Ask Team Practical: Now or Later?


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Now or Later? | A Practical Wedding

We got engaged, woohoo! We’ve been talking about it for ages, and it finally felt right. As soon as we made the decision, a big burden lifted off my shoulders.

And then another one took its place.

We are both students, and we’re both going for careers in academia. This means we are going to be transient and broke for a long time. The last year has been grueling, academically and personally, and we’re both exhausted. We need a bit of time to recover before we can swing into the wedding planning. Waiting a little more than a year would make sense financially and logistically—more time, free outdoor venue, free flowers, etc. But we also really want to be married. We’re not living/sleeping together before we get married, and there’s a level of support we could provide each other while married that we just can’t while we’re engaged.

Our families are giving totally conflicting advice. My mother is of the opinion that once you’ve decided to get married, there’s no reason to wait (unless there’s a medical/financial/exhausted can’t think straight reason). His mother thinks we should wait at least a year and half, and she thinks that very firmly and persistently. We’ve accepted at this point that we are going to end up resisting his mum, because we want to wait a year at most, and that’s a whole nother burden of stress. But I feel like there’s ALL this stuff we can’t even start to figure out until we’ve set a date, and we can’t even do that. We’ve had loads of advice already and barely any time alone to process it, and it’s just turned into this simmering ball of stress that makes me want to throw a dart at a calendar and go with that.

How the everlovin’ shmigeggy can we EVER choose a date??

Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

Get married already!

Here’s the thing. If I thought you were telling me you have cold feet or aren’t sure you’re ready to be married, I’d tell you to wait. But, if you’re ready for marriage, well, psh. “Marriage” is different from “wedding.” The wedding is secondary. It’s the fondant on the cupcake! If you’re ready and anxious to be married, then go ahead. Don’t wait until you’re ready for a wedding.

That said, I have a question. Have you considered why his mom would want you to wait? Has she said? Have you asked? It could be that she’d just like some extra time to plan, has some quaint idea of what an engagement should be, or wants some time to save for caviar hors d’oeuvres and an ice sculpture. But, there’s a real chance that maybe she has some other reason for hoping that you’ll wait. It’s worth a shot to find out and weigh her opinion because, as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes mothers-in-law know what they’re talking about.

So, if you weigh it all out and choose Marriage Now, what to do about that pesky wedding? Throw an easy, cheap (excuse me, budget) wedding now. The only true necessities for a wedding, short of making sure everyone’s invited, are finding a place that’ll fit everyone (mom’s dining room?) and someone with the necessary credentials to officiate. There are tons of ways to do this with limited stress and fuss (BBQ in the backyard? Maybe a dessert reception with piles of cakes from Costco?). The rest of that stuff—the flowers, the music, the signature cocktails—aren’t required if you don’t want them.

But maybe you do want them. There’s the rub. If some childhood dream of a cascading flowers and rows of people is dying inside you, consider the two-wedding combo deal. Marry now (Justice of the peace? Small family affair?) and have a wedding celebration bash next spring, when your financial stars align.

Waiting to have a “proper” wedding is one thing and, well, might not be necessary. As outlined above, a wedding can happen pretty cheap and fast, or heck, getting married and having a wedding celebration can be two separate events. However, waiting for the perfect time to get married is just flat-out crazy talk. Holding off until stress is down and finances are up doesn’t often work just because it rarely ever plays out the way we expect. Those wily ducks can be pretty reluctant to fall into a neat row. It may even seem like there is a hard and fast deadline ahead (less “when the recession is over” and more “when I finish grad school,”) but even then, life can have a way of pitching some wicked curveballs. Then suddenly, whoops. Stress is back up, money is back down, and you still haven’t accomplished what you’d planned. If marriage is in the cards, it doesn’t always make sense to wait for the logistics to pan out, because sometimes it’s (gulp) years before they do. IF they do!

Just one last quick word of caution to tack onto all of this reckless marrying people off that I’m doing. If you do have a short engagement, brace yourself for nosy folks who will undoubtedly assume you’re pregnant and pester you with questions (not that there is any problem with getting married after getting pregnant. You and I both know that. But Aunt Helen…well, there’s a chance she hasn’t gotten the memo). Why is this the go-to assumption, even in modern wedding planning? Damned if I know. I think it would be lovely and original if someone would assume the bride is leaving to join the circus in a month. For one, the gossip would be way juicier. But alas, pregnancy. Of course, the very nature of wedding planning necessitates bracing for nosy folks and their hair-brained assumptions, anyway, so just add “assumed pregnancy” to that running list.

The big thing here is that you’ve got your head on straight. You’re right! Having a spouse beside you can help provide the stable foundation to face those ups and downs and unexpected turns of life together. So get to it already!

*****

Team Practical, how did you choose your wedding date? Did you face any resistance from family or friends?

Photo by APW sponsor Jessica Schilling.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • http://smittenimmigrant.wordpress.com Pluis

    We picked a date on which it would be feasible and affordable for 50% of all our wedding guests to make a transatlantic flight, which landed us on Thanksgiving weekend. More precisely: we got married on Black Friday, around sundown.

    This means we were ‘engaged’ for seven months. We could have planned the wedding (there being relatively little of that seeing as that we had a grand total of nine guests and one photographer) in less time than that, but we wanted to give the Americans-flying-to-Europe the opportunity of a cheap ticket and the possibility of taking little or no time off.

    The only resistance we faced with regards to the date was from one guest who mentioned that taking time off would still be necessary, but we.. uhmm.. just attributed that to difficult people always being a little difficult and moved on.

    We did face some hassling about how few people we invited. Both sets of parental units insisted on later receptions / parties for all other relatives and friends, which we (with varying levels of grace) accepted. In the end we had a wedding in three parts, spread out over a six month period and two continents.

  • http://www.rachelwilkerson.com Rachel Wilkerson

    Great advice!

    We actually chose what was best for us before we announced our engagement this spring, and that was to not even set a date until the end of the year. We just told people that we wanted to make our plans official by getting engaged but we had other priorities (like my fiance’s big exam to become a licensed engineer net April) and wedding planning wasn’t on top of the list. People do equate being engaged with planning a wedding but we got engaged because we just wanted to publicly state our intentions. I think because we had our minds made up and we didn’t seem interested in discussing the matter, no one really gave us a hard time about it. (And I’m glad we made this decision before we told people because “Have you set a date?” is the first question EVERYONE asked…within, like, hours of announcing our engagement. Hell, they asked when we were engagement ring shopping! Let a couple breathe!!)

    • Marie

      Oh man, we were asked if we had set a date IMMEDIATELY. Like, he had just proposed on the balcony, we walked out and some random stranger was there with congratulations and asked if we had set a date.

      What do people think goes on during a proposal? “You’re the love of my life, will you marry me?” “YES, I will marry you on April 27th, 2013, no other day.”

      Sorry, that was just the biggest sore spot for me. All our friends and family did it too. Maybe they just don’t know what else to ask…

      • http://www.madeinmorningside.blogspot.com Ashleigh

        Ha ha yes us too!! We called my Dad with the news and even he asked!! We were like “it happened 20mins ago let it sink in please!!”

        That said we started planning quite quickly as things for next summer were booking up quickly. xox

      • Alyssa

        My dear mother in law immediately said, “no ring, no date…it’s not a real engagement.”

  • http://www.armyamy.wordpress.com Army Amy*

    We got engaged in March 2007 and tied the knot October 2009. At first we waited for life to get in order. (Graduation! Big Kid Jobs! Moving!) But then we just waited. My parents’ divorce rocked my world more than I realized, and even though I was ready to be engaged, I wasn’t ready to be married. Then, right around New Years, I realized that I didn’t want to spend another year not married. We probably would have gotten married sooner, but we always knew we’d get married in October.

    If you are really ready to be married, I say, “why wait?”*

  • One More Sara

    I whole heartedly agree with Liz’s advice, but I wonder if there is anyone out there in APW-land that has done the marriage now, wedding later thing? I think it is wonderful in theory, but it is also partly a “know your audience” kind of deal… Will people mutter that this isn’t a real wedding because you got married a year (or two) ago? Will you care if they mutter that? What sucks the most about wedding planning is that you can’t please everyone, ever. By doing marriage now and wedding later you might throw some people for a loop, and they might not behave like their best selves as a result. You and your partner need to decide if those people really matter to you (important people like you future mother-in-law, or less important people like nosy Aunt Helen).

    My advice for picking a specific date is to choose a season and a year first, and then take secondary factors into account. Is it anyone’s birthday in that season? Are there holidays you should work around (or take advantage of)? Do you prefer even numbers over odd? Once you have it down to a limited number, and if you still can’t decide, start polling close family members and friends. (When we got engaged, we thought September would be nice. Then we found out that a close friend had already committed to being a best man in another wedding the first weekend in September. We switched to August, and when we started telling family, they were thrilled because it was much easier for them to make the trans-atlantic flights in August. They had never planned on complaining to us about September, but definitely preferred August, and frankly we didn’t care that much either way.)

    • Liz

      One More Sara, we get TONS of questions about that very thing- lots of folks want to get married now, party later and are wondering if it’s okay (it is!).

      I almost made that same choice for my wedding, for health insurance reasons, but our own Maddie is one gal who actually did things this way, and I’ve been putting the pressure on her to write about it for us. ;)

      • One More Sara

        I totally agree that it is okay! I’m just wondering how it plays out in real life. Another commenter below said she might be less likely to make a big effort bc the timing wasn’t right to celebrate the new-ness of the marriage, and I’m inclined to agree that I might not make an extra effort to get to an after-the-fact celebration. This might upset some people, but others might look at it as a way to filter out the people who won’t be over the moon for you on the wedding day. I think there are so many interesting dynamics involved with a delayed wedding, so please! someone! write a post about it!

