We received the following e-mail from a young woman wrestling with long engagements vs. short ones.
I did a search on your website and all I came up with was an article called “Tips for Engagement,” which briefly mentioned that short engagements can be good for a number of reasons, but didn’t go into what those reasons are.
Here’s my story: My boyfriend and I have been dating for over a year. I’m 20 and he’s 21. We aren’t officially engaged yet because he just finished college and is looking for a job. If we had our way we’d be married right now, but in this economy it may take a long time for my boyfriend to find a good job. We’re hoping he can find a job and save up enough money to be prepared for marriage within the next few months, and hopefully we can get married this Spring.
I completely agree with all the articles on your website about not delaying marriage. I also agree with the articles saying that logistics should not get in the way of getting married. Unfortunately, our logistical issues are too great to overlook. If my boyfriend doesn’t have a job, he’s obviously not going to be a good provider. So as much as we want to get married, we have to wait until he’s financially ready.
She then lists six thoughts about short engagements:
1. Less Temptation
First of all, we’d be less tempted to go too far physically. We’re never completely alone together — we’re always at either my parents’ house or his parents’ house, so there’s not much opportunity for us to actually have sex. But we really don’t want to put ourselves through the misery of being tempted to have sex when we can’t.
2. Wedding Planning
Personally, I think planning a wedding in a very brief amount of time would be less stressful than prolonging the ordeal. This may sound crazy, but I’m the kind of person who likes to get things done and get them done quickly. I don’t want to spend months agonizing over which dress to buy, what color the bridesmaids dresses should be, what font should we use on the invitations, etc, etc, etc.
3. Less Unwelcomed Opinions
A short engagement would give less opportunity for family/friends to butt in. Now I know this sounds terrible, but I’m not saying I don’t want my family or friends to help me plan the wedding or anything like that. I just don’t want my mother to pester me because she doesn’t like the floral arrangements I picked out, or my future mother-in-law to pressure me to have all the bridesmaids wear traditional Chinese attire (my boyfriend’s mom is from Hong Kong), or my maid of honor to insist that the cake be chocolate when I want it to be vanilla, or anything like that. If I go out and buy all the stuff and say “What’s done is done!” they can’t try to make me change my mind.
4. Financial Security
Like I said before, my boyfriend and I wish that we were married now. We’re going to have to wait until he gets a job and financial security before getting engaged. Once we’re finally able to get engaged, we don’t want to still have to wait a long time before we can finally get married.
5. Already Decided
The point of an engagement is basically to plan the wedding and go through premarital counseling. We don’t need to use that time to decide if we want to get married or not. We’ve already come to that decision through our friendship before dating our year plus of dating.
6. Elegant but Simple
We don’t want an extravagant wedding anyway. Just the basic stuff — elegant but simple. The more time we have to nitpick about every detail, the more complicated the end result will be.
I’m happy to have had a short engagement, a mere four months. I was in a bit different situation than this couple, though, as I was in my mid-30s, owned a home, and had a good job. That freed us up from having to deal with the legitimate concerns many couples have about finances.
I’m a big fan of short engagements. I think the reasons this woman suggests are solid. If you’re financially sound and you’ve already decided that this is the one, why would you have a long engagement? And if you’re in a difficult place financially or logistically, how might you move the wedding date up?
Copyright 2019 Ted Slater. All rights reserved.