Before getting engaged, I often dreamed about what it would be like. I assumed it involved lots of ring selfies, champagne to celebrate at any given moment and nothing but total bliss and happiness. The way engagements and engaged life is portrayed in the media, who could blame me? I dreamed that my fiancé and I would effortlessly choose a venue, have all the money we’d need to pay for the perfect bouquet and videographer, and never argue about place settings or if we should really invite my second cousin’s new girlfriend.
After getting engaged, my view on engaged life has completely changed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been–like totally head-over-heels in love blah blah blahhh I’ll spare you the sappy details. But what I didn’t expect (and what no one tells you) after getting engaged, is that reality offers up a hearty slap to the face. It’s not as flawless and perfect as it’s portrayed in the media to be. Sometimes it’s messy. And frustrating. And difficult. But my hope is that if you’re newly engaged, or hope to be in the future, you’re able to learn from my experiences, and take a piece of advice and store in in your back pocket for your own engagement experience. If you keep an open mind, open heart, and an open bottle of wine handy, I can promise you that it’ll be one of the most amazing experiences of your life.
1. You may not remember every detail, and that’s okay.
The second my fiancé surprised me and proposed, I got so excited that I temporarily blacked out. Oops. I know, this makes me sound crazy. Much to my fiance’s disappointment (sorry, J!), I cannot remember what happened during our three minute proposal. It really upset me at first, but thank goodness for good friends who recorded the whole thing! Adrenaline, tears and shock engulfed me at the time. I do remember the feelings I had: pure happiness, acceptance, and an overwhelming amount of love and gratitude towards my man. Instead of harping on the fact that I can’t recall saying “YES!”, I revel in the explosion of feelings that washed over me when I saw my fiance standing in the middle of Grand Central Station, waiting to ask me to be his wife.
2. You’ll feel all the feels.
I am not one to cry. I didn’t cry when I broke my arm snowboarding, or when I watched The Notebook *gasp*, or when best friend moved six hours away. You get the picture. But after my fiancé proposed, I literally could not control myself. Puppies playing in buckets? Tears. Every other commercial on the Food Network? Tears. Pinning images of floral arrangements for centerpieces? Tears. Wedding montage videos of sweet individuals that I have no connection to? The Niagara Falls of tears. Accept it, enjoy it, and always keep a secret stash of tissues at the ready.
3. Finding “The Dress” may not be “The Moment” you always pictured.
I was 100% convinced that when I found “the dress”, it would be like a scene out of Say Yes to the Dress: tears of joy from every member of my family plus my entire bridal party, exuberant cheers from all corners of the boutique, and champagne immediately flowing. Alas, my experience was the total opposite. Only three of my family members could make it, no one but us were visiting the shop at the time, and the champagne didn’t flow until I’d dragged everyone to the bridal shop three times to make sure it was the dress I wanted. Totally opposite, and totally perfect. Don’t let the expectations portrayed in the media allow you to second guess how you “should” feel when you find that perfect dress. Trust your gut and say yes to what makes you feel beautiful.
4. Opinions will flow abundantly.
You’re going to be flooded with opinions, whether you ask for them or not. Weddings are exciting, and everyone wants to offer up their own ideas and experiences. Most of this advice will be extremely helpful. But, learning how to filter advice and opinions will give you a better grasp on the situation, and keep your head from spinning at all hours of the day. Choose the individuals whose opinions you hold in high regard, and let the flood of other opinions roll right off your back. You’ll thank me later.
5. Ring Finger happens.
This is real. It’s not on WebMD yet, but I know it’ll be added soon. When you develop Ring Finger, you just want to use your left hand for everything. Why not show off that sparkly rock to everyone you know, and sometimes to those you don’t? (Sorry to the lady standing behind me at the checkout line in Wal-Mart, I got a little carried away.) Trying to combat Ring Hand only makes the condition worse. So embrace it, flaunt it, and be proud! You deserve to show off your bling.
6. You Need “Wedding Free” moments.
It sounds a little ridiculous, but wedding talk can easily dominate any conversation and use up 99% of your brainpower on any given day. It’s easy to get lost among the tulle and food menus and flowers and guest lists. To ensure that you and your fiancé keep your sanity, declare zones or times of day when wedding talk isn’t allowed. Your wedding is an important topic of conversation, but not the only important activity going on in your life. Keep this in mind as you move through the planning process, and it’ll free up time and energy to invest into other important aspects of your life.
7. Not everyone will share your enthusiasm.
You’re engaged!! You’re the happiest that you’ve ever been in your life! Love is awesome! The world is made of cotton candy and you’re riding high on your unicorn all over town! But while you’re riding high, some individuals in your life may not be as excited as you’d expect them to be. And for a girl who now feels all the feels, this can be heartbreaking. But don’t not take it personally. I repeat, do NOT take it personally. Don’t let anyone else’s lack of interest or enthusiasm dampen your spirit. This is the happiest time in your life, and no one can take that from you.
8. You ultimately have to choose what makes YOU happy.
It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in details of your wedding. Especially the details you feel you must have to please a relative or close friend. And you’re a sweetheart for thinking of others before yourself. But this is your wedding. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to plan a kick butt party that is specifically centered around what you and your fiance want. So choose donuts over a cake. Choose BBQ and mac n’ cheese over the typical chicken and steak options. Choose a sassy rendition of “Uptown Funk” instead of a traditional first dance. Choose the pieces of you that will reflect the happiness and love that you and your partner share.
9. Disagreements are inevitable.
My fiancé and I do not argue often, but leave it to wedding planning to change that. It only makes sense…the two of you are spending hard earned money and mass amounts of energy to plan what is expected to be the best day of your lives. Of course there will be differing opinions. But disagreeing doesn’t mean that your relationship is on the rocks, or that you’re destined to argue for the better part of your marriage. Learn how to agree to fight clean, compromise, and move on. From these disagreements, your relationship has the potential to grow and flourish if you allow it to.
10. You have to enjoy every single second.
I cannot tell you how many times my fiancé and I have said “Let’s just elope” or “Okay, I’m totally over planning a wedding” when things get tough. When you feel overwhelmed or stressed, take a second to step back. Take a deep breath. Soak in all the goodness that is happening to you and around you. You’re engaged, my friend! You found love! Enjoy the ups and downs. This is the first step to your forever. Enjoy every second of it.