I don’t think I actually read A Tale of Two Cities. I think I got the Cliff’s Notes and faked the rest. But based on the first line alone, I’m pretty sure the whole thing is about engagement. It’s awesome, and it’s horrible, or at least it has been for me. If you found it to be the best time ever, please leave a comment with your experience. With a month and a half left to go, it might help me to have some tips. Here’s how it’s been so far.
I’ve only been working 20 hours a week since May, but I still feel like there’s so much to do. Between wedding planning and moving, there were a couple of months when I came home bleary-eyed and mush-brained every night and just fell into bed. Things have settled down a bit now that the moving is done and most of the wedding is planned, but for a Type B personality, it was rough going there for a while.
(Tangent: You hear about Type A people all the time, but never Type B. I figured that Type B must logically exist if Type A did, but I had to look it up to be sure. It makes sense, though. Type A people have conferences and things because they love planning them, so you hear about Type A people because their conferences are advertised and tweeted about, and they talk about it a lot. Type B people don’t have anything like that because we’re just all soaking in our bathtubs with a glass of wine. End of tangent.)
The problem with a short engagement is that planning a wedding is a lot of work, and all the checklists you find assume that you’ll have a year or more to plan your wedding (Type A people are clearly in charge of the wedding planning guide industry). They have things divided into time chunks. A year or more before your wedding, do these things. 10-12 months before, do these things. 8-10 months before, do these things, and so on. Our engagement will only be six months, though, so in the first two months, I had to cram in all the 4-12+ month tasks.
On the wedding planning front, lots of things are frustrating:
1. I must have called 20+ venues in the first week of planning, and the conversation went like this:
Me: Hi, I’m looking for a venue for my wedding.
Them: Oh great, congratulations! We’d love to help you. Do you have a date in mind?
Me: Yeah, September 28.
Them: (pause)…of this year?
Them: (laughing) No, we’re definitely booked. We could get you in next year.
If I had known we needed to start planning that far in advance to get the perfect place, I could have called and booked things this time last year…before Will and I started dating.
2. I wanted a rustic-chic wedding, in a cool old barn with vintage chandeliers. I wanted to wear a lace dress and carry fabric flowers. I wanted candlelight, simplicity and sweetness. I know now that a simple, rustic-chic wedding would probably cost $30,000 and take a year and a half to plan, and since I’m not willing to spend that much money or time on one day that is really more about being married than getting married, I had to let go of a lot of what I wanted.
3. But letting go is frustrating too because as soon as you let go of the dream wedding and understand what really matters about the day, you think, “Ok, let’s just take our families and go to the courthouse. Then we’ll get 20 of our closest friends to meet us at a great restaurant afterward.” But something (your parents, society, the idea that having a wedding is what you’re “supposed to do,” wanting to see all your friends, wanting to wear the pretty dress, some combination of all of these) makes you keep pushing through the wedding-planning process.
I really am glad we’re having a wedding. I wouldn’t advise anyone else to do it, but in the end, I’m glad it’s happening. I am looking forward to wearing the dress and seeing all our friends and family and having a great big fun party together and seeing Will all dressed up in a 3-piece suit. But the other frustrating thing about engagement is that WE’RE STILL NOT MARRIED.
Oh my gosh HOW are we still not married? In so many ways, it feels like we are, but then I have to leave and go “home.” WHY do I have to leave every night and sleep in a different bed? WHY do we have to go without seeing each other at all some days? WHY don’t we live together?
I mean this in a good way. I used to think people had an engagement period to give them time to plan a wedding. Now I think you plan a wedding so you can be engaged for a while because engagement is the time when you prepare for marriage, not the wedding. And you need time to prepare for marriage.
Wedding planning is stressful and frustrating and hectic, and it has made me cry on several occasions. But that’s ok because when I cry, Will tells me it’s all going to be ok, and that I’m not in it alone. He reassures me that he is with me every step of the way, and that I don’t have to fend for myself. It has also made us argue, which is actually great because we never argued before, and couples in healthy relationships argue. In our arguing, I found that anger and frustration with Will don’t make me want to leave him. Not even a little bit. They just make me want to not be angry or frustrated. So we work toward a solution and toward understanding, and usually when we understand each other, a solution becomes apparent.
During our engagement, we’ve gone through premarital counseling, and that gave us lots of opportunities to talk about things we might not have talked about earlier. We’ve learned things about each other that we never knew and that will help us in the future to understand. It’s been a time of growth for us as a couple, and for that, I appreciate our time of engagement.
Sometimes my ring catches my eye when the light hits it, and I’m just overwhelmed with love and contentment. Knowing that someone loves me as much as Will does is just amazing. I was single for so long, and I didn’t really date a lot, so I got really good at talking my hopes down. It was enough for me to be loved by God and to have a great family and friends that felt like great family. And that is still enough. It’s not that I need the love of a man now that I have it. But holy cow, it’s a fantastic bonus.
And maybe even more than that, having someone to love in this way is so nice. Every day, I offer him a part of who I am, and every day, he wants it and accepts it completely. Loving someone else and looking out for his best interests means (I hope) that I’m becoming a little less selfish, and accepting the same from him means I’m learning to trust more and not to fight so hard for myself. It means I don’t have to worry about myself at all because I know I’m taken care of. And in return, I get the joy of taking care of him.
Despite the frustration, it really is a very sweet time of learning and growth together, and the emotion that overrides all the others, when I really think about it, is gratitude. I hope I can always remember that in the future when things are hectic and frustrating.