4 things that nobody tells you about getting engaged

Guest post by Moriah Ziese

I've been told my entire life — by movies, books, and trashy reality shows — that your wedding is just a magical event. It's the pinnacle of your existence. It's the cherry on top of your completely average and mundane life. It's twenty-four hours where all eyes are on you, and you are the princess of your own fairy tale.

Well, I'm calling it. I'm calling bull on the entire situation.

I've been engaged a few months now, and I'm ready for my magical moments to start happening. There is no “that was easy!” button on your nightstand when you're covered in glitter and sweat. There isn't even an emergency lever at your convenience when you realize you can't pronounce “hors d'oeuvres” at a venue meeting.

There is blood. There is sweat. There are so many tears, you should invest in a lifejacket for your sea of hormones. Getting engaged is pretty much like every other adult situation in your life: no one knows what they are doing and most people are faking that they do.

So that future generations don't succumb to the same delusional state that I blissfully fell into, I've compiled a list of things that nobody tells you about getting engaged.

1. You are going to get a lot of advice from absolutely everyone

  • “You want to get married in May? Well, my second cousin's friend got married in May, and they got a divorce within six months. I really wouldn't risk it.”
  • “Yeah, I just started my own freelance [insert WEDDING INDUSTRY BUSINESS here].”
  • “You're thinking about hyphenating your name? Looks like somebody's pretentious…”
  • “Have I mentioned my son is a photographer? He can do some really cool editing in Microsoft Paint.”

Take all of this advice with a grain of salt. These people have good intentions. Be kind to them. But you don't have to take their well-intentioned advice.

2. People are going to make loads of assumptions

I can't tell you how many times people have told me how excited they are to go to my wedding. Most of the time, those people will likely be invited. But some of the time, it's people who you've met maybe three times tops at a company Christmas party, and you're asking yourself “Why am I still friends with them on Facebook?”

3. Your fiancé(e) is the exact same person they always were

My biggest fear was that once I got engaged, I became an adult and could no longer participate in non-adult conversations. I had a mental image of my husband and I, sitting around the dinner table discussing taxes and gluten. I'm very glad to say that you're allowed to have the same conversations with your fiancé(e) as you did with your boyfriend/girlfriend, such as “What if we're in the Matrix?” or “Do you think the dog understands what we're saying?” or “Isn't it weird to think that at any given time, thousands of people in the world are pooping?”

4. If you thought you were on budget, think again

Remember when you bought stuff? Like, for fun? Those are days of the past. You'll start out optimistically, saying, “We have a good budget! Plus, we can just DIY a ton of stuff.” This enthusiastic phase will quickly end, and you will become hard and cynical, saying things like “are Styrofoam plates tacky?” You will tumble further down the hill of pessimism, and you will be left desperately saying, “Well, which are your least favorite cousins?”

All of this wedding pressure can make you lose sight of what is truly at the middle of it all. The most important thing, and the only thing, to remember in all of this is that a wedding is just one day of your life. A mere twenty-four hours, gone in an instant. Being married lasts a whole lot longer than that.

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Comments on 4 things that nobody tells you about getting engaged

  1. Ah yes, the “advice” and assumptions. I had complete strangers rambling off divorce statistics to me… really! Example: One time my friend and I were shopping and she picked up a few things for my bridal shower. We were talking to our cashier about it and the cashier at the next lane over jumps in with something like, “Did you know that 20% of all marriages end in divorce after only 5 years?” So I slowly turned to him, looked him in the eyes and said, “Well, we’ve already been together for that long, so.” He looked quite surprised and said, “Oh… oh yeah… you’re probably off to a good start then.” …What a dick! I know a big part of it is because I look younger than I am. A lot of people assumed I was rushing into marriage when that wasn’t the case at all.

    Being engaged was really fun at times, but really stressful and annoying other times. Being married? Is just awesome. All the time. Even when it’s not, it is.

    • Amen to the “looking young” thing. It’s amazing how many people are not afraid to raise an eyebrow or outright question the fact that you’re getting married based on their assumptions about your age. I’ve always looked younger than I am, and usually it’s kind of nice, because people act bemused and happily surprised to find out my actual age. Until I mentioned I was engaged… then bemused turned to judgey-wudgy. I was publicly embarrassed while dress shopping, getting fitted, and chided by a waiter at a restaurant! But it was worth it to watch people realize they were being assholes when I told them “Actually, I’m 27.”

      Sad but true: If you look young or are young, you WILL get shit for being engaged.

      • So true. People at my retail job often mistake me for high school or early college age, partly just because I’m working retail. I love the look on their faces when I tell them I’m actually 25, I’ve been married for a year, and I have a master’s degree. People who didn’t know me would often ask how old I was after finding out I was engaged/am married.