      • Kristy

        Yes. We did exactly this, because I’m on a work visa and we were afraid that my job might come to an end, which would mean I’d get sent across the world before the wedding. Our “civil ceremony” was in July. Our “real wedding” is in December. A few people know we’re already legally married, but we haven’t been terribly open about it. We aren’t lying, it just isn’t anyone else’s business but ours.

        We worried that being legally hitched on the big white day might harm it, but really, the WEDDING is for us, about our family and friends and the coming together of the community around us. We had four witnesses for our civil ceremony, which was great, but not what we wanted for the big day.

        I think it comes down to deciding that the two of you don’t care if you get strange looks. It’s the “f-them if they don’t like the chairs” thing. If people don’t want to come to my “real” wedding, then they’re going to miss a great party. :)

        Also – my sister did this exact same thing seven years ago. Nobody blinked except the officient, who was against it, but ultimately came around. Good luck!

        • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

          …the WEDDING is for us, about our family and friends and the coming together of the community around us.

          THIS!

          One of my classmates did the legal marriage ASAP so they could get the immigration paperwork started. Their wedding was eight months later. I think everyone at the wedding knew they were married–they’d been switching between fiance/spouse language the whole time. It didn’t make the celebration any less exciting/special/sparkly.

          Their wedding was exciting because it was when they brought their people together. It was the celebration that they carefully planned. It was their public commitment and the chance for their community to commit to them.

      • Katy

        For the wedding-first-party-later, it depends on the context.

        A friend got married and had a family-only courthouse celebration. A few months later, they had a big party, and it was tons of fun.

        My cousin, on the other hand, secretly married without telling anyone, and then planned a wedding (without telling anyone he was already married). As his friends found out, everyone was sour on the idea, and the second wedding turned into reception-only. The secrecy upset a lot of people, and it put a damper on things.

      • http://www.sarahhoppes.com Sarah

        We are doing a variation of the “mary now, party later” thing in 6 weeks. We are having a very small wedding in New York City with immediate family and friends, and going out to dinner. We are also having bigger parties in his hometown and mine.

        Our reasons were partly budget, partly logistics, and partly shyness/social anxiety, but the backlash and hurt feelings really were minimal. It might be a mix of us knowing our audience AND our audience knowing us, or the fact that we don’t live in the same state as either of our families, but no one seems mad, hurt, or judgey of the 3 parties instead of one deal.

        We were firm with what we wanted, but worked really hard to make sure everyone felt involved and included. (Hopefully I’m this positive about it when I’m on the other side!)

      • Carmen

        My intended and I are on the two wedding plan. I wanted something intimate and informal and he wanted a big community acknowledgement of our union with dinner and dancing. We’ve been planning a single, big wedding for about seven months. But the thought of starting our marriage with this shin dig stresses me out. To the point I started having mini melt downs at work.

        So now, we’re planning a small (20 person) family only wedding in two weeks AND a big wedding in May (party and ceremony). For me – its taken a lot of pressure off. And for the first time I’m excited. I don’t think the family really understands, hell I don’t fully understand why it necessitated a second wedding, but they’re supportive. Almost wish I had a more socially acceptable reason like being pregnant or health insurance. Or that I could just suck it up. But prioritizing my sanity seems reasonable to me.

    • Moe

      We married and are planning a party for later, so I’m in this circumstance you speak of. Like the original post there were some personal convictions about moving in together before marriage. So despite not having a dress, rings, family present and barely enough money to pay for a Vegas quickie wedding, we took the leap. It was a complete surprise to both of our families who we had to inform after the fact.

      Before getting married I pre-negotiated that I still wanted to have a wedding. I don’t have dreams of a lavish affair, but I do want to wear a white dress and walk down the aisle with my family present.

      There are moments when I feel like less of a bride. Friends have offered to host wedding showers for us and it feels somewhat “fake” because we already got married and the upcoming family wedding doesn’t feel “real”. This is something I’m still sorting through in my head and several wonderfully supportive people have all told me that I am no less of a bride and celebration is in order.

      Now as we are preparing to move in I have noticed that there is an outpouring of support from both of our families with money, gifts, help that we so very much need because only one of us is working full time. I doubt that all of that would happen in our circumstance since we both come from somewhat conservative families.

      There is no perfect time to marry, there may never be enough money and I am convinced there is no perfect wedding either. If both of you are ready and need each others support, make it happen. Go for it!

    • Sara

      One of my best friends did this – she and her husband got legally married in California so they could get benefits from the Marines while she lived there. Six months later they came back to IL for the holidays, and had the big white wedding. Most people knew they were technically already married, but I don’t think it put any sort of damper on her day at all. She never had a shower or bachelorette party but that was partly because of the couple’s travel schedule vs everyone else’s travel schedule and partly because she didn’t really care that much about those aspects.

      I think the last week or so when little details were getting to her, she complained “I’m already married, why do I care about XYZ”? But I know she had a blast, and they celebrate the ceremony as their ‘official’ wedding anniversary.

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    I would basically second Liz’s advice, if you are ready (which you sound like you both are ). We got engaged in February, had a small civil wedding in May (about 16 people in all, even if we had originally planned it to be only us plus our witnesses) on a Monday morning, followed by breakfast, and then, a few months later (September) had the religious ceremony and wedding reception.
    I also don’t think I could have handled a super long engagement… but I am of the anxious kind, so making decisions and moving on with them was the best antidote against having tons of time to ponder and double-guess and drive ourselves crazy with every single thing like I knew I would have since I am the kind to overanalyze and just not let things rest.
    The most important thing is that you feel ready to be a unit, to support each other and that you feel you would accomplish it best by being married, so I would say go for it.

  • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

    We got engaged in January, we wanted an early fall wedding, and we weren’t keen on waiting nearly 2 years. The venue we chose had a lovely outdoor setting for the ceremony but nothing really appropriate indoors, and October was off the table due to my FIL’s business (he, my BIL, and my MIL would be gone 3 out of the 4 weeks that month due to business concerns). November in the Northeast means no-go outside, so September it was!

    8 month engagement. “Short” by WIC standards but really more than enough time. And I STILL took heat. My cousin got engaged the year before and they chose to have a 15 month engagement, meaning my wedding was a mere 10 weeks after hers. It didn’t faze her in the least, but my uncle nearly had a fit. I am just glad THEY didn’t decide on, say, October or something, as if I had gotten married BEFORE her it would have been a sh*tstorm. My mother insisted we should wait some unspecified amount of time so she could save money to give to us. When I told her it was fine, we didn’t need any money, she flipped. (I refused to be held hostage by money with strings.). Even coworker of my mother’s pulled the “is she pregnant” nonsense! To which I responded, “Well, even if I was 1 week pregnant when we got engaged, I would be running up on my due date choosing September, and I asked my mother of her coworker was capable of simple addition and subtraction. (Mom didn’t like that response, but I didn’t like her tone.)

    Once Mom got use to the idea I was getting married, she actually started to understand why we wanted a shorter engagement. If anything, if I had it to do over again, I would do 3-6 months. April of 2010 was simply lovely in the Northeast (it usually isn’t, but 2010 was magical, weather-wise; mid-September was lovely, too), and had I known what I know now about planning and all the crap that goes along with it, I might have risked the wrath of family and pushed for a 3 month engagement. :)

    • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

      Our 14-month engagement has been TOO LONG. I wish we’d had gone closer to 6 months…

  • Marty

    I think just getting married is great advice. When I got engaged, I was in my first year of law school, so we planned a 2 year engagement, so we could slowly plan and save, but we’d be married before the bar exam. Now that I’m two month away, I wish we’d just quickly thrown together a wedding, because a million other life events have come together to create the perfect storm. Basically, while it does give you time to save, there is no guarantee that waiting a year will mean it’s actually a “better” time for a wedding. If we’d gotten the wedding out of the way, it would make everything else more manageable, because every decision ends with “but do we still have enough for the wedding.”

  • Renee

    My husband and I had a justice of the peace marriage and then had a fairly traditional wedding several months later. He’s in the military and quite a few of his married co-workers have followed the “marriage now, wedding later” pattern. We didn’t tell anyone besides our parents and siblings. Family gossip travels fast but I’m not really sure how many people knew we were married before our wedding. We decided to have a ceremony at the wedding because none of our family or friends were at the original ceremony and we knew our parents were disappointed that they missed it. I think we threw the officiant for a loop on that one. Our biggest problem with it was figuring out when to celebrate our anniversary and that was solved when I (finally) realized there’s no reason not to celebrate the marriage and wedding anniversaries separately.

  • Alicia

    We had a one-year engagement, well one-year and five days to be exact. For us, we wanted to get married where our lives are, which meant 5 hour flights for my family and international flights for his. Giving everyone a year’s notice helped people plan and save to be able to attend. Also, we chose Memorial Day weekend to give people a chance to see the DC monuments and have a longer weekend without taking so much time off. It worked out perfectly.

    Just think about the people you want there and make a decent attempt to insure they can be there to celebrate with you.

    • Laura

      THIS. I am struggling with being only five months into my 14 month engagement. We could have gotten married just before New Year’s, but since I have so many friends overseas whom I wanted to invite, the following July seemed like a better choice. But even though I know it was the right decision for us and I am so excited that my friends have had enough notice to save and plan for it, there are times when I really wish December 30th was the day.

