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??
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: 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!