same time!

  • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

    i am very uncomfortable with your comment.

    though i am not a member of the church of LDS, i don’t believe that this is the forum to critique the beliefs of one another’s religions.

    • Lisa

      “The truth is that the version of marriage approved of by the LDS church is the archaic damaging original form of marriage that involves dominion over women…”

      Big blanket statement here! I know next to nothing about the church of LDS, but it’s hard to believe that every Mormon out there fits this profile.

    • K.O.

      Well, I am LDS. And I didn’t say that every mormon couple has the type of marriage that the Church promotes and approves of. I was merely pointing the problems created by the ideals promoted in regards to marriage, which is appropriate here. I thought this was a community talking about marriage AND life, not just “Oh, how romantic!” kind of stuff. It’s not only my church that promotes these ideals, it’s just that mormons are more likely (than the general Western population belonging to a major religion) to meticulously follow ideals in the smallest detail in their everyday lives as well as major decisions. The cultural environment encourages marrying young without much dating or relationship experience, which tends to be damaging. It wasn’t a personal attack on anyone, nor the religion.

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        My marriage, the marriages in my family, the marriages of just about all the LDS people I know simply do not fit what you have stated K.O. It is not damaging. It is not archaic. It does not involve dominion in any form. It is a greater blessing than I could ever imagine.

        There are those marriages that are not wonderful, but you find them in all parts of society, in all religions.

        I wish Ashlyn and Miles more happiness than they ever thought possible.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

        i find that when speaking about religion, it is best to steer away from generalizing beliefs. as in “christianity supports this ideology,” or “judaism espouses this view,” because, very often, religious beliefs are individual and vary from person to person, as they do from denomination to denomination or culture to culture. if someone were to begin discussing “the christian view of submission,” i have no doubt that there would be a variety of disagreement- even among the christians on the site.

        hence, why i don’t believe this is the appropriate forum. it’s a bit outside of the scope.

        as you say, we talk about more than the romantic fluff on this site. and as a community, we do discuss (and disagree) on perspectives of marriage, male and female “roles” or lack thereof, dominion, submission, and so forth. but to mix in religion- particularly in a generalizing manner- only impedes the conversation and excludes participants.

        ashlyn and miles did not make it a point to discuss their religious framework. so i don’t believe it’s our place to broach the subject. they’re being kind enough in putting their personal business on a public website- we need not pry and inspect further.

  • Jen M

    “Our wedding and our marriage have nothing to do with chairs. Or plastic forks.”
    LOVE!!!

    • N

      Agreed, that statement is a gem! I know I will come back to it when the details start to overwhelm me. (I’d like to pretend that they won’t, but…)

      I also want to add that this post is lovely, and I am so grateful that the wedding graduate posts pop up with much more frequency these days! I love the wise things all these ladies have to say, and as the logistics of my wedding seem to get more complicated every day, focusing on the transcendence of the ceremony so many grads speak about and what the other side is going to feel like keeps the eyes on the prize. I know we will get there somehow, in some city, on some date. So it’s all good.

    • Sparklekitty

      It makes so much sense when you put it that way…but then no one ever does put it that way, do they? So thanks, Ashlyn, for reminding me that indeed, my marriage and my wedding will not be about chairs or plastic forks. That is an extraordinarily helpful insight.

      Also, “being married is the jam”? Sounds so fun! Can’t wait.

  • Sarah Beth

    Um…I shouldn’t have posted before I had caffeine. I didn’t say anything I meant to say. So, Comment 2.0.
    We got engaged when we were quite young (18 & 19), and have been engaged for 3 long years. In our experience, only my freshly divorced parents really hated the idea of us getting married. But, WOW! They had enough hate and discontent for everyone. I haven’t gotten a lot of flak from strangers; I rarely tell them. My classmates, most of whom are a couple of years younger, just shake their heads in disbelief, but have been pretty accepting. Our extended family is thrilled. Our friends are thrilled.

    My parents screamed and ranted and said hateful things. But I know why they were so against it. A) Chris is the first and only guy I ever dated. B) They couldn’t see past their own experience.