  • Lauren

    We were engaged for about a year and a half before setting a date. Because that’s what worked for us. When we got engaged, we both agreed that we wanted to have 1 marriage/wedding celebration and to do it on a schedule that felt right to us. We also didn’t want stress that comes with the financial contributions from family members. So, we decided to pay for the whole thing ourselves, which requires savings, and hence a long engagement (for us it is almost 3 years). The night we got engaged, we made a deal – we wouldn’t pick a date or venue for about 1 year. Everyone (and I mean everyone) pressured us to move quicker – they thought we were crazy for waiting almost 3 years to marry. Crazy for them, perfect for us is what we told them. I love Liz’s advice above but it is OK if you just want to wait to have 1 big celebration.

    As to picking a date – my best advice is to find the venue and then pick the date. We knew we wanted a fall wedding but didn’t really care about the date (we have no “special” events in the fall that we wanted to marry around). So, when we found the venue we loved and could afford, their availability instantly narrowed down the choice of dates. We took that list, contacted the people who we 100% wanted at the wedding (and would be very sad if they couldn’t be there with us) to see if they had a conflict. Then we checked the events calendar for that area to see if there were any big events that would make hotel arrangements hard. Then we just picked a date.

    On a side note – I can’t tell you how shocked people were when we picked a date. Even though it was right around the time we said we were going to. I think many people doubted our engagement simply because we weren’t ready to set a date for so long. For some reason our decision to have an (admittedly) very long engagement and not set a date until part way through translated to “their engagement will probably be called off”. Ugh…but that’s a discussion for another time!

  • Newtie

    I think Liz may have been hinting at this, but I wonder if your future-mother-in-law has such a strong opinion about the timing of your wedding because *she* needs more time. I’ve come to believe – having witnessed several family weddings now and the drama that sometimes exists just under the surface – that weddings might be hardest on the mothers of the men getting married. There’s loss when your child gets married, and a certain grief and letting go, no matter how happy you also are, and no matter how much you love your child’s partner. But with mothers- and fathers- of the *bride,* there’s a LOT of tradition and hoopla and attention and cake-tasting to help you deal with (or ignore, if you want to) whatever complicated emotions one might be having. The mother of the groom doesn’t have as big a role or as carefully predetermined a role — a lot of the times she’s just supposed to throw a rehearsal dinner, dance with her son, say goodbye, and that’s it. There’s not as much cultural space for her to grieve if she has to grieve, and there’s *all* this cultural pressure not to be an evil mother-in-law, which makes it harder to openly have complicated emotions.

    I don’t think that’s a reason not to get married right away at all — in fact, if your mother-in-law *does* secretly feel like she needs more time, there’s probably nothing you can do about it, except to be aware of the possibility she might feel that way and try hard not take it personally (because it’s not personal). I’ve seen brides try to really involve their mothers-in-law with the wedding planning process, and sometimes that seems to help and sometimes it doesn’t help at all. I would recommend, regardless of when you decide to get married, to encourage your fiance to spend some quality one-on-one time with his mom (and his dad, too, if his dad is in the picture) before and after the wedding. Encourage him to take him mom out to lunch a little more often than maybe he usually would, and don’t tag along. It will help his mom realize she’s not losing him, if she’s having any of those feelings, and it will help her realize that both of you still value your families of origin even though you’re starting a new one. It will also make her realize that she still has a good relationship with her son, and he still cares about her, even though he’s not taking her advice or listening to her strong opinion about the timing of the wedding.

    Congratulations!!!!

    • One More Sara

      “It will also make her realize that she still has a good relationship with her son, and he still cares about her, even though he’s not taking her advice”

      brilliant!! Just making his mom feel important (because she is!) will always soften the blow if you choose not to follow her advice.

    • Taylor B

      so well said, and excellent advice! My fiance is not only an only son but an only child and 11 months into the engagement we are finally recognizing the depth of this dynamic. What smoothes the process the best is time he spends with his parents, one-on-one and together, without me. (I’ve consistently advocated for more of this for all 7+ years we’ve been together but…)

      We both spend a lot of time listening to their (her) opinions and concerns, but feeling heard is so important in this process. Excellent, excellent advice.

  • Amy March

    Just a thought about the idea of getting married now, but having the big “wedding” later- some people (like me) don’t like it. It matters a lot to me to see my friends and family get married, and I put a great deal of effort into planning and saving to make sure I can be there. If they aren’t actually getting married, the celebration is less important to me. I would never mention this to them, or to anyone else attending, but it does mean if your party is going to be difficult for me, I’m more likely to (promptly) rsvp regrets.

    I can also see a quick marriage ceremony, with a party months later, as feeling a bit flat for me. I want to celebrate that moment, when I’m in the gooey cloud of “I’m married-ness.”

    All that being said, if you want an outdoor wedding (and I’m assuming a part of the US that experiences winter), you’re basically looking at the end of October at the latest, and April/May at the earliest. Can you try picking a date in each of those seasons- ie, if we do fall, October 28, if we do spring, May 5. And then play around with how you feel about those two choices. It might make it easier to get a picture of what you are dealing with if you aren’t considering every possible date in the year.

    • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

      This would be my warning to the couple. Obviously I love watching people get married, but I feel happy an honored to celebrate with the couple in the manner that works best for their lives (if I am able to, that is). Having said that, a LOT of people feel the way Amy March does and this is valid. It sounds like she handles it with grace and tact, but we all know people can be really loudly judgey and mean. And, while, yes, who needs those people is a nice thought in theory, some of Those People might include Nosy Old Aunt Helen, and guess what? She’s probably not going to RSVP with regrets. She’s coming and she’s bringing her negative attitude with her.

      This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do this, or, for that matter, have a united front w your partner and families (hopefully they support your decision!), but more of a Be Prepared For Asshats. Which, honestly, no matter what you need to Be Prepared For Asshats, but this is just one that tends to be more of a hot button.

      • Jashshea

        HAHAHA – Be prepared for Asshats! Good advice – all day every day.

      • http://blindirishpirate.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

        . And, I really, really wish that if people do not support the marriage, or don’t like the choices that the couple have made SO DEEPLY that they are going to be an Asshat, then really, they should just not go. Coming to the wedding is like signing your name on a petition: YES, I support you both. I agree to uphold my role in the community with you. If for any reason someone can’t fully stand behind that unspoken petition, then just stay home. The party will go on without you and your nasty opinions.

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      Your response, generally, is part of the reason why we didn’t tell many people that we were legally married for over a year before our wedding. I completely understand the sentiment. I certainly struggled (a lot) with the idea of decoupling the legal beginning of our marriage from our wedding; in the end, our hand was forced.

      I think marriage exists in three different spheres: legal, social, and religious. Our wedding marked the social and religious beginning of our marriage. It was about giving our community a way to share in our joy, and feeling that much more joy because they had shared in it. It was about introducing our baby family to our community and embracing our traditions.

      The legal benefits of marriage are nice, and we’re privileged to have them as a hetero couple. When we pledge to love, support, nourish, and treasure each other in front of our friends and family, is it less meaningful because we can already file joint tax returns and sponsor visa applications?

    • Sasha

      Yes.

      I feel like there are two aspects to this. Some people do a legal ceremony for legal reasons and then do a wedding later with weding-y-ness and consider that their “true” wedding. And some people do a ceremony at one point and a celebration later. I am comfortable celebrating with my friends and family and being encouraging to strangers on the internet in either of those situations.

      But what is being discussed here is having one wedding/ceremony which will be when the couple feels married spiritually etc and therefore ready to live together et al, and then another wedding later for the bells and whistles. And I feel like, for me personally, if I knew people who felt married and then they invited me to their wedding, I would not feel like I was really invited to a real wedding, and would be uncomfortable with it treated as such being given the same expectations.

      There is a lot of talk on here about the getting married part being what is really the most important thing about a wedding. And I believe that. So I am happy to celebrate a marriage with a party, and I am happy to come to a wedding and be there for the getting married part even if the couple is technically already married, as long as they think of it as when they get married. But a performance-y wedding after the “real” one makes me feel uncomfortable and seems contrary to everything that has ever been said here about what weddings are about both for the couple and for guests and about how your wedding is not a performance.

      This is just me, and clearly plenty of people here disagree, but I think it is worth thinking about.

      • Liz

        I’m curious about your connection between a party and a performance. In my mind, throwing a party an hour after the ceremony or throwing a party six months after the ceremony still doesn’t change the meat and bones of what it is- a party, gathering your community together to celebrate your relationship.

        • MEI

          The vast majority of my friends don’t live in the same place I do, so I would have to travel by plane to get to where they are having their chosen event. In general, the part of these events that is the reason I would attend is the ceremony and not the party. I understand that this is something of a a selfish position. However, I know that my own biases mean that I would be more willing to go to an event that has the actual wedding/commitment ceremony that day that I could attend than to go for a party celebrating the couple. Now if the couple told me it was very important to them I come to the celebration party, I would make it happen. But overall, I would be more likely to politely RSVP no to a party that did not have the attendant ceremony.

          Obviously, this doesn’t mean people shouldn’t do what they want and what works for their family/community. My siblings are the opposite of me — they would be thrilled to be invited to a party where they didn’t have to sit through the ceremony first. I’m just trying to explain why some people view a party 6 months after the ceremony differently from a party 6 hours after the ceremony (for me, it’s less about timing and more about getting to attend the ceremony). My general advice would be talk to the people who are important to you, examine your own needs, and make a decision from there.

        • Sasha

          …that was exactly my point. if you throw a party to celebrate, that’s great. If you do a ceremony even though you already feel married from a previous ceremony, that ceremony feels like a performance to me. I would be fine not being invited to a ceremony but I would feel uncomfortable being at what feels to me to be a fake one.

          • Liz

            Oh, hm. I don’t think I saw anyone suggest that. But maybe I need to scan the comments again.

