In the dizzying days after the proposal, some couples run full speed ahead into the wedding planning process. A longer engagement, however — we’re talking more than 15 months — has its perks, and many brides and grooms are starting to see the attraction of waiting a bit longer.
To start, you only get to experience the engagement period once. This stage offers endless reasons to celebrate, toast with your friends, and plan romantic outings with your partner. When you enjoy the glow of this transitional stage in your relationship, the wedding day can be all the more exciting.
A longer engagement does not mean that you have to hold off on planning the wedding. In reality, you have more time to brainstorm your ideal celebration, save up for your budget, and pinpoint all the design details that make you unique as a couple.
While there are plenty of pros and cons to both a long or short engagement, you should decide what is right for you as a team.
So, when is a long engagement better than a short one? Like everything with the wedding planning process, it all comes down to your preference and lifestyle.
For one, your wedding should fit with your plans for the future. Let’s say you have a large expense on the horizon, are working to pay off debt, or simply want to remove the pressure of planning a big event. With a little more logistical and financial flexibility, a long engagement could be for you.
Here are some common reasons couples extend their engagement process past a year:
● You’re saving up to buy a home or move to a new city
● One or both of you are finishing a degree
● A long engagement allows you to book your dream venue or vendor
● You would like to reach a financial goal before saving up for the wedding
● There are other family or friend’s weddings on the calendar
● You are planning a complex destination wedding
● You want to revel in the engagement phase of your relationship
According to Brides.com, it turns out that couples are pretty split about whether a short or long engagement is best. After all, they can only go off their one experience.
However, those who put the wedding off for more than a year stated that they had more time to meet with vendors in person, work through their wedding planning things-to-do list at their own pace, and to get on the same page with their soon-to-be-spouse.
Let’s work through some of the top reasons to opt for a long wedding planning timeline.
The Knot recommends locking down a wedding venue between nine and 12 months before your big day. And after we spoke to a handful of brides, their advice was to do it even sooner if you can! If you are engaged for the average 15 months like other couples, this doesn’t leave a ton of time to research and visit different options.
Choosing the right venue also means you can move on to important artists and vendors like your photographer, the wedding cake baker, and the DJ. With a few extra months as a buffer, there is more time to interview and find the right vendors for you.
For some couples, the engagement party and bridal shower can be complex to plan as well, even with the help of a wedding party. A long engagement leaves plenty of dates open so families can get the event on their calendars and plan at their own speed.
If you have a large bridal or groom’s party, an early heads up gives each of them the time to set their own budgets and make travel plans around their work schedules. In short, more time takes the pressure off of everyone.
Popping the big question is finally the opportunity to sit down and collaborate on what type of wedding works for both of you. Is a large event right for you or does one of you prefer an intimate gathering? With a little more time to adjust, it’s easier to find middle ground.
You can also enjoy a longer brainstorming period building Pinterestboards, attending bridal shows, and learning from other friends’ weddings in the meantime. Pick out your favorite wedding colors, groomsmen attire details, and all the other small factors that make your big day unique.
In 2017, couples overspent an average of $7,319 according to The Knot. Staying on budget is far more difficult if you have to make last-minute decisions or are planning in a hurry. A longer engagement allows you to bulk up your savings, tackle less-expensive DIY projects, and avoid racking up debt.
It is easy to become burned out from planning when rushing throughout a quick wedding timeframe. When you take your time, you may have more energy—and more room in your budget—to think about your honeymoon.
This extended planning phase means you can shop around for flights, hotel rooms, and special experiences that fall in line with your finances.
Marriage is a constant opportunity for growth, and the engagement period is a wonderful time to set goals for your many years ahead.
Whether you’re required to complete pre-marriage counseling with your officiant or simply want to discuss big topics on your own, this is a chance to develop your relationship even further. Not only will this help in the long run, but it is also a launching point for writing your vows.
Without the rush, you have more wiggle room to plan romantic nights out that drop the planning binder for a night and just focus on one another.
Let’s remember that there are good reasons and perks for both a two-year engagement and one that only lasts a few months. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what is best for you and your fiance.
Here are some details of both a longer and shorter wedding-planning timeline:
● Typically lasts less than one year
● The planning process starts right away
● There is less time to brainstorm or fret over decision overload
● Ideal for a smaller wedding with close family and friends
● Best if a family member can only attend in the next few months
● You get to be married as soon as possible
● Engagement lasts longer than 18 months
● Planning process begins with low-key brainstorming
● Broader choice of venues and vendors
● More ideal for destination weddings so guests can plan
● Ample time for pre-wedding festivities
● More time to focus on your relationship
A long engagement period is anything but uneventful, however. Now that you both have the green light to set your sights on your wedding day, here are some fun ways to make the most of a long engagement wedding planning process.
Take a look at our wedding timeline and things-to-do list and pair it up with your own calendar. Large decisions like choosing a venue, writing up a tentative guest list, and building a budget should still come early on. Mapping out the rest of the choices on your timeline allows more time for creative brainstorming.
If you’ve chosen to combine finances, open up a joint savings account specifically for wedding purchases. This encourages couples to stay on track with their non-wedding expenses, especially as the final months approach.
If you have more than a year or two to go, wait before alerting your guest list in case your preferences shift as you get closer. As details solidify, you may end up with a smaller venue than anticipated or building closer ties with other people in your circle.
For the same reason, hold off on choosing your bride and groom’s party until you’re certain of the final list.
Wedding dress trends can shift in just a few months, so it’s best to wait until 6-8 months before to visit a boutique and make a final decision. Dresses from last season may also go slightly down in price if you wait a bit longer.
While you don’t have to purchase a dress right away, you can immediately begin brainstorming your favorite styles and fits.
Wait before you select your bridal party since friendships evolve and change overtime.
Your engagement period can act as an extension of the wedding celebration itself. After kicking things off with an engagement party, set frequent date nights to cheers to your upcoming wedding and talk about hopes and plans for your marriage.
For example, use your wedding venue search as an opportunity to take small weekend trips filled with romantic stops along the way. Every time you make a decision or reach a wedding financial goal, cheers to your accomplishment toward this big accomplishment.
Hindsight is one of the best tools when planning a wedding. Chat with recent couples about their planning experience and what they would have done differently.
If you have the chance to attend other weddings during your engagement—another perk of the long planning timeframe — chat with your fiance about things you loved and didn’t love after the event.
Every couple plans an event unique to their style, so it’s important to point out things from the evening that don’t match your energy. For example, if a long bus ride from the ceremony to the reception seemed unnecessary, you may be better off holding both events in one place.
As we’ve outlined above, more time to plan your wedding is a gift for many reasons. However, structure is still the key to keeping your wedding planning process calm and focused.
Whether you choose to tie the knot in the next three months or the next three years, set a schedule that works for both of you. Planning a wedding may be daunting at times, but with a little structure, the engagement period is a thrilling time for celebration.