Too Long, Too Short, Just Right: The Perfect Engagement Length

Too Long, Too Short, Just Right: The Perfect Engagement Length

The engagement period is meant to be a trial period before marriage to see how the two of you interact, how your families and friends get along, and provide a snapshot into what marriage is like before taking the plunge.

According to The Knot, the average length of engagement is currently 14 months.  However, the length of your engagement is best determined by the current situation you are in as well as what both you and your spouse want.  For some couples, waiting for months (and even years) is the best way to handle the commitment period for each other.  Yet for others, getting married just a few months after engagement is best for them.

engagement proposal

Whether a long engagement or a short one, here are a few things to consider:

The Pros of Long Engagements

  • You’re young and not finished with high school
    Couples who are young and in love (and under the age of 18) may want to wait until after high school graduation to be sure that the relationship will stand the test of time.
  • You need to finish college or post-graduate studies
    College is tough enough: being newly married while trying to participate in school activities, keeping grades up and holding down a part-time job can be an obstacle.
  • You haven’t known each other for very long
    If you’ve only been dating for a short before becoming engaged, waiting for a period of time can help you determine if the relationship works for both of you.
  • You want to save for the wedding or for a down-payment on a home
    Deciding not to go into debt to have your wedding or desiring to start your new life in a home are both valid reasons for an extended engagement.
  • You have a lot of debt you want to pay off before entering into marriage
    If you’ve been carrying a lot of debt such as on credit cards, a long engagement may be the best option. Not only will the longer engagement motivate you to get out of debt sooner, but you’ll learn how to better budget your money before you marry.
  • You’ve got lot of emotional baggage from a previous relationship
    If you or your future spouse are divorced, had a bad marriage previously, or grew up in a broken home, there may be emotional factors that need to be addressed before jumping into marriage. Delaying your vows while you get professional counseling, both as an individual and as a couple, can ensure your marriage is built to last.
  • You love DIY projects – including your wedding
    If you’re looking to save some money and are fortunate enough to be blessed with crafting skills, a longer engagement can provide enough time for you to get things done.
  • You get to take your time with wedding preparations
    Luckily for you, a longer engagement means that you can, more slowly, put all the details in place for your big day and avoid some of the burn-out experienced during a short engagement.
  • You’ll save money by booking early
    From the caterer, venue to the florist, booking early can save you money. Unless you have a specific time of year in mind, having plenty of time to plan your wedding means you can look at when off-peak savings can be your best ally!

The Cons of a Long Engagement

  • Questioning your commitment to each other by others
    Because you’re not jumping into marriage, others may wonder why you’re waiting so long to tie the knot.
  • Growing jealousy as friends and family get engaged and married
    When you’re engaged for a long period of time, it is not uncommon to see friends and family engaged after you but married before you.
  • Becoming overwhelmed by wedding options and details
    There are infinite possibilities and ideas for your wedding. This leads to feeling overwhelmed by all the available options.
  • Changing wedding trends and fashion
    When you first became engaged, you might have an idea for your perfect wedding but being engaged for a long period of time may result in fashion and other wedding trends changing.
  • Transitioning variables of key wedding party participants
    A best man may be killed in a motorcycle accident. A family member may move out of the country.  A bridesmaid might become pregnant.  These are all variables which can change your original plans.
  • Losing employment or having to relocate for work
    At the time of your engagement the future looked bright for a happily ever after ending. But real-world factors such as being laid off from a job, relocating to a new city or state for work and other issues can change over time.

The Pros of a Short Engagement

  • Your family circumstances are changing
    Whether you’re suddenly adding to your family (e.g. you’re pregnant or your ex just granted you custody of your children) or discover a loved one has a fatal illness, family changes can lead to shorter engagement timelines and fast wedding plans.
  • You move quickly from engaged into married life faster
    A shorter engagement means that you can start your life as husband and wife more quickly.
  • You’ll save money on taxes and insurance
    Being married means that you can move to a single health insurance plan (and often with better coverage), be eligible for spouse-only benefits and will likely see some tax breaks.
  • Your stress will be only for a short period of time
    Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful times in your life. The longer you are engaged, the longer that stress will loom until you’ve tied the knot.  Having a shorter engagement means that you’ll experience the stress faster but it will be done faster as well!
  • You’ll be able to focus on what really matters – first
    The longer you have to plan the wedding, the more time you have to obsess about the details that most people attending your wedding won’t ever know about. A shorter engagement, however, helps you focus on what’s more important from who you want to marry (right now) to the can’t-live-without requirements that will make your wedding day special.

The Cons of a Short Engagement

  • Being the center of gossip
    A shorter engagement often makes people wonder why you’re in a hurry to be married.
  • Developing concerns by others that you’re rushing into marriage
    While some people will question why you’re getting married quickly, others will think you’re rushing into marriage, especially if you haven’t been a couple for a long period of time.
  • Limiting the vendor options
    The most important vendors – venue, musicians and photographer – are usually booked several months or a year in advance. A shorter engagement means you may find that your ideal vendors aren’t available on your wedding date.
  • Planning at the speed of light
    With a shorter engagement, all of the wedding planning needs to be done in a compressed period of time. You may find yourself living (and breathing) wedding until your big day.
  • Increasing arguments between you and your future spouse
    Planning a wedding is stressful, but trying to plan it quickly can add more. Be prepared that stress often comes with misunderstandings, short tempers and frustration.  (But a great relationship will last through the planning and for many years to come!)

While there’s not a right or wrong reason for either a short or long engagement, it’s important for you and your future spouse to be on the same page.  You have to tune out what well-meaning family and friends say and focus on what is best for you as a couple. After all, it’s the dream life you two are creating together!



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