    This first reason seems to be a hang up for a lot of people. And I can’t blame them. But I don’t need someone else to tell me to “live a little, get your education first, grow, date lots of people, see the world.”
    If the relationship wasn’t healthy and fulfilling, and right, I’d end it. But it is all these things, so why should I leave a man I am committed to just to see who else is out there? Dating shouldn’t be like collecting baseball cards. I don’t believe in dating to collect experiences and comparison shop. People should have a “collection” of dating experiences because life happens, and they didn’t find the right person first, not because they traded people in looking for someone better. The same thing goes with living life to its fullest. I don’t have to be single to do that. And now that we’re committed to each other, we want to experience things together. Life’s so much more enjoyable when we’re together. And we don’t need to be single to grow as people. We’ve grown and changed a lot since we first started dating, and our relationship grew stronger, too.
    And I know that a bitter divorce made my parents question the merits of commitment and marriage. It made them second guess every relationship decision they had ever made. It dredged up previous lapses in judgment and mistakes. But they were projecting that on me, rather than having rational doubts about Chris and I.

    I cannot say that we really were ready to get married when we got engaged. But all the growth and change and storms we have weathered together these last couple of years have certainly prepared us for marriage and strengthened our bond.

    Congratulations to Ashlyn and Miles, and to anyone who is “too old” or “too young”. Weathering the storm of public opinion with maturity and grace is a monumental feat. Almost as monumental as marriage itself. ;)

  • Catherine
  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

    Sometimes there is a fine line between concern and judgement.

  • Kristen

    Summer has struck as well as bridesmaid fatigue and wedding planning fatigue (it shouldn’t be this complicated!) so I haven’t been able to give APW my full attention for a while – especially since there have been so many posts that really require some serious reflection.

    First – Ashlyn and Miles – this post was so beautiful it gave me chills. It really did. It reminded me of why we’re doing this. Thank you so much for sharing.

    And always, my biggest and most sincere of thanks to Meg and everyone at APW. You all keep me grounded when I’m looking around for the normal girls who think that a lot of this wedding stuff is nuts. Like I said, I haven’t had a chance to read all of it but I was really thankful for those of you who said there are times that your s.o. drives you absolutely freaking insane. It’s such a relief to know that you truly happily marrieds sometimes feel that way. Sometimes I get all freaked out when I don’t feel 100% gushy over him and he’s driving me nuts.

  • Lily

    I am twenty-two and have been engaged for just over a month, and three days ago I finally got in touch with a friend who I was extremely close with in high school. I told her that I got engaged, and her reaction was “you’re not serious. Lily, please tell me that’s not true” Which absolutely floored me. I figured that because I finished my degree and have a plan for my life with my partner that I would escape at least the confrontational criticisms. At least from friends, maybe. I found myself stammering out how we decided and all of the practical reasons for getting married, which in reality are not the real reasons to get married.

    This post could not have come at a better time. I never expected to marry young, and I never expected to love someone so much that I could throw a good portion of my plans out the window to fit my life with theirs! There is something that rings amazingly true about only you knowing when its right, and I really, really appreciate Ashlyn’s perspective on the entire affair. Thank you!

    (Also, BEAUTIFUL dress! The collar is just like the one on my grandmother’s dress, your wedding was absolutely timeless! SO fabulous!)

  • Michele

    Technically, it IS true that marrying “young” is not “special” for members of the LDS church. The average age of marriage for LDS females is 21, and 22.3 for males: http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/61964

    However, the LDS average is rising just like the national average is rising.

    • http://www.mysanfranciscobudgetwedding.wordpress.com Sarah

      Can we please leave Ashley and Miles’ religion out of this discussion? I find this whole line of conversation to be offensive and not at all on topic for the conversation at hand: marrying wisely and young.

      If they were Catholic, would it be okay to say, “Well, your wedding/marriage isn’t special because you’re Catholic and that’s just how your people are…” Of course not. So let’s not do that to this lovely couple who was so open and thoughtful to share their wedding with us, please.

