Real-Life Love: Marcus and Stephanie's 5-month engagement + destination wedding

There are a lot of blind date horror stories out there, but this isn't one of them! In fact, Marcus and Stephanie's first date in January of 2014 was so successful that they began dating right away afterward. "We were introduced by mutual friends and set up on a blind date while Marcus was back in D.C. for his home leave—at the time he was living abroad in Central Asia as a foreign service officer," says Stephanie. "I had heard about him from our mutual friends throughout the years and was excited to meet him, but really had no expectations."

But even if Stephanie had harbored a set of sky-high expectations, it sounds like Marcus would have still exceeded them! "I wrote in my journal after our first date that I had just met the man I was going to marry, but I didn’t know then how our timeline would work out." she shares.

Luckily, Marcus felt exactly the same. "After our second date I went home and told my parents, who I was staying with while I was on home leave, that I was going to change my assignment plans. I was supposed to go to another country for a year after my assignment ended, but instead I told them that I was going to come back early and date Stephanie because I thought she was the girl I was going to marry."

Ten months later the two decided that they were ready to be together forever, and Stephanie said "yes" to Marcus' proposal. Up next? The decision to set a wedding date that was just five months away. "A short engagement felt like our only option because we were just so excited to get married and be together," says Stephanie. "The timing also was right for both of us and where we were in our lives."

Read on for their top tips for other couples who have said "we do" to embracing a short engagement timeline! 


Length of engagement: 5 months
Wedding date: February 17, 2015

How did your families react when you announced your engagement? "Our families were really excited and supportive. We had been communicating with them all from the beginning that this was something special for both of us, and that we were serious. I think if there was anything hard about it, it was that because we moved so fast, my twin sister who lived in another city did not really get a chance to know Marcus as well as we both wanted before we got engaged."

What are the benefits of having a short engagement? "The benefits are that there is not too much time to fret about making everything perfect because you just have to go with what works in your timeline, and I liked that about the decision-making process. Also, the sooner the engagement is over the sooner you get to be husband and wife!"

How about the drawbacks? "The drawbacks are that it can feel like a whirlwind because you do not really have time to put things off when making plans, and there's a chance that certain venues or things are not available in your shortened timeline."

Most special memory during your short engagement: "We were engaged after Marcus got back from his overseas assignment, so I just loved getting to do everyday life with him in the same city. We also went through pre-marital counseling, which we both really loved and helped prepare us for marriage."

Favorite detail of your wedding: "We had a destination wedding in Tulum, Mexico and we had a total of 37 guests with us the entire week. It was so special to feel like we were on a vacation with our closest friends and family, and to have time to enjoy each other and not feel stressed about connecting with so many people in just one evening or day."

Did you go on a honeymoon, and if so, was it difficult to book on your short engagement timeline? "We had a two-part honeymoon. We stayed in Mexico after the wedding and made it our honeymoon as well. It was not hard to book, but we definitely had to plan it while we planned the wedding. We also went to Paris three months after our wedding for a more exploratory trip that we were able to plan once we got back and had more time. This also gave us something to look forward to once we returned home."

Read more tips for planning a honeymoon on a short engagement timeline here.

If you could plan your wedding all over again, what (if anything) would you change? "I think that I would not have spent as much time or money on welcome bags because people didn’t really seem to notice, and I think looking back that they were an unnecessary expense."

What's your best advice for other engaged couples planning a wedding on a short timeline? "Make sure to not get too wrapped up in the planning and let it get in the way of what is really important—like your friendships, your partner, and other things in your life that you will 'go back to' after you get married. Planning the wedding can feel like a whirlwind (especially when you are planning something so fast), but make sure that you still maintain healthy boundaries in how you spend your time, what you discuss at every meal, and what you focus on. Also, I STRONGLY recommend pre-marital counseling because it is a great third space to discuss issues that might not otherwise come up in your relationship, and a great space to prepare for marriage as well." 

PS: Stephanie used our guide, How to Plan Your Wedding in Six Months or Less, to navigate her wedding planning process! Here's her take on it: 

"After I got engaged I had a lot of trouble figuring out where to start when planning our wedding and how to plan a wedding fast! However, [this book] ended up being the PERFECT guide and lifesaver for me while wedding planning. It was easy to take with me everywhere I went and refer back to when I had questions come up. I cannot recommend this book enough!"

Last but not least, here's a little freebie/excerpt for you! Click the button below to download our 6 month wedding planning timeline and checklist.

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