Unpopular Opinion: Being Engaged Isn't That Great

Well, the title of this post kind of says it all. Just in case you missed that part, though, here's an unpopular opinion for you:

Being engaged isn't that great.

I was going to take it farther than that ("Being engaged is the worst"), but that's not completely true. There are aspects of the fiancé life that are completely exciting and definitely worth celebrating. So in the interest of at least maintaining the pretense of being a "glass half-full" kind of person, let's start with the top three positives of being engaged!

our engagement photos: Miss Jee's Photography


1. It's official: you've made a joint proclamation to the world at large that you are "taken" in a forever kind of way. You're pledged. Promised. Betrothed. Your fiancé has bestowed you with the highest honor by choosing you—only you—as his exclusive life partner, and vice versa. You're full of hopes and dreams about the life the two of you will build together. Even better—you're entering into a season of secure dreaming. No more dating and questioning and wondering, "Is he the one?" No more stressing over composing and sending back the perfect text message to ensure the conversation keeps rolling. No more reassigning the role of Prince Charming after an ugly breakup causes the lead to make an early exit. This is it. He is it. And he's got real features for you to assign to the formerly-vague face of your forever lover, the father of your future children, and the old guy sitting next to you on the porch swing 80 years from now.

This is 100% the best part of being engaged. I get goosebumps just writing about it! 

2. Engagement is a practice round for marriage, which suddenly makes you feel very grown up and causes other people to take you and your opinions more seriously too. You'll get the chance to make joint decisions and lay plans as a team. Pretty exciting!

3. I went really deep and emotional in number one and kept things practical in number two, so I hope that you'll excuse me for saying this thing that everybody else is thinking anyway—being engaged means you get a gorgeous RING. It's one thing to pin dream rings on Pinterest, but it's a whole other thing entirely to see this physical reminder of your fiancé's love glinting on your finger, and it's so much fun to hold it up for selfies and get manicures that highlight it and show it off to all your friends. Also in this category of "fun things"—playing dress up (gown hunting), having slumber parties (bachelorette weekend), and doing a lot of virtual shopping (creating a registry).

Now, moving on to the real subject of the day.


Let me start by saying that, while writing this post, I asked Taylor, "What were your favorite parts about being engaged?"

His response: "Uh, none of it."

He was sort of joking, and after a little prompting he quickly repeated almost verbatim what I described in point number one ( 🙄  ). But still. The fact remains that he wasn't a huge fan of being engaged, and I have to be honest.

Neither was I.

Engagement is a pressure cooker. It demands your attention and requires you to regularly make tough decisions. And as exciting as it is to begin making joint decisions with your forever teammate, it's also really annoying (or to sound more spiritual, "sanctifying" or "edifying") to start learning the art of compromise. Trust me in this: Marriage WILL reveal your selfishness, and engagement WILL give you a big old kickstart in this department.

I remember being crushed when Taylor said that ordering custom stamps for our wedding invitations would be both "ridiculous" and "a waste of money." We got into a huge argument right after taking our lovey-dovey engagement photos. A lot of tension stemmed from the fact that in many ways we were operating like a married couple but not yet enjoying the full benefits of marriage—we didn't live together or have sex before marriage. There were things that came up during our pre-marital counseling sessions that were hard to process and difficult to work through. Despite the fact that we were only going to be engaged for 4.5 months, halfway through we seriously considered scrapping everything and eloping—to the point that we told our parents (and were subsequently talked down from the ledge). 

so in love...but also gearing up for a big fight

We made mistakes with our guest list—people who should have been invited to our wedding didn't make the list purely due to the fact that we were feeling overwhelmed at the time we created it. Finalizing our wedding date caused major damage to my relationship with a life-long best friend—she was already committed to serving as a bridesmaid in another wedding that day, but Taylor and I didn't feel that we could change our date due to our family's availability and the significance it held for us. (Thankfully we have since mended our relationship, but it was an extremely painful split that took both of us years to re-address.) After my mom ordered wedding favors that I expressly told her I did not want, I convinced myself that she was trying to take over the wedding planning process—and subsequently snapped her head off. (Sorry, mom.)

So, what's the point in saying all of this—to be a downer? Definitely not. As I mentioned in this video, I couldn't stand when people tried to rain on my engagement parade for no good reason. The only point here is just to be real. Because there are so many things out there—Instagram posts, blogs, magazine articles, "Top Proposals of All Time" YouTube videos—that only show one side of engagement. The pretty side, which plays an endless highlight reel of gorgeous engagement sessions, adorable "Future Mrs." coffee mugs, super fun cake tasting appointments, and giggle-filled brunches with girlfriends. And if at any point in time your day-to-day starts to diverge from this picture of what being engaged is "supposed" to look and feel like, guess what that can lead to? Comparison ("She looks happier than I feel right now"). Discouragement. ("This is so far from the dream wedding I had in mind.") Exhaustion. ("I just can't deal with this drama anymore.") Fear. ("Are we making a huge mistake?")

I know because I felt and experienced and questioned all of these things during my own engagement. 

One of the worst things we can do to ourselves, whether it's in the realm of wedding planning or life in general, is to hold up our present circumstances against someone else's projected reality. So if wedding planning has you in a funk right now, don't start browsing Instagram and expect to be encouraged! Instead, start by giving yourself (and your fiancé) permission to be human. Will yourself to recall all of the things that are right about this man, this moment, and the journey you're on. Remember that the prize at the end of this short-lived, stress-filled season isn't a perfectly-executed event—it's a marriage. One that will be every bit as real, and as exciting, and as flawed, and as nuanced as the engagement you're right in the middle of. 

I know I'm going to sound like a yoga teacher here, but—breathe. In through your nose, out through your mouth. However you need to do it, just get some air in those lungs and use the exhalation to give thanks for this moment in time. Because good, bad, ugly and all, there will never be another one quite like it.

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