Does Being Engaged Ever Make You Feel Like Crap?


"I had no idea what kind of transition I would soon find myself in."

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

woman holding engaged woman's hand

Getting engaged is wild. Or more specifically, it’s a wild card, because what you think you’re going to feel and what you actually feel are not always the same thing. Moments after I got engaged I went from top of the world to a full-on ugly crying anxiety meltdown, right there on the ground, with a ring on my finger.

We can talk about getting married as much as we want, but the truth is that when the actual event is set into motion, there’s no way to predict how we’ll feel. And for some people, getting engaged can feel like a massive, unexpected identity shift… and not necessarily a wanted one. So when we received this email from a reader, we thought it was worth talking about:

When we got engaged, my partner and I were willingly stepping into the next phase of our life together. I knew that an engagement wouldn’t necessarily be all rainbows and butterflies, but I had no idea what kind of transition I would soon find myself in.

So, as always, I began to do my research. I read up on wedding planning, but also delved into the emotional side of engagement and marriage. The common thread I saw throughout my research was that any and all feelings are valid during this transition. Some people have dreamy engagements, and some have tumultuous, agonizing engagements. The books stressed the importance of doing the “emotional work” instead of fighting it off.

I kept reading things about death and loss, resentment and identity, and I thought, “Is this really normal and healthy, or are a lot of women fooling themselves into thinking it is?”

What if I don’t like what I become—what if I don’t recognize myself after I’m married? How can I release the illusions and adolescent fantasies I once had about who I would marry and why, and fully embrace this fun, joyful person I love?

Did you struggle with unexpected engagement anxiety? Have any of you felt blindsided by an IDENTITY shift you didn’t want or expect? What has that shift felt like, and does it feel healthy to you?

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • emilyg25

    Yes! When I was engaged, I picked up the book “The Conscious Bride.” It’s based on the idea that a wedding is a rite of passage and thus involves a transformation of identity—separation, a liminal phase, and incorporation of the new identity. All of that is BIG. And it can be messy. It’s a good read.

    • Lisa

      That book was very helpful to me as well while I was engaged. It made me realize that I wasn’t alone in a lot of my feelings (primarily ones that centered around the anxiety over getting married and the shift in identity) and gave me the tools to articulate them better.

    • OliveMC

      Ahhhh would it be helpful to a newlywed still processing family issues related to her wedding? I might need to check that out.

  • Anny Moose

    Relationships often change during the engagement period. It certainly did for me, in both positive and negative ways.

    We collectively always talk about how for [most] marriages, the spouse is your first priority…and that’s generally very culturally accepted in the United States. But at the same time, I think we often underestimate how much the engagement is the transitional period to the rite of passage in which we publicly make that statement, in front of all of our friends and family. It’s why we even *need* the cliche-in-the-US phrase, “I’m not losing a [son/daughter/brother/sister], I’m gaining a [daughter/son/sister/brother].” If that feeling of loss wasn’t there in some way, it would be a given.

    That identity shift to “I am wife [before I am daughter or best friend or sister]” can be a real mind-fuck in some ways, because it’s the only shift like that until/unless you have children. And I think it can be a mind-fuck even if you plan on having a modern marriage where WIFE isn’t the identity of all identities or if you’ve been prioritizing your partner for years or if you don’t foresee any change in how you operate in your relationships. The public statement and legal joining makes it real for others (and, if you’re like me, even yourself to an extent) in ways that you can’t always predict. It can create gravitas for your marriage, but also distance in your other relationships, even if you don’t expect or really want it to.

    For me, these shifts were very subtle because we do prioritize our communities, both family and friends, and I think that’s the most common. But I’d be lying if I said those shifts didn’t exist at all.

    • Lizzie

      “it can be a mind-fuck even if you plan on having a modern marriage where WIFE isn’t the identity of all identities” – YES. Really hard to reconcile, especially when you have a narrow view of what a wife traditionally is (and feel utterly allergic and penned in by it). Total mind-fuck!

    • Jess

      This is a really interesting perspective, because I never really felt right with that cliche!

      Due to some extenuating not-so-great family relationships, I haven’t defined myself as someone’s daughter probably ever (although when I was a kid/teen I will own prioritizing everyone else’s happiness above my own), and I have always felt really uncomfortable with the idea of identity through relationship with others.

      When instead coming from a relationship of “I am this person’s daughter and I love that, and I will miss it no longer being my primary thing,” that is a really lovely and sad thing to lose.

    • OliveMC

      Love this. I’m still a work in progress and growing into my new family with my husband, and still confused about where I stand with my original (?) family. It’s a process.

    • honeycomehome

      “But at the same time, I think we often underestimate how much the engagement is the transitional period to the rite of passage in which we publicly make that statement, in front of all of our friends and family.”

      YES to this. For me, that’s the difference between “pre-engagement” and getting engaged. Pre-engagement is when the two of you know you want to get married, and engagement is when it becomes a public thing. There can be a long time between those two things, or sometimes they happen simultaneously, but I do think they are separate in a bigger way than a lot of people realize.

    • LP

      YES. My biggest mind-fuck came when I realized that I would never go on a vacation with just my family of origin again. Guys, I love my family of origin. And so does my fiancé. But we are really fucking weird. Like really really weird. We have so many jokes that are 10+ years old that I don’t care how often you’re with us, you are never going to understand them. And as the first of three kids in my family to get married, sometimes I feel SUPER GUILTY for “ruining” that. I never expected to not want to change my name, but I really struggled with it for a long time because it was another piece of my family that I had to give up (just because I’m the woman, wtf?) and it made me so sad. And in some ways, as wonderful and awesome as he is, I don’t think my fiancé gets that. I don’t think he understands the loss of identity that occurs. My boss has a tendency to call people “Miss Lastname” or “Mister Lastname” occasionally and it hit me one day that that wouldn’t be my name much longer. It was weird. I hated it. Ugh.

      • northstar599

        I’m coping with that by moving my last name to my middle name, and happily taking FH’s name. :)

      • LucyPirates

        This so much – my fiancee loves his family but he just doesn’t get how close I am to mine. Things that are an obvious line and priority for him, have been much harder for me to come to terms with e.g. Family holidays, Christmas (I feel engagement is ‘DESTROYING’ Christmas), not giving my parents & sister priority – although they do get more quality time because I appreciate them even more.
        Le sigh, it’s all good things to come, it’s just a continuing process of having to change how I think and automatically assume things will be done the way it always has been.

        And the last name is changing my self identity and the link with the fam, although at least now after many discussions he understands that it is my choice, and I will do whatever the hell I want to about that!

      • Saxyrunner

        I’m also the oldest of three kids, so your comment resonated with me. My family has a host of inside jokes that basically go back to when us kids started speaking, and a few that my parents let us in on that began when they were in high school. My fiance has a lot of catching up on jokes to do, but he’ll be a part of it as we make new ones. The Seinfeld and Friends references will probably never be his favorites, but we’ll come up with others as time goes on.

        • RH

          Oh my gosh, my fiancé has never watched Friends and it is my brother’s and my LANGUAGE. It is so weird when we’re all together! He is completely cut out of parts of conversations.

      • Almostmiller

        Yes, yes, a million times yes. I’m a year out and don’t see it as “OMG YAY” but “omg this is my last year to be with my family.” I know it’s selfish but it’s a legitimate feeling of loss. Thanks for helping me feel like I’m not alone!

      • Jessica Lyman

        …”I realized I would never go on a vacation with just my family of origin again…”…why not? I read through some of your comments and your concerns feel artificially imposed, there is nothing in a marriage that says you must never be apart again. Go on vacation with your family on your own – he can go visit his on his own at the same time, or hang with his crew – keep your family jokes – but make new ones with your husband. If you are concerned about changing your name, consider retaining your maiden name as a middle name or hyphenating your last name. I think you need some consider some perspective in that you don’t wake up married with your whole life changed, its an evolution. Your origin family is not going anywhere – you are making your family larger. Getting married does not require you to give up your individual self to be “Mrs. His Last Name” – its not 1610 anymore – you can continue to define yourself as a wife, daughter, and friend all at the same time just be aware that each day those titles may switch priorities.

    • Danielle Nelson

      Holy crap I needed to read this today. My partner and I are recently engaged, and I’ve been privately struggling with the shift to fiancée and eventually wife. I haven’t talked with him about it for various reasons, but among them is that I’m worried this will make him think I’m scared of marrying him (I’m not–I’m totally stoked). “Wife” just seems like such an all-encompassing identity, at least from the societal side. I’m struggling not to shout from the rooftops that I am also a scientist, and an artist, and a future doctor (Dr and Mr for the win!). It feels like all of that is getting swallowed up, not by my partner, who respects all of these facets of my identity, but by everyone else: friends, parents, family…

      Anyway. I guess it’s nice to know that the identity shift is an actual thing, and not just something I’m making up in my overly anxious brain.

  • sofar

    I was a wreck after getting engaged. We actually got engaged at the beginning of a two-week vacation, and I was dreading coming home to all the stress.

    People suddenly treat you differently when you’re an engaged woman (but, by and large, treat the engaged man no differently than before). It’s frustrating when every social gathering involves people peppering you with questions about things you don’t care about (The cake! The flowers! Your dress!). Nobody asks you about your career, books you’re reading, and your vacation any more. It’s all wedding, all the time.

    It was also very hard for me to deal with unsolicited wedding advice without being a smartass.

    It was EXTREMELY hard to suddenly have my mother and future MIL (both of which I keep at an emotional arm’s length) to suddenly start texting/emailing me/calling me constantly about wedding stuff.

    My wedding is two months away, and I’ve gotten used to telling people to eff off (politely, of course!). But those first few months were so hard. Not one bit of me was happy about being engaged. It’s hard to be miserable about something that everyone assumes you’re over the moon about.

    • Lizzie

      Right?? Especially when the answer to things is “I don’t know yet” – like can we please talk about ANYTHING ELSE. I ended up having to work on being more polite in my deferrals because I was so frustrated by the questions I would snap rudely at (coworker / fiance’s aunt / polite person trying to make small talk / etc). Ugh. Good luck on the final two months – you’re almost there!!

      • Jess

        I said some version of, “Oh, we haven’t really made a decision about that yet. [Abrupt change of subject here]…” at least twice a week for the first few months of engagement. People quickly realized that I wasn’t going to suddenly become a pretty-princess-in-waiting because I was getting married.

        • Lizzie

          Same here – and the eventual benefit, I discovered, was that when we finally told our parents we were starting to plan, they were SO RELIEVED and as a result, the actual force of their wedding planning juju was much mellower. Like HEY MIL, push back too hard on us and we’ll go back to stalling for another year. How does that sound? Not fun? Glad we can all agree that favors aren’t a requirement. Very lowkey extortionary but hey, it worked!

      • Totch

        My snark for “I don’t know” has become yes/no answers. “What about the cake???” “Yep, we’ll have one.”

        (Only used on people who are reaaaally bugging me/who should know better)

        • Lizzie

          HA. <3 <3 <3 <3 that.

      • JenC

        We had been engaged four weeks when we were asked where the wedding was, when it was being held and if we had booked the photographer yet? Four weeks. I said we were waiting until after Christmas (we got engaged in November) and the response was you need to book something, you can’t just delay, you’ll always be able to find excuses. I just kept saying we will book something but we don’t need to know everything right now but they were insistent that we did. ‘I don’t know yet’ really worried them.

    • JenC

      During our engagement I got a new job, I finished my masters, my husband passed two professional exams and got a promotion. Literally nobody cared about these because we were getting married and that’s all that counts and our lives are fulfilled now. It sucked and now after the wedding people are surprised that I’m looking for a job again because nobody has been listening to me when I’ve said I’m not fulfilled at work!

    • Diana

      I can’t love this or agree with you more. We’re getting married in less than a month and have never argued more in our relationship. My future MIL (while I know she means well) is CONSTANTLY texting me- about my fiance’s suit, about my old/new/borrowed/blue (which I could care SO much less about…she suggested I wear a blue garter belt…I don’t even want to wear a garter belt…), about the cake, about money etc etc. it’s ruining any possible excitement I could have about getting married. It’s always amazing to me how easily people can take something like a friend/relative getting married and twist it (be it intentionally or not) to be more about THEM and what THEY want. The blindness is mindblowing.

      Being engaged has left me feeling nothing but miserable and all I ever tell anyone is that I just want to get it done and over with.

      • sofar

        Oh god YES. The arguments. We had a nasty one a couple days ago. We never really fought before getting engaged.

        And ditto on the old, new, borrowed, blue thing. My mom is having panic attacks because I haven’t figured out these “important” details yet. Meanwhile, I’m over here trying to work on the *actually important* stuff like getting an accurate guest count and making sure everyone’s going to get fed.

        If I ever have kids and they get engaged, I’m going to be like, “Hey, I had my wedding. Here’s some money. Plan what you want, ask me for help if you need it, otherwise I’m just going to plan to show up and have fun!” The idea that I’d be even suggesting that the bride wear a garter, let alone dictating its color is just so foreign to me.

  • Leela

    Oh my yes. I was incredibly stressed out by all of the gendered questions that I was hearing all the time — questions that my fiancé never got. We were non-ring secretly engaged for a month before we started telling people. It was a really fun time for us, because being engaged is a pretty great secret to share with each other.
    Once I started wearing my ring I got lots of attention, which made me anxious. I’m normally pretty anxious, but I was SO much more anxious than I ever expected. My closest friends knew that my partner and I had worked through an infidelity issue. There was some pushback from a friend when we got engaged because she thought I should have dumped him.