          • KOTF

            “I would be fine not being invited to a ceremony but I would feel uncomfortable being at what feels to me to be a fake one.”

            The husband and I were terribly afraid about our friends and family taking a stance like this. For us, it was important for us to have a commitment ceremony just the two of us without any legal implications or other people around to witness. We eloped and considered that day to be the start of our marriage. We’re not done yet, though. We’re having a wedding, too, and it will be a day to mark our marriage commitment both legally and with our community.

            It’s weird and nontraditional and some people aren’t happy about it, not to mention it can be uncomfortable in this awkward stage of being married by our standards but still waiting for the community-celebrated day to mark it.

            In the end, though, we entered our marriage in a way that works for us. Some people have berated us for not being married “for real,” and I’m sure we’ll get some flack about our community wedding day because we “already had our day and don’t deserve another.” But it works for us! It’s real to us! It hurts me to know that some of our family/friends label some aspect of how we started our marriage as fake just because we went a nontraditional route that departs from the idea that there is only one day, one way, and one step to being officially married.

            While I suspect no one else has a loved one who handled this wedding/marriage thing quite like we did, I think it’s worth it to consider that maybe some couples will have a different way of entering into a marriage–whether it is for practical/logistical reasons or because of their ideology about marriage. To me, that doesn’t mean they’re turning a wedding into a performance or a faked event.

          • Carmen

            I’m in process of planning two weddings – a small family only thing and a larger community wedding ceremony/reception. They both feel like real weddings to me – with the commitment and celebration among our friends and community being just as important as the initial committment made in front of the family.

            As far as the wedding being about the first day that we are married – I can respect that people want to be there for the very beginning. But it seems like discrediting the birth of a new child just because you didn’t see the baby on its first day of life. First day- very special, don’t contend that. But I like to think the new baby/marriage is still special and worthy of shared excitement and celebration 3 months later.

          • Corrie

            I can definitely see how you might feel like the second ceremony is more like a ‘performance’ of the first one. However, I think some couples who do the second ceremony with reception at a later date could be treating their second ceremony as a vow renewal in front of family and friends, which I think can be equally as special. I know a couple who got engaged, but then the groom’s father’s cancer took a sudden turn for the worse and they decided to do a family only wedding on the beach so that the father could be there. The father then passed away and the couple went ahead with their original plans for a ceremony and reception approximately a year after the date of the original ceremony. Not only was the second ceremony a vow renewal, but it also took place in the Catholic church. For a Catholic marraige to be recognized as Catholic, you must get married in the church (unless you have a dispensation, which they didn’t). So, from a religious standpoint, the second ceremony was the real marraige ceremony. Granted, this is not always the case, but I think second ceremonies can still have a special meaning that differs from the original ceremony.

          • Liz

            Thought about it some more. I think the only two-wedding-dealies that I’ve known of personally were ceremony now, party later. So I hadn’t thought about two sets of vows.

            I think perhaps there could be two different kinds of “promise” happening with two different ceremonies. Putting myself in those shoes, if I were to have married legally before having a wedding with my friends, I’d see that “second” wedding as a promise to and with my community of people (rather than just me to my husband and him to me). Like, “Okay guys, we made this promise to each other, now we want you all to be apart of that. We’re making the promise in front of all of you, hoping for your support in it.”

            I don’t think it would feel like, “Well, we already made this promise before, so this one doesn’t really count anyway.” It just would maybe take on a slightly different meaning- one involving the community in it.

      • Amy March

        Yes, exactly that distinction for me as well. I really don’t care when you sign the paperwork, it is more about is this the occasion-after-which-you-will-feel-married.

      • sarahmrose

        I can understand what you’re saying about how it might feel to you like a performance if the couple is already married, though I hadn’t thought of it that way before. For me, the way I see it is that the two different ceremonies are entirely different. We got married at the courthouse first (in part because of immigration), and that was meaningful and lovely and definitely made us married, but it’s really important to us to also make our commitments in front of our family and friends. So when we have our wedding (which for a variety of reasons, will end up being nearly three years after our civil ceremony), I know that the ceremony is going to be very real and very important for me, and I hope my guests feel that too.

    • annoymous

      From the persepective of someone who was legally “married” for almost six months before her wedding:
      Amy March, I understand and totally respect your position. There were a few people (including some family) who were actually upset that they weren’t invited to the legal ceremony. At which point my husband and I said “Well, we’re legally married, but we’re not going to feel married until after the religious ceremony. Really, you didn’t miss anything”
      And they didn’t. I mean, for pities sake, we both went back to work the afternoon after we went to the courthouse.
      So while I understand the position of “I don’t want to watch a ‘fake’ ceremony”…here’s another point of view.
      A wedding is about a lot of things other then the couple and the bride and groom. Family and cultural expectations, friends, a community acknowledgement of the new couple…etc. And this isn’t bad. It’s a big part of what makes weddings so culturally and personally important.
      But I’ve seen a lot of couples get lost in that. They don’t really have a moment that’s theirs. And having a private moment to say to each other “I choose you” without all the hoopla and eyes staring at you is important I think.
      And I know some people will probably think that I just wanted it both ways. The privacy of an elopement with the pomp of a wedding.
      But that’s not true.
      Personally, I needed both of those moments. The moment where it was just me and my husband, and the moment where it was everyone I loved crammed into a room loving us.
      I guess my point is:
      While it’s valid to want to be there for the moment a couple pledges to be together forever: That moment doesn’t always happen at weddings.
      For some couples they pledge that long before they get married and live together.
      For some couples, they feel that way after their first date. Or after their first kiss.
      For some couples that moment of “together forever” does happen on their wedding day during their vows.

      So if your objection is that you want to be there for the moment they “feel married”…a lot of couples feel that way before their wedding day. I certainly did. And my husband and I weren’t living or sleeping together at the time.

      And again, you are absolutely entitled to your own feelings and opinions on the subject (duh, everyone is :) ) But I would say that a lot of couples have deeply personal reasons for having more then one ceremony. Not everyone does, but I would like to think that most do. And I think that’s something to consider in this discussion.

      Hugs to the entire APW community. Way to discuss something tricky with grace and love!! :)

      • Amy March

        Oh yes- I absolutely see that. I don’t think couples who chose this route are doing something *wrong*- I just feel like attending a party to celebrate your marriage-which-already-happened is less important to me than attending the ceremony itself. Completely agree there are reasons to separate the two, and I’ll probably still be uber excited for the party, it just doesn’t have the same importance.

    • MDBethann

      May 5 is a great date (it was our date this year because hubby wanted something easy to remember), though depending on where you live in the US, you can risk it being damp (a friend married on May 3 three years ago and it POURED on her wedding day). So we opted for indoor ceremony, but we had gorgeous outdoor pictures at a nearby rose garden.

      The best part is, since it is Cinco de Mayo, it’s hard for either party to forget the anniversary date ;-)

  • http://minnesota-chic.com PA

    Throw a dart at a board, make up some serious-sounding reason about Why That Day, and giggle to yourselves about it every time you tell people. Levity! Levity is needed.

    On the one hand, someone should probably figure out why your fiance’s mother has a “year and a half” timeline. On the other hand, your wedding is something that you can put together in however much or little time* you want, and I can say from experience that wedding planning during a stressful time can be incredibly wonderful.

    I wish you much luck as you move into the planning-to-plan stages!

    * Had to search out a relevant APW post: http://apracticalwedding.com/2012/01/minneapolis-indie-wedding-guthrie-theater/

    Quote from the post: “Our thinking was: if we have a year to plan the wedding, a whole year of our life will be consumed with wedding planning; if we have four weeks to plan the wedding, it will get done in four weeks. And it did.” Awesome, yes?

    • Claire

      Exactly :)

    • Kristen

      This was exactly my mindset. We got engaged in March and married in July. People thought we were nuts for planning a wedding in four months, but I thought it was perfect. I didn’t want to be stressing out about a wedding forever, and this was just enough time to get the things done we wanted to do. There was never really any waiting around time. We had been dating for nine years, so it made sense not to wait another year and a half to get married. It feels so good now to just be married and not worrying about all the crazy-ness that comes with engagements and wedding planning.

    • Jashshea

      I think I may have made this exact comment on that exact post – We’ll have been engaged nearly 14 months by the time we get married (57 days) and I wish wish wish we’d done it faster. By no means does it take 14 months to plan the wedding we’re planning. 4 months would have been do-able.

  • annoymous

    Advice from another, not living together not sleeping together till we’re married girl?
    Go to the courthouse and get married.
    My husband and I were legally married about six months before we were religiously married.
    And a good portion of my family/friends STILL don’t know.
    Because we knew it would upset them, and we didn’t want that.
    But for financial/emotional reasons it made a lot of sense to move in together right after we got engaged (like 2 months after) And we didn’t want to live together without being at least legally married.
    My rule was: If you visit our home, you’re going to see that we’re living together. So if people visited, they were told. Otherwise, we kept it to ourselves for the most part.
    Point is:
    If it makes sense to you, get legally married, and have the big to do later.
    If you think it will upset people, don’t tell them. (The exception being your parents (perhaps…depends on your family dynamic.)

    At the end of the day: This is your family and y’all got to do what’s right for you.
    Big hugs.

    p.s. We waited for the…. consummation part of our marriage until the night of our religious ceremony. Woah hard. But if you want to, you can make it work.
    p.p.s It’s totally normal (and in most cases the law) for people to have legal ceremonies before religious ceremonies in the rest of the world. In some cases the day before, but in many cases months before the religious ceremony. Play that card if you think it will help.

    • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

      Yes. In Argentina having a civil ceremony is a requirement, whereas the religious ceremony is just a rite that holds no legal value. So people need to go to the civil registry 1st and hold a small lunch for close family after it, then have a religious ceremony if they want to.

    • MDBethann

      Exactly on the part about marriage in other countries. A good friend of mine got married in Germany back in February. They had their legal ceremony at the local town hall or courthouse on a Friday and then their religious ceremony that Saturday. The United States, for reasons I believe Meg talked about in either the book or an earlier post, is one of the few places where the religious ceremony can also serve as the legal ceremony because of historical precedent – in the early years of our country (especially in the sparsely settled areas), you didn’t really have legal authorities around frequently, but at least a minister typically rode through your area with some frequency, if they weren’t there permanently. So it made sense then to invest religious officials with the power to perform legally binding marriages. But it’s definitely not like that everywhere in the world.

  • Annika

    Get Married! Even if it’s just a courthouse or family only thing. My husband and I did not live/sleep together before we got married, and we were engaged for 2.5 years and it was horrible. By about 9 months in, we were both unhappy, and during the whole thing we were both in grad school. Even waiting 2.5 years, we were still in grad school and our wedding ended up being 2 weeks after my qualifying exams (midway through a PhD in science). The wedding is great, but we both wish we’d had a small ceremony earlier.

    • Kara

      Oh my goodness, we made the same decision (on the waiting) and I can’t imagine waiting longer than the 10 months we did. Glad you made it!

    • annoymous

      Hats off to you my friend. My love and I dated for almost 3 years before we slept together. We were living together for 6 moths of that.
      It.was.HARD.

  • Jennifer

    Being young and engaged- I say DO IT! Get married. My biggest regret with my engagement/wedding is how long I am waiting. Yes, I have plenty of time to think out my wedding but then again I have plenty of time to obsess and wait for a wedding.

    I would sit down with your husband and talk about it- do we want a big traditional wedding? Does you mother want one? If you want a traditional wedding, waiting maybe a good idea, money wise. If anything, going to the courthouse with a few witnesses and having a small celebratory meal is great. If parents (or you and your fiance) insist on a big “wedding,” then plan one afterwards.

  • Kara

    I like Liz’s advice to LISTEN to your soon-to-be mother in law, and then do what you need to do timeline-wise.

    Just remember, stress seems to expand to fit available timelines. I wanted to get married SOON after we got engaged for similar reasons as you do, though my now-husband wanted a little more time to work out some logistics (like getting to the same geographical location first–which didn’t work out anyway). We waited a little longer than I would have liked (10 months), but things have worked out.

  • http://somethingshavehappened.blogspot.co.uk/ Siobhan

    We picked our date as follows. We got engaged in April, the only time we would be able to get family from Canada to the UK was in the summer. That summer was too soon and too full (and we would be gazumping his brothers wedding) so we picked the next summer. When people in the UK were grizzling about the date we considered (briefly) getting married in Canada. If you don’t have to grab people from far and wide then go for it. I know plenty of people who have two year engagements but I kind of wish ours had been shorter now. Stupid academic year having an impact on mine and key guests availabilty.

  • Chelsea

    Totally off-topic, but . . .

    I usually read APW in the very early morning while my honey is sleeping. Often the posts make me feel overcome with how happy I am to be with him, how happy to be engaged to him, and now how happy to be married to him. I usually run to the bedroom and hug his sleeping body, which I think is a little annoying to him. I just get so overwhelmed with happiness and love. This is one of those posts, to hear about someone else’s happy love and to be so happy that I have my own happy love is just a wonderful, early morning treat!

    • Moe

      Now that’s just cute. :)

  • KB

    We picked our date using three related criteria – I knew I wanted to get married when it was hot out, later in the year was out because it would drive me nuts to plan a wedding in 6 months, and the venue offered a discount for our wedding date the next year because no one wants to get married in 100+ degree heat. Except us.

    There could be all kinds of reasons your MIL wants you to wait a year and a half – frankly, the fact that we had more time gave us the pick of vendors because absolutely no one booked up these people that far in advance, which was pretty much the only reason for us to wait. So, I say go with your gut and if the timing is more important to you than anything else, you will find a way to make it work. P.S. This is a good testing ground with your MIL – there will be a billion other issues/battles to fight in the future. You’re drawing boundaries with your fiance here, which may be painful, but it’s a good thing in the end.

    • z

      For what it’s worth, I thought a year and a half was a good amount of time, especially if you are planning for a 3-day weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, or the height of the “wedding season” whereever you happen to be. I got married on Columbus Day Weekend, which is considered the last big foliage tourism weekend where we were, and I was surprised at how many venues, photographers, etc. were already booked with more than a year to go. Also, some vendors will give you a better rate if you commit early. So I don’t know what your FMIL’s reason is for wanting that much time, but it can be advantageous in some ways. It did stress me out to have to deal with the planning for so many months, but it was worth it to have the 3-day weekend– easier travel for everyone, plus it really facilitates anniversary getaways!

  • Claire

    I’ll offer my advice in two parts: marriage and wedding.

    If you and your partner are ready to be married, my advice is to take it from Nike and Just Do It. It sounds like you’ve had a lot going on and you know that circumstances will continue to be challenging in the months (years?) ahead. You don’t have to wait until all your ducks are neatly in a row; you can work together as a married couple to tame those wiley ducks (okay, I just really wanted a wiley duck reference there). You are absolutely right that marriage can bring you closer together and allow you to support each other in ways you can’t right now. Yes, dig deeper into your MIL’s hesitations, but trust yourself first and foremost. If you’re ready, don’t put off one of the most important transitions of your life to appease someone else.

    Okay, now the wedding part. Yes, wedding planning can be super expensive, exhausting, time-consuming stuff. But. It Doesn’t Have To Be! You get to decide how much money, time and energy to spend on wedding planning. And it’s okay if you decide that you’re just not going to spend that much on it. It’s okay if you decide that being married now is more important to you than having the large/flowery/crafty/whatever wedding that you could pull off in a year or more.

    When my husband and I first started talking dates, we considered waiting until next year, but Christopher said it best when he eloquently stated, “We’re ready now. Let’s get this shit done. Tag it and bag it, baby.” (Yes, my husband, the romantic, compared our wedding to both shit and a dead deer. And I broke down in hysterical laughter.) Anyhoo! We planned our wedding in 4 weeks and it was fine. Great, even. We didn’t want the stress of long-term planning so we skipped it. We targeted a month of planning and called up our nearest and dearest to find out if there were conflicting schedules and then just picked the first available day. It was a Friday. Everyone who really mattered made it.

    We spent about $5,000 on our wedding for 50ish people (including airfares for some family), but could have done it for a lot less if we skipped the dinner and made it a dessert only reception. Sure, there were no decorations or flowers, or dancing, but we were still married at the end of the day and we didn’t have to stress about those things. We budgeted an amount we could comfortably afford and put it on a 0% interest for 1 year credit card and paid it off by then. Point is that it can be done.

    Best of luck!

  • Lisa

    We were engaged in March, and set a date for the following summer (so a 16 month engagement). However, by the time January rolled around, we were ready to be married. I was having some pretty bad mental health issues, and the stress of wedding planning was making my anxiety a lot worse. We were also facing a lot of pressure from various family members because we wanted to have a small wedding. So, we decided to elope in January. We made the decision on Sunday evening, and then it all happened a week later on Saturday. My partner’s parents and brothers were there, as were a few close friends that all lived close by. We told a few people beforehand so that we could make the arrangements, but his parents and a bunch of our friends only found out the day of (we made sure their schedules were clear beforehand though!).

    My family and 2 best friends weren’t able to come because they live pretty far away, but I checked with my dad before the whole thing went down to see if he would be upset about not being there, and he wasn’t. There are things I feel a bit sad about – my family not being there, not having a photographer, those are the 2 main ones – but honestly, it was such a beautiful day that at the time, those things didn’t bother me. It was also the best decision at the time, based on a whole bunch of circumstances.

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    Liz’s advise is pretty spot on. (As per usual!)

    Waiting for a future time that’s going to be less stressful and where those wily ducks should be tamed can backfire spectacularly. Life doesn’t tend to work like that, at least not for me, and will almost always throw more reasons to wait at you.

  • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

    I agree with Liz– if it feels right to you to get married now, do it! Money is never a reason to not get married, in my opinion… you’ll have the important things no matter what, since the two of you will be there and you will be getting MARRIED (!!!). The rest will fall into place.

    We were engaged for 16 months and it felt sooo long! I don’t regret it, though, because we knew we wanted to pick a time of year where the people we wanted there could get there. For us, with lots of educators in the family and some friends still in college, that meant the summer. We got engaged in April and the summer immediately following seemed too fast because we were worried about people being able to make travel arrangements and such, so we choose the following August. I’m glad we chose it for the reasons we did, but I do wish the time had been shorter! I think 6-12 months would have been perfect.

  • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

    We also couldn’t wait to get married, and got engaged 1 month after we met. We got married as soon as we could and the actual date was chosen based on when we could take vacations (we were working in a conflict area, so we had to wait for vacations to go somewhere safe to get hitched. We chose Italy :) and on administrative requirements (we needed to present our papers to the commune of Firenze one week prior to the wedding). There were 3 days available that matched all those considerations and my best friend chose the best one from those three according to some Mayan calendar information she was reading at the time (ha!True story!). I should say, though that we sort of eloped. So it was very small, only 6 guests (including our witnesses) with whom we had lunch at a restaurant after the (absolutely beautiful and heartfelt) civil ceremony.
    Then we had a mini honeymoon in Tuscany (since we were already there!) and on our second vacation period that year we travelled to our countries of origin (his, Serbia, and mine Argentina) and had a nice lunch with our families and close friends.

