When my fiancé and I got engaged in November 2015, it was such an exciting time that I didn't really think about the long road ahead. We were the first of our group of friends to get engaged, and yes, we will be the last of them to get married. When we finally say "I Do" in February 2017, we will have endured a long 15-month engagement (something I would advise against). Though so many people's reactions have been the same as mine- "Oh my gosh! How are you surviving?! You're brave." Some have been more encouraging (though I tend to not embrace what they're saying)- "It's such a fun season! There's no need to rush! These will be some of your favorite memories!" Both are hard to hear in different ways, but I'm striving to find peace with the latter.
Here are some pieces of advice from someone who's been engaged for far too long, of how to survive truly enjoy the season of being engaged, no matter how long it may be.
1. Embrace the blessings, well-wishes, and spoils.
I don't know about you, but I am not one who takes encouragement or attention super easily. Don't get me wrong, I love gifts (it's one of my top love languages), but everyone fawning over my ring or the story of the proposal, or asking me constantly "How are plans coming?" can be super overwhelming. I tend to stray away from being the spotlight because I try too hard to not be selfish, but this is a season where it's okay and expected to be in the limelight. Not only is it okay, people want to spoil you! This will only happen once in your life (hopefully), so embrace the spoils.
2. Don't let the planning of the wedding distract you from the importance of the marriage.
This is so easy to do, that I'm kicking myself as I write it. You'll probably disagree with more than one person when it comes to planning the big day. You might even disagree with your fiancé on multiple occasions. Don't let these disagreements define those relationships, and remember to focus on the outcome of the day. At the end of it all, the marriage is what's more important. I can't tell you how many times I hear people say, "Once you finally get to that day, it will fly by faster than you can imagine." If you're focusing more time on planning than you are cultivating and growing your relationship with your "soon-to-be," then something is out of whack.
3. Find compromise on decisions.
Look, I'm no expert on this one. There have been quite a few things that my fiancé and I disagree on, but when I realize that those things aren't as important to me as I thought, it makes compromise more possible. That being said, map out your top priorities and their top priorities. When you think of the big day, what are the top 5 most important things, dances, songs, activities, etcetera that you want to happen a certain way. If you still disagree, make a pros and cons list and find what outweighs the others.
4. Do things together.
1. Do wedding things together. Plan the day with each other, because it is about BOTH of you, not just the bride. There are many things that the groom probably doesn't care about (bridesmaid's stuff, etc), but the rest of the day is about your journey together. When the groom checks out TOO much, it could show the bride a lack of interest in their life together (unless the bride is really controlling and doesn't care what the groom thinks anyway- I'd advise counseling). Don't let your family intervene too much to where you're not even making your own decisions about your wedding.
2. Do life together still! Life can get busy when you add wedding planning onto your schedule, but don't let it take over your relationship. Plan for wedding planning conversations separately so you can still have date nights without the topic and potential stress coming up too much.
5. Don't go it alone.
This may seem to contradict number 4, but rest assured it doesn't. Though the big day is about you, it also is such a special time to share with those closest to you- your family and friends.
When you (as the bride) are stressed about writing out addresses, stamping and sending invitations, designing your table decor, or creating a seating chart, enlist your best girls! Your bridesmaids, your mom, almost-mother-in-law, siblings, other friends, aunts, you name it. These people want to be a part of your life, and they will be so flattered that you asked for their help! They want to be a part of the big day as well.
When you (as a couple) are struggling with boundaries, relational conflict, or finding time for each other in the midst of the busyness, enlist the help of a pre-marital counselor or even an older married couple in your life that you respect. You should be doing this anyway, not just when problems arise, but if you haven't, do it now. Find the people in your life that can help stake your tent down in this season, because it will help you prepare for marriage, and even better, show you who will be there in the long run throughout your lives together.
This may seem like a stressful time to plan the biggest party of your life, but it is a special time where you can grow together and grow closer with your friends and family. It's a time where people come together and love grows fonder. So embrace it, remember the important things, compromise, do it together, and do it with others.
As the wedding planner in Bride Wars says about the final months of wedding planning, "With some couples, it brings out the fundamental conflicts in their relationship. With other couples, the lucky ones, it highlights the essential harmony of their partnership." Be the lucky ones.