Ask Team Practical: APW and the Pre-Engaged by Alyssa Mooney I really enjoy APW, (I really do!), but I am scared that reading all these things about engagement and weddings and marriage means that when I actually get engaged, I won’t feel any different. I am not expecting some magical change to happen, but am I robbing myself of some period of discovery and joy by thinking about our wedding and our marriage now? I guess I feel like I am cheating, like this website is for some club that I am not a part of. Am I being ridiculous? Should I stop reading APW? Save it for after the proposal? ~Liz Let me first differentiate between thinking about your wedding/marriage and actually planning for your wedding/marriage. It’s a fine line but it’s there. It’s the difference between thinking that you’d like a bouquet of peonies for your wedding before you’re engaged, and researching prices and adding inspiration photos to your Pinterest. Those who are at the point of “pretty much engaged,” may want to start planning before they consider themselves “officially engaged,” but if they do so without the input of their partner all their work may go down the drain when their ideas clash. Sometimes even fully planned weddings don’t happen, and those involved can tell you how badly losing that future can hurt. So my advice to the pre-engaged is read and absorb, sure. Plan and make decisions? No. Give yourself some time. Now let’s talk about thinking about your wedding/marriage and reading APW. APW isn’t just about weddings, and that’s what keeps everyone coming back. It’s an examination of, and conversation about, what it means to be a woman within the context of women who are getting married. It’s about being in a relationship and navigating the bumps and bruises that come with loving someone. It’s talking about the things that life likes to throw at you. It’s about enjoying the joy in other women’s lives and sharing in their happiness. It’s smart, sharp, funny discussions and, occasionally, pretty pretty pictures. You already are a part of this lovely group of APWers; the membership requirements are pretty much: being able to read, having an internet connection and not being a jerk. How you take what you read and process it is up to you. According to our most recent reader survey, 16% of APW readers self-identify as pre-engaged. Our pre-engaged ladies read for a myriad of reasons. Some take the stance that forewarned is forearmed, so they may read APW to warn off any future mishaps or emotional dilemmas. Others may just like the idea of weddings in general, so reading about people getting married gives them warm and fuzzies. Some skip over the wedding grads and other assorted wedding content and go straight to the hard talks and deeper discussions. And there are those who just love the sense of community, a safer spot where trolls are soundly booted to the curb and comment guidelines are enforced. Only they can tell you why they read. (And I sincerely hope they will in the comments. I’m outing you, pre-engaged ladies, so step up and be heard!) Will APW ruin your engagement? I highly doubt it. The discovery and joy comes not from thinking about your wedding/marriage, but living it. All the thoughts and imaginings in the world will not prepare you for the actual reality, for better or for worse. Sure, you might be a little wiser going into it, but you still have to live it, and living it is a different beast. If you didn’t read APW, would you still think about your wedding and your marriage? Let me answer that for you: Yes, yes you would. It’s inevitable. If you’re in love and know that marriage is a cultural tradition that you want to choose, you’re going to think about it. And you should think about it. We think about what we want out of a career when we’re still in college. We think about how we want to parent before we’re ready to get pregnant. We think about how we’d redecorate our fantasy kitchen before we have a down payment to buy a house. So cut yourself some slack. You didn’t say it, but I’m wondering if maybe some of this concern is coming from the thought that you’re not supposed to think about your wedding or being married until it is a definite event. You think you might jinx it, or that thoughts about what your wedding dress might look like will turn you into the type of bride they make reality shows about. And to that I say this: Horsesh*t. You are a smart capable woman, and even though I cautioned you against planning before you consider yourself engaged, you are grown and you know what you can handle and cannot. Read what you want to; think what you want to; form your opinions as you see fit and voice them when you deem appropriate. And know that you can change your mind. That’s what being part of Team Practical means. Welcome to the club. ****** Alright, Team Practical. Those of you engaged and married were in Liz’s place at one time. How’d you handle it? Pre-engaged’s, we know you’re out there, this is your time to speak up! How much time do you spend on APW or thinking about your wedding? Have you done any kind of planning yet? Photo by Emily Takes Photos from the APW Flickr stream If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). We’re not kidding. It brings us joy. What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!? Alyssa Mooney Emeritus Staff Alyssa received a BA in Theatre and a minor in Gender Studies from Stephen F. Austin State University. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her adorably red-neck husband, Maggie the Wonder Dog, and sassy baby Tater.