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Pros and Cons of a Long vs. Short Engagement

Is a long or short engagement right for you? Read on for some key considerations.

smiling couple recessional

smiling couple recessional

Photo: Happy Finch Photography

You’ve said “yes” to the proposal and the newly engaged glow around you is real. And though the average length of an engagement is 13 months, some couples opt to wed within months of a proposal, while others wait years (and years, and years).

Once you’ve had a minute to settle into your engagement and are actually ready to start thinking about your wedding, it’s time to consider possible dates.

Long Engagement

Pro: You have more time to save money.

Weddings are expensive. If you’re paying for your own wedding, a longer engagement gives you a chance to save money or spread out the spending, and helps you avoid going into debt.

Pro: Wedding planning won’t take over every spare minute of your life.

If you’ve only got five months to plan your big day, you’d better believe your free time will be spent deciding on colors, cocktails, and bridesmaids dresses. A longer engagement means you can break up your to-do list and not feel quite so overwhelmed. You may even have a "wedding planning lull" where you won't have to do any wedding-related tasks at all!

Pro: You’ll be more likely to get the venue and vendors you want, because they won’t be booked up yet.

In-demand venues can book up a year or more in advance, so if you’ve got a longer timeline, you’ll be more likely to secure the location — and vendors — of your dreams.

Pro: You can really start to cultivate a dialogue about your marriage and goals.

An engagement is to marriage what pregnancy is to parenthood — an opportunity before a big life change to prepare and settle into the idea of your new life. If you want to attend premarital counseling or even just talk about your goals for your future, a longer engagement gives you that chance.

Pro: You can make all of your DIY dreams come true.

If you’re a DIY maven and want to hand-craft hundreds of escort cards or favors, a long engagement gives you plenty of time to do that without feeling completely overwhelmed.

Con: You might have too much time to make decisions.

While it can be nice to pace yourself and space out major decisions, you may find yourself reconsidering decisions you’ve already made and feeling stressed out by having too many choices.

Con: Your family and friends might drive you nuts asking when you’re getting married.

If they were asking you about your wedding date the moment that ring landed on your finger, you can bet they’ll be knocking at your door wondering when you’re saying “I do,” especially if more than a year has passed since your proposal.

Con: You may experience “wedding burnout.”

If wedding planning goes on for many months, you might get tired of thinking about flowers, cakes, and where to seat your family members who don’t get along. A shorter engagement can get those things out of the way more quickly and keep your excitement levels high for your big day.

Con: You may end up taking on too many projects.

If you have a lot of time to plan, you may feel like you should DIY way more wedding elements than is actually reasonable, like your flowers or even your cake. A shorter engagement forces you to delegate those responsibilities to others, and helps keep your to-do list short.

Short Engagement

Pro: You get to be married sooner than later!

Plain and simple: If you’re eager to be married, why wait?

Pro: You’ll be able to focus on what you really want from your wedding.

Without excess time to stress and obsess over details and options, you’ll be able to trust your gut and make decisions you can stand behind. Taste a cake you love? Choose it, and don’t look back. Find an incredible dress in just your size? Buy it, and don’t stress about not spending “enough time” shopping. Just make decisions and move things forward — you don’t have time to waste.

Pro: If you have elderly or sick relatives, they’ll be more likely to attend your wedding.

It may feel uncomfortable to consider this reality, but if you have elderly or sick relatives you want at your wedding, a shorter engagement means they’ll be more likely to see your big day.

Pro: If you’re waiting till marriage to live together, marrying sooner means you can finally take that step.

Getting engaged then waiting two years till you can share a home might feel downright excruciating! Do yourselves a favor a tie the knot sooner, if that’s your preference.

Con: Your first-choice venue or vendors may be booked.

If your venue is in high demand, it could be booked up more than a year in advance. That’s not to say there won’t be a venue to accommodate you, but you may feel disappointed that you couldn’t get your first pick.

Con: You might not have enough time to get through all the projects on your list.

If you love to DIY, a short engagement doesn’t give you much time to get things done.

Con: Out-of-town friends and family members might not be able to attend.

Work schedules can get in the way, not to mention hotels might be booked up and flights can be if expensive booked on short notice.

Con: You may end up spending more money to rush-order invitations or other necessary wedding items.

You may have to pay a premium to get your invites out on time, or to work with a vendor who is busy but willing to squeeze you in for a price. A longer engagement — and booking early — can actually lead to discounts on certain services.