Gone are the days when couples are expected to be engaged for a year or more.
For the sake of you and your fiance’s peace of mind, your engagement period should only be as long as necessary to successfully design and plan your wedding engagements.
That being said, longer engagements do obviously have their perks. Firstly, your guests have time to save up for your wedding, book their travel and accommodations, and get time off of work. Additionally, if you are not working with a wedding planner, this period will allow you and your fiancé enough time to find and book your vendors (who are likely still available), plan and enjoy all celebratory parties (i.e. engagement party, any showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties), and really enjoy and relish in the feeling of being engaged.
There are, however, some negatives associated with a longer engagement. Given abundant amounts of time to envision and design your wedding, browse through a gazillion wedding magazines, get every family member and best friends’ opinion on the appropriate shade of cream for your flowers, and pin everything in sight, couples who have long engagements tend to over think it all, changing their minds and revising their orders every other month, stressing out completely and generally driving one another and everyone around them crazy.
A six month to nine month engagement period tend to be the most successful, and least stressful, for all parties involved.
Not to mention the fact that you, your fiancé, your friends, and your family might be sick and tired of waiting for the “big day” after your 1-3+ years of courtship and dating followed by another 1+ years of engagement.
So then what is the solution to the engagement question? In my experience as a wedding producer, a six month to nine month engagement period tend to be the most successful, and least stressful, for all parties involved. Unless you have your heart set on a particular wedding date a year away, you and your fiancé should not fret about setting a date less than nine months away. Six to nine months is plenty of time to design and plan a beautiful and unique wedding that reflects both bride and groom and that your guests will never forget.
Regardless of the length of your engagement but especially if your planning timeline is a short one, you can ensure your engagement period remains stress-free by obtaining some professional assistance with the wedding planning.
If your budget allows, definitely consider hiring a wedding planner or wedding producer. The benefit of having one person with strong vendor relationships who is in a position to design and produce your wedding according to your unique vision is worth every penny. You only have one chance to do this, and a trained wedding planner will know how to guide you. They will introduce you to the best vendors for YOU with your specific style and personalities in mind. Even if you are on a budget, we do not recommend a “day-of” planner (as this might elicit wedding day questions such as, “Beautiful flowers! Are they supposed to be purple?”) as this is often not any different than hiring a random personal assistant for the day, but often considerably more expensive.
At the very least, consider hiring a month-of planner to tie up the loose ends and to guide you and your vendors through the wedding day as it will make a world of difference. Additionally, I would advise sending out a save-the-date to your friends and family six months in advance to ensure that, despite the shorter engagement period, your guests will have enough time to take leave from work and book their trip.
And finally, as many of your potential venues and vendors will have many pre-existing bookings on their calendars, try and book the key elements of your wedding as soon as possible (i.e. venue, photographer and videographer, and officiant). If you choose to hire one, your wedding producer/planner will ensure that you follow an appropriate timeline for your wedding.
Above all, remember to enjoy this time whether it be three months or two years. You have found a partner with whom you can envision spending a lifetime, and planning a celebration to commemorate this decision is more important that picking a color scheme, printing menus, or arguing about the hemline of your bridesmaids dresses. Enjoy crafting this day based on all the things that you both love to do, your favorite things to eat, the places you love to go, the things that make you laugh..you’re only going to have this time together once.