3 Reasons to Have a Long Engagement


brooke images rachel ritlop eric dresdale
Photo cred: BrookeImages.com

I had a long engagement…

I got engaged on (November 9, 2014) and we tied the knot in mid-October 2016.

E and I know a long engagement was in our future, even before putting a ring on. What I didn't know was how much society judged others for having a long engagement. Seriously, I turned on the TV one day and Wendy Williams was talking so much trash about people with two-year engagements!

Apparently, it's a common stereotype a couple is having “issues” when engaged longer than a year (year and a half max). Throughout our long engagement, countless people asked, “are you guys still even getting married?” or “is everything okay with you two?”

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I think it's so wrong to judge and assume that you know what's going on in a persons life based on their wedding timeline.

The truth is, our engagement was long, not because my fiance and I were having issues, but because my mother and I were. We'd been on rocky terrain for years. I spent the first year of my engagement emotionally preparing myself that she wouldn't come to my wedding. While all of the juicy details of that is probably an entirely different post… a blessing actually came from drawing out the wedding planning process: It was relatively stress-free!

That's right! I have found wedding planning overall to be totally stress free.

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3 Reasons to Have a Long Engagement

Benefit of a long engagement #1: Narrows your guest list

Seriously, having a longer engagement narrows your guest list! So many people came out of the woodwork trying to reconnect after we got engaged; I was shocked. They wanted to “hear all about wedding planning.” Only there was nothing to report other than we had no idea what was happening and we're enjoying being engaged. I started hanging out with old friends who I had lost touch with and found myself thinking, “well we used to be great friends, maybe she will be in my wedding party!”

brooke images rachel ritlop eric dresdale the confused mom

Before inviting all my long lost girlfriends to be bridesmaids, I decided to wait. I wanted to see if we stayed re-connected. I saw this story on the Today Show about a study which found most couples were no longer in contact with their wedding party 15-20 years later. All of the anchors said they do not talk to almost anyone who was in their wedding party anymore either. I held onto that segment.

Maybe I'm idealistic, but I want to stay life long friends with my wedding party. I didn't want to pay a ton of money to have people at my wedding who I don't think will be there for the long haul.

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Sure enough, the people I lost touch with were only interested in wedding conversations and not actual rekindling a friendship. I started to feel like people were only interested in coming to the wedding rather than being a dependable friend. Needless to say, when we first got engaged we thought our wedding would be around 150 people… and by the time we got married it was less than 65 people.

brooke images rachel ritlop eric dresdale the confused mom

Benefit of a long engagement #2: Less money

That's right, a longer engagement has meant a lower cost wedding! Aside from the smaller guest list, it really allowed us to not make impulsive or emotional decisions. We've had time to let “wedding fever” pass. Thereby letting go of trends or what other people are doing. We've really had the chance to decide, “Is this adding to our guests experience and representing us as a couple?” If the answer isn't “HELL YES!” to both questions, it's cut from the budget. This includes spending $200 on my wedding dress instead of $5,000!

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Benefit of a long engagement #3: No expectations

With longer engagements, family and friends begin to lose excitement. For so long we had “nothing to report.” When there was something to report, it's so small and spread out from the next small thing, that it's created a lot of space and distance from opinions and emotions (thankfully!). This has given space for the process to be about my fiance and I and our wants, wishes, and needs as a couple.

What do you think? Are you planning on a long engagement?



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This post was originally published on 5/31/16 and last updated on 2/12/2020

71 thoughts on “3 Reasons to Have a Long Engagement”

  1. I love what you wrote about bridal parties, and I COMPLETELY agree. They are standing up with you, witnessing, and agreeing to hold you accountable to your vows, so why would you choose people who you won’t truly know in the future?!?

    My engagement was only 3 months due to Sean starting his 6 year PhD program, and I definitely envy you! Way to go Rachel!

    1. Haha thanks Harvey! I feel like I would either want it to be really short or nice and long. Like get it done in 3 months or take 2 years. Like in 3 months you dont really have time to waffle, you just get it done.

