Your engagement should be a romantic and exciting time for you and your fiancé to share, but it also comes with a huge to-do list (you know, for that wedding you’re planning!), making it easy to get caught up in what needs to be done and to lose sight of the celebration. As you’re trying to find the balance between enjoying this unique moment in your lives and making sure you’ve got ample time to plan, you might be asking yourselves: How long should our engagement be? We’ve turned to our etiquette experts to help you figure out an engagement length that’s not too long, not too short, but is just right.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer—your engagement should be as long or as short as you and your partner want (or need) it to be. A number of factors will play into how long your engagement is, from when your dream venue is available to what your work schedules look like to whether you need extra time to save up for your big day.
The average engagement length in the U.S. is between 12 and 18 months, which explains why winter is the most popular time to get engaged, but summer is the most popular time to get married. That might be the perfect fit for you and your partner, and an engagement of that length is a great balance: It gives you ample time to plan your wedding, but also allows for a little down time between major tasks when you can simply bask in your engagement instead of hammering away at your to-do list.
Of course, your personal circumstances might mean a longer or shorter engagement. A shorter engagement is a great fit for a couple planning a smaller wedding with an intimate guest list, as well as a couple working with a full-service wedding planner who can help you take care of the details quickly. If you’re great at making decisions or know exactly what you want on your wedding day, this is a great option for you!
Planning a wedding is a huge undertaking, so if you’ve got other things on the calendar (like your last year of grad school or a big move), you may want to opt for a longer engagement to ease the pressure. Planning more DIY projects, or unsure where you want to have your wedding or what you want it to look like? Aim for a longer engagement so you have plenty of time to get it all done.
Some of this could very well be out of your control too. If you have a specific venue in mind, you might find that they book up two years in advance, meaning you’ll either have to wait or will need to find somewhere else to get married. And when it comes to finances, if you and your partner need to set aside some funds to pay for the big day, it could be hugely beneficial to have some extra time to add to your savings account. And don’t forget to check when your VIPs are available, since you’ll definitely want them there with you when you walk down the aisle!
And of course, you might opt for a longer engagement simply so you can really enjoy this time in your lives. You’ve decided to spend your lives together, so what’s the rush to plan a party? Take a month (or a few months!) to just practice calling your partner your fiancé, and enjoy all the congratulations you get as you introduce one another in your daily lives. Then, when you’re ready to buckle down and address the task list, go for it.