Eight years ago today – on top of a mountain at Deer Valley Resort in snowy Utah – the boy I’d loved since I was fifteen got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. (Spoiler Alert: I said YES.)
The photo above was taken later that night in Salt Lake City Temple Square, and it’s become one of my very favorite ornaments to hang on the tree each year. It’s the perfect reminder of that Christmas – which held so much expectation and joy – and our excitement, love for each other, and hope for whatever the future had for us together. We’ve had a lot of wonderful Christmases since then, but that one definitely stands out in my mind as one of the very best. (The date on the ornament is our wedding date, FYI. Confusing, I know.)
Anyway… We got engaged on December 18th, 2006 (just a couple of days after Jeff graduated from VT) and were married on June 30th, 2007 – for those of you that aren’t stellar at math (don’t worry, I get it), that’s an engagement of just over six months – and I don’t even count it as that long because we didn’t start planning until after Christmas (i.e. December 26th because that’s all my little Type A wedding planning heart could handle)… In six months, while also student teaching, my mom and I planned (and executed) my dream wedding.
I’m being 100% honest when I say that I have nothing but WONDERFUL memories from the entire planning experience (and, I really think my mom would say the same – for what it’s worth). Even in this era of Pinterest and blogs, when every wedding seems even more beautiful/creative/amazing than the next, Jeff and I often talk about how FUN and PERFECT our wedding was. It was, hands down, the best day of my life. Everyone I loved was there, every detail was perfect, and the entire process – starting on December 18th and leading right up to the big day – was a HUGE celebration. I almost get teary just thinking about how loved and blessed I felt during that season of my life. (#pregnancyhormones)
According to the most recent statistics I could find (The Knot, 2013), the average length of an engagement in the US is 14 months. Another study, done by Wedding Paper Divas about two years ago, said that only 4% of engagements are six months or less. If these statistics are true, then, frankly, I think people are doing it all wrong… While I have nothing against a longer engagement (my sister’s will be right at the average when it is all said and done and everything about her’s is turning out great too), and I realize that there are plenty of reasons why a couple chooses to go that route; I would argue that SHORTER IS BETTER if you have the choice!
Here are my top five reasons why:
#5. You can (and should) start planning right away. I bought my wedding dress approximately ten days after I got engaged, and it wasn’t too early!! Since my engagement was short, I didn’t waste any time starting to make decisions and plan – something I had been dreaming about doing for years. I’m an instant gratification type, so I loved that I could jump right in. I remember getting my first bridal magazine (in the airport coming home from Utah), looking at one of those Wedding Countdown Checklists, and being so happy that I could breeze right through the first several pages… My mom and I had a lot of fun looking for inspiration, meeting with vendors, shopping for little details, etc. etc., and I never felt bored with the process or like we had a long time to wait – I just enjoyed the planning right up until the moment we said “I do.”
#4. You will have more limited options on vendors, dates, etc. which actually makes the process EASIER and less stressful. One of the hardest things about planning a wedding can be picking a date; but, with a short engagement, our options were already limited so we had to go with the first thing that worked. (We lucked out because the very next Saturday was 7/7/07 and apparently a lot of people wanted to get married on that date so our day was still available for lots of people.) We couldn’t be picky about whether Great Aunt Bobby Sue would be on vacation at the time, and if our “first choice” vendor wasn’t available, we simply moved on to the next. I guess for some people this might be seen as a disadvantage; but – for me – having less options was a really GOOD thing.
#3. If the process is stressful, it will only last a short time. Let’s face it, there are some aspects of wedding planning that just ARE stressful. But, in my experience with close friends getting married etc. the stress is basically the same regardless of the length of your engagement. So, even if our whole experience had been difficult and tension-filled (which it wasn’t), at least it would have only been for six months instead of a year or longer.
#2. You (and everyone else) get excited AND stay excited for the entire engagement/wedding season. This was one of the best parts for me… As I mentioned above, I felt like our entire engagement period was one big celebration leading up to the BIG celebration at the end. Our friends were so excited to get our Save-the-Date in January (even booking hotel rooms and flights right away), threw us a ridiculous amount of showers and parties throughout the Spring, and counted down the days with us until the actual wedding. I’ve heard a lot of people complain that they are “over it” by the time they get to the actual wedding or that there seems to be a lull in the excitement once all the planning is done, but that wasn’t the case for us at all! The six months flew by and I was walking down the aisle before I knew it!!
And the #1 reason you should have a short engagement: If it only takes nine months to GROW a human being in your stomach and prepare for the life-changing moment of motherhood, I’m pretty sure you can plan a wedding in less time than that. This is mostly tongue-in-cheek; but, really, I mean… Think about it. 😉
Interestingly, according to both of the surveys mentioned above, December is also the most popular month to get engaged (must be something about all those twinkly lights and mistletoe)… So, if you just got engaged or might be getting engaged this season, I hope you’ll consider my argument in favor of the short engagement. (And CONGRATULATIONS!)
Anyone else out there plan a wedding in six months or less? How did it go for you?