If you didn’t need to plan the wedding, when would you have wanted to get married?
I bet your answer is, “NOW!”
Truth be told - getting married means having to plan a wedding, which takes time, resources, and effort even for the simplest of weddings.
Well, here’s some news: the engagement period is not only all about wedding preparations. Thankfully, married friends talked to Mike and I about the things worth considering when we were still deciding on how long our engagement should be.
1. How long is the marriage preparation course?
We took a course to understand what the bible says about marriage and how we should prepare for it. Our church offers it once a year. Perfect timing, classes started a month after we got engaged and went on for six weeks.
If you both believe that you should be getting married sooner than the next available class schedule at your church, then try looking at other churches. While there are many benefits to attending one at your church (e.g. journeying through it with people you know), you wouldn’t want to be held off by schedules.
2. How much time do you need to prepare for a wedding that honors God, your witnesses and your soon-to-be spouse?
Being engaged means you’ve gotten to know each other enough to agree to marry.
Theoretically, you should be ready to get married right at the moment you said “yes.”
Then there are also other things that we can’t help but also consider. Take the venue, for example. Is it God you’re honouring if you two wait solely because your dream venue is only available in a year’s time?
Stretching your engagement to give yourselves enough time to incorporate all the components of a fairytale wedding is not God’s priority for you.
Work expands to the amount of time you give it. So if you give yourselves one year to plan a wedding, it’ll be one year’s worth of work. I’m not in any way advertising quick, sloppy, and rushed-looking weddings, but we’ve also attended beautiful weddings planned in just a few months.
3. How long can you stay pure in this relationship?
Being engaged brings you closer to marriage. And what I mean by that is, you are still NOT married. Yet emotions are so fired up at this stage.
Temptations will surround you. Choosing to stay pure is one of the most hated commitments you can make as a Christian, because it challenges your own flesh’s desires and the world’s perception of sex.
I personally struggled with that commitment I made many times during our dating and engagement period. I was like that kid who hated herself for agreeing to eat vegetables, only to later be so thankful that she actually did.
You’d want to keep your engagement short enough to avoid temptations, but long enough to settle other God-honouring considerations before marriage.
Mike and I had committed to waiting until marriage for sex. Temptations grew stronger during our engagement period! It wasn't easy but definitely one of the best decisions we made. The engagement period is a good time to re-establish your boundaries.
4. How much time will my guests need in order to prepare for it?
Your wedding guests will be your witnesses when you make that vow to God and to your groom. That’s why a guest list is more than just a social obligation.
So while you don’t really have to wait until a young relative finds his job so he can buy a ticket to fly to your destination wedding, it makes sense to consider a respectful time for them to logistically prepare to come.
Giving your guests enough time to prepare for the wedding is being considerate. Don't make your guests scramble for time to arrange their vacation leaves, flight tickets, babysitting plans, etc. because you've given them such short notice. It will only communicate to them that you are not really serious about having them at your wedding.
There are, however, some exceptions to this. For example, some couples have had to unexpectedly stretch their engagement longer due to sudden death, illness, or crisis in the family. But again, it's best to decide based on what is most honouring to God through your relationships.
5. How much time do you need before serving God as one?
Some thoughts to consider:
“Are we delaying our service to God as a married couple with the length of engagement we’re considering?”
“What preparations do we really need to be able to serve God as husband and wife?”
I don’t have a prescription as to how long that should take. All I know is that one of the best pieces of advice Mike and I received before getting married was that we can never be perfectly ready for marriage.
You will never be fully ready to serve God. All you need to serve Him is He Himself in your life. And when you do get married, all you need to serve him together is still Him.
Be excited by the prospect of serving God together as a married couple. Imagine being able to serve God through new family members and friends. I know this to be a fact because God has doubled the size of our ministry opportunity when our friends and families merged.
However long you decide to be engaged for, don’t forget to enjoy the season. It’s a joyful period in your relationship that will just get better through time.
Reading this after you’ve already decided on a wedding date? Share with me in the comment section below what your considerations were. I’d love to hear your insights!