    • Claire

      Sounds beautiful.

      • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

        Thank you. It was :)

  • Teffer

    Letter writer here!

    All this advice is so great– especially because it confirms out ultimate decision was the right one to make!

    We decided about two weeks ago to have our wedding in mid-October. Plenty of people have been freaking right out (and we’ve already had the pregnancy assumption voiced, but whatever), but it feels right and we are happy to be doing it! We never really planned on having a big, expensive wedding– we will have quite a few guests, but it’s a potluck reception, and the venue is free, so it should cost very little money. Mostly we are happy to be able to establish our home already!! :)

    • Kristen

      Congratulations! I’m so happy for you.

    • Claire

      Congratulations!

    • Liz

      Exciting! Congratulations!

    • Moe

      Congratulations!!! That’s awesome!!

    • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

      Oh yay! Write a Wedding Grad after so we can all read all about your day, please!!! :)

    • Kara

      Many many MANY congratulations!

    • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

      Yay! Congratulations! I’m sure it’s going to be a beautiful and memorable celebration.

    • Denzi

      Yay! Congratulations!

    • http://minnesota-chic.com PA

      Yayyyy! Congratulations!

      Also, POTLUCK RECEPTION. Such an amazing plan. Also also, photos! (Aaaaaaand – huzzah for mid-October weddings. *e-high-fives*)

    • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

      YAYYY!!! Congrats!!! And a potluck wedding at a free venue sounds awesome. :-)

      (OMG. I love when the letter writer from ATP chimes in to let us know how the advice has them thinking. Love it.)

      • Liz

        That’s my favorite, too!

    • annoymous

      YAY!! SO happy for you!!

    • Sasha

      awesome! and thank you for letting us know how it worked out@

      best wishes

      • KB

        Yay!! Even though there’s added stress with the unnecessary quips from the peanut gallery, if your planning process is anything like mine, just having the date now will alleviate SO much stress. Congratulations!!

    • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

      Congratulations and much, much happiness to you!

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      Yay! Happy to hear the news that you guys are going for it. We also were a quick engagement and a mid-October wedding (almost 3 years ago now). It’s a fabulous time to get married, and I wish you both the best.

  • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

    We got engaged in November 2009 and married in May 2011. We had planned to buy a house in June 2010, but then my wife got laid off so that had to be (and still is) tabled. Honestly, the long engagement helped us work a lot of stuff out, get ourselves together and go into the marriage with both eyes open and I don’t regret it for a second.

    • JEM

      Engaged in Dec 2009 and married in Aug 2012 and exactly yes to the “long engagement helped us work a lot of stuff out, get ourselves together and go into the marriage with both eyes open and I don’t regret it for a second.”

      • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

        It’s amazing how going through a lay off, a grad school thesis while trying to find housing and then moving, a grandparent death and a different difficult family situation can strengthen a relationship!

        • Taylor B

          Seriously! Except, we had no lay-off and three grandparent deaths, along with the theses and moving. And we are stronger than ever. Happy to hear your long engagement worked for you!

    • Other Katelyn

      We have a 16 month engagement and it’s great, honestly. We’re working a ton of stuff out, and getting to know each other yet again with a fresh, “we’re committed to each other for life” perspective. It’s annoying to have the wedding planning stretched out this long, but otherwise I’m digging the extra time for emotional and relational reasons.

  • Anya

    Free flowers any time of year – Anytime you see anything (flowers, fruit, pretty burgundy-flowering grass that’s everywhere right now) on the side of the road or in a field with color that would dry well, pick it, and dry it by hanging upside down. Once dry, you can wrap in kraft paper for later, or leave it as decor (though dry flowers have taken over my house, so be careful!). Not sure if it’ll dry pretty? Do a test dry of a small batch. The fastest, test-dry is to do this is hang it upside down from your rearview mirror in a hot car. It’ll dry in half a day. or just give it a couple days hanging from a banister in the house, or your laundry line, or in your closet. Less direct sun/light = more color retained.

    Great wild flowers for drying:
    - Flowering grass of any kind (look for a smokey effect on roadsides – that’s pretty burgundy grass. it looks great with the run-of-the-mill oatmeal colored flowering grass)
    -Goldenrod (dries to a nice vintage-esque faded mustard)
    - Hydrangea (not wild, but friends may have it in their lawns – especially the white-flowering kind. dry this right-side-up in a vase)
    - Flowering Amaranth (google it – the wild stuff is mostly green and can be used for filler, but sometimes you score with a pinkish hint)
    -Dipsacus / Teasel (google it, and then bring gloves! It;’s sharp! Everywhere!)
    - Giant Reed, aka Phragmites
    - Cattail (collect now before it gets all cotton-candy-esque)

    And a bunch of pretty stuff I don’t know the name of. Seriously, ANYTHING. Even if it doesn’t look nice alone, it can look great in a dried bouquet. Also, you can spraypaint it colors!

  • Frugal Pineapple Cat

    I feel like I should offer an “at your own pace” approach. While I agree that just getting married already sounds really fun and is theoretically less stressful, I’m not convinced that’s a one size fits all response. It seems as though being draped in strong, forceful opinions got you into this mess…

    I have been engaged for a year and a half. We just picked our wedding date (11 months away) about a month ago. I was never a fan of long engagements, but lookie lookie I’m in one. :) It’s most definitely a situational thing that will vary from couple to couple. I pushed long and hard to get married a few short months after we got engaged. I knew it would work and in my heart I know we, as a couple, would have survived and thrived. However, there were conflicting opinions from our families, whom we value and respect greatly. Some heavy factors include: geographic proximity- my fiancé moved to the south while I stay in this small state in the Midwest. He’s working and I’m a graduate student and financial stability- I’m a student, we’re young, etc.

    My parents were encouraging of getting married as soon as we could and making ends me. His parents felt very strongly that it was too soon. We felt confused. I believe that our wedding date is our decision, however, I’m unwilling to lose family over it. Things crumbled when on the phone I heard his father say, “You’re looking for support, but you won’t find it here”. I sobbed. My fiancé and I decided moments later to “fast” from wedding talk, fights, plans, blogs, etc. We decided to invite our families to join us in silence and prayer during that time. The first conversation we had following our silence resulted in a very clear direct. Wait. So we did. And we are.

    No one is entitled to claim to know your situation or circumstances. In an ideal situation I’d agree that you should just “get married already” IF and only if that is what you believe to be right. I highly encourage you to take some time in deliberate silence on the topic. Dwelling and feeling guilt is no way to be rational. It was important for me to realize that I’m in committed relationship and I most definitely want to be married, but I am no less loved now than I will be after our wedding.

    I wish you the very best in exploring your options, abandoning the stress, and creating the future.

    • Marie

      I just wanted to say you’ve got at least one random internet person supporting you. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through all that mess. You sound fairly positive about it now, but I still can’t imagine the heartache.

      Good luck with everything ahead! I’ll be thinking of you.

      • Frugal Pineapple Cat

        Thanks, Marie! We’re both very confident and comfortable in our decision. Both sides of extended family are in full support and all is calm. It is certainly a lesson in patience, but I’m happy to wait patiently.

  • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

    We chose our date because of Notre Dame football. I’m not kidding. We looked at the schedule and chose the only bye weekend of the fall. Go Irish!

    • Cleo

      I TOTALLY get this!

      When I was very young (8 or 9), my parents told me that I was not allowed to get married during football season, especially during a Mizzou home game, unless the Tigers were on a bye week.

      They haven’t gone to weddings before because they were scheduled on football gamedays (granted, they weren’t that close to the people whose wedding they skipped).

      Having inherited that fanaticism, my sister and I both agree that a football season wedding would be impossible to plan, especially because while she and I are both still Mizzou nuts, we went to different colleges and are nuts about their football traditions as well. Some miraculous alignment of the stars would have to occur so that all three schools would be on a bye week on the same week, so I’ve known for quite some time now that a fall wedding is out (and early winter probably is too because we don’t know what bowls our teams will go to!)

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

      His mother (and myself, actually, we cheer for the same team), was very pleased that it was an away game the weekend we got married. I’m pretty sure she caught part of the televised game between our ceremony and reception.

    • Jashshea

      There was much rejoicing when the CFB schedules were released this year and one of our closest mutual friends realized our wedding was his team’s bye week this year.

      My people are huge baseball fans and I’ve never let my best friend forget that I missed the “Tip my cap and call the Yankees my daddy” game for her wedding. Link: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004/writers/tom_verducci/09/28/pedro.yankees/

    • z

      I don’t follow sports at all, but my in-laws do, so when I saw their team had a bye week on a 3-day weekend, I made a mental note more than two years in advance, long before we got engaged. And we totally did get married on that date. My little secret! If you don’t want to ask, ESPN.com is a good place to find out when sports are not happening. Of course, confirm with a sports-following person because some games are not scheduled until later in the season.

      Of course, it is important to consider big local events even if your own wedding guests don’t follow sports. I was considering a winter date and could not for the life of me figure out why the local hotels were sooooo expensive on that particular weekend and none other– turns out it was the US national luge team trials happening in that town. Or things like marathons that can make getting around town pretty crazy. Same goes for college reunions, state fairs, Phish concerts (yeah, I’m that old), all that kind of stuff. Setting a date can be a lot more complicated than just picking what’s convenient for you.

      • Cleo

        Marathons. Yes! Street closures are INSANE and can stop up traffic or even prevent you from getting to your wedding venue (in the worst circumstances).