      • I fit into that “are too young” category, and man oh man did I get flak for daring to be engaged/get married! I was 18 when we got engaged and 19 at the wedding (last month! <3) Granted, all of the flak was from well-meaning (or just nosey) strangers, because anyone who knows me or has ever had a conversation with me gets that I am not the same type of 18-year-old girl that pops to mind when you hear the words "18-year-old girl". It doesn't help that I'm baby-faced and don't wear makeup, either…

      • The other side of looking too young is being ‘too old’ to get married, which is, like, so strange. “Oh, you’re 33? Jeez, took you long enough!” “He’s 37, really? Why did he get divorced before? How many kids does he have?” Apparently it’s impossible for two people in their 30s to be getting married without having done it once (and equally ‘wrong,’ whatever that means) already.

        There’s such an air of ‘What’s wrong with you??’ if you’re even a tiny bit outside the point at which other people think you should get married.

        I guess because so many people have it figured out …

        • I didn’t get married til I was 40, and have never had or wanted kids. I really had no desire to get married at all until I met my husband. Even so, it was the legal/financial benefits of marriage that swayed us more than anything. I know, not so romantic. But after 10 years (7 wedded) together I still love him like there’s no tomorrow, and to me that’s what marriage should be all about, anyway.
          My husband is 15 years younger than I am anyway, which probably raised more eyebrows than how old I was when I finally married, LOL.

        • I totally agree with the whole thing. People are shocked to find out I’m only 24, which isn’t even that young, and then they ask about my finace, and find out he is 35, and so ask if he has been married before! Or how many ids he has.. Did they even ever consider that he was waiting for the right one?! Some people astound me.

        • Yes – we were both 42 when we got married this year. AND we wanted a small, quiet wedding. So obviously we were on our 2nd or more marriages, had to keep it hush-hush, there was some drama somewhere. Nope. Added to that, we’d already been together 12 years, and there were some really annoying “oh, you got him to do it at last” comments from people – grrrrr!

      • Amen! I’m always getting the “You’re way to young to get married.” Um, excuse me? I’m old enough to drink, smoke, and fight for this country if I so choose… I don’t need you parenting me. The thing that ticks me off the most, though, are the people how gets snarky when they find out I’m waiting until marriage. Once in the super market, I had a fellow class mate (we were in college together) exclaim, “What?! You’ve never had sex!? You can’t get married to a man you’ve never F*cked!” I was soooooo humiliated. And to top it off, after he saw me blush, he goes, “OH, It’s a joke! you’re not a virgin!” REALLY? SMH. I’m soooo excited to finally be married so everyone can stop asking me if I’m really a virgin, and if I’m sure I’m old enough to marry. 😛

      • Yes to all of this. I got so much judgment because people assumed I was younger than I am.
        “No need to rush!”
        “You have your whole life ahead of you!”
        Somehow, finding out I was nearly thirty changed things, as if my age somehow meant I had done enough living (in the eyes of strangers and, sadly, a few friends and family members) to qualify for marriage. Needless to say, any vendors we were considering who said anything about age didn’t get to work with us.

    • A real estate agent told us (we were both sitting there,) that buying a house was a better investment than getting married after we told her we were engaged. We found a new real estate agent. I told her why we found a new one and she seemed shocked.

  2. Oh my word, no. 2 has been my entire life ever since we announced our engagement. I’ve only had maybe four people say things about how excited they are, who are actually going to be invited; however, I’ve had probably twenty or more people talk about how excited they are to come, and who they want to bring, blah blah, who are people I would never invite – not because they’re bad people, of course, but because it’s going to be an intimate occasion and these are people who I barely know, or speak to outside of FB posts and whatnot. It drives me crazy, especially given that I’ve NEVER been the type to just assume someone I hardly know will invite me to their wedding. This is precisely why we’ve been so hush-hush about the wedding on FB or around people we wouldn’t invite. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but if I invited every person in my extended family who thinks they deserve an invite, it would be impossible to stay anywhere near our budget.