  2. This is such an interesting perspective! I never really "looked down" on anyone who had a long engagement but I always wondered what the point was of waiting so long. But now that I’ve read this, I’m thinking that a long engagement is something I want, too! I’m starting grad school next year and I definitely want to be finished with that before I get married, but I’ve told my boyfriend that I wouldn’t mind being engaged while still in grad school. I think having some time before the wedding is definitely a good thing, I’d feel way less stressed than if I had to plan a wedding in, say, 6 months! Great post!

    Kayla | kaylablogs.com

    1. Thanks Kayla! Totally! I knew I wanted to be engaged, because my fiancee (then boyfriend) meant so much more to me than the word "boyfriend" – but I knew we both wanted sometime before the wedding bells and questions about kids! haha

      Good luck with grad school!

  3. Girl, I am all for this! I am no where near engaged, but whenever it happens I want it to be quite a while. Not only does this give a ton of time to get things done, but it gives you time to enjoy "being engaged" without spending all of your engagement simply planning a wedding.

    <a href="http://www.sarakatestyling.blogspot.com">Sara Kate Styling</a>

    1. Totally! We decided right away to not even think about wedding stuff for the first 6 months of being engaged and just wanted to enjoy that time before thinking about venues and dates and everything!

  4. We had an 18 month engagement and I always tell people it was the best decision the Army ever made for us. When we began wedding planning, we set a date and then my now-husband deployed to Afghanistan. I was SUPER PISSED, but in the end, it all worked out! I loved your take (and honesty) on this 🙂

  5. Petite Heartbeat

    A long engagement is a great idea. My husband and I were engaged for 2 years before we were married and we are going on 15 years married and over 17 together in January. I think a long engagement really helped with this. Great post.

  6. Stephanie Boyd

    These are really good points! I’ve known people who have had like 3-month engagements and I just cannot even imagine trying to plan a wedding in that short of a time! There seem to be a lot of benefits to having a longer engagement!

  7. I always thought I wanted a long engagement, but when it came down to it, having a shorter engagement just worked better for us! We got engaged in late December and married August 1st, so it was a pretty quick turn around and a crazy blur of planning. As a teacher, getting married in the summer made the most sense, and our choices were to either wait until August 2016 or just go for it in 2015. I’m so glad we got married when we did! It really just depends on the couple and what makes the most sense to them!

    xo Ashley

    1. Haha yeah totally! The above isn’t saying that one is better than the other, it’s more of an "in defense of the long engagement" since it seems to just get crapped on all the time. Most people I know had a quick engagement and loved it! Congratulations on getting married! 🙂

  8. Bella Bucchiotti

    It sounds like a great plan. I am never one to be comfortable with just jumping at things. I love to plan and overplan! Congratulations!

  9. Kristin Thompson

    I think having a long engagement is a great idea! I love all of your tips and it sounds like waiting has been the best thing for you, which is all that matters! Good luck with the rest of your planning – I can’t wait to see pictures from it!

    <a href="http://www.theblushblonde.com">The Blush Blonde</a>

    1. Totally! I think every couple has different needs and wants and this just suited us best. I think as long as you are a match and doing it together no length of engagement is necessarily better than the other. Thanks Kristin!

  10. Jordyn Sifferman

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with a long engagement. I think it is pretty strange when people have super short engagements because a rushed wedding seems weird to me but honestly to each their own! Your engagement photos are lovely and I am sure your wedding will be wonderful too <3

  11. I LOVE this!!! Your wedding photographer is amazing btw! There is so nothing wrong with long engagements – I think it’s definitely worth while! Congrats on your upcoming marriage!! xoxo

  12. Taylor Anne Mobley

    I had a 6-month engagement so I had the opposite situation. My husband and I were still hardcore judged (we got a lot of questions asking if we were rushing because we were pregnant…we were NOT pregnant!!!). I think it really depends on the couple. Once we decided to get married, we didn’t see the point in waiting. We just wanted to be married! Moral of the story? Everyone is different.

