So I recently got engaged. Actually, about a week ago.
Within this past week alone, I’ve felt a plethora of emotions and it has only been 7 days. Emotions such as joy, anxiety, frustration, excitement, happiness, annoyance, etc. On top of those emotions, I’ve also had a ton of people congratulate me, hug me, ask to see my hand, and ask me a ton of questions. A ton of questions that drive me nuts.
They make wedding planning books for the newly engaged. They make questionnaires and worksheets and Pinterest boards. They make professional people that help newly engaged people know what to do next.But what they don’t do is make books and tips and advice for the friends of these newly engaged people. And this is what I wish they would say:
1. Number one thing not to say to a newly engaged couple: “I better be invited!”
My mom raised me to never invite yourself to something. I would want to hang out with a friend down the street and would ask if I could come over and play. My mom scolded me and said it is rude to ask to invite yourself over. I think most kids learn that it’s rude and you have wait to be invited. The same thing applies to weddings but for some reason, people forget this. Forgive me if I have ever done this to you, but I swear this has got to be the most tactless and rude thing to do. It puts the engaged couple in an awkward position: they don’t know their guest list yet, let alone when they’re going to get married. What if they can’t afford to have a certain number of people at their wedding? What if they want an intimate small wedding? What if you just haven’t been involved in their life that much recently and inviting you just doesn’t make sense? My sister who actually works in the wedding industry brought up a great point: social media makes people feel closer to people than they really are. But the fact of the matter is, just because I overshare and you know what I ate for dinner, doesn’t mean I know you well enough to want you to be there on my wedding day. And it’s not personal. Sometimes it’s all about what is practical: can we afford to pay for every single person to be at our wedding or would we rather save our money for the actual marriage, the buying of a house and the raising of children?
2. Keep your suggestions to yourself about wedding details: don’t approach a newly engaged couple with “you guys should…”
There are no “should’s.” The only true real “should” is that the newly engaged couple should marry each other. That’s the only should. “By golly, you guys are engaged?! I knew you guys should get married!” That is it. Telling a newly engaged couple that they “should” do anything adds way too much pressure and puts your expectations on them. It’s hard because everybody is so excited for the engaged couple, you just want to tell them all these great ideas. Whether it’s because you’re not married yet and you have these glorious fantasies about what a wedding is like or maybe you are married and you want to tell them exactly how you did it, remember that the engaged couple is NOT YOU. I ought to put a quarter in a jar for every sentence that starts with “you guys should” or “you should totally” because then maybe I can actually afford a crazy wedding with all the quarters I saved. People have been telling me I should have this at the reception, I should wear this, I should get these flowers and I just want to scream “ENOUGH! I’ve been engaged for a WEEK.” Give the engaged couple time to not have to think about “should’s” and just think about being engaged.
3. Don’t put your wedding expectations on the newly engaged couple.
The engaged couple did not get engaged for your entertainment. They did not get engaged so they could throw a party that you get to be a part of or that you can get to help throw. They got engaged because they love each other so much that they know they are ready to start a marriage. This means the engaged couple does not need to meet your expectations of what their wedding is like. This means it might not be the bridal party you expected, it might not be the venue you expected, it might not be the style, timing, etc. Things like expecting that you’ll be a groomsman or expecting that your child will be a ring-bearer is not fair for the newly engaged couple. They haven’t even figured out if they can afford so many people in a bridal party or if they want to follow traditional roles of people in a wedding. It’s not about you. Let them decide their own expectations for themselves.
4. Don’t focus so much of your conversation with them on the wedding. Engagement isn’t the start of a wedding; engagement is the start of a marriage.
The engaged couple just made a huge decision to commit themselves to each other for the rest of their lives. This is a time for them to think about what that’ll look like. Spend time with them as a couple and congratulate BOTH of them. My fiancé is not one to enjoy lots of attention, but he constantly points out that everybody is much more happy for ME than they are for him. I made a point to make sure I said “we’re engaged!” when I announced the engagement to friends because so many people think it’s about me, the one with the ring, the one who will wear the white dress. Getting engaged doesn’t mean that I get to plan a wedding; getting engaged means my fiancé and I get to be husband and wife for the rest of our lives together. Be equally excited about the marriage and not necessarily the wedding. Ask them questions about their first date, how they knew, give them those moments to reminisce how much they love each other. Don’t attack them with questions about menial details about their wedding. I never remember what anybody’s centerpieces looked like at their weddings nor do I remember what I ate. What I remember from my friends’ weddings is how in love they look. So focus on their love for each other, not what type of cake they’re going to get at their wedding.
5. Celebrate with them now.
You don’t need to wait until their wedding to celebrate their love with them. Celebrate with them now by hanging out with them, go out to dinner, have some drinks with them, spend time with them that has nothing to do with wedding planning. Be excited for them now and not for what’s to come. Be excited that they’ve made this decision and do something fun with them now. It starts now, not when the Save The Dates come out, not when you get an invitation (or not) in the mail. Do what you can to help them enjoy engagement. Give them your blessings. Celebrate them.