We’re all glad the year 2020 is over. And in more ways than one, it will be a year we will never forget. And for me, there was one great thing that happened during it that made it special. In mid-October my boyfriend and I went with some friends to a pumpkin patch. We saw cows and donkeys, we walked through a corn maze, and we forgot about the big moments and situations for a second. After that, we proceeded to take pictures on a trail that my boyfriend knew about a few miles away from the pumpkin patch. We were traveling with a couple that recently got married, so it made sense to me! They wanted to have some nice pictures with the fall leaves.
Did I have a guess? An inkling… No!
My boyfriend got down on one knee, handed me a book, the leaves glimmering with color behind us. Inside the book was the ring. YES! I cried and laughed and felt so loved. It was happening, I was going marry the man of my dreams. I had a fiancé.
But with the engagement ring came surprises, revelations, and overwhelming moments as we got closer and closer to the wedding. After all, when two different people decide to spend their lives together, when they decide to become one, compromises and sacrifices are learned. Unless you’re marrying yourself!
1. I Couldn’t Stop Smiling
I couldn’t stop staring at my finger! We Face timed my parents, who had known it was coming, and there were happy tears. My fiancé’s parents were thrilled. It felt like I was floating, living in another world. Was this really happening to me? I was full of adrenaline and this sense of unbelief. I don’t think it has ever quite gone away, yes it has toned down yes. But every time I think about that moment in the woods the feelings come back to me. I’m still in disbelief that I get to marry a man I had been in love with from the first time we got coffee together…
2. When is the Wedding?
Immediately after the engagement was out, everyone wanted to know when the big day was. When were we going to get married? In the same breath that they said, “Congratulations,” they whispered, “When’s the day?” It didn’t matter that it was only an hour or week after the engagement! I wasn’t expecting the engagement and hadn’t even brought it up to my fiancé when the actual wedding was going to be… I was happily living in the moment of the engaged. How did I respond?
- “It took him three years to propose so I’m going to let this ride,” I joked.
- “We haven’t started planning yet,” was a simple response.
- “You’ll know when we know,” another response.
Whether you’re a couple who has been planning out your wedding or a couple truly surprised at the engagement, people will be excited and ready to celebrate and love you during your big day.
3. How Weird the Word Fiancé Is…
As excited as I was about the engagement, saying the word fiancé out loud was strange. There was no other word like it in my regular vocabulary. I felt snobbish and didn’t like the way it came out of my mouth. I was transported to another time! I found myself still saying the word boyfriend, but then people would say, “He’s not your boyfriend anymore!” I even researched to find out if there was another word I could use, but no luck. He is now my fiancé and the word tumbles out of my mouth awkwardly. I was so grateful to be engaged… but I can’t wait to say husband instead of fiancé!
4. Set Expectations and Boundaries
Everyone is going to want to know your business before you even know your business, so set expectations and boundaries right away. There were people who asked us about details, planning, and timing that I hadn’t even thought of to invite to my wedding. That friend from way back in the day? The long-lost aunt who comes back into your life? After we went along with everyone, we talked and decided that we wanted a casual and smaller wedding. So the date we gave to a bunch of people when they asked—how terrible did we feel knowing that we told them the date, but they’re not invited? I wish we would have been more conservative with our plans for our wedding.
Ultimately, we learned to 1) make our parents happy and 2) do what we wanted to do. It was our wedding day after all! And he wasn’t that mad when I snuck some more people onto our invite list!
5. The Planning Isn’t All Flowers
Unless you’re marrying someone who is just like you or someone who has no part in the process of planning, planning a wedding can full of some tense or awkward moments. You’ve probably had some sort of vision about what you’re wedding is going to look like, and your partner’s vision probably isn’t going to be the same as yours.
I was expecting my chill, nonchalant, relaxed fiancé to hand over the reins of the planning to me and not care about the rest. Instead, he wanted to be a part of it. He didn’t want a large wedding party, he wanted an open bar, he wanted a great DJ, and he wanted there to be pizza showing up sometime during the reception. Because I wasn’t expecting much input from him, I had to tone down and alter some of my own expectations because while I maybe didn’t quite like everything that he wanted, I was excited that he cared and willing to compromise to make him happy.