    I got a few digs from coworkers about my ring. It is modest, it was my grandmother’s, and it’s perfect. I have a deep-seated poverty mentality based on the way I grew up, and wearing something on my finger that felt so expensive felt, for lack of a better word, dangerous (literally and emotionally). The little wisecracks were really hard to deal with. So yeah. Things were complicated. I spent a few solid weeks wishing we could have kept our engagement secret forever. But in the end it all worked out.

    • sofar

      The ring-shamers are just THE WORST. My fiance’s parents had a little panic attack about my ring being too small. In their social/cultural circle, rings are not supposed to be dainty — and a small ring means the man is having “financial troubles.” They asked us to tell all their relatives/friends that it was a “proposal” ring and that a bigger ring was coming. We refused to do so. It got ugly. They eventually apologized and admitted they were out of line.

      • Leela

        Good for you. Ring shaming makes no sense. It’s not like they are questioning your aesthetics. They are questioning the amount of money that you and your partner spent on your ring, which, at it’s heart, is a bizarre thing to question.

        You wouldn’t walk into someone’s living room and say “oh, that love seat is cute, but don’t you want a giant sectional sofa with recliners and footrests? So everyone who comes over will know exactly how much your husband loves you?”

        • sammylou77

          HAHA. This sofa metaphor cracks me up. So true.

    • Lizzie

      Yes yes yes to all of this!! I just replied below and, basically, ditto. I’m glad we are both on the other side. : )

    • clarkesara

      Oh man we were non-ring because we got engaged before the rings had been chosen or ordered, and I felt way more pressure and weirdness about this than I expected to. I had no idea so many people connected a relationship/life stage transition with a piece of jewelry so strongly.

      • JenC

        My ring had to be resized. It’s like people couldn’t believe I’d said yes even though I had a ring but it was not on my finger. Was I just elaborating? Was a ‘real’ proposal coming later?

  • Lizzie

    Oh, god. I hated being engaged. HATED IT. But the thing is, I didn’t realize that that was okay – or allow myself to really accept that – for a looooong time. Once I did, I felt myself coming back to myself and I was able to be fully present in the process.

    I was engaged for like 18 months, but didn’t plan anything for the first 14, so that part was just pretty much a bucketload of emotional processing. I had a great therapist at the time and we talked a lot about it, but I do think I was spinning my wheels to a certain extent. I was waiting to feel AMAZING about being engaged and wedding planning, and I never did. I freaked out not right when it happened, but the next day, immediately after telling our family. I really spun out hard for a while (like, a year). I thought that meant I wasn’t ready to be engaged, even though I’d been with my husband for 5 years and had fully and whole-heartedly felt READY right up until we went public with it.

    I hated absolutely everything about being engaged. I hated the expectations I felt, both explicit and implicit, from everyone around me. I hated wearing a ring that told strangers my relationship status. (I would move it from my hand to a necklace to a drawer at home depending on my feelings that day.) I hated the gendered BULLSH*T that I found myself suddenly drowning in. I hated – HATED – the loss of privacy in my relationship and the loss of autonomy I felt as a “bride”. I felt a sudden and profound loss of self that shook me to my core. I really can’t express how deeply I hated it.

    The postscript of how I got through it is: My now-husband finally gently suggested that, after a year+ of waiting for me to feel excited about wedding planning, we just look at a venue or two, see how we feel, and go from there. (Bless him.) Once I got swept into the logistics of planning, I was able to move forward – not by stuffing my feelings away, but by finally taking a leap of faith and trusting my 5-years-plus normal self, who adored my husband and felt great about our life together. I also felt buoyed by the fact that the one day that we were engaged but no one knew yet? BEST DAY EVER. It had nothing to do with my husband, it was all about me and my relationship to the greater world.

    It actually all clicked into place when I was at dinner with a married friend, and I said “ugh, I kind of hate being engaged?” and she was like “oh god it’s the worst” and I burst into tears and said “IT’S THE WORST I HATE IT SO MUCH!!!” As soon as I validated those feelings out loud, I felt like myself again. I did end up finding some joy in the teamwork of planning, but as for my own personal journey, UNSUBSCRIBE. Hated it all. But: I got through it and I loved my wedding and I love my husband. Overall, win.

    • Lizzie

      (Just replying to formally acknowledge the essay length of this comment. Turns out I have… *feelings* about engagement anxiety, hah.)

    • sofar

      Snaps to you! Your post is beautiful.

      Also, I am relieved that I’m not the only one who hated wearing the engagement ring at first. I’m still not super consistent about wearing it (I honestly forget sometimes), and the amount of ragging I’ve gotten about it (like people assuming if I have cold feet) is insufferable.

      • Lizzie

        I’m relieved to hear the same! : ) Yeah, sometimes it was like dunno, it was kind of mocking me as I looked at it yesterday so I took it off and by the way f**k the patriarchy (n.b. not the actual explanation given to everyone asking, hah). Sometimes it was honestly just that I took it off to do the dishes the night before and forgot to put it back on. I really struggled with it, and hated how public it was either way! If it’s on, then everyone knows I’m a BRIDE-TO-BE. If it’s off, then everyone asks where it is. Oh god, the worst.

        Strangely (or not!), I looooooooooooooooooove wearing my wedding band. I love that my husband has one too. I love that it signifies my commitment to my partner, not a transitory bridal state. Love it so much!

      • Micki

        Add another reason to my list of “why I didn’t want/get an engagement ring.” I can totally understand why someone would want one, and I’m sure people have had wonderful experiences with them, but, for me, it was nice to be able to tell people I was engaged on my own terms. And see the looks of surprise on their faces! >:)

    • Keeks

      We didn’t tell anyone about our engagement for a week and it was AMAZING! It was really important to process that emotional moment, just the two of us.

      • Lizzie

        YES! What an awesome thing to do. I think that would have saved me a lot of agita. So glad to hear you got that special time, and what an excellent piece of advice for future engaged people!

      • lottie

        Not the same, but when I got a job offer this winter, I didn’t tell anyone for about a week, and it was awesome. It felt really good to have the time to think about what I wanted (professionally) before needing to answer questions from other people. I’ve never really had that experience of wanting to keep something a secret because it gave me the freedom to think/reflect without others, but I’m pretty into it now.

    • Scalliwag

      I got married in September so this is my first ‘wedding season’ on the other side after 18 month engagement. We write in all shower/wedding cards something about how being married is way better than being engaged. I hope that even one couple gets that level of validation you mention because I feel this so much.

      • Lizzie

        Yes!!! I’m just a few weeks into marriage and it’s already SO MUCH BETTER. And not because the wedding-related to-dos and detritus have disappeared – we are still up to our ears in registry shipments and returns, thank you notes, etc – but because the emotional effort of being a husband/wife is SO much friendlier and easier (and more private!) than being a fiance/e. I’m itching for a friend to get engaged so I can text them this sentiment on the reg!

  • clarkesara

    One thing I did not at all anticipate was how, as an engaged woman, I somewhat become public property. People have nosy questions. and bizarre expectations. People think this life transition is a HUGE DEAL, even people who are not really wedding-ish or prone to big social gestures. Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was how silenced I would feel, or how even some of my best friends would get super weird if I expressed ambivalence about the social role of Bride-To-Be.

    I stupidly thought I could bypass all of this simply by not “being a bridezilla”, or by being chill and unassuming about the wedding. When honestly it feels pretty “damned if you do/damned if you don’t” and also like being relaxed, unconventional, or creative about things makes it worse. Silly me…

    • Lizzie

      I CANNOT EVEN WITH THE PUBLIC PROPERTY THING. It was so sinister and unexpected. It took me many months to even be able to identify it, and months more to fully round out and articulate my rage about it – which, turns out, goes ril deep. I can’t wait to have a friend get engaged so I can be, like, 1000% open and eager to talk about all the sinister dark shit. Ya know, if they want. Or we can do seating charts and flower arrangements, hah.

    • Unhip in Brooklyn

      I really identify with your “public property” comment. One of the most unexpected feelings that has come up during engagement is frustration about *constantly* being asked about wedding planning. People haven’t gone overboard with dismissing my vision or offering terrible opinions, thank goodness. But the volume of commentary sometimes overwhelms me. Once I was relating to my fiance how a janitor at work was giving me suggestions for catering. He rolled his eyes at me and asked why in the world a random coworker I barely know is telling me about weddings. I was like, “Uh, I’m a girl, I get asked about this ALL THE TIME.” He flat out shrugged and was like, “No, I think you’re exaggerating.” I responded along the lines of “FFFFUUUUUUUUUU” and kept track for the next week. Five out of seven days I was asked about planning, and I think in total it was something like 15-16 people.

      He was like, “Okay, I get it. I think only a few people ask me on any given week.”

      So it may not be a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but I feel you. And sometimes you can’t even come back with zingers because people are just trying to be nice! So much of being a bride-to-be is managing other people’s expectations. Blergh.

    • LP

      Yes with the public property!!!! I have people asking me how the wedding plans are going DAILY. Yes we still need to figure out cake and flowers just like yesterday. I have people when I mention my fiancé say “why didn’t I know?!?$?!?” Ummm because I work with you once a month at most.

      My fiancé never gets this. Lucky son of a bitch.

      • toomanybooks

        Yeah, I have had coworkers asking me about it, not a ton but every once in a while, but I think they get discouraged when I’m like “ummm nothing much has happened since last time you asked. I got a belt?”

        • Micki

          This!! People have asked me about wedding planning a lot (though I don’t actually mind that much, probably because 1) I’m a bit socially awkward and I figure people just might be trying to make conversation, 2) I know like 4 other people who are also engaged, so it’s a bonding experience, and 3) I secretly enjoy talking about myself when people seem interested?? #sorrynotsorry).

          But honestly. Most of the time my answer is “uhhhh not much has changed really — we booked everyone and now we’re just waiting!”

  • Jessica

    My mom literally called me a bridezilla within 48 hours of finding out I was engaged.

    I once went to a party where I referred to my fiance as my “boyfriend” and got a little teased, then turned around to talk to someone else, referred to him as my fiance, and was told “that came out of you really smooth, what’s the deal?”

    I was told by my dad that I was the chillest bride he’d ever seen.

    My now-husband and I got our first taste of financial planning and flexibility when plans would change, but the communication about how that changed finances and budgets didn’t happen.

    It all kind of…sucked. It was exciting, but it also sucked.

    • clarkesara

      I’m still terrible about calling my fiance “fiance” instead of boyfriend in idle conversation when he’s not there, and we’ve been engaged for 3 months now.

      • Jessica

        It’s a temporary term, there is only so long you’ll call him that.

      • JenC

        We were engaged for 16 months. I never once called him fiance. It was just too temporary. He was always partner. Sometimes I still find myself referring to him as my partner.

      • lilmissneo

        Don’t feel terrible! I’ve been engaged for over a year, now as I still slip up and refer to my FH as my boyfriend, all the time. I figure if someone is going to critique me on clearing up that distinction, they have too much time on their hands. If it helps, I’ve also referred to him as my husband a handful of times, too. lol

      • Carolyn S

        I hated the word fiance.

        • Elizabeth

          I saw husband-elect on here and now it’s my new favorite term for forever.

    • saminrva

      Ack, the term “bridezilla” definitely needs to die. One of the toughest (emotional) things I’ve dealt with while being engaged is that it feels like I’m supposed to be cool/laid back/ok with everything wedding-related lest I risk being labeled. Suddenly everyone’s watching you very closely to see if you’re going to be *that* kind of bride.

      • Jessica

        The mixed messages about what kind of bride I was supposed to be was overwhelming. I needed to have my perfect day, but not be too controlling about it. I needed to be the center of attention, while giving loved ones a chance to be in the limelight. I needed to have everything completely within my vision about it all, but I had to relinquish the vision in order to be inclusionary and flexible.

        And that’s just the planning, not the extra body issues (that APW has covered extensively) that were also present for me, but not my husband.

        • Lizzie

          Seeing the mixed messages all laid out like that makes me realize anew how INSANE it all is. Insanity!!

        • JenC

          You need to be completely chill but also still get your dream wedding and somehow involve your partner and give them their dream wedding. Your partners dream wedding would never clash with your dream wedding because otherwise it’s not meant to be.

          You can’t for one second just say ‘whoa this is big and scary’ without having doubts and you shouldn’t be getting married.

        • Jessica

          Also adding, people saying it was “The Most Important Day of My Life” felt like shit, too. It was a great day, but it was just one of many great days I had. I also really liked my graduation, which I felt was as important. I think my friends getting married is important. I think the day we have kids will be The Most Important. The day I choose to leave my job or start my own company will be The Most Important. It’s a lot of pressure to put on one day when I’m 25 years old.

          • OliveMC

            I’m not gonna say I didn’t enjoy my wedding day, but it was not the best day of my life. I was calm and enjoyed it, but the strict schedule was annoying, even at the reception! Cut the cake here, dance here, make sure you say hello to everyone…I was a little upset that I didn’t get to eat more of the delicious meal we chose and just chill.

          • SLG

            Every time someone told me they hoped my wedding day would be the best day of my life, I replied (in a friendly tone), “I hope not!?!?!!”

          • JenC

            I hate to think that at 26 I’ve had the best day of my life. It was a great day. I had so much fun but it wasn’t that much fun that it warrants being down hill from here on out.

        • Lisa

          Oof, the body issues. I was relatively chill about what my body would look like for the wedding. (I wasn’t my tiniest, but I was fine with how I looked.) One day though I got an e-mail from The Kn*t with coupons for Botox and laser hair removal in preparation for the big day. Nothing says “he loves you just the way you are” like a not-so-gentle suggestion to surgically alter your body.

