Wednesday, 4 January 2012

How Long Should An Engagement Be?

I'M sipping a latte waiting to go on Fred MacAulay's BBC Radio Scotland show to discuss the ideal length of engagement.
I hope you don't mind me running a few thoughts past you in preparation.
A year to 18 months I'd say is a perfect time from proposal to big day, while anything less than six months is folly. The average period has fallen from 18 to 15 months.
You need time to prepare for your wedding; also to enjoy being a fiancee.
Seriously, milk it. People treat you like royalty.
It was December 2010. Jamie had got down on bended knee the night before and we decided to celebrate with an impromptu visit to Scott's restaurant in Mayfair.
The door man was polite but couldn't help laugh when I said we hadn't booked. "It's the last Friday before Christmas - one of the busiest days of the year. I don't fancy your chances."
"But I just got engaged," I proffered with best Bambi eyes.
Bang. He was a romantic Irishman with a twinkle in his eye. "On you go, tell the man on the desk, see what he says."
A flash of the rock later and we were seated at the bar, drinking a silver tankard of Black Velvet  and went on to have a magical time.
On this note, if you venture to Scott's I'd recommend a stool at the bar which is the centrepiece of the room if you like informality - a later pre-booked visit seated at a table wasn't nearly as much fun.
If only I'd known the power of "please let me in, I just got engaged" I'd have used it ad nauseam when I was showbiz reporter, at all those parties at which I was persona non grata.
Being engaged for under six months is also also advised against by wedding planners, unless your organising is minimal.
As for being engaged too long, what's the point?
Unless there's a stellar reason - saving up for the average wedding cost alone is estimated to set you back £20,248 in 2012 - anything over three years is ominous.
Young couples may not be in a rush but hurray for romance and him saying you're the only woman for him; that he can't wait to be your husband. If he was sure enough to propose, why wait around?
Actually, this brings me to one male pal who got engaged "to buy time" and "get her off my back."
Three years later, she tired of asking for a date and left for his older cousin who was far more amenable to settling down.
If you don't set a date int he first year of engagement - perhaps six months even - I reckon the chances are far higher you'll never make it down the aisle. 
I give you welsh beauty Katherine Jenkins who last week split with her presenter fiance Gethin Jones. Or Girls Aloud's Sarah Harding who ended her engagement to DJ Tom Crane last year.
Both couples were betrothed but there was no ink in the diary.
A possible cause could be that after initial celebrations many couples report increased bickering.
This could be the manifestation of fear and realisation this is for life; or arguing over wedding plans.
If no date is set, the doubt may increase that either or both of you actually want to go ahead.
Relationship experts advise sharing thoughts with your other half, for engagement could mean very different things to each party.
They say women envisage their wedding dress if the first date goes well. Clearly a sweeping statement given I still have trouble picturing the day.
But it's logical to think about the future - being a bride, having a family, growing old together - when he proposes. Conversely, he might be broody as hell but you can't stand the thought of having children.
I've had a few discussions and concessions to make myself. We both have. But I'll save that for another time.


  1. My other half asked me to marry him 2 years ago now, total his choice, no forcing at all. Except for the 1 year old child.... he gave me an absolute PEACH of a ring, total belter... We started planning almost right away, picked a date, even got down to nearly putting a deposit on a venue, i asked my friends to be my bridesmaid, then we started arguing about all the wee things, like the guest list (mainly) and decided just to scrap the whole thing and put it on the back burner for a while. THEN, we thought we had come up with the best idea ever, a plan to solve all woes, f**k off to NY and do it, just the 2 of us. But family got wind(his) and that too resulted in fights and shouting. SO, 2 years on we are no closer to picking a date, and i think we are both put off weddings so much by the whole debacle that were never going to do it. We are happier when we wernt getting hitched! Still wear my ring and relationship status on facey is still :Engaged, even though I'm just a long term GF with a beaut of a diamond ring. R x

  2. Kevin and I got engaged in the January - on a balcony below a moonlit Matterhorn since you ask - and were married in the October half term. Second time round for me and it was a wonderful, warm family affair with my two boys signing the register.
    I'm so glad we did it then and didn't wait as my dad died only six months later.
    So, the upshot, if you're sure just get on with it.