        Races are usually on Sundays, but street closures can start as early as 8pm the day before. Definitely something to beware

  • Lauren

    We picked our date at least two or three years ago when we realized our dating anniversary landed on weekends during 2013/2014. It’s a Saturday in 2014, but he didn’t want to wait any longer, so we picked June 29, 2013, right after he finishes undergrad and starts getting ready for grad school.

    We are also not living together before marriage, partially due to family and partially due to his being in school still. As I said, I would have been fine waiting another year but he wants to get hitched ASARP (as soon as reasonably possible).

    We’re having a year and a half engagement out of this necessity, but I see nothing wrong with something shorter. I’m just super type-A and need a TON of time to plan. And we’re having a fairly traditional wedding with reception, etc, so saving is a must. In addition, I have a nontraditional body type, meaning I can’t just pick out a dress off the rack. (It’s getting here in January! Bated breath!)

    I recommend picking a meaningful date to the two of you. It doesn’t have to be your anniversary, but a meaningful date seemed to make it easier to buckle down and decide. And no matter when it ends up being, it’s always the right time of you’re ready to get married!

  • http://www.yourbestweddingsupplies.com Sharon Ferris

    Here is a fun wedding idea that you might consider. If you don’t want to spend a huge amount on a wedding, but you do want to celebrate with your friends and family, here is a possibility.

    My son had a friend who was going to be thirty years old. He had been going out with the same girl since high school and they had been living together all through university and for a few years after university. They weren’t even engaged but everyone knew they would be married someday, however, the young man was working on his PhD and they did not have a lot of extra funds.

    The fellow’s birthday was at the end of January, so the girl phoned, emailed and invited all of their friends and family to a surprise Birthday Party for him. Everyone was told to appear at the Golf and Country Club at 7:30 pm in the evening and that they would arrive around 8 p.m. and to keep it a secret.

    My son and his girlfriend were at my place for dinner and then they left to go to the “Surprise Birthday Party”. At 9:30 pm my son called me, very excited and said, “Mom, you are not going to believe this! It was not a surprise birthday party for Jamie, it was a Surprise Wedding for all of the guests!” No one had suspected a thing.

    What a wonderful idea. The couple had everything arranged without anyone being aware. Even the parents were not informed until the week before; the only reason they were informed was because the minister insisted on it. A very good friend of the couple, who catered for the Golf and Country Club made all the food and facility arrangements and did not tell anyone, not even his girlfriend. One aunt and uncle from 300 miles out of town were told so they would be there.

    Most people arrived at 7:30 pm as instructed and at 8 pm the couple arrived. Everyone ran to the door to yell, “Happy Birthday. Surprise.”, but as my son’s girlfriend said later, it took a few moments for the guests to realize that the girl had on a Wedding Gown and a white fur jacket over it. On first impression my son’s girlfriend said she thought, “Oh, she is a little overdressed for a Birthday Party.” Then it dawned on her that she was wearing a Wedding Gown. The couple and attendants were all dressed in wedding attire.

    The ceremony was performed by a minister with all the astonished guests and family present. The ceremony was followed by a free bar and lovely appetizers. It was magical for everyone and the guests will never forget that wedding. It wasn’t fancy, but it sure was memorable. The couple said that they also did it because they didn’t want their guests spending money on gifts. However, there was a collection arranged after the fact and the guests bought the living room sofa set that the couple wanted.

    This may not suit everyone’s image of a dream wedding, but it certainly is fun, memorable and a great way to save money.

  • Denzi

    My husband went to a Catholic university, and so we have a high proportion of friends who didn’t live together or have sex before marriage. One couple in particular got married during (I think) his senior year of college, while she was in her first year of med school. Then she went back to Michigan and he moved to LA with the Air Force. He is an Air Force researcher, and she is about to finish med school, and they have lived together in four month chunks since their wedding, and have spent lots of weekends back and forth. And I think their marriage has flourished because they knew that they were going to duck-wrangle together and because they didn’t wait for their career stars to align. (Spoilers: it took four years of marriage for them to be living in the same state. And then he was deployed.) For them, marriage had that tangible/legal/spiritual “WE ARE STICKING THIS OUT TOGETHER DAMNIT” component that has helped them to each go for their dreams and support each other.

  • Seren

    We’re making mead (honey wine) for our wedding, and good mead takes about a year to mature. So it followed that we would need to set a date approximately a year after we got engaged and started the mead. We got engaged on our 3 year anniversary in June, and the next weekend made the mead. (Do you have any idea how much honey 15lbs of honey is? 3 giant jars!)
    It took us the better part of 2 months to finalize our date. Everyone kept asking “have you set a date?” and we’d say “May or June of next year.” We knew that we wanted outdoors, not too hot yet, and lots of flowers in bloom. The Rose Garden in our city doesn’t start blooming until mid-June, so that was our earliest date. It blooms until October, but our best friends are getting married in September, and we’re in their wedding, so that was out. We set one date, and then my brothers were in uproar because it was the day after and two days before my brothers’ birthdays. The reception venue didn’t have that day open, and we moved it a week later, still on a Saturday in June, and now even better, it’s the day after Solstice! Yay Midsummer weddings!

    • Caroline

      We wanted homemade mead for our wedding. Thinking along the year to age lines, we made it two years ago. Well, I’ve fallen in love with making mead and made many batches since but we still haven’t decided we’re ready. We’re ready to be ready but we aren’t confident we are (ducks wise not emotions wise).

      Enjoy your meadful midsummer wedding.

      • Seren

        Thanks! And hooray for mead. We’re home brewers. Wedding mead is our 3rd batch of mead, and we have a 4th aging as well.
        Our ducks are quite wiley financially, although we’re finally living together (2.5 years of long distance) We’re crowd-sourcing our weddng, and having lots of people help us out. In our experience we started asking for help and it came pouring out in droves. It’s surprising and awesome (in the awe-inspiring way) that so many people want to help. Just some food for thought. Your experience may vary.

        • Caroline

          It’s not so much that our financial ducks are wily for a wedding, but tat we are still figuring out how linear we require our ducks to be wrote marriage. Are we comortable with amorphous blob ducks? How about ducks in a parallelogram? Are we comfortable with getting married while our ducks are still in 3-space, or do we require that they at least lie in a plane if not a line?
          I’m so glad that is your experience. I very much hope it will be ours.

  • Alexandra

    Picking a date is really annoying. My fiance and I tried to pick a date for two months, and had finally settled on next November, because at the time I’d planned on doing most or all of the planning myself. While looking for a venue, it took about 3 venues for me to decide we needed a wedding planner. The first thing she suggested was that we do it this year, not next year, and sent me back into a panic of “Oh no, what date should I pick??”

    Also, seriously, what is with the “Are you pregnant?” reaction? I’d been with my fiance for 5 years when we got engaged, been common law for 2 years, and had been living with him as a roommate for 7 years when we announced we were getting married. And someone still asked if I was pregnant.

    • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

      Want to hear something worse? When we got married everybody thought it was because I was pregnant. When after 5 months there still wasn’t any bump…people thought I had miscarried! How about believing me when I said I was not pregnant and that I would have married only because of it even if I had been?!

      • Alexandra

        Okay, that is way worse. Maybe this “year and a half” engagement length that gets thrown around is simply to try and prove to people that you’re not actually pregnant.

      • http://thecelebrationgirl.com Marcela

        Sorry, I meant to say “wouldn’t “

  • http://www.addiopolis.org Addy

    We went through a process to figure it out. We didn’t really think about it right away I don’t think. It was a Christmas proposal. We probably talked about it through January and into February. We knew we’d want to do it at the beginning of summer, as he teaches, and then we’d have the summer to play. So we had to decide between the coming summer (2012) or the next (2013). We knew we didn’t want, or need, to do big and fancy. We are thinking about trying to have a child, and at our ages, late thirties and early forties, the sooner the better seemed like a good plan. Plus, once we decided we wanted to marry there didn’t seem like any reason to wait. So, early summer 2012 it was. Then comes the matter of the date. We had a friend visiting in February, maybe March, who, when we outlined our general range of dates we were choosing from (late may through June) pointed out the solstice. That was it for us. It added a little extra meaning to what would already be a meaningful day just by virtue of being our wedding day. Really, it was a way to choose as much as anything. It was on a Wednesday, which did get a lot of questions and some people who were unable to come. Mostly we’re lucky enough to have family who don’t really interfere or insist on things being a certain way.

    So based on my experience, I suggest letting gut feelings and practicality lead the way. Are you ready? Are there any things on your schedule that dictate a good time? Are there any personal needs or interests that dictate a timeline? If timing is important to you, pick your time and make the rest work.

  • http://ksbooks.wordpress.com Keisha

    I’ve been engaged for a little over one month, and went through almost the exact same thing–”yay, finally engaged, so happy” turning into “OMG I don’t want to plan this big huge thing, I just want to be married!” So we talked to the one guest (out of 25) who would be coming from out of state, and picked the date based on her–the end result being we’re getting married in a brewery in December (6 month engagement what?!), I’m wearing a beautiful black and white polka dot dress (shh, don’t tell my grandmother it’s not white!), and it’s only very closest family and friends. After having the small, affordable wedding we want and could plan in 6 months so we could just be married already, I’ve given family and friends free reign to plan any and all parties they feel are necessary, since I figure the party planning bit won’t stress me out anymore!

  • http://theambershow.net Amber, theAmberShow

    Get married. Have sex. It is awesome, and not overrated.

    All the rest is “whatever” details from where I’m standing.

    Get married. Have sex.

    • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

      <3 <3 <3

      (On the same token…our 14 month engagement has been too long. And we're already living together and having sex. Doesn't have to be short, short but 6-8 months would have been muuuucccch nicer.)