      • http://www.mysanfranciscobudgetwedding.wordpress.com Sarah

        *Ashlyn* (darned auto-correcting touch pad)

      • Michele

        My apologies – I certainly didn’t mean to be offensive. I was just responding to another comment, which has since been deleted, which means mine now has no context.

        • Kristen

          Let me first state that I am trying to tiptoe on the topic… sometimes I’m clumsy though, so just understand my intentions are good. The other disclaimer is that the only authority I have on the topic is from growing up LDS in Southeast Idaho. I currently consider myself a ‘friend of the religion’.

          It is true that many in the religion, even if they aren’t in the Salt Lake area, get married younger than the national average. Should Ashlyn and Miles have been from the greater Salt Lake area, it would be more typical of the surrounding culture to marry earlier. Thus, the reaction of their community may have been slightly different. We can debate the whys and whatnot for ages. But that isn’t the point.

          The point is that it sounds like both Miles and Ashlyn were sort of blindsided by finding the person they wanted to marry before they had accomplished the things they had planned to accomplish before marriage. But they did and they couldn’t see any reason to not get married, regroup and then go accomplish those goals together. Then it sounds like their particular community of family, friends, and surrounding people who have no business to comment but do so anyways, reacted poorly to it. So they faced the same challenges that any younger couple face. And that was the point of this post.

          There are a lot of complicated cultural implications once you start talking LDS and I really applaud the LDS couples who have been featured on APW as graduates. People can be particularly harsh about Mormons so there are quite a few sort of closet Mormons. Just because the constant debate and judgement gets exhausting. It’s nice to see good representatives of the religion putting themselves out there.

  • http://www.10000dollarwedding.wordpress.com Lizzie

    I think the hardest part about getting married young is dealing with the “it’s just puppy love” people, as Ashlyn described. They all think “why can’t they just wait?” “what’s the rush?”

    Although my fiance and I are taking a long engagement for ourselves, it’s different for everyone. My great-grandparents celebrated their 53rd anniversary before my grandpa passed away, and they got married at 18 after 3 dates over 2 months!

    No one can tell you what you’re feeling or what you’re prepared for, maturity-wise. From this little time we got to spend with Ashlyn, I can’t see why anyone would’ve been against her and Miles getting married!

  • Erika

    On a completely visual note, I ADORE that dress.

  • peanut

    Thank you Ashlyn! I feel that a lot of your insight is valuable for me and my partner as well; even though we are 28 and 30, we got engaged after 5 months of dating and there were definitely a lot of haters. It’s true that when you know you know – especially for us commitment-minded decisive peeps! – and that those who love you and have your best interests in mind will stand by you and help string up your lights. Our “unconventional” engagement has also paved the way for us to do other “crazy” stuff like walk down the aisle hand-in-hand and not want kids until our mid-30s. It’s awesome to do your own thing together.

  • joanne

    sorry, but i’m a believer that in this day and age… you should be able to legally drink the champagne toast at your own wedding! but good luck!

    • Maddie

      Perhaps we should just lower the drinking age to 18? :)

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      Psst, Joanne, I’d be willing to be there wasn’t a champagne toast at their wedding. Probably not even any alcohol at all! :)

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        That should say, “I’d be willing to BET”

  • http://www.imperfectlyperfectlove.blogspot.com Bonnie

    Great post. I will be 21, and my groom will be 20 when we marry. We have been together four years, know that all we want is to be with each other, and this is the right step for us. All the people close to us are excited and happy for us, but it is the people who dont know us very well that say things like “dont you want to see who else is out there” (NO!), “why settle down now, dont you want to travel and study?” (we will still continue our study, and why does marriage have to equal settling down???) and “are you pregnant?” (No!). My personal “favourite” comment came from my aunt: “boys dont grow up until they are 25″ *sigh*.
    It is like there is this “perfect” window to get married in agewise and unless your age fits that category you are either “too old” or “too young”. Everyone is different, what works for me wont work for someone else, so why should marriage be any different?
    Ashlyn & Miles- congratulatulations and I wish you all the best for your future together :)

    • http://www.bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

      I also think that the “Don’t you want to see who else is out there?” comments don’t really take into account that you don’t necessarily have to date someone to know that they won’t be right for you. I met many, many people before the future mister with whom I didn’t need to have relationships to know that things would not work out if I were with them for the long run.

