Big news, readers: I’m engaged! Allow me to explain how this directly benefits you. Weddings, up until now, have been just a mild obsession of mine. Now that I’ve got a ring on it and am officially planning my own real life nuptials, researching every little detail of weddings is basically my full-time job. That means I’ll be spending even more time reading bridal magazines and scouring wedding websites to bring you ideas and inspiration. You’re welcome.
In the 10 days since my fiancé proposed, I’ve discovered that there are a lot of things about getting engaged that nobody ever tells you. In an effort to prepare you, here are a few things that have surprised me about becoming a betrothed lady.
You’ll probably be caught off guard. My fiancé and I live together and we’ve been talking theoretically about getting married since some time around our fifth date. We’ve even discussed when we might tie the knot, and I had not-so-subtly let her know what kind of engagement ring I wanted. So, I always imagined that when the time actually came, I’d have a fresh manicure and I’d be able to recite the romantic acceptance speech I’ve been preparing in my head for months. In reality, I was sporting chipped red nail polish and my response involved several expletives and high-pitched squeals.
My fiancé cleverly surprised me by popping the question a few months earlier than I thought she would; but the point is, when you find yourself in the moment, staring at the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with (and possibly at a shiny diamond ring), everything you thought you’d say and do flies right out the window. Thankfully, the realistic version is actually far more romantic than the proposals you see in Jared commercials and rom coms starring Jennifer Aniston – and it will make a much better story to tell your family and friends.
That brings me to the second lesson I’ve learned since getting engaged: You will tell your engagement story approximately 2,700 times. I knew my friends and family would be happy to hear the news, but I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed and so very touched by the support we’ve received. Congratulatory phone calls, impromptu visits, bottles of champagne and offers to throw engagement parties abound after you break the news. You get to be the center of attention until all of your nearest and dearest have the chance to congratulate you in person and hear your engagement story. It feels like it’s your birthday every day – and it’s more fun than I ever dreamed it would be!
On the other hand, some people may be less than enthusiastic about your engagement. From single friends who are afraid they’re going to lose you to your soon-to-be wife to family members who don’t support gay marriage, some people simply won’t give you the reaction you’re looking for when you tell them you’re engaged. For example, when I called my dad to tell him the news, he said say congratulations, but then followed it up by asking, “So, um, can you actually get married?” Not the sentimental conversation I had in mind.
My dad supports same-sex marriage and he adores my fiancé. He’s completely accepted the fact that my partner is a woman, but he’s still figuring out how to be the father of the lesbian bride – not a role he ever imagined he’d be playing. Many other people simply don’t know how to act when they hear that a lesbian couple is engaged (just like they think gay weddings are dramatically different than straight weddings). You may be the first gay couple your cousin or neighbor has ever met, and they may be unsure what etiquette to follow.
Public service announcement friends and family of same-sex couples: Gay engagements are no different than heterosexual engagements, so when the homosexuals in your life tell you they’re getting hitched, act exactly as you would if the couple were straight: Break out the champagne and barrage them with questions about the wedding.
People will start asking about your wedding plans immediately. Do you have a date? Where are you going to go to get married (since same-sex marriage probably isn’t legal where you live)? What are you going to wear? What is she going to wear? Where will you go on your honeymoon? And on and on and on. But you will probably be so stunned by the fact that you just got engaged that you not have a single answer for your well wishers.
I’m one of those girls who have been planning my hypothetical wedding since I was six years old, but now that I have a ring on my finger and a real live person who wants to marry me, everything is different. I want to explore all of my options and I have another person’s needs and desires to consider. So, all of those questions can become a little overwhelming. What’s more, everyone and their aunt has an opinion about your wedding. So, unless you want to hear all of those opinions, tell friends and family they’ll be the first to know when you set a date, smile and have another glass of champagne.
You might get in a fight with your fiancé. No one ever includes this in their engagement story, so I’m coming clean. Even if you and your girl have been together for years, deciding to make a public and legal commitment to one another is a really big deal. Your emotions will be flying high, you might not be getting much sleep and you will be having some pretty serious discussions about how you each want to tie the knot. This is all fodder for arguments.
Fortunately, my fiancé is particularly level-headed and loving, so the disagreements we’ve had since getting engaged have been resolved relatively calmly and quickly. But I have several credible sources (friends who have been happily married for many years) who have informed me that they got into knock-down drag-out fights shortly after getting engaged. So, if this happens to you, resist the urge to take off your ring and throw it at your fiancé. Just take a deep breath and realize that all of the stress of planning a wedding has probably gotten the best of you.
You will be ridiculously and deliriously distracted. If you’ve received a ring as part of your engagement, be prepared to spend 75 percent of your work day staring at it. Even if you’re not wearing a ring, you’re getting married! And believe me, that will be the only thing you can think about. Social obligations, paying bills, hobbies, cleaning your house and deadlines will all fade into the background as you become consumed by planning the most important day of your life. I’ve developed the attention span of a gnat since I got engaged. I’ve started waking up in the middle of the night, thinking about dresses and guest lists and bridal fitness programs. There are a million decisions to make when you decide to get married, and it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. One morning I was so distracted, I put my dirty breakfast dishes in the bathroom sink instead of bringing them to the kitchen. I didn’t discover them until the next time I went to the bathroom. True story.
What’s your advice for newly-engaged ladies?