Is timing really everything?


Meagan Dill

When it comes to wedding planning, many couples take their cue from this line of Billy Crystal’s in When Harry Met Sally: “When you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as quickly as possible.” While I’m sure most would agree that this is a beautiful sentiment, the reality of being engaged can turn out to be more complicated than simply wanting to be with your significant other forever.

When a couple decides to take the route of a longer engagement, there are obstacles aplenty. For example, something as simple as an otherwise innocent question asked by well-meaning family and friends can quickly become grating. At first, it’s asked lightly but over time begins to pick up a more serious tone. That question is, of course, “So have you decided on a date yet?”

Putting off setting a date is not necessarily a sign of uncertainty within the couple – rather, long engagements tend to be an attempt at balancing things out. Having committed to one day marrying each other, the couple can then go ahead with taking advantage of other opportunities for the benefit of both themselves and their future together – like finishing a degree, reaching a particular career goal, or becoming financially stable enough to be able to comfortably afford to support a family (not to mention being able to pay for a wedding).

Taking your time means that things like saving up, nabbing your dream venue by booking far in advance, and being able to turn things over in your mind before making final decisions are all within reach. On the other hand, couples who have a shorter engagement period might be able to benefit from last-minute specials by vendors who need to fill a gap in their schedule.

Some say that a short engagement can be dangerous for a couple who haven’t known each other for an extended period of time, for the obvious reason that they might not know each other well enough to be fully informed of what exactly it is they’re committing to. For couples who have been together for many years, though, this is less of a concern and may even be beneficial. For example, an indecisive bride-to-be might flourish during a speedy engagement period as she is forced into going with her gut feeling when picking out everything that goes into a wedding ceremony and reception. Being forced to stick with initial decisions can even cut down on pre-wedding stress, since the lack of time leaves no room for that agonising back-and-forth between two options.

Ultimately, in such situations the most important thing in making it work is undoubtedly that both partners are open about the planned length of the engagement. Both should be comfortable with the idea of either exercising long-term patience over the years or spending the few short months in the grip of wedding planning mania. If openness and honesty is made the top priority, then the result of either length of engagement is sure to be the same: a happy marriage.