  • http://blog.thinadoukasphoto.com Sydney Photography

    What a great blog. Love the natural and candid images taken. Outdoor venue on beautiful lush green landscape. Awesome.

  • Erika

    So, not to undermine all the fantastic discussions of marriage and love and age and religion and such, but is there any chance we could possibly find out where Ashlyn got that amazing dress?

    Pretty please, with sprinkles?

  • Rozita

    God bless you both, Ashlyn and Miles. I predict a long and happy life together. The pictures, the dress and the both of you are absolutely beautiful. From what I see, your reception looked perfectly lovely!

  • Kristen

    As I mulled this wedding over in my mind last night as I tried to go to sleep I got to thinking about when the naysayers aren’t haters but are genuinely concerned people who love you.

    Oh yeah. In looking at this wedding yesterday I just saw Ashlyn and Miles and I think that what they did was right.

    But there are times when the naysayers are right. Sometimes you should not be marrying this person. Now or ever! I present to you two case studies: my sisters.

    H was married at about 22 and divorced by 26. We knew she shouldn’t have been marrying J. He was just a schmuck and they bickered… constantly. Every couple is going to have their disagreements but this was different. It was disrespectful bickering. Their relationship just felt very immature and not like one that was made for a lifetime of partnership. We did our best to restrain ourselves to just telling her that it would be totally okay to back out at any time because there was no need to throw good time or money after bad. But what did we know… Four years in a mutually abusive household later, they divorced.

    M was married at 20 and while we were a bit nervous about her age – they both had a lot of growing up to do – we thought it was a good match. But it turned out that there was a lot about him that she didn’t tell us – as in a whole lot of bat**** crazy. Rage, alcoholism, spousal rape, a clear wish for her to have a miscarriage of their baby (which did happen and as heartbreaking as it still is, that little peanut knew a bad situation when she saw one and got the hell outta there). She was divorced by 22. She has come out of that time in her life broken and it’s going to take a long time to heal. I really think that if she had been more mature when she got married she hopefully would have seen the red flags for what they were and wouldn’t have done it or at least would have had the strength to get out sooner.

    Spending your early 20s in a good marriage is good. Yeah, it makes you a little less light on your feet and able to snap up the crazy awesome opportunities that seem to present themselves in your 20s but it’s really good in a different way. And while there is no good time to waste away in a bad marriage, I feel like it is a true sin and a shame to waste your magic 20s in a bad marriage. Especially when the bad marriage leaves you reeling for years after.

    I think plenty of people are mature enough to make a good choice at a young age- my aunt and uncle married in their very early 20s some 40+ years ago – but I’m just saying that while you should sort the comments and brush off the haters… pay attention when the people who love you are genuinely imploring you to really really please please please THINK this one through really carefully.

  • Michelle

    I LOVE this post. I’m getting married this year at 37. My niece got married earlier this year at 18. It’s been interesting to see how we both get kicked for doing it at the wrong time . . . . or doing it at all.

    I see my niece with her husband and, I must admit, I get a bit envious of all the life ahead of them . . . together. And how I missed out on all that togetherness. All that learning about life and self together. On the other hand .. . I look at my husband to be and all that we bring to the table from our life experiences a part and it gives me such joy to see how our independent years shaped us for each other.

    Is there a right time to be married? Yes. But it might not be on the timetable of those around us.

  • http://fowliters.blogspot.com/ Ashlyn

    I’m sure everyone is pretty much done looking at this now, but I just wanted to say thank you for the lovely comments. For everyone who is getting married, have a wonderful time. Being married is the jam.