          • Lindsey

            Yikes! I gained 50 lbs in the past year and was diagnosed with PCOS and insulin resistance. We’re having a short engagement and I’ve been coming to terms about being a fat bride. The pressure to be nothing short of perfection is absurd.

        • OliveMC

          Body issues: My mom obsessed that my dress was too tight for months, while literally everyone else (friends, salespeople, the tailor) complimented me on how well it fit. Add that to complicated mother-daughter relationship and I had to seriously sit down and convince myself she wasn’t trying to sabatoge my wedding dress.

      • sofar

        Exactly! Event-planning is hard. Making sure everyone has enough food and drink and that things run smoothly is hard! I have had so many people give me advice to “relax” and remember “it’s really not all that important.” The assumption is that I’m freaking out over “silly” things, when in fact, I’m just trying to make sure there’s a rain location so that everyone doesn’t get wet. And that we have enough food.

    • JenC

      My cousin was a flower girl and theere ing to be a brat. I told my mum I wasn’t going to put up with it. My mum told me I’d not been a bridezilla throughout the engagement and I shouldn’t loose it at the last minute and to get myself in check. I tried to argue that I wouldn’t put up with her bratty behaviour regardless but no I was still a bridezilla.

      • anon

        Oh my goodness, my mother called me a bridezilla several days before our wedding because she was picking up second hand blankets from a thrift store for elderly guests (outdoor wedding with unexpectedly cool weather), and I asked her to look for browns, beiges, whites, etc. rather than a mishmash of random, clashing colours. First of all, I stand by that as a perfectly reasonable request that was made in a reasonable manner. Secondly, I cannot abide the term bridezilla used FOR ANY REASON because it is sexist AF. I was not impressed.

    • Sosuli

      Argh yeah my FMIL keeps saying “you’re such a calm and easy bride”… she means it as a compliment, but blerggghhh. Why do people just assume brides will be difficult? She also doesn’t comment on her son being a “calm groom”.

  • Her Lindsayship

    I just got engaged on May 3rd! (YAY! went out of town to visit family immediately after so didn’t get a chance to tell APW yet – you may recognize me from two or three HH’s wherein I was freaking out that he might propose that weekend. Then he tricked me and pulled it on a Tuesday!) Anyway, I haven’t been in this state for long, but it doesn’t feel the way I thought it would at all. I spent about two whole days on an anxiety high, really happy to tell people but also feeling kind of sick.

    After he proposed, I felt like something was off, like somehow him giving me this ring was supposed to change me, but it hadn’t. And I didn’t want it to, but like, societal expectations are weird? I felt like Engaged Me would be a different version of me, and Engaged Us would be different too. So far we’re still the same except we throw the word fiance around like it’s confetti. And this is perfect for us.

    But the feedback is still a little weird. Some folks who I barely know have told me how excited they are to attend my wedding (nope), and one aunt actually asked if we would even have a wedding or if we’d just elope. Maybe we seem like the type to her? Overall, mostly feeling very very disgustingly happy, with a side of fresh anxiety.

    • BDubs

      CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU!!

    • AGCourtney

      Congrats!

    • Lizzie

      Eeeeeee congratulations!!

    • Totch

      Honestly though, are those acquaintances scheming or rude? Because either you’ve told me you’re excited to attend because you were born in a barn or because you think planting that seed will snag you an invite.

      Also, congrats!

      • Her Lindsayship

        I work with a lot of college students, and they’re the ones who assumed they were invited. It was sweet how genuinely excited they were to hear about my engagement, so I didn’t burst their bubbles, but I doubt it’ll much of an issue since they probably won’t even be around by the time invites are going out.

        So I’m chalking it up to naivete… I don’t think I would’ve made such an assumption when I was their age, but I do know that I was clueless about the cost of weddings! If they were more late-twenties and up, then I’d have to agree with you.

    • Kalë

      Wow! Congratulations! But sorry about the “weird”. Don’t have anything constructive just… sorry :(

    • sammylou77

      Congratulations!! When I started wearing my engagement ring, I felt a lot of weirdness because, deep down, I didn’t believe I deserved to wear something so fancy & eye-catching. Maybe that’s where some of the weirdness is coming from? Either way, it sounds like you’re rolling with it nicely.

      • Her Lindsayship

        Oh man, I hope you’ve come to believe you’re super deserving of the fancy eye-catching-ness now! I do feel some anxiety about the fact that the most expensive thing I own now lives seemingly precariously on my finger. All my other jewelry is from like Forever 21.
        Thanks for your sweet comment :)

      • Hannah Malcolm

        I completely understand. I got so anxious about the eye-catching part. I was so tempted to take it off and hide it or I wished we’d just gotten something simpler. But now I love it.

      • KTinVA

        2 years after the engagement and I still feel some weirdness, mostly when I’m working with clients (I’m a social worker). I’ve got less than a carat, but I still feel awkward and #whiteprivilege #youngprivilege-y.

    • sofar

      A million CONGRATS!

      The people who assumed they would be invited to our wedding threw me off-guard, too. It was so weird! People we saw a handful of times a year assumed they’d get an invite and started asking where our wedding was going to be so they could start planning. We even had people who WERE invited coming up to us and saying things like, “So… are you inviting Sarah? Because I was hoping I could carpool up to your wedding with her.” WTF, people.

      • toomanybooks

        Oh. People who assume they’re invited. Yeah. A guy my fiancée and I had literally stopped speaking to (bc creep) was hurt that he wasn’t asked to be in the wedding party!!!! Like, hello, you’re not even coming to the wedding!

      • Staria

        Literally 3 of the 4 people who gave us engagement gifts were people who I was not planning to invite. Two others also asked for invitations, on Facebook. The people with the gifts, ended up being people that family members asked me to invite and I’m ok with it. The ones who asked for invitations are going to have to deal, because our venue can only fit so many people.

        Struggling more with the ones who asked my mother in law if they could just come to the ceremony. I’m ok with that but she won’t give me a list. How can they be invited if I don’t have the list? I am the one organising this wedding!

      • KTinVA

        I have 50+ first cousins, not to mention all of their children, and their children’s children, etc. So there was no way I was going to invite hundreds of random relatives, but it made choosing some relatives really hard. A cousin that I was just “friends” with on Facebook asked if she could make the ringbearer’s pillow. I know her sisters and so I wanted them to be invited, but I really don’t know her. In the end, we pretty much invited whoever we wanted to, and we ended up with a guest list of 250 and an estimated $15k in rentals and food for an out-of-town affair, eek!! Each “no” is a big relief now. Wish us luck in just under two months…

        In retrospect, we didn’t need to invite everyone on our list (like my former coworker of 2+ years ago), but I figured if they’re willing to make the 6-hour drive on a holiday weekend, we can afford to give them a meal and party.

        • sofar

          Ah, yes, I too was relieved when we got a lot of “No’s.” They make that catering bill go WAAAAY down. My fiance’s parents gave us a list of 200 people they wanted to invite, and I am so relieved that just 60 of them are actually making the trip.

    • northstar599

      I had the same thing too, with guests I didn’t plan on inviting! Two of them lived outside the country (17+hour plane rides, at least), so I could see why they’d want to do some pre-planning but I haven’t spoken to them in year(s)! I almost caved (who am I to tell you not to buy that flight if you want to celebrate with us?) but I realized it would be a trade off with people who we spend a lot of our time with (coworkers, friends, etc)… we’ll see how it pans out.

    • Becky

      Congratulations!

      Unfortunately, people assuming they’ll be invited often becomes the norm. Hopefully you don’t have to deal with too many of those, but they do become easier to ignore! The worst for me has been my fiance’s cousin assuming she’s going to get a plus one for her friend, who is “really looking forward to our wedding.” Even though we, and his mother, and her mother, have told her on multiple occasions that weddings are expensive and her friend will not be invited. Facepalm.

      • Her Lindsayship

        Thank you! So far there haven’t been too many of them, but I guess it’s early… Good luck with the cousin’s friend (cousin’s friend, really?? lol).

        • Becky

          I know, so random. Fiance and I have seen the friend at a couple family parties, and apparently that was enough to warrant an invitation? Who knew.

  • Keeks

    Right after the CEO of my company heard about my engagement, she caught me in the hall and told me, “I just want you to know that my wife & I have never fought as much as we did when we were engaged and planning our wedding. It’s totally normal and it’ll all be okay.” I could have hugged her for saying that! I completely hated being engaged. For me, it felt like I was suddenly thrust into limbo, where being boyfriend-girlfriend was working well for us, and knowing that marriage was solid & right for us… but engagement is transient. There’s an end in sight, but you still have to work through the middle to get to the end.

    I think a large part of my discomfort and anxiety had to do with wedding planning. I hated being made a fuss over, I struggled with reconciling what I wanted to be as a “bride” vs. what society (i.e., my mom) says a bride should be & look like, and I fought hard to plan a wedding that reflected OUR values as a baby family. I knew once the wedding was over that the pressure would ease up, but the whole time it felt like I was just treading water. And I really do feel a million times better and more comfortable as a wife than a fiancee!

    • BDubs

      THIS. Totally fought more, and cried more than ever before or since.

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    • Lindsey

      This is such a relief that I’m not the only one!

    • Totch

      I definitely have to remind myself that while I don’t like to/want to be fussed over, getting married is worth a fuss and it’s not all about me.

      • Eenie

        Just give into the fussing now. It’s inevitable and comes completely from a place of love.

    • OliveMC

      You are spot on. When I called my mom to tell her we were engaged it ended in tears. Not the good ones. I felt like our engagement brought me closer to my husband, since all the fighting was with certain members of my family. Luckily things have smoothed out a lot after the wedding. So. Glad. It’s. Over.

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    • Lmba

      This is very interesting because I felt that way about dating! Once we got engaged I instantly felt relieved and like this major uncertainty was resolved. Each person has a unique way of understanding and processing each relationship stage (and I would argue that each “stage” as it looks to the outside – dating, engage, married, etc. – can actually be a totally *different* stage for different couples). It’s so valuable to share stories and know that different experiences are valid!

    • gdreizen

      thank you. thank you. thank you.

  • BDubs

    WOOF! This is a hot-button topic, I see!
    My identity crisis didn’t hit me until after the honeymoon.
    The hardest part that I remember about being engaged for 11 months was the constant sense of being about to join the club, but just not quite qualifying yet…. with my in-laws especially. It was somehow worse than being a girlfriend, like they could just dismiss me before it was permanent because I might have moved on by next Christmas, so everybody was polite and care-free. Then, BAM, I was about to become “one of us, one of us”….

    I’ve always been closer to my dad, and knowing that I was marrying was confusing because HE was always the important man in my life, and we shared our heritage and last name. I felt peculiarly guilty towards my family of origin, like I was betraying them or something. (Kooky, I know). My fiancé and I agreed we’d both use his last name and I was fine with that, but it still felt secretly like I wanted no part of my family. I wasn’t particularly attached to my original last name except for my connection with my dad, and that I was an only daughter, so no more Wagners after me.

    • OliveMC

      I’ve also always been really close with my dad, and ended up keeping my maiden name. My husband and I live a few states away from all our family, and there have been times when I feel disconnected from my family and like I should’ve changed my name, and other times when I am so proud to have my name. I guess the first year of marriage is full of many different identity crises of varying sizes. :)

    • LP

      I feel the same way about my family of origin! I’m making my maiden name my middle name so I can hang onto it still and I can have the same last name as my husband and future children. The only people with my last name left at all are my immediate family, so I feel like I’m totally betraying my lineage by not keeping it in some way, and didn’t realize this until it was actually time to make the decision.

  • AGCourtney

    I’m still somewhat processing my emotions from this period, but it was definitely a roller coaster. On the one hand, I loved the feeling of possibility, especially towards the beginning. When it was a shiny future thing, and I could envision different versions of both the wedding and married life, that was nice. It was when we had to lock down decisions and I had to grapple with the fact that my very independent self would actually soon have to live with this person every day forever that things started going haywire inside. It probably didn’t help that I was also graduating from college and moving out of the city I’d live in for three years at the same time – but then again, maybe it was better to deal with it all at once, haha. We’re less than a year in, so I’m still figuring these things out.

    • JC

      Thank you. As one still looking ahead toward engagement, the general consensus here seems to be that engagement might be a time of great strife. This isn’t necessarily a problem, just something that I perhaps need to anticipate. But knowing myself, my experience will probably be a bit more like yours, something to look back on and say, “Well, it was complicated,” the same way I feel about when we were dating long distance, then living with his family, and now our new apartment together– beautiful, loving, and complicated.

  • AnonyMouse

    I loved being engaged, but I had SO many feelings about my ring that I didn’t expect.

    My wonderful husband designed the ring himself without my input. When I saw it, I was startled by how big it was (it’s not huge, but I wear no jewelry at all). It is gorgeous by itself, but my first thought was “oh goodness, I would not have picked that” and then went on an emotional rollercoaster for months and months and months.

    On one hand, it was not what I would have picked for myself, but on the other hand, it was something he made for me and I was so moved by the love and effort and the meaning he put in the design of the ring, and at the time we were long distance and the ring on my finger was a powerful symbol reminding me that we would be back together in a finite amount of time. I didn’t want to hurt him and I knew he’d be crushed if I said anything negative, but at the same time we’d always been so open with each other and it was hard for me to keep these feelings a secret from him.

