This weekend, my fiancée and I went back to our college town for a poetry reading. Our friends from college congratulated us on our engagement, and the question inevitably rose: How is wedding planning? To which we answered: We aren’t planning a wedding right now.
There seems to be a cultural expectation that as soon as two people become engaged, the incredibly tense and time-consuming process of planning a wedding begins immediately. But my partner has two jobs; I have three. We pass each other like two ships in the night, maintaining our apartment in our few spare hours with nary a glance at The Knot’s beautiful and stressful website. We’re also quite young, just beginning our careers and would like to spend more time saving in order to create the best possible day. In short, we’re planning on a long engagement.
I’ve always wanted a long engagement. As a kid, I never planned my wedding or fantasized about the perfect gown, the perfect flowers, the perfect cake. I wasn’t even interested in getting married, which prompted an uncle to bet me $50 that one day I would find that special someone and have a whole houseful of children. (I’m willing to split the difference with $25, since I’m certain he expected me to marry a man.)
However, Olivia and I talked about our hypothetical wedding before we were even dating. We talked colors, music, food—all the nebulous things two people might want for their special day. But the actual process of wedding planning is anxiety-provoking enough to give me chest pains. How am I supposed to know what table runners I want, or what table runners even are, when I don’t know what I’m going to eat for dinner tonight? Pushing the planning back gives us a chance to breathe, to actually decide what we want before we have to make financial commitments.
Speaking of which, the wedding industry is like one of those coin centrifuges you might find in a children’s museum. You drop a coin in and it rolls in a wide circle before dropping into the dark abyss. There are so many hidden fees that come just by mentioning the word “wedding,” and as two people who are trying to save money, the idea of dropping tens of thousands of dollars right now is just not feasible. I personally would rather have the option to save for as long as we need instead of rushing into the wedding and accruing debt over a single hectic day.
But the most prominent reason we’re pursuing a long engagement is this: I love Olivia. I plan to be with her for the rest of my life, which will hopefully last another 60 or so years. In the grand scheme of my life, an extra year or two of planning isn’t going to cut into my time with her. If anything, we will have more time to grow and change with each other before making such an enormous commitment. I’ve never been one to rush into things, and I don’t plan to rush this important decision because it’s what’s expected of me. We will marry when we are ready, when we have time to plan, when we are financially stable. Until then, I am simply enjoying our engagement as part of our Jewish life together.