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Few couples marry within days of a surprise proposal. Fewer still actually go the Five-Year Engagement route. It's somewhere in-between that most couples find their sweet spot, but how exactly do you know where you should fall in a six month to two-year time frame?
Unfortunately, says Bela Gandhi, relationship expert and founder of Smart Dating Academy, there's no one-size-fits all answer to the question of how long you should wait before you tie the knot. "There are so many factors that play into a wedding date selection," she says. "For example, crazy work projects that offer no breaks, medical or law school commitments, or wanting to wed in the church they've dreamed of for years only to find out it isn't available until 2019."
Before you select a date and determine just how long your engagement will be, Gandhi suggests asking yourself how long you need so that you won't feel a paralyzing amount of wedding planning stress. She also recommends taking into account your family and guests: How long will they need to prepare for your wedding and other related festivities? Finally, hiring a wedding planner could help shorten your engagement period significantly, Gandhi points out, so it's smart to know whether one fits into your budget before you begin.
There are also advantages and disadvantages to weigh on how long you wait. "The advantages of a short time frame are that you start running and you get it done," explains Gandhi. "I have plenty of clients who are in their late 30s and don't want to spend one or two years waiting." But with a shortened engagement could come additional stress, she warns, in a time during which you might simply want to soak up your engagement.
If you're leaning toward waiting longer, consider that you will probably have your pick of wedding vendors, which is a plus. "But the downside," Gandhi warns, "is having too much time to obsess about the details, and that can lead to stress and arguments."