    By now I have come to a place where I’ve spent soooo many feelings on my ring that I can’t imagine wearing something else or not wearing it; it is uniquely mine and I love it still for all the love he put into it, but I still do occasionally (now married just over a year) feel pangs of some complicated emotion that is somewhere in the realm of sadness and regret that I didn’t proactively involve myself in picking my engagement ring. If anyone has suggestions on other ways to think about this or to come to more peace, I’d love the advice.

    • Greta

      YES to this. My husband proposed to me with his deceased mother’s engagement ring (and we have the matching wedding band.) I knew that he was planning to do this, he had told me as much, but I had never seen it. When I asked him what it looked like, he had no idea either – it was not something he remembered clearly. When he proposed, and I saw the ring, I was in shock – it’s beautiful to be sure but also quite large (at least for me) and very bling-y. As someone who also doesn’t wear any jewelry it was really hard for me to get used to. Like you, it was not something I would have ever picked for myself, but it’s his mom’s ring, and I never got to meet her and it is so so meaningful that he would want me to have it.
      That being said, I have never gotten used to the myriad of comments I get about it, from acquaintances to total strangers. I’ve been told all sorts of things like “Damn, your husband must really love you.” to “Wow, how much did that cost!?!?!” I really really hate all of these comments I like, and have a hard time just nodding and saying thanks… I don’t know what the solution is but for now, after 1.5 years of marriage I’ve stopped wearing the engagement ring every day and now just wear the band, which is slightly less blingy.

      • Totch

        It can be hard when it feels like people are a little bit TOO pleased for you, especially if it’s something you’re less comfortable with. This happens to be when I lose weight, I just wish my mom was a little less enthusiastic about how much better I am thinner.

      • Lisa

        Ugh, yes to this. My wedding set belonged to my husband’s godmother’s godmother, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. The way the center diamond is set makes it looks about double the size it is, and I constantly get comments from random people (cashiers at the grocery, customers at my part-time retail gig, etc.) about how gorgeous my ring is and how much my husband must love me to have spent so much on my ring. I usually counter with, “Yes, I love my ring. We were very fortunate to receive a family heirloom, and I love having jewelry with a history.” I don’t know why I feel the need to correct their impressions, but I just hate the idea of my husband’s love being tied to his monetary commitment to this physical object that he didn’t even choose!

        • Jessica

          The weight of people’s presumptions can be overwhelming. I would correct people, too. I have a Brent&Jess engagement ring that looks like a plain band with one tiny stone in it, and if people ask me about rings I show them the fingerprint on the inside. But I’ve gotten side-eye about how ‘small’ the engagement stone is. It’s weird.

        • Greta

          Yes, I usually say something along the lines of “thanks, it’s a family piece”, but I really love what you wrote. I’m definitely going to start using that one. I get really uncomfortable with people linking the size of my ring to the size of my husband’s love (ummm, what?!?!?!) and also with people assuming that we have this much disposable cash. Sometimes I want to reply to those “wow he must really love you” with “Well actually he didn’t pay a cent for it, so what does that say?”

          • Lisa

            Lol, I feel you on that last line. My husband actually didn’t even pick the ring out; his godmother had three diamond rings from her late-godmother that she had saved for him to use someday. He had all three at home and proposed with one of them. When we got back to the house, my MIL brought the other two down, and I chose the one that had a full wedding set. So not only did he not pay for it, but he didn’t even pick the one I ended up liking best out of the line-up!

          • AGCourtney

            Lol! Love it.

    • BDubs

      When my fiancé proposed, he picked out a ring that was completely unique, especially for me. My friends’ and relatives’ rings are really similar to one another and sort of boring in that sense. Sometimes it leaks out that they think my ring is out-there. I don’t really know if it was “me” when I first said YES and slipped it on.

      I honestly struggled with the fact that it’s not like what I would have picked out for myself.

      But then I went reading through the APW archives and saw the article about the women out for dinner who were inspecting each others’ rings and then had trouble figuring out whose was whose.

      Man, that hit me like a ton of bricks. Nobody will ever have a ring just like mine; it will never be ambiguous.

      My ring is truly beautiful and my honey chose it just for me. I focus on how special having a unique ring makes me feel and admire it for it’s aesthetic pleasure. It’s me, now. And I actually rejoice in that.

      • AnonyMouse

        Thank you all – it helps to hear I’m not alone in having *complicated* feelings. I spent months just trying to get over how guilty I felt that I didn’t just love it 100%.

    • Rhie

      I don’t know if I have any advice, but definitely solidarity… I had sent my husband a bunch of rings I liked, mostly solitaire rings with smallish non-diamond stones, very simple, and I was 95% sure I knew which one he had actually gotten me—only to be totally surprised when he proposed with a new but vintage style white gold ring with a half carat diamond, very ornate. And it’s a beautiful ring and I know he visited just about every jewelry store in the city looking for something—but it turns out he also bought two of the rings I had picked out and then decided they weren’t “engagement” enough. He gave both of these rings to me when we eloped and the thing is, I still really like both of them. It’s just that for
      him, it seems to have become that thing where the ring you buy is a reflection of Your Worth As A Man. I have a lot of complicated feelings around those two rings in my jewelry box that I chose but that go largely unworn because my husband made this value call that I totally disagree with. It doesn’t mean I love the ring he bought me any less, but there are definitely times when I mourn for the engagement ring path not taken.

    • JenC

      I picked my ring but I occasionally second guess myself. I saw my ring and fell in love but I’ve wished a lot that I’d picked a more traditional looking ring and something more practical. Like you I can’t imagine anything else as my ring but with everyone telling you what an engagement ring should look like it’s hard when you think you got it wrong and can blame nobody but yourself. Sorry no advice, just the other side.

    • Sarah

      I don’t have any advice but wanted to say you aren’t the only one! I’m in a somewhat similar situation: I was very clear about wanting to choose a ring together but my fiance went ahead and picked one on his own. It’s not my style, it’s so big and flashy that I feel embarrassed wearing it, and it’s also totally impractical and gets caught on everything. In my case I actually did tell him but it can’t be exchanged and there’s no way to alter/reset it.

      I was so upset – mostly about the fact that he disregarded my clearly-expressed wishes on something so important, but also about the ring itself – that I sometimes wanted to kill myself. It felt like there was no solution and no way I could ever stop being sad about this. Didn’t help that I felt like I couldn’t really talk about it with him or with anyone else (I’ve discovered that “I don’t like my engagement ring” is about the least acceptable opinion for a woman to have).

      I eventually stopped wearing the ring which helped. At least now I don’t have to deal with everyone gushing over how big it is and making me super uncomfortable. The only other thing that really helped was asking the APW community for advice; everyone was so kind and supportive and convinced me that it was okay to feel the way I did. So I’m going to tell you the same thing: that is a hard situation to be in, it’s completely reasonable to feel sad and regretful and conflicted about it, and you definitely aren’t alone.

    • LucyPirates

      I have gone through a rollercoaster of feelings about my ring – he proposed when we didn’t have much money and after discussions about marriage and what it meant to us. I was convinced that I didn’t care about the ring and it was just a symbol – the real purpose was marriage and I told him this.
      However when he proposed all boyish face with a little blue ring from a handmade jewellers I couldn’t believe how I felt. I loved the engagement and the thoughts behind the ring and the feelings but the ring itself? I just didn’t love it. Compounded by the fact he briefly dashed out some phrase about it was because he couldn’t wait to marry me and we could change it later … So all of the feelings because I wasn’t sure I liked it and wasn’t sure if it was a place holder.
      I felt like I should explain the ring to people as if it wasn’t good enough – when everyone just said it was so me and thought I had picked it out myself.

      ‘By now I have come to a place where I’ve spent soooo many feelings on my ring that I can’t imagine wearing something else or not wearing it; it is uniquely mine and I love it still for all the love he put into it, but I still do occasionally (now married just over a year) feel pangs of some complicated emotion that is somewhere in the realm of sadness and regret that I didn’t proactively involve myself in picking my engagement ring. ‘ – all of this.

      But also, 2 things:
      He followed all the morals and principles in picking the ring that I actually want to marry him for and when recently he was telling an obnoxious ‘feminist’ (whom we had just met) that we were engaged and she was going on a rant about blood diamonds and what a idiot he was, he innocently turned round and said ‘but we believe in supporting independents so it was handmade and I didn’t get a diamond?…’
      And I saw a plaque that said ‘Be a Lady Boss – Buy your own damn jewellery’. So there we go.

  • Sam

    Oh boy. When I got engaged to my husband, I was so happy but so overwhelmed. Though I knew my dad liked my him, I wasn’t sure if he would be excited about our engagement (he was, in his own quiet dad way). Suddenly the word “fiance” was coming out of my mouth in conversations and it sounded so…snobby (it’s not, it just felt like one when I would say it out loud for some reason).

    When we were finally in a position to set the date, I was super excited! Everything was really happening. Oh my god everything was really happening. I never expected to get cold feet, but I did. Though I knew I loved my husband-to-be, I was suddenly questioning whether I chose the right person (I did!). It was such a confusing and questioning time where I felt confined in a way that I wasn’t familiar with. Thankfully, my husband is very open and understanding, so talking to him about how I was feeling made me feel better and I realized I was just dealing with anxiety. Talking to him just reminded me why I wanted marry him (plus he was nervous too!).

    When we first got engaged, I thought I would take his last name. Then I thought I would keep my last name. Then we talked about taking a new last name together. It took a lot of conversations and soul searching to agree on something we both liked. I didn’t realize how attached I was to my name until I realized that it was in danger of changing. In the end, we both changed our names to “first-name birth-last-name new-last-name” which worked out well for us. I kept a part of my identity that was important to me and took on an equally important new identity with my husband.

    When all of these internal conflicts were happening, I spoke to my husband. He was always receptive and sweet and thoughtful in how he handled his response. It was hard for me to talk to him about some of these topics, but it was always the right choice. I always felt better and felt assured that no matter what, he loved me and I loved him. When we got married, none of those other things mattered. All that mattered was that I was marrying my best friend.

  • MC

    UGH YES. Being engaged and planning a wedding was all really hard even though it was also exciting and fun at times. I really struggled with the decision to get engaged in the first place because marriage was/is complicated for me, and it was SO weird to tell everyone right after and have them congratulate me on this thing that didn’t really feel like it changed our relationship but made everyone else see us differently. And I really resented the fact that we felt like we had to update everyone on our relationship status in the first place. I also hated using the word “fiance” because it almost inevitably led to people asking about our wedding plans and somehow sounded so snobby/braggy to me. Ugh. Anyway, glad that phase is behind us :)

    • Lizzie

      Just replying to say, preach. High fives to being out of the engaged phase!

    • Totch

      The relationship status update thing is so annoying. We’ve been engaged 8 months and never announced it on social media. There are a few pictures of me wearing an engagement ring and I have said “fiance” on Instagram before so it’s not like we’re hiding it.

      But sometimes someone pops out of the woodwork and goes “Omg! You’re engaged! When did it happen? Why didn’t you tell me?!” And I really just feel like saying “Ages ago, and we told everyone we cared about back then!”

      Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer to, person who hasn’t spoken to me in years.

    • clarkesara

      Oh don’t even get me started on the tension that referring to the wedding in any way might come off as “braggy”. Like… this is a thing that’s happening in my life, and I’m going to talk about it. This is one of the main ways I’ve felt silenced by some of my closest friends.

      • YES! This was absolutely a thing and I struggled with it a lot. The majority of my friends are single and so much of our existence was about how we were single and “woe is us! We’ll never get married!”. And then I got engaged and I felt like I couldn’t share as much, because I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging or inadvertently hurt someone. I had someone actually unfollow me on Twitter until after my wedding because she said I talked about my wedding too much. I was hurt until I realized that I SHOULD be happy, this was a joyous occasion and I should be able to share it as much as I want.

        • Carolyn S

          It’s always a little hard to celebrate life phases when they don’t happen at the same pace for everyone. I felt really let down by friends on a couple of occasions shortly after I got engaged when I WANTED to talk wedding engagement wee and my friends with newborns/little kids just talked about their kids the whole time we hung out… But the flip side is that I’m sure I’ve let friends with new babies down by not being excited enough for them…

    • Hannah Malcolm

      It’s so good to hear that someone else feels the same. Everyone around me is freaking out, which makes me feel like I’m stupid for just wanting our relationship, only married now.

  • sammylou77

    Engagement was an uncomfortable time for myself & my husband, though perhaps more for myself. For starters, the heirloom ring I wanted as my engagement ring needed repairs, so my husband proposed with a beautiful, resin ring he’d selected from etsy, instead. it meant something to him, and that was beautiful, but it didn’t look like ~an engagement ring~ so I found myself doing a lot of explaining.

    Secondly, he proposed very, very spontaneously. As in, I was sitting around in my pajamas, telling him to go brush his teeth so we could go to sleep, when he suddenly bent down and popped the question. It was a love-filled, special moment, but it didn’t make for much of a story. As one person after another demanded, “How did he propose?!”, I found myself feeling sadder and sadder that he didn’t take me hiking, or to our favorite restaurant, or something more… ceremonious. It was an awful way to feel about such a special moment.

    But then we solved it all, when one month in, we decided to elope! We’d still have a wedding, to celebrate our beautiful, supportive family & friends (we’re still planning it now), but it’s such a relief to have that decision made (and I also get his bomb health insurance).