  13. We had a long engagement, too! My husband proposed to me in October 2011, and we didn’t get married until December 2013! He was still serving the US Army at the time, hence we had to wait a little longer. I don’t know about you, but two years of wedding preparations actually went by so fast!

  14. My fiancee and I got engaged Christmas Eve 2015, and are getting married this August 2017. Shorter than yours by about a year, but still longer. She said she felt as if she needed the long engagement, and I’m fine with that. Plus, we didn’t feel pressured to get all the planning done super quick – although we’re getting to crunch time!

    – Joe @ http://hendrixjoseph.github.io/

  15. I feel like this post was written for me haha. We our engagement will be 2 years and 3 months by the time we get married, and we have had so many comments on why it’s so long. To the point of a friend at church h asked us if we’d consider moving it forward. Well no, not after we’ve pretty much booked everything! And we are in a transition of real change right now so we need that breathing space before we settle down into married life. Everyone is different and I honestly couldn’t imagine have a short one – the stress haha! But I’ll be ready when the time comes 🙂

  16. I love your perspective on this! Our engagement was a little over a year. We tried to keep our guest list as small as we could (it was still pretty big due to my husband’s huge family). I could not agree more with not wanting to spend that much money on people who won’t be in your life for a long time!

  17. Allison Lancaster

    I love this! We were engaged over a year and it took so much pressure off of us

  18. I can see a lot of benefits to a long engagement. I think the point about saving money is spot on-I think the wedding industry counts on people making impulsive emotional decisions that cost a lot of money. When you have a lot of time you can pay along the way and save a bit of money too!

  19. My husband and I had a two year engagement! I wanted to graduate from college first, before tying the knot! i totally agree with the saving money thing. We tons of time to plan and it allowed us to do more DIY stuff to make the wedding cheaper. I did origami flowers for our wedding! Making all those flowers took a lot of time, but paper is way cheaper than real flowers!

  20. I think the right engagement period time is different for everyone! I’m so glad your long engagement worked out for you – you guys are so cute!

  21. This is so true! (Side note, your engagement photos were gorgeous!!) My husband and I were engaged for about two weeks lol but that’s a whole different story! You make very valid points though!! I love what you said about having fewer guests. You definitely find out who your true friends are!

  22. These all sound like smart tips for y’all! I think honestly engagement length just depends on the couple, their relationship and the circumstances in life at the time. Some are great with a short engagement and some need a long one. Neither are right and neither are wrong!! So glad your engagement was a wonderful experience though!

    xoxo A

  23. I had a shorter engagement (11 months) and wish at times we had a longer one. I cannot believe people shammed you for a long engagement, that is ridiculous. I had a ton of friends with long engagements and I never questioned their devotion to each other. PS LOVE your pics!

  24. Congrats to the happy bride. I’m so sorry if your mother didn’t come – and beyond foolish of her. (I had a mom like that and get it.) But as a mother-of-the-bride myself, I encouraged my daughter to have as short an engagement as possible for just one reason – she and her pastor husband wanted to remain sexually pure until their wedding night. Short engagements are the ticket to that! 😉

  25. I think this is a great post. There are so many great things that can come from having a longer engagement. I think everyone should do what’s right for them, and I don’t question people’s choices. I am super jealous of your $200 wedding dress, though!

  26. Great insight! I can definitely see the benefits of a long engagement. I can’t believe people gave you such a hard time about it! But then again people don’t have filters most of the time, lol.

  27. Love this outlook on having a long engagement. I feel that I would prefer to have a longer one because that gives me more time to save, plan,etc. Great tips girl!

  28. Elizabeth Johnson

    I’m sorry to hear about you and your mom. This is really great insight into a long engagement. My husband and I had a 7 month engagemen. You have really great points though. Great post!

  29. These are such great tips! I’m not engaged yet but I’ve always wanted to have a longer engagement than most and by that I mean longer than 6-12 months lol.

