My little sister [finally] got engaged last weekend, and I couldn’t be happier for her and her beau! Although I am not a hopeless romantic at heart, I do believe in the power of love, commitment, and the sanctity of marriage. In my opinion, the engagement period is a perfect opportunity to really prepare your hearts for marriage.
Now that two of my little sisters are engaged, It’s only polite for me to offer up some big sister advice (that I know each of my sisters yearn for daily) about this sweet time before marriage.
Take it All In, But Don’t Take It for Granted
I felt like such a celebrity when I got engaged. Everyone and their mama wanted to gawk at my new shiny diamond. If I had a quarter for every time someone said, “Ooh! He did SO good!”, I would have had a very extravagant honeymoon.
At the end of the day, your engagement ring is really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Although your diamond is tough and pretty, it is not going to be the reason your marriage is able to weather every scary storm and shimmer during every success.
Your engagement is a prequel to your marriage. It may be fun, but it will be equally as challenging. Celebrate the love God has blessed you with, and don’t take it for granted.
Have the Wedding of Your Dreams, But Be Frugal
I loved being engaged to my future husband, but it was one of the most exciting and most stressful times in our lives. For me, our engagement felt a lot like a 9-month-long Christmas season.
All of the hustle and bustle of planning and shopping, the saving of every penny, the spending of every penny, and the anticipation of the “big day” are all worth the end result of a beautiful wedding day, right?
For Isaac, I think it was a 9-month-long headache. He seriously begged me to just go to the justice-of-the-peace instead of having a big wedding. In hindsight, that wouldn’t have been a terrible idea because we would have been just as married, less stressed, less broke, and more comfortable, i’m sure.
It’s so important to remember that your wedding should be a ceremony reflecting you and your husband’s lifelong commitment to each other and God; everything else is simply extra.
There are so many times during our wedding planning that I made decisions based on what others wanted or what would better accommodate our guests instead of focusing on how the core of our relationship would shift once we said “I do.”
No one told me that when the celebration is over and there are nothing but mounds of trash, food, and birdseed leftover, you will have trouble even remembering exactly who came that day.
So, don’t spend your time and money focusing on having “The Perfect Wedding” because your dream of marriage will quickly turn from a fairy-tale to a nightmare if your hearts aren’t synchronized and right with the One who brought you two together in the first place.
Ask for Help
You think that you can manage all of the planning and prepping all by your big-girl-self, but go ahead and admit that you WILL need help, and you cannot be afraid to ask for it.
Along with all of the words of congratulations and happy wishes, there were so many people who said, “Let me know how I can help” during our engagement.
As I started to get overwhelmed with the craziness of wedding planning, it dawned on me that maybe these people were not offering just to be nice, but maybe they genuinely wanted to help out. So, I started writing down their names when they offered. Then, as I made plans, I called them and asked them to help by bringing finger foods, directing traffic, serving at the reception, and many other seemingly insignificant tasks that added up to be significant.
We would not have been able to have such an amazing day without the help of our friends and family, and we are forever grateful for their kindness and generosity!
Utilize your resources. It will take a lot of stress off you.
Honor the Memory of Those Attending Your Wedding From Heaven
This will be the hardest part of your engagement and wedding day. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to plan a wedding and celebrate such an exciting time without the grief of losing a loved one potentially overpowering the joy of such a special occasion.
One of my favorite memories of my wedding day was having my grandmother walk me down the aisle. As unconventional as that may seem, it was super special for the both of us. Nanny dedicated her life to raising my sisters and me, and it was only fitting for her to offer my hand to the man who chose to make a life with me (which she specifically warned him would be a daunting and expensive task, but completely worth it– apparently, I exhibit high-maintenance behavior or something).
It saddens me greatly that my sisters will not have this special memory to look back on (I did try to get them both to get married sooner–procrastinators). Instead, they will always remember the grief of our grandmother’s absence.
The grief of losing Nanny is a heart-crushing, gut-wrenching longing that may not be filled until we see her again. Although Nanny cannot be included in your wedding plans physically, there is no doubt that she will be smiling big and eating cake from the greatest seat in the House.
Never Forget The Reasons Why You Wanted to Get Engaged
I have been in a committed relationship with my husband for over eleven years now, and we have been married for over seven years. I really wish I could pen the fantastical and say that “marriage is bliss,” but my realist tendencies will not allow me fabricate the truth.
There will be EXTREMELY hard times in your marriage; it’s inevitable. I cannot tell you how many times I have been tempted to just throw in the towel because walking away seems like the easier option.
When stresses like finances, health problems, and exhaustion get in the way, don’t forget what made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place, and what made them “the one.” Remember that your spouse is the one that you chose to commit yourself to, to have a family with, and to grow old with. The responsibility is major, but the reward of a lifetime together is everything.
People do not get married with the intention of getting divorced months or years down the road, but statistics show that over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Although that data is frightening, it does not mean that the two of you have to be another statistic.
In the end, the real accomplishment is that you truly love, honor, respect, and support each other. Life is hard, and it can definitely make marriage harder if you let it.
Never forget all of the love, the joy, and the excitement during this time of engagement. You may not see the significance yet, but I promise you will later on in your marriage.
Now, let’s go wedding dress shopping!
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