    When I said ‘yes’ to marrying him, I really meant it! So it was a no-brainer to just go do it. We didn’t tell anyone except our closest friends, and surprised a few more at our weekly boardgame night, where his ordained best friend signed our paperwork. We bought delivery thai food & my favorite kind of pie for everyone to share. I wore a white, lacy shirt that made me feel pretty & a little bridal. It felt special, romantic and low-pressure, and it’s a story I’ll be thrilled to tell for the rest of my life!

    And by the way, married life feels no different for us, except that I get to go to the dentist without fear of huge bills!

    • saminrva

      Same situation for us — his proposal was totally casual/unplanned to the point where I didn’t even realize what he was doing for a minute (I repeated back his question instead of immediately saying yes – oops) and I was a little sad about it too! And then felt bad for feeling sad. Those feelings didn’t last long though and I came to love how fitting it was for us. (Plus you can tell a good story about anything if you try — your story sounds very romantic to me!)

      • sammylou77

        Exactly! Feeling guilty for feeling sad. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who felt those feels.

    • OliveMC

      I knew that my husband was proposing two weeks before he did, when he asked me on a “fancier than usual” date night. Haha, he was so upset when I told him I knew, but he was super sweet and it was a lovely proposal in a garden we walked through on our first date (and many times since).

      • sammylou77

        That’s so beautiful! Though you make a good point– if my guy had tried to do an extra-romantic date night, I likely would’ve figured things out really quickly like you had, and that’s a whole other set of emotions to deal with.

      • nutbrownrose

        My FH got around that by proposing the night we were celebrating our 5th anniversary (dating), and because I’ll take any excuse to get all dressed up, there I was, in my fanciest clothes. And we got home from dinner and his sister had snuck in to set up the 3D (!!!) Settlers board he made me. I got to pick my ring later.

    • clarkesara

      So… I proposed.

      Which is a nice story, so at least we have that. But it’s often awkward when people (repeatedly and often within the same conversation) assume that he proposed and frame the entire conversation around it happening that way. Which then requires me to say, “Well, actually I was the one who proposed, so….” over and over as if the person is deaf.

      I’m starting to feel like there is no talking to people where this is concerned. It’s like “How’s it going?”, not meant to be a real conversation but more like “let me vomit out my weird concept of what getting married is even though it has nothing to do with you at all”.

  • Sosuli

    I’ve generally been pretty okay about engagement and not feeling too much of an identity crisis coming on… but I have found myself occasionally being slightly worried by the things about FH that annoy me. Like “OMG is he going to just leave the iron out all week for the rest of our lives?!?! Argh, will he ever start throwing food wrappers straight into the trash instead of leaving it on the side for several hours first?!?” Silly things, but the closer the wedding gets the more annoying I find that stuff.. maybe i’m just displacing some stress.

    • JenC

      I lost it about socks. He gets undressed as he walks around the house, so socks end up everywhere. He picks the clothes up after but there’ll occasionally be a sock that gets lost under the couch or behind something. I found one of the offending socks and lost it asking if there were going to be socks all over the house for evermore. He started getting undressed in one spot and I realised it was pent up stress (I was still upset by the socks even though they were going straight into the laundry) and we discussed it a bit more. Mention it to your partner and see if it’s something real or just an outlet for other stress.

    • clarkesara

      This is something I’m working on, as we have settled into living together for real as opposed to (before getting engaged) me just being at his place all the time, then gradually moving in with his roommate still in the other bedroom, then transitioning to just us. I’m trying to give myself permission to just ask him to do stuff. It helps that I have my own slob tendencies, but if I feel like I’ve been cleaning all afternoon and he hasn’t done anything, I’ll just say, “Would you mind taking out the trash?” Because it’s way easier to make the bed if we do it together, I’ll just say, “Could you help me put the sheets on the bed?” etc. I try not to phrase it as “Could you do me a favor?” but I also want to be polite about it. I also try to ask BEFORE I start feeling frustrated about it.

    • Eenie

      Post wedding one of the most common things you’ll hear in our house: *does really weird/annoying/ridiculous thing* “You married this! Ha!”

      • sahara

        When I realize that I’ve just unwittingly done something that I know drives my partner crazy, I give him a megawatt smile and tell him, “I have lots of other good qualities.” I’m saying that I know it’s normal for me to do annoying things sometimes, and it’s okay for him to be annoyed when I do annoying things. It’s a huge improvement over my previous habit of feeling guilty and over-apologizing for any little annoying thing I did, and feeling really hurt whenever he was annoyed at me. As I’ve become more comfortable with annoyance in general, I get less upset when I’m annoyed with him too, and it rolls off my back much more easily.

  • Totch

    There have been wonderful parts of it, but the key modifier engagement has given me is “silly.”

    I feel like I’m told I’m silly if I care more than people expect (it’s just a silly wedding, the marriage is what matters), and also if I care less than I’m supposed to (stop being silly, you have to have x, y, z!).

    Details that I have to pay attention to in my job as a project manager become silly when I tend to them as a bride. Following tradition makes me a silly girl and bucking it makes me a silly feminist.

    For something as serious as a lifelong commitment, getting there sure is frivolous!

    • Booknerd

      This!! So much. I can’t shake the feeling that caring about my wedding makes me silly, and that talking about it makes me have nothing else substantial to say, but people always ask! I try so hard to come off as the “cool girl” who doesn’t care about colour schemes but its a big freaking party that I’m only gonna do (hopefully) once so I feel like I deserve to care a bit! I’m so sick of the planning I just want the day to be here so I can enjoy it without feeling overly girly or attention seeking.

      • Betsympartida2

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      • Michellewmorgan2

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      • RageFace

        Exactly!
        I’ve gone through life not wanting to get married and very recently changed my mind when Mr Rage and I decided to get engaged after being together for ten years.
        People tease me and laugh at me when I show excitement about getting married because “lol look at Rage being such a girl lolololol” and when I act like I’m not phased so as to not be teased they’re all “wtf be a little more excited about this huge thing in your life that you’re doing” and I genuinely feel that I can’t win because of people’s expectations. :(

        • Alice

          Yes! It’s like you are in trouble for fitting the stereotype or not fitting it. Also, important to note how there is no such think as groomzilla but you can be called a bridezilla for something as innocent as caring about what something you are paying hard earned money for looks like. That is seriously offensive and sexist.

          • RageFace

            It’s SUPER sexist! I genuinely have no idea how to handle it and it sucks because it feels like I have to walk on eggshells and guard every single reaction and opinion about my wedding because of people’s BS. :(

    • mary266

      omg you are reading my mind. although for me the worst part is, it’s my fiance who’s making me feel “silly.” he wanted a courthouse wedding and agreed to a “big” wedding because i wanted it, but now that the train has left the station, i can’t talk to him about anything planning-related because it’s just met with an eyeroll or a snarky comment or — even worse — “well let’s just call it off then” or “this is why i didn’t want a wedding” (we are two and a half months away from the event!).

      i love him to pieces and this seems somewhat out of character for him — he’s otherwise really sweet, which is one reason i want to marry him! but he’s very against the WIC and against anything traditional, so everything that i need help or support with is interpreted by him as exactly what you said — “silly” meaningless stuff that doesn’t matter in the long run. i love the non-traditional side of him as well, but sometimes, honestly, it just feels not very nice…

    • Kristyna123

      I very much agree! I have felt like this, but it was difficult for me to put it into words. Thank you!

  • Emily

    For anyone struggling with anxiety at any point in a relationship, especially between the engagement and the wedding, I cannot recommend this site highly enough: http://conscious-transitions.com/blog/
    It’s helped me through a few rough patches in my own (not yet engaged) relationship. When I first started having problems with relationship anxiety, I thought I was the only one–and why should I be feeling doubt and fear when I am with such a fantastic human being anyway?? The articles on Conscious Transitions gave me the perspective that helped me get outside of that super isolated and fearful mindset.

  • Pingback: Does Being Engaged Ever Make You Feel Like Crap? | Wedding Trends By Drawde()

  • JenC

    Engagement was such an awkward time for me. We got engaged on a weekend away and it wasn’t overly romantic (well by conventional standards) but it was just us and sweet in a way that was just right for us. We called our parents and let our closest friends know. We had a mixed reception, including my dad saying ‘I don’t know what to say’ and one friend automatically updating me in her contacts to his surname. Nobody really got our engagement story, it wasn’t right. They didn’t get that I’d picked my own engagement ring and that when it had finally been resized it wasn’t a great honking diamond.

    Of course nothing really exists unless on social media *rolls eyes* so we announced on Facebook, which went crazy. Really crazy. I counted how many people had liked or commented on either of our updates – it was 3x higher than comments who had wished either of us happy birthday. Most of these people hadn’t seen either of us in years and hadn’t met our intended but still liked it because it was an engagement and it’s happy news that everyone should like. It was overwhelming to say the least. I went into work on the Monday and didn’t (couldn’t?) say that we got engaged. I didn’t know the words and it also just felt so nice to go in and not have to answer questions about our engagement or show a finger without a ring (being resized) and hear more people say how our story wasn’t romantic enough. Obviously when I got home my partner was upset with me that I’d not told anyone at work, which lead to some tears and a lengthy discussion. I wouldn’t recommend this approach, you have to work out subtle ways to drop into conversation at work that you’re getting married.

    I never used the term fiance. I didn’t like referring to being engaged. I didn’t like the transitionary feeling. I know when we started dating but at some point he’d evolved from boyfriend to partner and it wasn’t that I woke up one day and decided it was time to promote him. As we started to build our commitment, the feeling of being in partnership built over time. There was no end to the boyfriend phase. There was obviuously an exact date when he became my husband but I don’t know when he will stop being my husband. Being a boyfriend/partner or husband has never had a known end point, being a fiance did. I hated the time limit of an aspect of our relationship, especially when there had never been one before. My husband had his own battles (kinda reassuring to know this doesn’t just bother women) he bought my birthday card and a Valentine’s Day card (first and only time we celebrated whilst engaged) and he’d picked up a card with fiance and fiancée. The woman in the card shop pointed this out to him that one was for a woman and one for a man and that I’d be pissed if he got it wrong (I wouldn’t have known the difference despite receiving the cards on consecutive days).

    Throw in the fact that constantly you’re told you’re not old enough, too old, too fat, too thin, too ugly, too beautiful, too whatever to get married. That led to many anxiety filled tears and late night wailing ‘am I good enough’?

    My now brother in law’s marriage also ended after a year during our engagement which caused my FIL to constantly question if we were doing the right thing and if we were sure. Why do people think it’s appropriate to wait until the point at which you’re engaged to start asking if you’re serious? Do people not realise that you’re building a commitment all along? When you decide to become exclusive, when you first say you love each other, when you start thinking in terms of ‘us’ rather than ‘me’. Father In law asked the question literally just before we were about to get married, it’s hard to forgive him that. Due to this break down of brother in laws marriage, a marriage break down on my side of the family and someone recently widowed it also led to a lot of worrying around when the feeling of invincibility would end. I was pretty confident (as confident as I can be) that we would make it but my reasoning was that most people have that same feeling that you can make it through anything and live forever. When does that feeling go away and can you chase it and capture it?

    I also realised that I was picking up more of our emotional work. Why? The only reason I could think is that a wife has to ‘manage’ her husband. My husband is a grown man, I do not need to nag him to ring his grandmother. If he can’t ring her that isn’t on me but somehow during the engagement it shifted to me picking up more/him giving me more to pick up. It was subtle and neither of us realised it was happening.

    Wow, until I started typing this I didn’t fully real so the effect or engagement had on my mental well being (no wonder I feel happier being married). That said there were times were I was over the moon ecstatic, couldn’t keep the excitement in. It was a real mixed bag which is why I think the term awkward was fitting – I could be excited one minute but that could so easily set off an anxiety leaving me wondering how I found myself in that position.

    • Lizzie

      I remember bursting into tears within a week of being engaged because I was so sad to lose my partner as a boyfriend. I was wailing “but you were such a GOOD boyfriend!!!” and he was very supportive anddddd a little confused. Heh. He WAS a good boyfriend tho!

      • Scalliwag

        I actually included in my vows “trying to be as good at marriage as we were at dating” as a call out to the life we had before and that we want to continue to grow that rather than a total restart. Also aligned with some language we used regularly between ourselves so it worked but I totally understand you here.

    • Hannah Malcolm

      I’m afraid of the emotion work bit. Oddly enough, my fiance actually studies emotion work, yet it was a year after he started that research when it dawned on him how much of it I was doing. We’ve worked on it being more equal, but I’m afraid of it creeping back in when everything’s chaotic.
      Also, I did the same thing about not announcing/telling, which led to interesting conversations. But (with a few notable exceptions) when he tells people, all he gets are congratulations; when I do it, I get congratulations, tons of questions, and lots of unsolicited advice. It makes me feel like avoiding people.

    • LittleOwl

      Yes to the emotional work!! I did the same thing for a while and I couldn’t figure out why. I think looking back, it was that engagement had that “public”ness to it, so if my partner didn’t wish grandma happy birthday then it now reflected on me too? I was able to reel it back in once I noticed what I was doing.

  • LellieLine

    It hasn’t been long, only three weeks, and it’s already been hard. I have difficult family dynamics, and while my father’s side of the family has been nothing but loving and supportive, I’m walking on eggshells anticipating negative reactions as the rest of my mother’s side finds out. I’m an “older” college student and a handful of people have told me that I need to wait until I graduate to get married (and no offense to those who have gotten married at 30, you all rock and I look up to you!), but I just don’t want to wait 4 years for something we’ve already anticipated happening in less than 2. Husband Elect and I try to take it in stride.