6. A Developed Distance
Planning a wedding isn’t a piece of cake and due to tense moments or a high focus on the planning part, distance can start to develop between you and your partner. We were spending so much time together for the planning that I started to crave more independent time, as did he. We started to only hang out or be together when we were planning the wedding.
So we implemented more date nights! To avoid the repetition of planning, talking, and thinking only about the wedding, we created an opportunity for more date nights. On a rotating basis we switched planning the date night. There was only one rule: no wedding talk. This added so much intimacy and love to our relationship that when we went back to the drawing board for planning, it became a lot easier!
7. Wedding Counseling Is Life-Changing
Due to our active role in our church, we decided to take premarital wedding counseling classes with our Pastor. I was expecting this to be dull, repetitive, and counterproductive. Instead, it opened our eyes to a new way to live our life. We could create new foundational blocks to build our relationship upon. We could stop the repetitive fights that seemed never-ending. We learned so much about each other; we grew more and learned more empathy for one another after every session. At points I rushed home to take notes thinking to myself, “Do not forget this. Not in one year or ten years.”
Wedding counseling was a great way for our relationship to grow. Not everyone needs it or wants it, and it is definitely not necessary to have a healthy and happy marriage. But it enabled our relationship to go to a deeper level, and for that I was pleasantly surprised.
8. Everyone Gives Advice and Talks About It (Hot Topic)
Whether you want to know how other people think the best way to do your wedding is or not, people will give you advice. While we were super grateful and relieved to hear some of it, some advice just didn’t match what our visions were. We also found that wherever we went (due to COVID we weren’t out a lot) people wanted to talk about the wedding! They wanted to know what our plans were for it, what type of wedding it would be, what kind of food we would have, what my dress would look like, and again, what day was it?
The wedding is a big deal! It’s an easy thing to bring up in conversation and we found ourselves constantly talking about it or about how others’ weddings went. It’s a hot topic and the people that care about you want to know how the planning is going and what to expect. We felt so loved during the wedding process, but as a couple who really only cared about one moment—the wedding ceremony—the conversation about everything else left us wanting to elope somewhere quick at times!
8. Finances! Fiances!
During our marriage counseling we both took a quiz to see where our differences and similarities were, to match or differentiate between our responses. And the lowest category that we scored in was finances. I was so surprised by this because my fiancé and I are laid-back spenders and like to save money.
I had assumed that we would remain independent of one another, which means VENMO would have to continue. He assumed that our bank accounts would be linked. Once we found out that our mindsets were different on this topic we were able to comfortably talk about it and make a financial plan that would make both of us happy.
We also decided on getting a prenup to ensure that we had an open dialogue for our relationship and if anything happened in the future, we would be prepared and ready for it. Of course, we aren’t planning for a divorce. We decided on a prenup because it helped us discuss finances, negotiate on what we intend for the future, and talk about the hard but important stuff- money. We plan on staying married forever, of course, so we know this prenup will never be an issue!
10. Kids Soon?
“How soon after the wedding are you going to start trying?” Trying? “Trying to have kids!” With marriage comes the question of when are we going to have kids? Both sets of “grandparents” would like grandchildren as soon as we could pop one out, but the question doesn’t only come from parents. We had barely started to talk about that (this is different for every couple of course). Because of their questions though I was forced to start to think about after the wedding, which we sometimes can forget to do while we’re so wrapped up in planning for the wedding. We started to talk about when we would want kids. We talked about names for kids, how many kids, how we wanted to raise them, and soon our mindsets were similar on that topic too.
Being engaged is a special time in one’s life and leads up to an exception day: the wedding. My relationship with my fiancé got stronger after each of these 10 unexpected things happened during our engagement. We got closer, our relationship went deeper, we trusted each other more, and ultimately every day we became even more excited for the big day.
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].