Pros and Cons of a Long Engagement

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth got engaged in June, but they're in no rush to walk down the aisle. "Life is too short not to be with the person you want to be with," Cyrus said in a recent interview. "I don't really care about the wedding or the piece of paper as much as I do the promise we've made to each other. And we want to have a long engagement."

At BG, we're no stranger to the idea of a lengthy engagement — web editor Kristen O'Gorman Klein was engaged for two years, and web producer Stefania Sainato will be engaged for three years. Here's what we've learned about the benefits and drawbacks to having a longer-than-average engagement.

THE PROS

bride and groom

Photo Credit: Rebekah J. Murray Photography

Time to Build the Life You Want and Prepare for Marriage
One of the best parts of having a long engagement is that it gives you breathing room to focus on your career, get a sense of what your partner will be like as a spouse and decide what you both want for your marriage (living plans, when to have children, etc). It's a commitment towards a future together—one worth waiting for. My fiancé and I decided to get engaged because we were ready to take that next step after dating, but our plans to tie the knot in 2012 were derailed when his physical therapy program added an extra year to their requirements. An extra 365 days is a small price to pay for finding the person I want to spend the rest of my life with! Plus, since we're still relatively young (we're both in our mid-twenties), it gives us a small window of opportunity to enjoy some "me" time before the "we" factor starts to kick in more after we're married, when it's not quite so easy (but still important to spend separate time alone or with friends). — Stefania

Avoid Wedding-Planning Stress—and Fatigue
Let's face it—planning a wedding isn't easy. After basking in the newly-engaged bliss for a few days, I started thinking about the nitty-gritty details of planning a wedding. I instantly felt overwhelmed—and totally out of my element (I wish I worked at Bridal Guide back then!). But, if you give yourself sufficient time to plan, you can avoid that stressful, panicky feeling that you're behind schedule. You can tackle a few projects—say, booking the venue, finding your photographer, choosing a DJ—and then take a break for a few months. Since my husband and I started so early (we booked the venue within a month of getting engaged), it was okay for us to shut down wedding-planning mode for a few months when the fatigue threatened to hit us. We worked out a timeline—and gave ourselves plenty of down time and breathing room. — Kristen

More Time to Save Money
When we first started researching venues and vendors, we experienced major sticker shock that dramatically increased our financial needs. Our parents' generous contributions weren't going to cover much more than the costs of the venue and photographer. With our target budget in mind, my husband and I were able to set reasonable monthly savings goals. At times, we really worried that we weren't going to have enough money. But, by the day of the wedding, we had reached our goal with less than $100 to spare. We truthfully could not have pulled off the wedding of our dreams with less time. — Kristen

Spend Less by Booking Vendors Early
My fiancé Jason and I booked our venue so early that we were able to lock into 2011 pricing, even though our wedding isn't until 2013. This turned out to be a godsend, since we found out that they raise the price per plate about $15 to $20 each year, and we have a hefty guest list (we both come from big families and have lots of shared friends in common). Our long engagement also allows us to research vendors more thoroughly than if we were getting married in a shorter time frame, so we've been able to negotiate lower prices and take the time to truly find the perfect planning team for our needs. I recommend signing up for a credit card with a great rewards program and charging as many wedding-related purchases as you can (within your means, of course) so that you reap the investment. After we got engaged, Jason and I both chose the JetBlue Amex to rack up miles for our honeymoon. So far, I have about 39,563 miles, which is enough for one of us to fly from New York to San Francisco and back. — Stefania

THE CONS

bride and groom
Photo Credit: Jayd Gardina Photography

Seeing Others Get Engaged and Married Within Your Engagement Time Span
Three couples that we're close with got engaged months (one even a year) after us, and they will all be married by the time they attend our nuptials, and that's okay with us. Each couple has their own unique circumstances—emotional, financial, future goals—so I am a strong believer in choosing the right time frame for you and your fiancé, regardless of outside influences. That being said, I can't lie: There are times when you may receive an invitation in the mail, hear a bride gush endlessly about amazing plans you can't make yet or be subjected to snarky comments ("Hey, didn't so-and-so get their ring after you did?"), all of which can add up to the emotional equivalent of being sucker-punched. My best advice is to put blinders on, stay focused on the wonderful future ahead of you, be the better person that genuinely shares in other couples' happiness (and also learn from their planning mistakes). Think of it as great training for the who's-buying-their-dream-home-first race, who's-having-a-baby-first race, and all those other "races" that you have to look forward to... — Stefania

Family Circumstances Can Change
In The Five-Year Engagement, the bride's mom is pressuring her to set a date by saying, "Grandparents do have a tendency to die." Cut to a scene at the grandma's funeral, and the mom says, "This is why we do not delay weddings!" This was, sadly, my reality. When I first told my grandma that my wedding would be in two years, she joked, "I hope I live that long!" That joke became much less funny when she did, in fact, pass away unexpectedly four months before the wedding. It was heartbreaking to know that she would've been able to attend my wedding—the first of her grandchildrens' weddings—if we hadn't opted for such a long engagement. If you have sick and/or elderly relatives, you may want to seriously take that into consideration when setting your date. — Kristen

More Time to Second-Guess Yourself
Did I choose the right photographer? Is my venue really the best fit? Do I still love my dress? These questions circled around and around in my head during the months leading up to the wedding. When you book everything so far in advance, it becomes harder to remember why you fell in love with that particular vendor in the first place. With a shorter engagement, you simply don't have the time to worry about that. — Kristen

Idea Overload!
The night that Jason proposed to me, after celebrating with loved ones, I felt this strong need to start planning our dream wedding, like RIGHT NOW. I will never forget the look on my (well-intentioned) Mom's face when I showed her wedding favors with a seashell motif a night or two later, asking what she thought. "Isn't it a little…I don't know…early for that?" she said. Now, with two years of experience under my belt, I wish I could go back to pre-engaged me and gently tell her to enjoy the newness of it all instead of worrying about becoming the next David Tutera. Brides-to-be with a long time to wait will be bombarded with twice the amount of ideas than those who are tying the knot soon, so expect your plans to evolve more often than theirs might. P.S. Wondering what happened to those beach-themed favors I was so enamored with? They got scrapped because they didn't match the evening ballroom reception we ended up booking, and thank goodness for that. — Stefania

— Kristen O'Gorman Klein and Stefania Sainato


Featured: David Tutera on Wedding Themes
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