  3. Maybe it’s because I’m in my 30s, maybe it’s because I’m gay, maybe because I never bought the fairytale either, but none of this applies to me or my fiancee at all. I mean yeah, we’re the same people, but why wouldn’t we be? And why would we have people around who are going to be rude (with assumptions or advice)? And why would we get into details of our wedding with people who aren’t invited (as for family, most of which weren’t invited, we just had an honest conversation and promised pictures and everyone was very chill)? Don’t people around you know you well enough to know what you’re into and not into? And if not, can’t you tell them? Honestly, planning this wedding is nowhere near as stressful as people seem to make it out to be. Do you have a job with responsibilities? Have you ever planned a dinner? It’s pretty much the same thing (except a lot is already done for you, especially with the internet). So I guess I’m just trying to say that not all (or even any) of these things is/are “GOING TO” happen, just like the magical fairytale isn’t necessarily “GOING TO” happen. I don’t know, I mean I feel like this is speaking to a very specific demographic (I’m not quite sure whom), but the wording sounds as if it’s meant to be universal and it seems really negative. I don’t see why people need to brace for like some terrible time while wedding planning; it is what you make of it.

    • Well yeah, of course this doesn’t apply to everyone… isn’t that a given? We’re not all the same, so nothing posted is going to be relatable to 100% of the readers.

      • My point was, I see it as being a fairly negative and specific perspective on a positive event and the universality of the language is what was confusing. Why would the author describe her specific experiences as those that “you” (the readers) go through? How about “4 Things Nobody Told ME” instead? Or, just read my original comment which says exactly this.

        • Yes, thank you, I understood your point and my response is the same. Any post that “seems” like it’s trying to be universal still shouldn’t be interpreted that way, because no matter what, we’re all different. People can be so nitpicky about the way things are worded, I just personally think it’s so obvious that this person is sharing her personal experiences with the assumption that there will be some (just some) people out there that can relate to and benefit from hearing about her personal experiences.

          And I don’t know what to tell you about the negativity… honestly, for some of us, it just wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. You said, “Honestly, planning this wedding is nowhere near as stressful as people seem to make it out to be. ” And that’s YOUR personal experience, which is really awesome for you! But not how it goes for everyone.

          • I don’t think I’m being overly nitpicky about words, considering this is the framing of the entire piece, but even if you feel I am…well, it’s a piece of writing. What do we have to go on besides words? Wasn’t it read several times before posting, and wasn’t it edited? I highly doubt a writer, even an occasional writer, would post a piece on a website of this size without making sure it said exactly what she’d intended. I say this as an experienced English teacher. Words have meaning and word choice is important.

            You said that a post that “seems” like it is trying to be universal shouldn’t be interpreted that way. Why not? Why should I interpret it your way? Why ignore the words of the person who penned (typed) it?

            Yes, I spoke about my personal experience and framed it as such when I said “THIS WEDDING.” Nowhere did I purport to speak for everyone. I’m not asking for everyone to agree that all wedding planning is great; however, the author seems to be asking people to agree that it’s NOT. And, for the cherry on top, you’re saying I shouldn’t disagree either!

            You’ve already proved my point (not I hadn’t already) in your last sentence.

            PS My discussion with Megan (below) should answer any further questions/issues you may have.

          • There’s no “reply to this comment” on your last comment, so I can only respond to you by replying to my own comment. I just wanted to clarify that I was NOT saying you shouldn’t disagree, I was simply defending what I believed to be the author’s intentions. (which she basically confirmed, below)

            I do agree that words are important but I also recognize that a good portion of these guests posts come from people that are not normally writers. You highly doubt that someone submitting a guest post on here would submit it without making sure it said exactly what she intended, but I don’t doubt it at all. Because a lot of these people are casually submitting a post and just want to share their experiences. On this site in particular, misinterpreting posts is a common thing, I see it a lot. Because the submitters are not all experienced, or even occasional, writers.

            I try to take as much as I can out of every guest post on here and what isn’t for me… well, I know it isn’t for me.

    • Yeah, this post is a bit more “You’ll seeeee” than some of our other posts, but we want to have the space to share those types of experiences, too. I, sadly, ran into ALL of these issues when I got engaged, so as an editor I felt like “must. share. the knowledge!”

      I think you are SUPER lucky to not have run into any of these seemingly-common occurrences. I’m giving yourself, your partner, and all the awesome people around you a big ‘ol high five. 😉

      • Thank you for addressing the “You’ll Seeeeee” aspect of the piece. That was my only concern. The rest wasn’t meant to earn me or my partner or anyone we know any cookies, just to share another experience.

    • I’m so jealous you never had to deal with any of this nonsense! That seems like it would be ten million times easier! I guess with a huge family and a massive guest list, a lot of people are throwing their two cents in! I truly don’t mind, most of those people have well wishes.

      Planning a wedding isn’t entirely stressful; there’s actually some parts I love! Like, when else in my life do I get to look at flowers all day and taste test a million different cakes?