  3. RUTH
    You do make me laugh. The trouble with having an opinion is that there's not room for all the provisos without bring readers. I couldn't agree more. I never saw the attraction of sloping off somewhere hot or exciting and doing it by yourselves..until the planning and, like you, arguments. Right now, we're on guest lists. Jeez. Sounds like you got what suited you and works best for you both which is what it's all about. Maybe it changes things when you have a child? That bonds you more than a wedding band? Love that you love your rock!

    Beautiful. Trust Kevin to be an old romantic eh? I think there's always a point when you get bogged down in planning detail but I do think you come out the other end. Your dad is proof of carpe diem and I bet you're so relieved he saw you happy. Don't know about you but with every year, I know more what's important and I'm sure that would be reflected in your wedding - having the people who mean something, having more of a relaxed attitude?

    Thanks for your comments - they make the blog. X

  4. Hi Martel,

    The quality that many women have over men is "Emotional Intelligence"- and the need to be loved, feel love, give love.Women have extraordinary strength in adversity, and want the very best outcomes.I wa 21 when I became engaged , bought her a Diana like sapphire like engagement ring, and we are still as One in 2012, 36 years later.We were engaged for 18 months nad then our oldest followed nine months later, before the wedding.We were So young 22 and 19.I really do believe that women want love and we want love, and a Mother!My oldest son , met his now wife, had the baby first, the engagement second and the house third then they got married.Love is the answer and you know that for is the flower you gotta let gotta let it grow!! x

  5. Ellen, thats lovely your Dad got to see your special day.

    Im sure myself and future mr kellas will still be doing each others nuts in 20 years time, married or not. I'll wind him up that I'm still technically a Miss - so he better watch his back.. ;)

  6. InstantKarma I love your story. We should all listen to YOU. Thirty six years and a beautiful story. You're so right, love is the glue to keep everything together. I've surprised myself how much of a traditionalist I am and want to be since meeting Jamie. I'd have seen nothing wrong with children first then marriage, just that if I can do it in the 'right' order, why not. Mind you, what's right? Far better to do things a different way round and stay together forever than tick the boxes in a rush and mistaken belief you have to - and end up separating. Your wife's a lucky woman. You clearly appreciate and value the female psyche. X

  7. You are approaching your wedding, with Jamie ,in a wonderful,inclusive way.Planning,thinking,preparing,sharing.Tradition,why not? Marilyn,my wife was 17,and I was 20,when we met,I was a Policemen and she worked on the Police Radios.Flirting on air, then I visited the Operations Room, and knew immediately-she was the one.Engaged 15 months later, weekend at the Piccadily Hotel,London and BINGO!! My fault!Our Pleasure, Married in March 1977, traditional Church Wedding.Honeymoon was brief, moved into our first house, and our son was born in August 1977,the week Elvis died.Two other sons ,and a great life together.Been together since August 1975,37 years.Gone in a Flash! Now Grand Parents.It is Right that you are doing things in the right order.I admire that in you,particularly, in the showbiz world.I will leave it to John Lennon to emphasise my feelings regarding Man and Woman ,below. X

    You are my weakness, you are my strength
    Nothing I have in the world makes better sense
    Cause I'm a fish and you're the sea

    When we're together or when we're apart
    There's never a space in between the beat of our hearts
    Cause I'm the apple and you're the tree

    One day at a time is all we do
    One day at a time is good for you

    You are my woman, I am your man
    Nothing else matters at all, now I understand
    That I'm the door and you're the key

    Every morning I wake in your smile
    Feeling your breath on my face and the love in your eyes
    Cause you're the honey and I'm the bee

    One day at a time is all we do
    One day at a time is good for us too (you too)

    Cause I'm the fish and you're the sea
    Cause I'm the apple and you're the tree
    Cause I'm the door and you're the key
    Cause you're the honey and I'm the bee