  • Lisa

    I’m in a similar situation in which my future mother-in-law is not ready to let go of her son. She makes comments to him about how the family will be different and how she thought we’d get married in 2+ years. (It’s been 4, and we’re ready now). Your parents will always been your parents, and they will always be part of your lives. You will include them in your lives because they’re important to you. However, now is the time to start making decisions as a couple and to start standing by each other. Treat your parents with love and patience because this is a huge transition for them. They used to be on the inner circle for decision-making, but now they’re one step removed. Your parents and in-laws won’t, after all, sleep in your bed, decide career choices for you or decide if and when you’ll have children. The only way to be truly unhappy is to try to make everyone happy. Whatever decision you make, make it as a couple and stand by your decision and each other. Best of luck.

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

    My husband finished his Masters the year before we proposed and has declared himself DONE with academia. I was a year and a half into my PhD when he proposed and three years later, in the midst of committee meetings, I’m just about ready to declare myself DONE with this whole convoluted mess as well. I’d be more of a crazy ball of stress insane person than I am right now if we hadn’t gotten married smack in the middle of it all.

    How we picked a date: In my head engagements are six months long because that’s how long my parents’ was. In his head engagements are three months long because that’s how long his parents’ was. Funny how we get ideas in our heads like that. Turns out engagements are as long as they need to be.

    We were celibate until marriage. We picked our date based on these items:
    1. Marriage during the Christmas season was out because my grandma said she would not attend a wedding during Christmas, that they were too much work. And even though she’s no longer living we figured her spirit would stick to that and we wanted her spirit to feel free to attend.
    2. My apartment lease was up the end of November. So getting married before I was homeless seemed like a good idea rather than renewing the lease and dealing with breaking it if we got married in the middle of it or waiting out a whole new lease to get married.
    3. Pertinent family was traveling in October.
    4. If we got married the week of Veteran’s Day I could take a whole week off school and only miss each class once.

    So we got married in November, the middle of my fourth semester of my PhD. Squeezing it in like that was probably a bit of a crazy idea, but it worked for us.

  • Amber

    We got engaged last February a few days before Valentine’s Day. And, like others have mentioned, people asked us immediately if we’d set a date. No! We just got engaged!! I’ll be finishing grad school next June, so we knew we wanted to have our wedding sometime after that and came up with a window of July and August. We’re thinking to move to a different state after the wedding and didn’t want to move in the winter. And, my birthday is in September and I didnt want our wedding and my birthday in the same month. Might be silly, but whatever. I then found out one of my bridesmaids will be away for the entire month of July for a teacher training program. So, July was out. As we looked at venues (We visited a lot!! Most of them just not quite right…) we had August in mind. Once we finally found a venue we liked they had three weekends open, so we chose our date based on that. August 31, 2013!! I’m glad we went this route, choosing a window of dates first and then choosing an actual date based on availability at our venue, rather than choosing a date, being totally set on that, and then getting disappointed if it wasn’t available. I’m sure that works for some people, but for us the exact date didn’t really matter. Although, once we did find our venue and set a date I definitely felt a sense of relief. It felt really good to know our wedding, and beginning of our marriage, was that much more concrete and that much more of a reality. We’ve got lots to look forward to!

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

      We told someone the day after we got engaged that we were engaged. He asked if we had a date yet, and when we didn’t he told us we weren’t officially engaged. Um, what? He later apologized and said we’d caught him in a distracted moment.

      But seriously, how many people have roughly the following conversation:
      Person 1: Will you marry me?
      Person 2: Yes
      Person 1: When?
      Person 2: The second Tuesday after the fourth full moon.

  • Ashlee

    I totally understand where you’re coming from. My beau and I are getting engaged within the next year. We’ve talked about it a lot, and we’ve come a longggg way in our relationship! We’re at that *almost* ready point. What we’ve decided to do is get engaged come spring/summer (whenever he’s close to done with classes, I’ll be done in April-he’s a little bit behind.) And then we’ll be having a wedding in Aug 2014 (most likely, sometime that summer, but Aug is what we’re shooting for it just depends on how many of our friends and cousins get married that summer too! lol) BUT…we also don’t want to wait to be married any longer than we really have to (or more or less want to). So, we’re going to take a trip to Europe next summer/fall (which we’ve wanted to do forever anyway,) and then elope! Probably not legally, but just have a small ceremony for US! We’ll probably be dealing with some crap from family and friends for getting married so “young” anyway, plus we both have huge families, so we love the idea of having this small ceremony just for us and then after we move in together and start our lives…then have a wedding with our big families! We both are SO happy with this plan and just can’t wait to spend our lives together! Good luck to you both! :)

  • Sarah

    I’m doing the marriage now, wedding later thing for the purposes of immigration. In two weeks’ time (!) we’ll be doing the first round, which is going to be my fiance and I, and 12 family and friends in my Rabbi’s study, followed by a cocktail party at my parent’s house. Then, we’re having a larger wedding in May in Tel Aviv, Israel, with around 150 guests flying in from all over the globe. We chose to arrange things this way because we want to move to Canada shortly after the May wedding, so we needed to get the application rolling. I am nervous, though, that people will not look at the May wedding as something to get excited about. Infact, we are not telling many people that we are getting legally married in two weeks… just that we are signing the Ketuba, which in Judaism is like a marriage agreement, but only comprises the first half of a wedding. (The second being the chuppa). The fact that we have also signed a legal document is something we are going to keep close to our hearts, and only those present will know. We won’t be wearing wedding rings yet either. As secular as I am, I think part of this is knowing that I won’t feel truly married until I am under the chuppa. I told my fiance I’m going to start calling him my chetzi husband, with chetzi meaning “half” in Hebrew.

  • http://blindirishpirate.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

    I feel a little conflicted about this subject because there are so many components that play into everyone’s individual situations, especially when there are lots of personal opinions regarding the legal, social and spiritual aspects… and really whose business is it, in the end?

    I guess I err on the side of caution when it comes to engagements. No, of course, life will never be ready for you, no matter what you do. But, I do think that you can be ready for life. Marriage is pretty f*ing awesome, because your partner is IN IT.

    But then, I also think that marriage is hard, yo. It’s tough because, no matter about this “bone of my bone – one flesh” stuff – the both of you are still two people with two minds and two needs and two dreams that change, and the world is an effing scary place sometimes. Sometimes what needs to happen is contemplation and preparedness, considering choices and knowing what could be harmful and what could be beneficial. That’s not to say that Anonymous hasn’t done all of that. Dear God, we all know that we stew over all matters of things until they are a mushy, indistinguishable mass.

    But there are some situations in life that just may not make sense for people to get married sooner. And maybe some people can handle it… whatever. But in all actions in life, there are equal or greater consequences. And I truly believe that those consequences can be just as damaging to a couple as they can be when you are alone, or at least unmarried. Because all marriages are comprised of two people with two bodies and two brains with two dreams that change. The best part of marriage is overcoming those consequences. And sometimes leading into the marriage is agreeing as a couple that overcoming the possible damaging consequences of a sooner marriage is simply to wait just a little longer.

    I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that, and would hope that this kind of advice can be equally received on APW as the “sooner marriage” advice is. I also hope that this makes sense… haha.

  • 39bride

    I apologize if I’m duplicating (don’t have nearly enough time to read what I am sure are awesome comments above), but I wanted to encourage the letter-writer: If there are no obstacles other than your concern that you can’t finance the wedding you want, don’t let that stop you. I just got married on a 4-month engagement. I was actually holding back on engagement in part because I couldn’t fathom how we’d ever afford a wedding, much less a functioning household (he was still recovering from a year of unemployment and I was living with my mother while working slave’s wages for a nonprofit I believed in). As I laughingly said at the time, “We don’t even have a double bed!” Between the two of us, we had two double beds, a nice sofa, a broken-down table, three bookcases and half a kitchen.

    Two weeks after an absolutely amazing wedding, I’m sitting in our condo far nicer than anything we thought we’d find in our budget with a wonderful bed, a cozy and functional dining table, great kitchen shelf, gorgeous couch pillows and all our basic necessities…. and all but the bed are hand-me-downs from dear family/friends.

    As my mother said when I confessed that we’d been talking marriage but I didn’t see how even married finances were possible, much less a wedding, “Step out in faith and watch what develops.” To make a long story short, people just came out of the woodwork–for both the wedding and our needs in married life. We got married on a 4-month engagement (Asha diamond simulant ring–HE needed that sparkly thing on my finger) at a gorgeous church wedding where pretty much every person there had somehow contributed to making it happen–from food to decor to an amazing coordinator-friend. My mother magically came up with money for food/decor, his mother (on a fixed income and responsible for her two grandchildren) paid for the cake, and by cashing in his vacation time we scraped together enough for three days on a tropic-like coastal U.S. island for our honeymoon.

    We came home to about $700 in cash and gift cards from our 55+ guests. With careful spending/coupons/sales we’ve gotten almost all those nagging detail purchases that come when you move (together). We kept our registries to mostly bare-necessities because we had such specific needs, and our family and friends (both in attendance and across the country) cleared them out.

    We are still in awe of the beautiful wedding and the generosity of time, effort and money that was showered on us. Had you told me four months ago this is what our wedding and new home would be like, my reply to you would’ve been angry and unprintable.

    We could’ve waited a year+ and saved every cent for a wedding, but we didn’t live together before marriage and we were committed to that… and we would’ve been miserable alone. Marriage (and sharing lives like this) is absolutely amazing and worth every stress of the wedding, all the decades we waited to find each other, etc. If you are 100% sure you are right for each other, do not waste time trying to finance and create just ONE day; instead, grab all those days you have in front of each other–get married at a time determined by your and your families’ emotional/scheduling needs, not the budget. Set the date, already! :)