      I didn’t mean this to be an ominous, negative post about the “horrors” of engagement. I just hoped there were some other lovely folks out there who had the same experience as me! Getting engaged is awesome– I could write an entire post about all the things I like! Like I said, all the props in the world to you if you managed to have a non-stressful engagement! Thanks for reading! 🙂

    • Being gay and 30, I didn’t get any of the above, but I did get people asking me how we were going to get married, since same-sex marriages aren’t legal in Australia.
      (They’re recognised as common-law/de-facto relationships, but that recognition is based on amount of time lived together rather than a ceremony.)

  4. #1 was the biggest shock to me. After announcing it to our friends, we spent the next 3 hours listening to their wedding ideas (most of which were great ideas for THEM, but not really US.) As soon as I went back to work, people I barely talked to suddenly see the shiny and have a million plans for me. Somehow being engaged means everyone gets to tell us what we should do (’cause it’s always “You must! you have to! You can’t have a wedding without ___”) I hear this is worse when you are pregnant, I’m not looking forward to that…

    • Ooh, ooh, we have a post coming up next week that’s gonna help you with this exact thing. I’m excited about it! (Can you tell?)

  5. I dealt with this stuff, but not in quite these situations. Like, the random jerk that told me to never get married when I was ringing him up for $20 in party favours for his wife’s 4 year olds birthday…I was single and miserable at the time, and all I could think was, “dude, do you know how lucky you are to have these people in your life?!” As for things changing once we got engaged, that didn’t happen, he was already 40 and I was dangerously close to 40, when I popped the question. Nothing about out personalities have changed, we still have ridiculous nerdtastic conversations about heavy metal, cartoons, Disneyland, cats, Pokémon, what colour I should do my hair next… We didn’t have a budget, I just tried to keep the spending as minimal as possible. The most expensive thing was my outfit (including alterations, and accessories, some if which I made myself) at $353.27, second most expensive were the wedding cupcakes at $188.49 ($88.49 for the silicone skull cupcake holders, $100 to a friend for baking, designing, decorating and delivering them). Seriously, my grand total for the wedding of awesomeness was $872.91! And as for presumptuous people trying to get an invite…my stepmom trying to beat around the bush to get the scoop for her husband/my birth father aka the a perm donor, in public, on fb. I have no idea why they thought he was going to get an invite, but man! She was trying so hard, “have you picked a date?” “Yep! I had the date picked out before I proposed!” Like I was going to give her any info? Ha!

  6. My first time around, everyone kept their hands off – mainly because nobody really liked the guy and I was too stubborn to be strong-armed about changing my opinions on anything. The only stress was catering it myself.

    This time around it’s so lax, I’m almost invisible to everyone who’d have an opinion on the matter (can’t tell if it has to do with my looks or age). One friend ditched us because she wasn’t invited (only immediate family are), but that’s been it for the drama. No unsolicited advice, no other assumptions about being invited, no weird pod-people personality changes, and no high expectations of budgeting.

    Being a second time bride is much more awesome in that respect.

  7. (for me) 5. It’s kind of a big deal!

    I never thought getting engaged would change much in our relationship, and in some ways it hasn’t, but in other ways it has definitely added a new element to our relationship that I never imagined. It is really special to know that you are truly, publicly, and “officially” committed to someone and I think it has made our relationship feel more comfortable & more permanent in some ways (though we were dating for 6 years before we got engaged).

    We come from a community of people who tend to think engagements are either no big deal or somehow obsolete so I think I wasn’t prepared for how many little girl butterfly feelings I was going to get from actually being engaged! But…it’s kind of a big deal!!

  8. No one tells you the best part about the engagement is the proposal. Seriously! I has been the best day of my engagement because it was all blissful happiness. After the proposal I was swamped with the “advice” and assumptions. I love this post. Thank you so much for keeping the focus on the fact that at the end of the day you’re getting married and the marriage is way more important than the wedding day.

  9. Fortuantly, the things on this list haven’t happened to us much. However, my fiance mentioned our wedding while playing a video game he plays with strangers and they can talk to each other. (Sorry I don’t know much about video games besides the lego ones and mario kart). This almost perfect stranger told him to save his money cause he would probably get divorced anyway. My fiance told him off.

    Besides that, both his mom and sister have made suggestions about like decorations. They are totally nice about and just trying to be helpful, I just feel bad when I don’t want what they are suggesting.

  10. #3 was the hardest for me. There’s something very “grown up” about contemplating the rest of your life with one person, and during the planning process I got kind of overwhelmed sometimes with “is this how married people are supposed to act?” I got over it, however. I just read the author’s comment about people pooping to my husband, and we just spent the last 15 minutes discussing how many people in our city are probably masturbating right now. Apparently we’re still not acting like appropriate married people. 🙂

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