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How Real Couples Handled Long-Distance Engagements

If they did it, so can you.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: The Rivers Photo

Long-distance relationships are never easy, but they can become even more difficult when you're managing one while trying to plan your wedding, and ultimately your future. The limited time you're able to spend together will now have to be focused solely on ironing out the details of your big day, which leaves little-to-no time for you to simply enjoy your relationship and the things about each other that made you fall in love in the first place.

 

This was the case for Allison Mollengarden, of San Jose, California, who's now-husband Tony proposed to her after about several years of long-distance dating. The two met as undergrads, but went long-distance when Allison moved to Panama City Beach, Florida, to attend graduate school to pursue her dream career as a behavior analyst. Tony moved to Wichita, Kansas, to pursue a job opportunity in marketing. It wasn't until about one month before their wedding that the two were able to secure jobs in the same city.

 

Their challenge through the wedding-planning process, was finding time to just enjoy each other's company and celebrate their engagement. "Once we were engaged, anytime we were able to visit each other was always related to the wedding," she says. "When we would finally manage to get a few days together, they would end up being packed full of meetings with the wedding planner and visits to the venue."

 

Related: Tips for Keeping Your Long-Distance Relationship Alive

 

Allison says that what helped her and Tony the most during their long-distance engagement was premarital counseling. "It helped us realize the importance of putting each other's wants and needs first, even though it isn't always easy, especially when we were living far away from our families as well," she says. "It also guided important conversations about topics such as finances, where we saw ourselves living in the future, and other struggles we were having with being a long-distance couple. These conversations can be difficult for any couple but they are even harder when you are having them over the phone."

 

Like Allison, Brittiny-Rae Perron also kept up her long-distance engagement all the way until one month before her wedding. She and her now-husband Jon first met in middle school, but remained friends until one special winter break in Maine. Brittiny was living in Rhode Island at the time, but the two decided to make a long-distance relationship work. Nine months later they were engaged, but it wasn't until one month before their wedding when they finally lived in the same place.

 

The most difficult part for Brittiny-Rae and Jon was celebrating their initial engagement. "Jon proposed to me on the Monday of Columbus Day weekend and had to return back to Maine that same night. We wanted to share the news with all of our close family members together and I remember trying to rush through calls to get them all in before Jon had to leave," she says. "In the days following our engagement, I wanted to spend time with him so badly and bask in our new-found happiness, but that just wasn't possible to do in person. I remember sitting on my couch drinking celebratory champagne alone the week following our engagement."

 

Related: What It's Really Like to Merge Finances for the First Time

 

What helped Brittiny-Rae and Jon make their long-distance engagement work was a website called rabb.it, which allows you to video chat and share a screen at the same time. "We could pull up websites to look at venues and decorations, maps to plan our honeymoon routes, and, some nights, we just pulled up Netflix so that we could watch our favorite TV show together," she explains. "We made the commitment to spend as much time with one another as possible and took turns driving back and forth between Rhode Island and Maine every weekend of our engagement."

 

Rubina Tahir's long-distance engagement was far less pronounced than Allison's and Brittany-Rae's, since her now-husband Shariq was only living an hour and a half away in Philly. Still, the two made it a point to talk every day to make the distance feel like less of a burden. "I would often race home, pick up a few groceries, sometimes skip the gym just to make time to talk," she shares. "We would speak on the phone until 1 a.m. and had to make a conscious effort to say goodnight at a reasonable hour so that we both weren't zombies in the morning!"

 

The two also made it a point to leave no conversation topic off the table. "We talked about finances (like student loans!), savings, goals, dreams, motivations, what makes each other mad or sad, and so on," she says. "I had to ask Shariq some tough questions that normally you wait to see someone in person for, but I really believe our ability to be honest with each other helped us grow close event though we were many miles apart."

 

As these couples prove, long-distance engagements, while difficult, are certainly doable. It won't be easy, but knowing what to expect and how to tackle the inevitable obstacles that will present themselves throughout the wedding-planning process can help.