    I had a woman at the local smashburger ring shame me, claiming that the fact that her ring is yellow gold makes it superior to white or rose gold. And she insisted that my ring had to be plated rose gold and that I’d need to go get it replated yearly to keep it “looking like the real thing.” So there’s that I guess.

    I just look forward to the positive feedback, to the bank ladies who are more thrilled than anything, for the people who tell me its okay to feel any and everything I’m feeling during this transitional period.

    • BDubs

      OHMYGOD can ring-shaming just not be a thing please?! Ughhhh

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        It is the probably the most ridiculous thing ever. It’s a RING!! It’s a piece of jewelry. It’s symbolic but it’s not curing cancer or anything for god’s sake! It’s a RING!!!

      • JenC

        Er clearly not. How else can we make we other women make feel inferior if we can’t publicly shame her on her choice of jewellery? Ring shaming completely baffles me, nobody has ever shamed me on my choice to not dye my hair, they don’t tell of course I have to be a special snowflake. Nobody shamed me when I purchased the most popular car in the most popular colour, I wasn’t following the masses and buying into some horrible tradition. Why does it matter if I’m a ‘traditionalist’ or ‘special snowflake’ when it comes to piece of jewellery.

        • BDubs

          The ring that probably symbolizes the joy of commitment and the spouse-to-be’s adoration, oh no, let’s rag on that shit and make the ring-wearer feel like a mouse. Goodie…..

        • LellieLine

          Just because a ring isn’t someone else’s taste doesn’t mean its trash. I just wish those ring shamers knew that personal taste is personal for a reason. And its not like they’re the ones wearing it daily.

    • JenC

      I feel like there is some unwritten rule about when is the time/age to get married and everybody has a different rule book. We were too young to get married. We met too young but there’s nothing I can do about when I met him. At the age of 20 I smiled at a sulky young man in the library and the world flipped upside down for both us, I can’t take back that smile and don’t want to. However, the number of times I’ve heard people say or read that your early twenties are for screwing around, partying and travelling is ridiculous.

      • LP

        YES. As a 22 year old soon to be bride I get so many weird looks. I met my FH at 17. We have been together 5 years, and I am on old 22. I haaaaate how many people told us to “look for what else is out there.” I’m happy with what I have thank you very much.

        • AGCourtney

          Solidarity; I was a 22-year-old bride last year.

          • Totch

            Solidarity; I’ll be a 27 year old bride having dated my fiance since we were 18. There is a very quick turn (around 25) when it flips from “you’re too young” to “why aren’t you married!?!”

          • Sosuli

            Same. Exact same. And oh lord the turn around is sooo quick.

          • A.

            I dated my husband since 19 and can concur–the shift is crazy quick. And it’s the same thing with babies too, at least for us. “Oh you’re just married, you’re only 27, just enjoy being newlyweds. :)” to “YOU’RE 29 WHY HAVEN’T YOU HAD TEN THOUSAND BABIES!”

          • Totch

            Right? It went so suddenly from “don’t even think about it” to “you should be ready RIGHT NOW to do a thing that takes years of planning.” I also just got a birthday card from my grandmother about how she’ll never meet my babies. Ok.

        • LellieLine

          My thing is, when people say that, is that you shouldn’t leave someone who is amazing for you just to date others and try to find someone like the original person you split from years ago. It’s fine to date many partners if that’s your thing, its fine to date one partner if that’s your thing, but god I wouldn’t push either on someone who may not be ready or looking/wanting to do that. I hate that people just repeat that like clockwork.

      • Carolyn S

        It can be hard for people to separate their own experience. I have to constantly remind myself that just because waiting until 31 and having a tiny wedding were right for me, it doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. But it can be tough when we look back at who we were when we DIDN’T get married, and imagine someone else getting married at that time. It’s something I wrestle with internally, but wouldn’t ever tell someone what I think.

      • LellieLine

        So many people have told me before we got engaged that we still have half a decade before we should even consider “settling down,” and that we should be “seeing the world.” Idk if seeing much of the southwest would’ve even been possible without my SO, but they never want to hear that.

      • toomanybooks

        People have this romanticized notion of 20s being a time when the world is your oyster and you can go wherever you want – but, like, with what money?

      • Her Lindsayship

        Library story is too cute! :)

        On the other end of the spectrum, my grandmother told me she was so happy I’d found someone great, and that my fiance was “worth waiting for”. I appreciate what she was going for, she’s a very loving person who was offering support, so I took it as such and laughed it off – but I’m only 28 grandma! I didn’t spend my early twenties waiting for the perfect husband, I was going to college and doing life.

        • JenC

          My grandma made a similar comment. When I graduated I was in that awkward phase of too qualified for every job but actually not qualified at all. It took me a month or so to find a job and my grandma said “well at least your time at university wasn’t a complete waste because you found yourself a lovely young man” and patted me on the back. I tried to explain that women don’t really go to university to meet lovely young men but she wasn’t having it. With anyone else they’d get a mouthful but my grandma is just from a different time and like yours just sees that as a helpful comment.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      People are still ring shaming in 2016??? What. The. Fuck.

      • LellieLine

        Tell me about it. I had just simply complimented the girl’s ring and she said her SO picked it out himself. I said mine did too, and proceeded on her anti-anything-but-yellow-gold rant. Yellow gold is beautiful but don’t knock my ring just to put yours on a pedestal, y’know?

    • clarkesara

      Ugghhhhhhhh the idea that you should wait for any particular time to get married. My brother and I are both engaged at the same time, though he is getting married six months before me. I’ve honestly been asked by friends whether his fiance is pissed that we are “stealing their thunder”. Meanwhile we’re getting married in a friend’s backyard six months after her wedding. I’m not going to wait an extra year to get engaged because it might bum somebody out. I’ll just barely still be 35 when I get married, and I want to have kids. Why waste the remainder of my fertile years waiting for the right time per some randos whose business it is not?

      • LellieLine

        Ughhhh thats just uncomfortable right there. As if you guys were just planning on stealing the show (or even seeing wedding excitement as something to steal away from someone at all!). Y’all do you, your backyard wedding is gonna rock. Its no ones business but your own and there shouldn’t be an age hurdle you have to jump before saying “I do.”

        I heard from someone this past weekend that they “made” their son wait until he was 29 to get married. Why??

        • clarkesara

          Not to mention, it’s six months! If I was trying to schedule an engagement party or bridal shower or something on their wedding weekend, it would be one thing, but this is a teensy wedding and my fiance and I don’t want to be the center of attention at all! We also live across the country from them, will have virtually no interesting wedding plans in place to gossip about. At most, I’ll be getting a lot of “You’re next!” at their wedding reception. Which would probably happen anyway even if we had decided not to get engaged until well after their wedding.

    • Carolyn S

      My husband proposed with a small family ring, and he always had the plan that we would then go and get a ring made together, which we did (and it’s still small, but it’s unique)! But when he proposed, I could have cared less about getting a different ring, but it was fun to go pick one out together, and now I have the ring he proposed with on a chain. I found out from a friend, HOWEVER, that my mom actually told that friend “it’s kind of tiny.” RUDE.

      • LellieLine

        Oh my lord, a tiny ring rocks!! I bet its beautiful. Idk why theres such a stigma towards ring size, its like you can never make people happy. I’m sorry to hear you heard in such a roundabout way that your mom said that.

  • ep

    Ugh. Yes. Being engaged makes me feel like crap.

    More accurately, for the first month after I got engaged, I felt awesome and happy and everything in the world was great. But the months since have sucked—I haven’t suffered an identity crisis myself, but my partner has. My partner and I talked a lot about marriage before we made the mutual decision to get engaged, and we had years to discuss thoughts and feelings about engagement and marriage. I really thought I knew what it was going to feel like when we took that step, and to an extent I was right—I did know how it was going to feel to me. I most certainly did NOT expect how it was going to feel to my partner, and he blindsided me a month into our engagement by telling me he had developed romantic feelings for someone else and was feeling hesitant about moving forward with our relationship. Cue emotional implosion.

    It’s been a few months since then, and we have continued to talk a LOT about his feelings, marriage, commitment, etc. We’ve made a lot of progress, and both agree that we’re really grateful for the ability to be honest and open with each other, even when we’re telling the other one things that may be painful to hear. I suspect (and his therapist agrees with me) that his feelings toward this other person have less to do me and more to do with his struggles with this transition. I never really thought of it this way until I read this thread, but I realize now he’s going through his own identity crisis. The problem is I can’t tell yet where this phase of our relationship will lead us—whether he will resolve his own feelings, whether my doubts that have materialized because of these events will dissipate, and ultimately whether we’ll end up married. It’s possible that this identity crisis will cause one or both of us to realize that this relationship should end. Cue emotional implosion, add panic attacks.

    AND one thing that really sucks about all this, and the reason I’m posting in this thread, is that I have to process all of these emotions while pretending to the world that I’m happily engaged. After months of talking to only my partner and my therapist about this, I finally told one close friend the truth, which was a huge relief, and then told my parents and brother the next day, which was relief mixed with a heavy dose of guilt. But I still hate getting wedding-related questions from well-meaning friends and coworkers, because for one month I was SO EXCITED about answering all those questions and doing all the venue research, and now I have to pretend like I still am when in reality, I kind of wish I had never gotten engaged to begin with.

    • Amy March

      In case not telling people this much means you don’t have anyone in your corner giving him serious side-eye of outrage, know that I, random internet stranger, have a cramp in my eyebrow from raising it at his conduct. Good luck, that’s a really rough spot to be in, and I hope that in talking about his feelings and his struggles you keep in mind that it’s okay for your feelings to be the most important thing to you, whatever those feelings are!

    • JenC

      I’m really sorry you’re struggling with this. I think this thread has focused on the transition for women but it can also be a huge transition for men too, there’s just so much pressure. But there is the idea that once we are engaged there can be nothing but happiness. I think the same actually goes for being a newly wed too. I’ve seen the damage that having to be constantly happy when engaged and a newly wed can cause. There’s no let up to just say ‘I feel confident in my decision but it’s still big and scary’.

      I hope you are both able to work through your things. I hope you can find someone to talk to about his without feeling it will be thrown in your face later. From my experience, the questions won’t stop so I think you need to make sure you can cope,l during this time, whether that is being honest or ignoring questions I don’t know. Good luck and take care of yourself.

    • Poppy

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It sounds really, really hard. It also sounds like you are doing the very best you can managing the situation. And…it actually sounds like he’s trying his best too. I think it sometimes takes a change like this to bring these kinds of anxieties to the surface, so it’s not something either of you could have predicted ahead of time. It seems like he’s doing a lot to try to honor his existing commitment to you (therapy, talking it through with you). As you said, being able to communicate through something so heartbreaking is an incredibly valuable skill to gain before you get married. So many couples either never learn how to be honest about things that might hurt each other, or only share these things to cause each other pain deliberately. I think both dynamics are toxic in their own ways. In short, just reaffirming that it sounds like you’re both doing all the right things to cope with a super tough predicament.

  • Jess

    All I want is to never hear the phrase, “What’s your vision?” ever again.

    I’m not struggling with the concept of marriage or change anymore, but I am struggling with the narrative of what my wedding should be and how it’s the biggest day of my life, and what everyone thinks “makes a wedding special.”

    I don’t care about having tiny cocktail napkins with adorable phrases. I don’t care about a wedding monogram. I don’t care about favors, or having a grand march, or being the focus of the event at all.

    I have always been a “less is more” person who has never been comfortable being the center of attention and has never fit into a sparkly little girl trying to be a princess shaped box. I’m not changing any of that now, and it’s really frustrating to be treated like I would be.

    • toomanybooks

      And hey, I would love to be the sparkly little girl trying to be a princess but I don’t have that princess money so I’m not trying to go down a rabbit hole of How Much Money I Can Spend on my wedding! That’s why the “vision” thing is off-putting to me, I feel like I can’t afford to think of what my *dream* wedding looks like.

    • JenC

      When people asked me what our vision or theme was I just replied with ‘shit we both like’. I was told it wasn’t very cohesive or a real vision…

    • Lisa

      I love this. Our “vision” was to “have a wedding with a lot of good food and alcohol with our favorite people.” People kept asking about the little details of the wedding, and I would say, “We booked a priest, a photographer, and a reception venue so, if nothing else, we’ll get married, eat some food, drink some wine, and have a few pictures to prove it happened.” Of course, more of the details eventually coalesced, but those aspects were more important than any “vision” or “theme” ever would have been so that’s where our time and emotional energy went.

      • JC

        I love this. If we have a “vision,” it will be something like “Kid- and Grandma-friendly.” To that end… “Oooooh what kind of napkins?” “The kind kids can use to wipe their faces.” (Are there kinds of napkins kids can’t use to wipe their faces? Eh, whatever…)

    • Staria

      YES. I have two answers to ‘what is your theme?’ which I alternate: ‘The theme of our wedding is ‘wedding’ and ‘My theme is ‘I’m Fucking Getting Married, Hurray’. If I am feeling generous I distract people by saying ‘Well we don’t really have a theme, but I’m wearing a red dress’ and then people get excited about that.

      • Totch

        We are working soooo hard to avoid/punch people who are like “Oh! So is [fiance’s ethnicity] your theme?”

        Um, no. Fiance is [ethnicity] and the tradition we are pulling from that = totally normal wedding for millions of people. Just because it’s not a tradition for you doesn’t make it a gimmick. Our theme is wedding. Christ.

      • I told people the theme is ME +husband, so anything I like is allowed and things we don’t like are not.

  • Jess

    I so needed to read this today.

