Why I’m Planning My Wedding Before I’m Engaged

“Congratulations in your engagement!”

Over the past few months, I’ve spent my evenings sending out a flurry of emails to what appears like the whole thing of the tri-state area wedding industrial complex. In response, nearly everyone—planners, videographers, florists—has answered my admittedly novice inquiries with this same euphoric sentence: “Congratulations in your engagement!” Then, once we get on the phone, some ask my boyfriend to share the “story,” i.e. how he proposed and when.

However the thing is: I’m not engaged, and I won’t be for a bit while. And to this point, working outside the everyday wedding timeline has prompted a whole lot of questions, a couple of laughs, confused looks, and not less than one person telling me it’s the “most Capricorn thing” she’s ever heard.


the author and her boyfriend on the brooklyn bridge

My boyfriend visiting me in Recent York City in July 2016, two months after I graduated from college.

To back up a bit, my boyfriend and I first met as freshmen in college, nevertheless it wasn’t until a couple of years later that we became friends. It took a couple of more years for us to start out dating seriously, and by 2018, we were each in Recent York, officially together in all senses of the word. When the pandemic hit, we spent those first few months quarantining together in a three-room apartment, scrubbing our groceries, and talking to family from outside our window, two stories up. Every thing felt alien and scary and unpredictable, and yet here we were, someway communicating, negotiating, apologizing. Relative to the remaining of the country, our days were quaint and uneventful, but in our bubble, in addition they felt monumental; I used to be comforted knowing that things between us could remain easy, even when nothing else was. Once, my mom called to ask how we were getting along, because it was also our first time living together. “Every thing is great, but I’m wondering if it’ll be harder once the pandemic subsides,” I said. “After we’re out of the home more, will it’s difficult to make time together?” She laughed and told me: “That is the toughest thing you’ll do. In the event you can do that, you possibly can do anything.”

I don’t remember when exactly after that we began to discuss marriage, but I do know that it began with my very own anxieties. I’m lucky to have parents who’ve been together for a long time—once once I was a child, I watched my parents loudly fight after which make up soon after, and I stormed into their bedroom, demanding they tell me how they did it—but shortly before the pandemic, an advanced divorce rocked my clan and left me wondering in case you could ever, really, know anyone in any respect. I didn’t understand pledge the remaining of my life to someone once I didn’t know what the remaining of my life would seem like, who I’d grow to be, or what my partner might want in the future. After a whole lot of talking, my boyfriend and I made a decision that if we got married, we wouldn’t be promising endlessly (though we each hope that’s what we get), but moderately that we’d stay together so long as it made sense for each of us, that we’d promise to do right by one another, even when it was difficult. Still, I wasn’t convinced. One night, I asked him, “What if something terrible happens, and now we have to interrupt up? We could hurt one another, and we’ll be so sad.” He told me, “Even when we don’t get married, and in the future we split up, it’ll be so sad.” I couldn’t escape the chance I’d already signed up for. I had run out of fears.

a few different rings laid out at a jewelry store

Why yes I actually have begged my boyfriend to indicate me a photograph of the finished ring although I already told him I don’t need to see it until he proposes.

So when the fall of 2021 rolled around, and I sprained my ankle and got COVID in quick succession, I made a decision to spend my couch-bound days doing something productive: I began planning our wedding. On one hand, it probably was my Capricorn sun-Virgo rising combo rearing its earthy head; I figured all of the couples who needed to postpone their nuptials because of COVID would make it even harder to snag a venue if I didn’t start looking early. Plus, I actually needed something to do during those cold, sick months. Cut to the next May, and we toured a couple of venues, put down a deposit, and texted our closest family and friends to be sure that they were free for our date, which was nearly two years away (lol). This past fall, we went together to design my engagement ring, comprised of the easy pear diamond my dad used to propose to my mom. By now, we’ve secured a not insignificant variety of wedding vendors, from our DJ to our photographer, though I’m still working on the dress—the most important item I’ll probably save for post-engagement.

Yet, for a wide range of logistical reasons, there won’t be a proposal until this summer. My boyfriend is trying his best to make it a surprise, and I’m trying my best to not destroy said surprise. After I discuss our planning process, people will ask in the event that they missed an Instagram announcement or wonder why exactly we’re doing this all out of order. The straightforward answer can also be a real one: I’m Type A at my core, and unfortunately, planning ahead is a key a part of my personality. But the opposite answer is that marriage only made sense to me as something we did on our own terms—even when what we’re doing isn’t particularly radical or different. (I’ve heard from a handful of people that also booked their venue or set a date before they got engaged.) For it to work for us, it needed to be collaborative and organic and a product of who we actually are, not some arbitrary timeline or rulebook. I can’t imagine doing it one other way, similar to I can’t imagine being with one other person. And every time we do get engaged, even when we have already got our entire wedding planned out, I do know it’s going to be right on time.

Headshot of Madison Feller

Madison is a senior author/editor at ELLE.com, covering news, politics, and culture. When she’s not on the web, you possibly can most definitely find her taking a nap or eating banana bread.

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