    Also, I got my dress from etsy, for anyone who was wondering.

    • http://faithintruth.wordpress.com Faith

      You are lovely. Thank you for sharing your beautiful relationship!

    • shorty j

      I know I am the 4000th person to say this, but seriously, that dress is amazing. Mind sharing the name of the etsy shop?

      As someone who struggles a lot with trying to find modest formal wear, I’m always looking to add to my collection of bookmarks :P

      • Erika

        Yes, name please! It’s difficult to find modest wedding dresses, let alone *pretty* ones.

  • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

    God, you are one wise lady. Not only do you nail it – it’s about the reality, it’s about the doing what you know is right, it’s about opening yourself up to the love that will flood in on that day (and hopefully all the days to follow) – but you gave me chills with this line:

    “I knew what life had been without him, and what it was with him, and they were completely different. It sounds trite, but he was what made me whole. He was my fresh start. He made me brave. So we fell in love. So we got engaged.”

    Exactly my feelings about my husband, from day one. Except we both needed 4.5 years to be ready to wed, unlike you crazy kids who weren’t afraid to do what you knew was right. Delighted to know you have felt that magical connection, and congratulations on what is clearly a very “perfect” match. May you continue to love one another boldly and honestly for all of your days. And thanks for sharing your very inspiring perspective.

  • rose

    i really relate to your words. whats funny is that i am 28 and have been with my fiance for 9 years…we just got engaged a few months ago. i think i relate because at first, when we were 19, people gave us crap for being/staying together when we were so young (and doing long distance through graduate school). then, all the sudden, things changed and people started giving us crap about actually getting married, like we had been together too long to not be be married. i think people even felt sorry for me that i was not engaged/married because i had been with the same person and marriage after a certain period of time is just “normal”.
    in the end, our progression has been right for us. we knew we would do things our own way from the beginning and continue to stick to our path through the engagement hype/talk. i have to keep reminding myself that people often like to be able to feel better about their own situations and sometimes inadvertantly make others feel bad in the process. furthermore, many people like to be able to classify people, and our situation was hard for them. but we love each other and have always followed our hearts, so we are probably on the right path.
    congrats on the marriage!

  • veronica

    As Kristen and others have pointed out, it’s not always best to dismiss any comments/criticisms/suggestions as ‘haters hating’. Because doing something reactionary or to prove a point or to prove someone wrong is definitely not making your own choice based on what’s right for you.

    When reading through all of these comments and Ashlyn’s wonderful post, all I can think of is how lucky I have been in life to be accompanied by people who truly have MY best interest at heart when giving me advice or pointing out that they disagree with my choices. It will definitely be my prayer this week to keep these people in my life and to try to be the same friend to others: keeping their best interest at heart and not judging or projecting my experiences, but at the same time, not being afraid of ruffling some feathers when I think it would be in their best interest to see another perspective. Sometimes it’s hard to walk the line between accepting people as they are and not encroaching on their freedom and on the other hand trying to protect our loved ones!

  • Annika

    I love hearing from another young bride. I got married this year, when we were both 22. And we’d had a two-year engagement, because he wanted to finish his bachelor’s degree before our wedding! It ended up being less-than-perfect timing, because our wedding was right after my PhD comprehensive exams, so I felt very stressed, and both of us realized about 1.5 years in that we wished we’d planned a shorter engagement and just gotten married while he was still in undergrad.

    I think part of our decision to wait was because there’s so much criticism of young marriages, especially getting married before finishing undergrad, or even graduate school. I still get some criticism, because he’s the first guy I ever dated, we got engaged after 6 months and married at 22, and we didn’t even kiss each other ’til the wedding. Mostly people question whether we know each other well enough, and whether we’ve explored all our options. But that’s mostly from people who don’t actually know us. Overall, though, the people who know us and love us agreed that we are good for each other and that it was the right time to get married.

    So, way to go Ashlyn! May you have a long and blessed marriage.

