I love this soap-box tirade over at Jezebel about the whole engagement process (thanks, M.J., for sharing).
When Matt and I got engaged, I was honestly reluctant to start telling people because I didn't want them gushing over me. It's sad to me that a person can do all sorts of meaningful and important things with their lives and yet getting engaged seems to trump them all.About a month or so ago, my boyfriend of 9 years decided to go all official on me and asked me to marry him. And thus began my weird life as an Officially Engaged Person...
...But perhaps the worst part of Wedding Mania is that the true meaning of getting married gets lost.
For example: as soon as I started telling people I was engaged, they had two reactions: 1. "Let me see the ring!" and 2. "Have you set a date yet?!" I understand that these are the standard responses, though my boyfriend, er, fiance, was greeted by "Oh hey, awesome. Congrats," by comparison. For being an Officially Engaged Person of female variety, apparently, means that you're suddenly a walking date book and advertisement for a jewelry store. No longer are you Hortense, girl on the go! No! You're "bride-to-be, who has a big party to plan!" To which I say this: Fuck. That. Noise.
You heard me! Fuck that noise! For one thing, my engagement ring was a Cherry Ring Pop, which, btw, was what I said I wanted nine years ago in a random conversation with my now fiance, who remembered. No, he didn't go to Jared, ok? He went to the candy store. And for that, he rules your face...
...All I'm saying is, world, for some Officially Engaged People, the world does not revolve around our upcoming nuptials. Yes, we're excited. And we're happy that you're excited too. But some of us just want to do things our way. We go to your weddings and enjoy the open bar and celebrate your love in the way you've planned it out, so just let us do our own thing, okay? I know that weddings are mass-marketed, and there are expectations placed upon us that society thinks we need to meet, and I am not dumping on people who are really in love and celebrate it in the traditional way, like my older sister did and my younger sister plans to do because that's your thing and it's awesome, and your weddings were and will be fun and beautiful, but for fuck's sake, universe, some of us just don't feel like picking out table settings or touring country clubs or meeting with florists. What is an exciting time of planning and sharing for some couples is a total drag for others, dig?
Case in point: I send out an e-mail Friends & Family Update once a month (that's the goal, anyway) to stay connected with my nearest and dearest across the world (I started it before Facebook made it much easier). Over the years, I've announced amazing job offers, my decision to go on a self-subsidized sabbatical and travel for a year, awards I've won, etc. When I announced that I was getting married, I received more responses than I ever had before.
It's not that getting engaged isn't important. Deciding to forge a joint life path with another person is a big deal. But that decision usually happens before the actual engagement. In many ways, a wedding is just an external and public manifestation of something very internal and intimate.
When people hear that you're engaged and they ask to see the ring or they ask about the date, it feels like they're more excited about the wedding part than the marriage part. Maybe that's what makes me a little sad. The wedding is not the piece de resistance. It's not the culmination or the end goal. It's just the beginning. It's like a bon voyage party on the dock. You bring all your friends and family together to celebrate the impending journey (a journey for which they will be fellow passengers).
I wonder what I should say to the next person who tells me s/he is engaged. How about: "Congratulations! I am so happy that you have found someone who inspires you to make a life-long commitment."