Why Are People Planning Their Weddings Before They’re Even Engaged?

I’ve written before about the disappointing trends popping up in weddings (toilet wands on a registry? Seriously?), and I’m back with another trend that I hope doesn’t last: planning your wedding before you’re even engaged.

Sure, most little girls have dreams of what their weddings will look like, and I’ll admit that I have a Pinterest board with ideas for my wedding saved. I have a vague idea for what I want my wedding dress to look like, but I haven’t looked at venues or thought about wedding cakes. And I certainly haven’t put down money on anything for my future wedding. I’m in a committed relationship and I have no idea when he’s going to pop the question—and I like it that way. A proposal should have an element of surprise.

But apparently I’m one of the last people who thinks that way. While I was in college, one of my best friends knew she was going to get engaged but didn’t know when. Instead of waiting for her boyfriend to propose, she set a date for the wedding and booked a venue—two months before he finally popped the question. He was in on all her planning, but he had already planned a surprise for the proposal and wanted to stick with it. I thought it was a little strange that my friend booked her venue well before she was engaged (and the venue wasn’t in a competitive area where you have to wait years before you can have your wedding there), but I shrugged and thought she was just a super planner. But then it happened again with another friend. She didn’t know when her fiancé was going to propose, but she had a date in mind and went ahead and booked the venue (again, not a competitive venue).

And just last week, another friend got engaged. I was happy for her, but I wasn’t surprised or even excited. It was just like reading any other Facebook status update. All of our friends had known for months the precise month and year she was planning on getting married, and she picked out AND bought her engagement ring with her now-fiancé. We all saw pictures of her ring months before it was on her finger. Where’s the excitement in that?

I’ve seen women on shows like Say Yes to the Dress who pick out and buy their dress(es) before they’re engaged (I even saw an episode where a man surprised his girlfriend and proposed to her in the store), and they’re not alone; upwards of 60 percent of couples start planning their weddings before the engagement (even though some of these relationships don’t last), and 50 percent went ring shopping together. Sure, an engagement ring is a big investment and you want something that you’ll love for the rest of your life, but if you’re at the point of getting engaged, shouldn’t your boyfriend know you well enough to know which ring you would love or hate?

You should obviously discuss marriage (and maybe ring tastes) with your significant other before you’re engaged to make sure you’re on the same page, but don’t put down wedding deposits before the proposal happens. A proposal should be one of the happiest and most exciting moments of your life, and you might regret it if you ruin the surprise.

Image: By Allan Ajifo [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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  • SamHamilton

    It seems like the engagement, in these situations, took place when the couple decided they were going to get married and that the “surprise” presentation of the ring was merely a formality done for the purposes of fulfilling a cultural norm (guy gets down on a knee, presents a ring, the girl acts surprised, etc.).

    My wife and I decided to get married and told our parents (I’d spoken to her father beforehand about marriage in general and gotten his okay). I then got a ring and officially proposed, and we told others. We then started planning the wedding.

    The only difference between what we did and what these couples are doing is moving the wedding planning up a bit in the order. I’m not sure that it’s that remarkable. It actually makes sense. Why not start planning a wedding once you’ve decided to get married whether there’s a ring involved or not?

    • Micha_Elyi

      “…guy gets down on a knee, presents a ring…”–SamHamilton

      Where are the feminists to protest this sexist social construct?
      Why doesn’t the female get down on a knee?

      • SamHamilton

        Forgive me. I thousand penances I owe.

  • Diogenes

    It’s terribly simple.

    Women want to get married, they don’t want to be married.

    A whole day as a magical special princess with ALL of the attention and everyone required to bow to her, it’s al a woman wants.

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    • Laura Smyth

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