  • northstar599

    I’ve been dating my FH for 7 1/2 years now… long distance. The transition catches up with me every once in awhile (I live on my own and enjoy having my own space… I question what will it mean to have a baby family and making that my priority…) but honestly, we’ve been talking so much about how awesome it will be to have a teammate for the most mundane boring things that I’m looking forward to even the crappy parts together. The number of times we’ve talked about going grocery shopping together, going to our future kids’ baseball games together, etc, is off the charts, haha.

  • CellarDoor

    Thank you for this post! I had an epic engagement off the grid, in the middle of the woods, only to fall apart two seconds after he slid the ring on my finger. I not only had an angry cry meltdown, I literally took an axe and started chopping wood until I had a blood blister. Because feels. I cried all weekend – a mixture of happy tears and total, gut-wrenching sadness.

    For me, the anxiety was three pronged: at the time, my parents were going through a really crappy period in their marriage (Would that be us?!?); we were flat broke and come from modest families, so I had no idea how we’d be able to pay for any kind of wedding; and after surviving a bumpy period in our relationship, I was scared that the engagement was somehow insincere.

    To further compound things, I felt like the saddest, most ungrateful new bride-to-be, and that there was so much pressure to “be happy” and “have fun” while navigating the engagement process. I felt bad for not feeling good, essentially. And I didn’t want to talk to my partner about how I felt because I felt guilty about feeling guilty.

    But now, months later, I finally feel giddy and excited. I think time has helped enormously. That and some therapy and late night wine-fueled FaceTimes with my besties. Yes, the planning process itself can totally suck sometimes, but the raw emotions have shifted into pure joy that I’m spending my life with the coolest dude ever who was actually stoked to see his new finance cry-whacking at tree stumps on engagement day.

  • Lauren

    My finace moved eight hours away two days after he proposed. We spent six months apart and it was by far the worst our relationship ever was. Now we’ve moved to a new town together and have been here for 4 months and have never been happier

    I guess what I am saying is that engagement anxiety doesn’t have to be a bad sign! For me it just felt like I had to stretch into our new arrangement. Sure, there were growing pains, but now we are happy and healthy again.

  • Poppy

    Here’s something I kind of saw coming: planning a wedding gave me something new to be bad at, a new set of social expectations to be judged against and found lacking. We’re not exactly super organized with wedding planning and we didn’t hire a planner, so we’re a bit behind schedule with a lot of what still needs to get done. We aren’t doing a great job sticking to our budget and we aren’t crafting anything. I have a hard time fighting the social messaging that this is all MY fault. So now I get to inhabit the social position of “bad bride,” whereas my dude doesn’t have to deal with any equivalent “bad groom” baggage (as everyone keeps reminding us “the groom just has to show up,” which sucks to hear over and over even if it’s a joke). Hello, my name is Poppy, I’m engaged and I’m a Bad Bride.

    • Keri

      I feel like I’ve never been as bad at returning emails as I have been in wedding planning. I want to reply to all my vendors with a “Good thing I’m only planning a wedding once since I’m so bad at it!” opening line…

      • Poppy

        YES! Also, “I swear I’m not this bad at my actual job…”

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  • Anon

    Engagement was awful for me! I started freaking out about an hour after the proposal. During the entire process (and anytime the wedding came up afterwards), my father would always mention how the wedding was the saddest day of his life (because he was “losing” me…we weren’t even moving). Not to mention the fights over money with my MIL. And on top of all this, I converted to Judaism. It was SUPER complicated and a crazy shift in identity. Nothing has gone the way I expected, but I love being married and having the wedding behind us!

  • Emily Hill

    I hated being engaged. So much anxiety I had a hard time placing at first. A lot of that anxiety was in regards to a shift in my identity. I also had a difficult time with attention on me, and while being engaged I always felt like saying “fiance” sounded so pretentious. I couldn’t wait to just be a wife because it sounded a lot less flashy in my mind. I was always paranoid that when I told people I was engaged they were immediately thinking that I was just looking for attention and for a reaction. It took me a long time before I felt comfortable saying I was engaged. But yes, anxiety and not always feeling 100% excited all the time is so normal and thank God I found APW so I knew those feelings were normal!

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  • toomanybooks

    Yup. Definitely freaked out/had anxiety nausea (it’s a thing for me) after getting engaged – and I was the one who proposed! Two particular reasons engagement hasn’t been what I thought it would be, outside of general engagement freak out: 1) I’m gay and marrying a woman, and my mom visibly has to try not to cry whenever I bring up the wedding, and 2) my fiancée and I will be paying for the wedding ourselves, and I quickly realized that what I thought would be a wonderland of picking out all the things I liked best for one event was really going to be just freaking out about the cost of everything to the point where it wasn’t really all that fun because what’s fun about us dropping more than what I have in my bank account on a deposit? It makes me soooooo jealous to hear about people whose parents are paying for even one part of the wedding. What’s more, my dad was pressuring me to have the wedding in a fancier place that I was initially planning, probably because even though he wasn’t paying for the wedding, he thought people would assume that he was and it would reflect badly on him if it didn’t look like a lot of money had been spent on it.

  • HT

    I actually just said to my friend, “I don’t want to say that what has happened with my Dad is ruining my engagement and making me not excited about my wedding… but, it’s definitely overshadowed everything and I am just not feeling super jazzed right now.” My Dad had a heart attack in early March, and then two weeks later followed it up by going into cardiac arrest at home. He has been in and out of the hospital, my Mom took FMLA as a result to take care of him, and now we’re trying to plan this way-too-complicated fundraiser to raise money for my parents to pay medical bills. I’ve spent so much time working on all of that, that thinking about putting things together for my wedding just doesn’t really matter.
    It’s really nice to hear that other people had a rough engagement, although it made not be the same circumstance as mine. I hate thinking that I just can’t wait for October to be here and I can just be married to the love of my life and move on from all this, but I have seriously cried so much just over the past 2 months alone that I feel like laying in bed next to my husband on the night after our wedding will be the biggest relief ever.

    • BDubs

      Hugs!
      My mom died suddenly two months before our wedding last year.
      I definitely get you.

  • kaitlin

    I actually started reading APW when I was freaking the EFF out after getting engaged. I felt like since it wasn’t rainbows and butterflies, I must be making a huge mistake. Thankfully I knew better than that, but I couldn’t understand why being engaged was so hard for me. It was a huge identity shift for me. I had always been fiercely independent and growing up with all brothers, I never NEEDED a man, I could hold my own and I felt like getting married I was admitting that I needed someone. Also, all those damn rom-coms and fairytales really messed with my head too – finding your soul mate and just knowing that was the one you were going to marry and the person was the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen. Luckily reality is way better than any of those silly movies or books, instead I have found the guy I have chosen to be with, I am still very independent but also have a person who is there for me 100% and we always have the best time together. Thankfully I had a website like this to reel me in. And a therapist. She was amazing helping me through the darkest times of my life. And while my wedding day was pretty fantastic, life since then has been even more amazing… not all rainbows and butterflies but definitely brighter than my engagement period!

  • Rebecca

    My least favorite part about being engaged has been the constant barrage of questions from my fiance’s extended family at every single get-together (do you have a venue/do you have a date/why not/when will you). I always feel like I’m being judged when I tell people no, we don’t have anything planned yet. For example: this weekend there was a cookout with a lot of his extended family. I had 4 different people ask me if we had a date or venue, and when I said “we’re still looking” I got this LOOK like “What are you waiting for/silently judging you” and it’s SO irritating, especially since they’re people I see maybe a couple times a year. It really makes me not want to talk about the whole process.

    In reality, we HAVE found a venue, but I don’t want to tell anyone until the contract is signed and sent back. We already had that backfire once: we loved a venue, but the super-sweet coordinator “left” (we think she got fired) and the new woman was horrid. We decided not to go with the place, but for some reason Fiance’s stepfather told everyone at Easter that’s where we were having the wedding when obviously, we weren’t. So we’re wary about that happening again, and since I’m super private in general and people on his side are super gossipy, I want to keep it quiet for now.

    So yeah, the family expectations and such have definitely been the biggest struggle. I understand that a wedding is something people like getting excited about, but I absolutely hate all the questions. It’s just not something I want to talk about with other people.

    • Saxyrunner

      My future in-laws do the rapid fire questions and gossip as well. After about 4 back to back questions I usually get overwhelmed and they back off for the visit. They’ve been super helpful thoughints. They’ll remember things I otherwise would have forgotten. At one point they went and had a tour of our venue by themselves, though. That was super weird to me because it’s a couple’s house and property. We are paying to rent it for the weekend, but it’s not like a zoo or someplace that gets visitors regularly. In that case I wished I’d given them less information.

  • Pdoss

    It surprisingly wasn’t until very late in my engagement that I realized that it was TOTALLY identity issues that were bearing down on me. My engagement has been the most trying and difficult thing I have ever done. I think it’s the first time that I’ve actually been required to sacrifice more than I want to. In other areas of life, other people can ask you to give something up, but ultimately it is up to you whether or not you concede. In engagement, as you’re prepping to really become a single unit with someone else, you don’t get to just decide for yourself anymore. That has been absolutely terrible for me. And it’s not even that I don’t want to sacrifice my desires for my soon-to-be husband, it’s that I connect my identity, my worth, my strength, etc, to my ability to prove to people that I am a strong and capable, independent, woman of integrity.

    Our engagement has been riddled with moments where things that I’ve decided are second guessed by the people around me, most of all my fiancé. It’s brought up huge fears about my ability to be a good spouse, “am I a bad wife if I’m the one that has to have the last word on everything, and never give my husband a chance to make a decision.” It’s made me question whether or not I want to give up my independence for a relationship.

    It’s terrifying; It’s anxiety inducing. And being 10 days away from my wedding, it’s only gotten worse. Engagement has been an absolute BEAR, and if I could go back and do it all over again, I’m not even sure that I could do it any better. I guess it’s strengthening; No Pain, No Gain… but man I wish it was so much easier and satisfying and not as divisive as it has ended up being.

    • Steph S.

      You’re not alone here. My engagement caused a massive identity crisis for me too. Like you, I’m a super independent woman. For basically all of my adult life until now, I have supported myself on my own and dated fairly casually. I’ve always relied on myself and never before felt like I had to significantly alter my life for anyone else. There was nobody counting on me except me. When my now husband and I started dating, and eventually moved in together (about a year later), it was *very* difficult getting used to sharing responsibilities and resources. Even now that we’re married (3 years after we started dating) – it’s still a challenge for me to make room sometimes. I don’t say that to discourage you, but just to be honest. I think that having relied on myself for so long made me selfish in a way, where I didn’t know how to share so much with someone else. The “I just need to do it my way” mentality is still kinda there. Not in a control freaky way, but more in a “I need to still be me” way. Even though I’m married I still need to feel like a free agent. Like, I need my alone time. I need my time by myself hiking out in nature. I need some of my own belongings that are just mine. And my own hobbies. This is how you maintain your free agent attitude within marriage. If you haven’t already, you could talk to your fiance about all this and what aspects of your independent identity are important to you. Be clear about what makes you you and what you need for yourself.

      • Diana

        I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get over my “do it my way” mentality. It comes off as naggy and I know it makes my fiancé feel like crap, like he can’t do anything right but like you, I’m so used to only relying on myself and handling everything on my own that it’s strangely difficult for me to let myself rely on him or let him “take care” of anything. Part of me wants to let him do stuff but the other part of me is desperately clinging to my independence and my “I can do it myself” spirit that I had when we first met.

  • Miri Lee

    I had a different kind of issue with my ring/proposal. I had my heart set on my great grandmother’s ring to be my engagement ring since I was a kid. It was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. It wasn’t a “blood diamond”. It was different, unique and timeless. I also knew that for my partner to give me that ring meant they needed to go through my mum and I knew she wouldn’t give it to someone she thought wasn’t the right person for me, which made me feel secure. However my fiance had no connection to that ring whatsoever. It wasn’t really a marker of our love and there was no thought put into it. It was just easy. We decided mutually to get engaged (while he was doing the dishes) but I wanted some romance so i organised a weekend away for us and waited for him to pop the question. I ended up initiating the proposal because he had nothing planned. no words, not even down on one knee. What did I expect though, I didn’t really give him a chance to organise anything -i just did it all. I even organised for my mum to get the ring polished and for fiance to visit my mum to get it. It really got to me though. I didnt realise how much i wanted the surprise. How much i wanted someone to make a fuss of me. I started reading all these things about other peoples engagements and i really felt like I had missed out. The stone in my ring cracked and I ended up just not wearing it and deciding in my head it wasn’t my engagement ring. As I write this I sound super entitled and I wish I could let it go, but i think its all just a part of the engagement blues. My fiance has never been to a wedding and none of his family have been married nor know anything about weddings so I’m leading the way on this adventure. I would love him to take charge of the situation cos i think that would make me feel like I was worth the effort but he’s doing things as best he can. He’s now in charge of making sure I get a date each week and that I’m doing self care so I have the energy to tackle all these tasks. He also chose my wedding band which he had tears in his eyes when he showed me (His mum kinda ruined the moment a little bit by calling me the c word long story) but in the end I really did get what I wanted and he has made me feel very loved and special- just in his own way not in the “traditional” way.