  • angela

    i confess, i didn’t read all the previous posts, but i can really related to this – at two weeks shy of 23, i’m with you on the “everyone’s giving me sh*t” ordeal. i too, did not expect to be married this young (or at all really…) but here we are, planning our may wedding. and hearing everyone’s opinions from one side to the other. and getting cold feet. and fighting. and really really hating the engagement period. and really really hoping that the other side is so much better. and really really appreciating hearing from people like you, ashlyn, that it is.
    congratulations and much happiness to you & your new husband!

  • Shani

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I am LDS…18…. and engaged to be married in the Sand Diego LDS Temple this New Year’s Day. APW is wonderful; but this is the first comment I’ve left, because I just have so many emotional stressors running through my mind with this decision. It’s true; when you know, you JUST KNOW. It’s already been hard, and I’ve only been engaged for 10 days. But I know it’s possible to have a simple and beautiful wedding. Thank you again for posting (and sharing) this.

  • Roisin

    Oh, this is so wonderful to hear! I’m 19 and engaged, and I can’t believe how much bad feeling I’ve received from some people. The way it worked for us was that we sounded out the idea of marriage early on in the relationship, and decided enthusiastically that, given things would keep going so well, we’d get engaged. When it became apparent after 6 months of a wonderful frienship and a further 6 months of an even better relationship that, yes, this was It, I swapped a ring of mine to my engagement finger; an old, probably cheap, ring of my grandmother’s that I love to wear. My fiance was so happy when I showed him, and it felt right for me and for us, even though he told me he wanted to give me a ‘proper’ proposal.

    The reactions were, in some cases, enough to bring me to tears. No one seemed to understand anything that I was feeling, condemned me for everything from not being really engaged to getting engaged far too quickly to making a mockery of the whole idea. My parents, in particular – I had only left home the year previous, and they still very much felt I was their child – were resistant. And by that I really mean my mother, who got married at 28 after years of saying she never would, and years of engagement to the wrong man. But what is right for her isn’t right for me.

    I believe I am unbelievably lucky to have met my wonderful fiance this young, and that it is my privilege to grow up as well as old with him. I know people are concerned, but having established that I have a wonderful, healthy relationship and that this isn’t a decision we’ve taken lightly, is it too much too hope for a little congratulation?

  • Chantelle

    I was startled to find this post in the first place – it is helping me realize that it is not just my situation that is bringing about all the doubts and questions about our wedding, but how society views the “right” age and time to get married. My situation is simply another example of a young marriage being questioned.

    I should explain that I am 20 years old and entering my last year of my undergraduate degree. My fiance is 28 years old and has a full-time job. By all societal measures of maturity we are opposites – I am 5’4, he is 6’5. I’m in university, he has a job. I’m 20, he’s 28. However, how much do you really get to know WHO a person is by their height, their age, their occupation? You would have millions of cookie cutter guys if that was the guy’s only description.

    We had a month together before our relationship became long-distance while I left for school – but we saw each other every month regardless of the fact that we are an 7-hour plane right away from each other and that usually takes 10 hours to travel in total. We spoke on the phone every minute we could, and were on Skype every day. And it feels right. I’m ready to marry him next summer after a year and a half engagement. Sometimes I’m frustrated by the fact that I don’t think people remember what love feels like and that it’s not always “explainable”.

    I don’t think that made much sense, it just came out… but thanks for the Wedding Graduate post!

  • http://www.natalieromano.com Natalie

    First of all: kudos to you on your beautiful, tasteful wedding and all of the beautiful details of the reception site. I love the flowers in the mason jars for table decorations, and most of all, I love those darn lights! I have been spending HOURS online trying to find a site in Denver where I can string those kinds of lights and perhaps hang lanterns, too.

    Can I ask you how you did the flowers? I am thinking about ordering wholesale and arranging them myself or having a MOH help me. I think yours are lovely. And good job for sticking to your guns and standing by your beliefs. I’m Catholic and believe me: I’ve had more than one friend comment to me that they don’t want to sit through a “long, drawn-out, boring Catholic ceremony.” ;-) haha. Oh well.