  30. Jennifer Schmidt

    These are great! I am one who hate spending money on things. I have always thought that quick wedding cost way too much for me.

  31. In the grand scheme of things our engagement wasn’t long, but I come from a small and very conservative community/family. Most people don’t have engagements longer than 6-8 months, and a lot are even shorter than that. So a whole year was a LOT, but it’s what needed to happen for us logistically. We had some people tell us we needed to get married as quickly as possible (to “reduce temptation” since we are Christians, but my thinking is that if you have to get married asap then you aren’t committed to sexual purity anyway… but I’ll not rant), we had a lot of people that were “confused” as to why we were waiting so long, or who told us we should get married at the courthouse etc. And of all things his parents wanted us to wait LONGER (I think because they weren’t ready to let go… he’s a 27 yo Marine Vet…. it was time lol). I was surprised that people had more issues with how long our engagement was then that I was “too young” (21 engaged, 22 married) or that we hadn’t been together “that long” (10 mos when engaged), though both came up. I loved having a “long” engagement. I struggle with enjoying the stage I’m in rather than worrying or waiting for what’s coming, so having a whole year to really settle in and enjoy the planning process and being engaged in general was really nice. It also definitely solidified in our minds that we were ready for marriage and everything it entails.

  32. Totally agree! Isn’t it amazing how many “friends” pop back into your life when you get engaged? Our engagement was ten months, but looking back, I wish we waited a little longer to get married because there were just so many dang details! Not only that but I graduated college a week and a half before I got married and was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding the week before my wedding. Everyone told me I was crazy…and looking back…yes. I was crazy! Haha!

  33. These are benefits I hadn’t considered before — so insightful! I love the idea of letting wedding fever pass before making huge decisions. I tried to take this approach even with a shorter engagement and it was a huge stress-reducer and money-saver.

  34. I think long engagements are great! It is sometimes better to have that time to plan and really organize so there is no rush and stress for the big day!

  35. I’m not really even sure why people think that its their business as to how long you are/arent engaged for before getting married! Unless they are paying for the wedding, or one of the people that are actually getting married they shouldn’t feel like their opinion really even matters.

  36. I think everyone should do what is right for them, and I love that a long engagement is right for you! I’ve been dating the same guy for four years, but getting engaged just hasn’t been a priority for us yet and that’s right for us.

  37. Theresa Bailey

    Great tips! There is no need to rush. The engagement time in your life is wonderful and should be celebrated.

  38. These are all really great insights that I didn’t think of before! It makes so much more sense to have a longer engagement now that I read this!

  39. I loved this the first time I read it, and love it now! It is totally unique to each couple

  40. These are very true! I know exactly how I want my wedding and I will be working as a wedding planner when all that comes around so I am all about saving. I love the guest list idea

  41. My fiance and I have been together now for almost 8 years, engaged for almost 2, and still have another year before our wedding. Which sounds crazy – but for one of those years we were engaged, I was in school abroad for a year and it didn’t make sense to plan a wedding remotely. But our wedding date is finally set – it’s on an absolutely perfect date (our dating anniversary), that happens to be on a Friday in 2018. So we went with it haha. We’ve been together for so long at this point, we knew we were getting married – but we’re both broke so there wasn’t a big rush. It definitely makes planning so much easier and my guest list is much shorter!

  42. My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 1/2 years and we get the whole “when are you getting engaged?!” question all the time! So I feel your pain on the whole judgement thing! We both have our own priorities before we want to start planning a wedding. Mine is to pay off my student loans and his is to finish his masters but we get judgement for it all the time!! I honestly would prefer a longer engagement too, anything to keep the stress levels down! Also, how did you get your dress for $200?! Please share!!

  43. Great post! My fiance and I have been together for 10 years and engaged for 8 years and people ask us all the time why we’re waiting but it didn’t make sense to get married right after we got engaged since we were so young and were broke. Now we’ve saved up the whole wedding and have worked on building our careers.

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