It’s crazy to think that one year ago today the love of my life got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!
Everyone told us that our time being engaged would fly by, and they were absolutely right! It’s insane to think that it’s been 365 days since I said yes to Jared. It feels like it was just yesterday that I woke up, did my makeup, put on a red dress for what was supposed to be an average photoshoot and ended up being asked the most important question of my life.
Reflecting on this last year of being a fiancée, it’s safe to say that I’ve learned a lot. While being engaged is lot like I expected it to be, there have also been some things that have surprised me. Here are five of the things I’ve learned since getting engaged:
1. Being young and engaged isn’t as crazy to people as I thought it would be
Before getting engaged, I had heard horror stories from people who had been totally harassed by complete strangers for their choice to settle down early. As much as I was sure of my decision to marry Jared, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would receive this kind of response from people that I didn’t (and perhaps did) know.
Fast forward a few months, those fears were completely irrational. No, I haven’t had any creepy men in the grocery store tell me I’m insane or try to talk me out of it (yes – this happened to someone I know!), and no, neither Jared nor I have had anyone tell us that we’re making the wrong choice. Instead, we’ve had extremely positive reactions from people – young and old – who are impressed with our commitment to each other. In fact, we’ve seen a lot of people our age get engaged shortly before or after us, so we’ve had a community of friends to share this exciting season with!
Long story short, don’t worry about what other people think when it comes to your engagement (or anything else for that matter). Respect the opinions of those who are close to you, but know that strangers will always have their own opinions about what you should and shouldn’t do. These opinions are a reflection of their own lives – not yours. There is nothing wrong with choosing to get engaged at a young age. Jared and I can’t wait to start our lives together, and we feel so blessed to be able to start early.
2. Relationship first, wedding planning second
The first day that I sat down with my Southern Weddings Planner, I flipped through the beautiful pages and couldn’t help but think, “What is a processional? Do I really need to follow all of these traditions? I’m supposed to budget HOW much for catering?!”
Long story short: wedding planning can be stressful. There are a lot of things to be ironed out over the period of your engagement, and while these big decisions are fun to tackle together as a newly engaged couple, they’re anything but easy.
To handle all of the stress that comes along with planning, Jared and I have been intentionally planning our wedding in “sprints”, with periods of focused planning followed by periods of relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. This has kept both of us sane, and it’s left us with breathing room to focus on what’s really important at the end of the day: our relationship with each other.
3. It’s not all about you
Brides, and soon to be brides… let me let you in on a little secret that might be hard to hear: your wedding day isn’t all about you.
I’ve grown up hearing that my wedding day is MY day. It’s my opportunity to have my perfect fairytale ending, be given everything I’ve ever wanted, and have the entire universe revolve around me for 24 hours. Who decided this was the case?!
A wedding day is about a bride AND groom making a covenant before God to love and serve one another for an entire lifetime. That’s a pretty heavy commitment, and nowhere does it imply that the day is actually just about the bride feeling like a princess.
Brides, I’m not saying that you can’t have your perfect dress, venue, or the wedding cake you’ve always dreamed of. However, getting engaged with the idea that your wedding day revolves around you is bound to cause rifts in your relationship, and it’s not reality. Bring your fiancé into the planning. Ask him what’s important to him. Make your wedding day focus about the commitment you are making to each other. NOT your obsession with Four Weddings.
4. Let go of “perfect”
My third point leads into the fourth, and it’s especially important for couples getting married young: let go of perfect. Over the last year, I’ve really had to manage and re-adjust my expectations when it comes to the way that our wedding day will unfold.
I’ve always been passionate about creating beautiful spaces, and I let my wedding day dreams run wild as a young girl. I started my wedding Pinterest board at just 13 years old! I thought I had everything planned out, down to the last peony.
Fast forward a few years and reality has sunk in. Cross-back chairs are actually $8.50 a person, a nice veil can run anywhere between $300-$5,000 dollars, and you’ve got to find a way to feed a huge group of people a formal dinner without breaking the bank. There are a lot of hidden costs with weddings, and almost everything is more expensive than you’d imagine (start saving, ladies).
While I’ve had to re-envision a lot of aspects of the day to reflect our budget, I’ve gotten better at accepting the fact that what will make our day memorable is not having “perfect” decor, food, florals, or anything else for that matter. There will always be something bigger and better, and you’ll drive yourself crazy thinking about what could be if you let your mind wander. Instead, I’m trying to remember that when I look back on our wedding day 50 years from now, saying “I do” to forever with Jared will be the memory that counts.
5. You can’t please everyone
This is a lesson that I learned shortly after getting engaged. Everybody has an opinion… everybody.
You’ll hear people say that children don’t belong in weddings. You’ll hear people say that photographs aren’t as important as the food (even if you don’t feel the same way). You’ll hear people tell you that you should or shouldn’t wear a veil when walking down the aisle, and that you HAVE to have an open bar for the night to be fun… Or, that an open bar will ruin everything.
One of the first things Jared and I did after getting engaged was sit down and decide what was important to US. We knew that we’d continue to hear conflicting opinions for people for our entire engagement, and that our best bet was to stick to what we both knew we wanted.
Let the opinions of the people who matter to you count, but don’t let them be final. Make sure your decisions are your own. At the end of the day – YOU are the one getting married!
Now that Jared and I are in the home stretch of our engagement, we are diving into the next wedding planning sprint. Having a year of engagement under our belts, I’d like to think that we’re ready for what the final few months of wedding planning have in store for us… But I’m sure the learning has only just begun.