When people get engaged, the assumption is often that the wedding planning will follow quickly after. Once you’ve secured a marriage license, you can pretty much officially seal your union within 35 days. (legally that is) However, it might surprise you to learn that the average length of an engagement in the US is just over a year. Thirteen months, to be exact. Of course, this is just an average. Some couples are engaged much longer, and others choose a shorter engagement timeframe. We’ve planned weddings in less than 90 days, so there is no right or wrong here. However, there are certain items that require some lead time, like a wedding dress, if you are choosing a shorter engagement. We always suggest buying a dress off the rack if this is the case.
In these CRAZY times we are in, it would be easy to argue for a short engagement. There would also be great benefit to a long one (if you can’t host an event for instance). But sometimes, once you know you’re for keeps, you don’t want to wait. If you want to be married, you can be married in the eyes of the law with very little notice, as mentioned above. A longer engagement can sometimes raise eyebrows among people who wonder if one or both partners are dragging their feet a little. But in our opinion, there are some advantages to a longer engagement. We will cover a few below.
The longer the engagement, the bigger the budget (can grow)
It may not be news to you, but weddings are very expensive. Once you’ve secured a a planner, a venue, your attire, chosen your caterer, secured a band, a photographer, a videographer, and started planning your honeymoon, you’re already looking at a pretty penny. (and you aren’t even done yet!) It doesn’t take a fancy Harvard mathematician to work out that securing several thousand dollars in a couple of weeks is much harder to do than spreading it over the course of a year (or more). If you have a dream wedding in mind, pinning the date in the longer-term future allows you to build a budget that gives you more freedom, so you don’t have to compromise. It also means that your guests are more likely to buy both engagement gifts and wedding presents (let’s not forget the showers!) That’s a bonus little side benefit to waiting!
You can plan the wedding and honeymoon you desire
Your wedding day is a special occasion, and the intention is that it should be unique, creative, and make a statement about you both as a couple. In some ways, all the time in the world would not be enough to truly reflect that. In another more down to earth way, you’re going to struggle to manage it in a couple of months. A longer engagement means you get to think about all the aspects involved, plan them out, budget for them, and not make hasty decisions because of money. It also means you can spend time researching honeymoon destinations, one of the most important trips the two of you will likely take together in your lifetime.
There’s time to plan your marriage, not just the wedding
Your wedding lasts a day (or a few days), but your marriage will last a lifetime (hopefully). Although the former gets all the attention, it’s really the latter that means more. So it stands to reason that the marriage should form some of your planning between “Will you…?” and “I do”. Living arrangements, future plans, whether you want to start a family and when, finances, blending families, moving, etc. Each couple has their own set of unique circumstances to figure out here, and you should take the chance to make sure you’re both on the same page. You may find that you will both have to negotiate on some things. This doesn’t need to be a grim, tense discussion, but it’s not something you should still be pondering about when you are saying your vows.
A long engagement gives you time to do everything the way it should be done, and takes a lot of pressure off the big day itself – so it makes a lot of sense to be patient.