The decision to get engaged is an undoubtedly important one, but so is one that comes after: deciding when you'll get married. There are tons of factors to consider: How long do you need to plan your ideal wedding? Do you want to spend a significant amount of time being engaged, or are you ready to jump right into married life? Relationship expert Dr. Dawn Michael believes that the length of your engagement is actually more important than how long you date. "The engagement period is a time where both people are getting to know each other with the intention of spending the rest of their lives together. Dating does not have that same intention as an engagement does," she says. But it's different for everyone. What is right for you and your significant other may very well be the opposite for another couple. To get a better understanding of why some couples spend years being engaged while others just weeks, we asked six women to share how they determined the appropriate engagement length for them.
Although Jennifer C. and her now-husband Phil had been dating since high school, they didn't get engaged until ten years later—and then waited another three years before actually getting married. Jennifer was in medical school and wanted to finish her degree before focusing on this major life event. "I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life Phil since the age of 18," she explains. "I didn't need the engagement or wedding to happen earlier. I was 30 when I was finished with all of my schooling and residencies, and that gave me a full year-and-a-half to plan our wedding. It was perfect." The pressure from friends, family members and complete strangers throughout the process was difficult, she explains, as they couldn't seem to understand her decision to wait. "What's best for you is key. Don't let anyone pressure you!"
For Tanisha B., a long engagement seemed silly. She and her now-husband had known each other for years before they got engaged in October of 2016, so a wedding the following April, just six months later, didn't seem like that big of a stretch. "When you know, you just know!" she says. "I have not one regret, and really believe in my heart that I married the right man at the right time!" Alyssa L. is also happy with her decision to have a short engagement—just nine months was perfect for her and her husband. "We had never lived together prior to marriage and were eager to start our new life together as a married couple," she explains. The timing ended up working out for another reason. Alyssa's identical twin sister got engaged around the same time, and by getting married quickly, she ensured that their family wasn't overburdened by the two events. "In the end, we had about one month of overlap and that was perfect." she says.
Some couples are motivated to tie the knot sooner in order to have their dream wedding. That was the case for Natalie W., who wanted to marry her now-husband Steven in either the spring or winter but knew she didn't want to spend over a year planning. "We decided on spring, and because I wanted peonies and lily of the valley as my wedding flowers, I knew May was my month!" she says. That gave the couple just five months to plan, a feat that would be impressive for any couple, let alone this long-distance pair. Although it was certainly a lot of work, the couple was happy with their decision to tie the knot when they really wanted to. "The wedding was everything we dreamed of," the bride says.
Marissa B., too, felt that there was no real reason to wait, which is why she and her now-husband were married just seven days shy of their one-year engagement anniversary. "We both knew from the start that we were meant to be together, and that particular date, May 19, 2018, had significant meaning for both of us," she explains. "I was born on November 5th, so five has always been a special number for me, and my husband's jersey number in sports was always 19. He also bought my engagement ring on May 19, 2017, so it was fitting that we would get married on that exact date on year later." When they realized that date fell on a Saturday when they had no other commitments, deciding to get married on that date was easy.
Sadly, sometimes the timing of a wedding is guided by much larger circumstances, such as an illness in the family. Such was the case for Julia R., whose father became unexpectedly ill just after she and her now-husband Marc got engaged. While they were originally in no rush to get married (they had already been dating for seven years), her father's illness was the catalyst for them to expedite their big day. Instead of getting married in October of the following year, which would have given then a 14-month engagement period, they decided to have a small wedding two months after their engagement. "It was perfect for me, because I will forever be able to treasure the memory of my father witnessing me walking down the aisle," she says. "He ended up passing away just four months after our wedding, so I'm so glad we didn't wait."