How long should your engagement last? Obviously the exact length will depend on the date you book, but there are a few parameters you should keep in mind.
Less than four months looks rushed, and people may wonder if the two of you have an “accident” on the way.
More than two years looks way too prolonged, and people will start placing bets on which one of you will break it off, and think twice about sending gifts.
The sweet spot is between twelve and eighteen months. Let’s consider some Pros and Cons.
Pro: You’re still a free man
It’s cooler to say you’re engaged than to say you’re married. And, as with most everything, the best part is the build-up, the anticipation, the hype. (Think Justice League.)
Con: You’re kidding yourself
Face it. There’s no change in “freedom.” You’re just as monogamous now as you’ll be when married. You’ve already committed. The time for cold feet has passed. Since you’ve already decided to get married, you might as well, you know, get married.
Pro: You have more options
This is the classic reason for pushing things out. If you have a two-year engagement, you’ll have first dibs on your ideal weekend, time of year, reception hall, band, and cake-baker.
Con: You have more options
By taking this long, you will think, rethink, overthink, and change your mind every step of the way. If you target a weekend in 2020, then your bride will have time to contemplate a wedding in Puerto Vallarta, at the White House, or her grandmother’s eggplant garden.
Pro: Less stress
This is actually true…to a point. If you only have 1-4 months, then yes, you’ll be under the gun, sweating vendors, and flummoxed by scheduling conflicts. But far more likely…
Con: More stress for a looooong time
Think back to when your college professor would assign you an essay. If your professor gives you two days, then you’ll crack a Red Bull and bang the sucker out; if he gives you two months then you’ll procrastinate, stress, blow it off, feel guilty, start writing, rewatch the last season of Game of Thrones, stress, procrastinate, panic, think about asking your professor for an extension, stress, then crack a Red Bull and bang the sucker out. Two months doesn’t yield a better essay; it yields a bigger headache.
Pro: You can save money
Fair point. If times are lean and you’re shouldering the bill, then a long engagement will let you squirrel away some cash.
Con: Your money’s tied up
If your wedding isn’t for another two years, then that could delay, any big-ticket investments.
Pro: You still have time to call it off
This is the #1 complaint we hear from women: that their fiances say they don’t care, but then, after months of gloomy silence, they criticize at the last second without offering anything constructive. It’s a fair complaint. To keep good Groom Karma, every once in a while you must offer some positive suggestions, take a stand, and, if you must, fake enthusiasm. (You think she hasn’t?)
Con: The last Pro was bullshit
Let’s just debunk this myth right here, right now. Just in case you were confused before, we’ll be more explicit: the die has been cast. Guys always say, “Oh, I’ll just have a longer engagement, because then I still have time to back out.” It never happens. If you want to push things off, the time to do that is before you pop the question.
In a nutshell? More time being engaged doesn’t give you any more freedom; it means you waste more time planning a wedding. Think about it.
Regardless of when you plan your wedding, you’ll need to start interacting more with her parents. Joy. Learn how to fool them.