By Ginny Latham*
It’s 1:45 on a Monday; my Chipotle lunch is begging me not to recommence my workday, so I wander over to peruse my various social media channels when all of a sudden it shows up. The huge ring and even bigger smile of my neighbor in 2nd grade who moved to California and went through a (longer than acceptable) Ricky Martin phase is engaged.
Lucky for us, social media allows us to stay in touch with our closest friends/everyone we've ever encountered. Thanks to the “Facebook friend request everyone I meet” phase in high school, or even better – the summer-before-freshman-year desperate Facebook rampage to find a college roommate – we truly can stay in touch with everyone. This includes my best friend’s ex-boyfriend, my radically conservative former professor who uses Facebook as his main thought outlet (thanks for the over 40 demographic, Facebook), and dozens of other characters that I may or may not recognize if I passed them on the street. All this to say that the times of only knowing when close loved ones get engaged are far, far behind us.
And we all know how it starts. The picture gets posted of the happy couple on top of a mountain with the wide-eyed bride-to-be swinging her left hand proudly over the groom’s chest to flaunt the new addition to her left ring finger. The mediums vary. Facebook is a sure thing; probably Instagram and Twitter, too. And Snapchat – that baby gets the whole ten seconds. In fact, let’s just make it the story so people can revel in it for a full 24 hours.
Then it continues. From the comfort of our own home, we can watch each monumental step of engagement unfold. Handcrafted “Will you be my bridesmaid?” notes, engagement parties, bridal showers, the “I just said yes to the dress!” shot, the awkward looking yet sweet and corny engagement photos, the selfie of the couple with their newly acquired marriage license, and alas, the wedding photos.
Now, I’m actually one of them. After an eight-year courtship, my husband and I got married last October. And although I love my husband and his family and my family and his friends and my friends and our friends, I’m here to tell you that engagement actually sucks.
So, may the dating be warned, the engaged be encouraged, and may our single friends who are constantly being hit by these engagement reminders finally reach some much deserved relief.
- Forced happiness
“Oh my gosh, you’re engaged? What a fun and special time – enjoy it!”
Enjoy it? I’ve become passionate about wedding invite paper thickness, and dates with my fiancé have turned into thank-you note writing binges. Who am I becoming?
- Sensitivity Abounds
Let’s face it, engagement has the inherent ability to take all of life’s most sensitive issues, put them in a pot, and stir. Tense family relationships, money, status, religion, expectations. Not to mention that it might be best if you’re still on good terms with, say, your parents-in-law at the end of this process.
Tread carefully, my friend.
- Money, Money, Money
This one’s no secret. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have some help from parents and/or in-laws, the wedding industry is no joke.
Let’s take reception chairs, for example. Many venues don’t provide them or some provide folding chairs that are so awful that you feel the need to look for alternative options. And sure, companies will rent them to you. For $7 a pop. That’s $1,050 for 150 people. Over 1,000 buckaroos for chairs.
- Expectation Imperfections
Weddings are really all about relationships, which is one reason they’re so beautiful. People say it’s the only time in your life where everyone you care about is in one room – and that’s mostly true. But there will be people you desperately want to invite that you just can’t, and there will be people that you thought would definitely come that just aren’t able to. There will be a bridesmaid that will drive you crazy, and the cake tasting won’t be quite as idyllic as you pictured.
Engagement is a unique chapter of life. And let it be just that – a short, bizarre, expensive chapter. And then get back to real life with your new spouse.