    • the cupboard under the stairs

      I’m so glad everything worked out well, and you don’t sound entitled at all. I totally get this feeling. On my first Valentine’s Day with my now-fiance, I told him I didn’t want to make plans because I hate the cheesiness and the pressure associated with that day. But when Feb. 14 came around, I decided to surprise him with flowers and a card and was upset he didn’t do something similar, even though I’d specifically asked him not to! I think what I’m trying to say is: you can believe in your heart that you don’t need the traditional gooey romantic proposal but still feel a pang of FOMO when it doesn’t happen, because those traditional proposals are happening all around you, online and offline. Later, when you’re planning a wedding, you can believe in your heart that you’re a chill bride but still obsess over some details…because you feel the weight of Pinterest on your shoulders. Conflicting feelings are really confusing but totally normal; don’t beat yourself up over them.

    • elliejay23

      I feel you on the “I wanted a surprise and was disappointed when it didn’t happen although I MADE IT so it COULDN’T happen.” That’s probably my biggest regret about my engagement, which I still talk to my counselor about regularly. You’re not the only one, believe me!

      But it’s also good to just know that somebody loved you enough to want to spend the rest of their life with you, regardless of whether they surprised with this fact or not! :D

  • Susannatescobar4

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  • Hannah Malcolm

    This has been incredibly difficult for me. We talked a lot about it beforehand; we even picked out our engagement rings together. But then I didn’t tell anyone that we got engaged (Except for my counselor) for about 2 weeks. Then my co-worker noticed the ring and asked about it. I’ve probably told ~5 people, out of the ~50 who know right now. We’re not eloping because I want my mom to be there and I know he wants his family there, but I am so beyond sick of all the unsolicited comments and advice. It’s worse because I never planned on getting married – and it took A LOT of therapy and talking to him to come over that (long family stuff), and yet everyone assumes that because we’re 21, we haven’t thought properly about it. And then I don’t care that much about the wedding, which leaves people in total shock – multiple people have told me that I’ll regret not making it a big deal even after I explain that we don’t want to go into debt. But then my (to-be) mother-in-law literally plans every aspect of it – she just called me to set a date – and didn’t understand why I wasn’t ecstatic. She convinced his pastor to let us hold it in the church in the middle of a normal Sunday service…. Even though we’re not religious and don’t go to church. But because it’s been established that I don’t want a big to-do, I’m supposed to be utterly thrilled about it. And sometimes I just feel like our relationship is floundering because suddenly we’re in this ~~~weird not here, not there place. I never had to continually justify our relationship to virtual strangers before, and now everyone expects me to profess my love for him and my excitement on command. And then I don’t like the word “wife.” And I just want this all to be over so that we continue our life together.

    • BDubs

      Just like you can’t really understand wanting all the pomp and circumstance, I’m sure well-meaning loved ones can’t imagine NOT having all the floof.
      Everyone is a little different along the spectrum of wedding/engagement/union stuff.
      Don’t take it personally (as much as you can) and maybe try to understand where all the unsolicited verbal junk comes from.
      Find your script for well-meaning nonsense and pull it out whenever you feel that tight feeling in the chest.
      You’re going to have a lovely wedding, YOUR WAY.
      xo

  • Anon for this

    A few days after getting engaged, I got in my car to go to work and violently cried my eyes out for about 20 minutes. It had nothing to do with the state of my relationship and everything to do with the social pressure I suddenly felt from outside of it. Repeating the same story a thousand times, correcting sexist assumptions and reassuring friends and family members who were a little shocked at the announcement was all so EXHAUSTING.

    I’ve never felt farther away from my family than I do now, as we’re planning this wedding. Heck, I’ve never felt more resentment toward my fiance, who through no fault of his own didn’t have to deal with any of the above.

    Throughout our young adult lives, women are taught to expect engagement to be one of the happiest times of their lives…but I suspect that for most of us, it’s really not. I’ve made a vow to share my experience with any and all female friends who get engaged down the road so that, should they feel the same way, they know they’re not alone and their feelings are perfectly normal. Who’s with me?

  • Calli

    I was happy to be engaged, but as soon as I started working on wedding planning, I started getting feeling weird. It seemed like all the advice was based on some person who I was supposed to now be, or some ideal or general person, and I constantly felt like a freak, or invisible. It starts with the engagement ring talk–oh what kind of ring did he propose with? Well, as a matter off fact, I proposed to him, and I gave him a pair of cuff-links. It’s been one thing after another like this, where apparently I’m some kind of weird radical so far off the beaten path that my kind of experience isn’t even mentioned as a possibility.

    I’ve known my whole life I’m a bit eccentric but never have I felt so judged. Well, OK, never since middle school. But I didn’t think that what I’m doing and the choices I’ve been making are all that odd. There’s so many things that people say I must do and I sort of look at them and think: must I, though? And don’t get me started on the “theme” and “vision” thing. We’re just doing the things we like, incorporating our spiritual and cultural traditions. It’s not a theme, it’s my culture. The “theme” questions seem so trivial, too, but don’t address deep fundamental concerns. I don’t care what color the napkins are and weather the chairs are canaleviered (or whatever it is). It feels like being forced to choose which cereal I want for breakfast out of a giant aisle of colored sugar cereal, when in fact I want black coffee and a bagel, but no, you’re asking me which cereal I want!

    In contrast to others posting here, it seems getting engaged has brought me closer to my family. I’ve never really realized (or paid attention to) how much they disapproved of my single lady life until I started getting all these piles of love and approval for getting engaged. I’ve never felt quite so approved of. On the one hand, it’s a nice feeling. On the other hand, it’s a bit creepy. Oh well, I’m sure it will wear off once they realize no children are forthcoming.

  • Betsympartida2

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  • JenW

    The only time when I feel happy to be engaged or even feel like I’m engaged is when my fiance is with me. My ring just feels like another piece of jewelry, It doesn’t feel special. I don’t know if it’s because I picked it out myself and it was the second choice since my jeweler couldn’t get a wedding band to fit nicely with the first (asymetrical setting); or if it’s because my he proposed to me between his grandmother’s death and the funeral. The first time his family saw me since he proposed was at the wake and I felt super awkward having his mother show off the ring in the same room as the casket. I had to ask her to wait til we got to the restaurant or something; just not in the funeral home. I didn’t even realize he was proposing because he always says he wants to marry me but then he followed with a “well you have to say yes first”. I love my ring and my fiance but the ring doesn’t feel any different from any other piece of jewelry I have. I sometimes just feel empty when I look at it.
    I’ve been getting so much stress and anxiety from my mother that I don’t even know if I want a wedding or not. She’s been decidedly contrary about everything. If I like something she seems to automatically dismiss it or give a “if that’s what you”. I think the only reason we agreed on the dress is because she expressed her opinion as soon as she saw it and I hadn’t liked the way it looked in the dressing room. We’ve gotten into so many fights because she thinks I don’t care for her opinion when I ignore the fact that she doesn’t like something. She doesn’t seem to like anything I do which is insane since we usually have a similar opinion 70% of the time. I’ve found that I’m getting better odds if I don’t express an opinion until after she does. This is making it very difficult since that would make it dependent on her to see everything first cause even if I just point something out and ask for her opinion, she doesn’t like it. I would just give up on the wedding but I’ve always wanted the big dress and the flowers. I thought about doing a destination but then my mother went on a tirade about how I don’t need a fancy dress for 20 people. I told her I’m getting the prettiest sparkliest dress I can afford no matter what because I don’t care about the people, I care about him and me and having my closest people there. All the mother drama plus usual telling me I need to diet multiplied by 1000.

  • Michellewmorgan2

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  • Bunnymama

    It’s so good to find blogs/articles out there that address this: it’s good to know you’re not the only one, you know?
    I have always wanted to be proposed to. I have always wanted the whole wedding thing. I used to look at wedding dresses online when I was in a funk (to cheer me up). So I really expected this to be the most exciting and special time in my life.
    After 8 years with my honey, I’d finally given up on the idea that marriage was in my future and was trying to make peace with that. And then he asked me to marry him. I almost passed out, felt like I couldn’t breathe for two days and eventually had to take a xanax (foreshadowing?). But I was thrilled and terribly happy. I had about 1 month of blissful engagement joy. Then reality kicked in.
    Here’s what engagement has been like for me:
    When we told family about our engagement, my FBIL who’d been engaged for over 2 years with no date in sight decided they’d better start actually
    planning and that caused some drama regarding dates, now they’re getting married only 1 month before ours.
    We’ve had a couple of deaths amid aunts/uncles starting with one the night we were supposed to go out to celebrate our engagement with our parents, which obviously put a damper on things.
    Simultaneously, I’m dealing with aging parents and more than one family
    member who I’m feeling don’t want me to send them an invite because they’ll feel
    obligated to go but uncomfortable declining. Seriously, how much social anxiety can exist in one bloodline?
    The guest list sent me to the ER thinking I was having a heart attack.
    The restaurant we picked for our dinner has a distinct haunted vibe, and
    that’s not exactly what I envisioned, but there doesn’t seem to be
    another option that makes sense.
    I’ve been pressured by family to invite my ex-best friend even though I
    haven’t really spoken to her in over a year, but there are a lot of
    family connections between us, so….
    I commented to a close friend the other day that I didn’t feel this would be a life
    changing event for us as we’ve been together for 8 years, lived together
    for over 5, we’re not having children or combining our finances. She asked me rather rudely why we were getting married in that case and proceeded to comment that we’d probably get divorced in a few years
    anyway!
    I’ve been frustrated with my honey because he seems to feel strongly
    about how we do this, yet he isn’t actually doing any of the
    planning/work. Funny, I thought he didn’t like the idea of a big wedding
    but I’m the one who keeps asking if we can just elope! However, it seems to mean
    a lot to him to have all our friends and family present for the entire
    wedding weekend and I want him to be happy.
    I was prepared for financial stress, and while it sucks to spend so much, I’m ok with it. What I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional stress.
    I feel incredibly insecure, like I’m not going to be pretty enough or perfect enough to be a “bride” (whatever that is?). I worry that everyone will be judging me: it’s like having severe PMS all day every day for the past 4 months – awesome!
    *Sigh*
    That’s not to say that there haven’t been nice moments.
    At first, I felt like being engaged made my relationship with my honey feel sweeter. And I’ve had some other girlfriends who have really stepped up and been wonderful to me.

    But sadly, right now I feel very distanced from the whole thing. I really want nothing to do with it anymore. It’s like the wedding has become it’s own entity and has nothing to do with me (which doesn’t make sense because I’ve obviously made a lot of these decisions/plans myself). It’s sad. I’m at the point where I’m hoping no one will show up and I kind of hope I get sick right before the wedding so I can take off early from the wedding dinner and just go take a bath. I really hope this horrible feeling goes away and I can start enjoying it again.

    • the cupboard under the stairs

      “I feel incredibly insecure, like I’m not going to be pretty enough or perfect enough to be a ‘bride’ (whatever that is?).”

      YES. Logistics planning is stressful, talking to our families is stressful, but nothing has stressed me out more than thoughts like this. At least a dozen of my FB friends have been engaged at the same time as me, and some of them are intimidatingly glowy/fit/princessy.

      Things I have to keep telling myself:

      -The person I’m marrying loves the way I look.
      -I am my own harshest critic.
      -My wedding dress tailor is REALLY good at what she does and will make me look amazing.
      -I hired a top-notch wedding photographer who will undoubtedly make me look great.
      -I’ll be so happy on my wedding day that I won’t have time for insecurity.

      I hope keeping some of these thoughts in mind helps you, too!

  • Julie

    We’re still in the engagement period for a little over a year yet, but I was elated at first. Then… then panic set in. I felt like the ring was a noose around my ring finger and started to feel all of this anxiety. I cried a lot for two weeks. Especially when I told my mom I didn’t want to have the wedding in my hometown and she seemed really hurt by that. But once we got the date, ceremony, and venue set up, things got a little easier for the time being…then we decided very recently to buy a house together, so I’m sure this adventure is just going to get more interesting!

  • Micki

    The weirdest part for me is people just assuming that I, as a woman, will be taking my future husband’s name. Granted, I’m already used to having awkward name conversations because my parents gave me & my sister a hyphenated name with both of their last names. (I got asked if I was married because I had a hyphenated name…when I was 16!)

    But I also have the satisfaction of ending conversations like this:

    Them: So what will your new name be after the wedding?
    Me: I’m actually keeping my own name. [Insert optional explanation here if they ask why]
    Them: So what will you call yourselves? / So what will your kids be named? / Will your kids have triple-hyphenated names? (Assuming we will have kids, of course, even though we may not.)
    Me: Actually, he’s taking my name, so we’ll both be the [LastName]s.
    Them: Oh.

  • EventSitters

    So glad that I ran across this. I thought that something was wrong with me because I’m not enjoying my engagement.

  • Jessica

    Oh my goodness, this comment thread is kind of saving my life right now. I’m getting married in less than a month, and I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m an event coordinator in my work life, and thought this would mean I might have an easier time planning our wedding: not the case. I love my partner so much, and I’m so excited to start the next phase of our life together, but this whole year of being engaged has been rough. The hardest thing for me is all of the invisible labor, and emotional labor. Even though it’s appreciated, I don’t feel like anyone understands all of the little and big things I’ve been doing for this wedding, from painting all of the Dollar Store vases and sticking to a budget, to navigating my mother and his mother-in-law’s relationship, to remembering to looking up the cost of a marriage license. I’ve been stress crying a bunch (mostly when watching the West Wing, ha), and I know it will be better when we’re through it, but sometimes I feel so lonely with all the planning. It’s hard. Way harder than I anticipated.

  • Stephanie

    This is so real! I have found that reading the _Conscious Bride_ and reading some of the blog articles on conscioustransitions have made a HUGE difference in helping me recognize the transition that is engagement and marriage!!