I got engaged two years ago. My now-fiancé and I were visiting his family in Massachusetts, and we took a day trip to Salem because who wouldn’t want to go Salem and hang out with witch ghosts? (For the record, totally kidding; I am well-aware of the horrific execution of thousands of women that took place there.) It was honestly a lovely trip: We went on a few haunted tours, stopped by all the Wiccan boutiques, it felt like perma-Halloween, and it was amazing. Check out Salem if you haven’t been there. Anyway. We stopped by this mystical jewelry store where I fell in love with this gorgeous Claddagh ring and insisted on buying it. (And if you don’t know the history behind the Claddagh ring, it’s an Irish ring that represents love and loyalty. I didn’t know that when I bought it. I just thought is was cool. This becomes important later in the story, so take note of all of this.)
So, we walked along the pier, all the while I’m wondering why I’m being led to these foreboding, ancient lighthouses. As it turns out, and as is the case when unsuspecting people in relationships are lead to remote and vaguely terrifying locations, I was about to be proposed to. It was so exciting! We tried to take happy "we just got engaged!" selfies with our phones but it was so windy, we just looked like grinning mops. But whatever. So now I had two rings, making the Claddagh a really bizarre foreshadowing I had no idea reality was capable of crafting. All in all, nice work, Life. Ya did good.
Since I had never been engaged before, I had no idea what this new title would bring. In the movies, girls always get married like five seconds after they got engaged, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen, because ours was a real life, and in that real life, I was about to start grad school and we were kind of poor. But that doesn't mean I didn't have a lot of ideas about what engagement would be like. As the next few years would carry on, I would rapidly realize that almost all of those ideas were both entirely wrong, and weird to believe in the first place. The reality was far more interesting.
What I thought: Everyone will want to know “how it went down”
Look, I had the entire story crafted in my brain like a pro. At one point, I had even written down the exact time I was proposed to. I wanted to describe the weather, the way we were isolated on that pier in a really romantic, desolate kind of way. The way my fiancé cried a little (Sorry Mischa. I had to out you) and I laughed and told him to stop it because I’m the heartless one. The Claddagh ring that was essentially the universe giving us a thumbs up. I had a good story!
Reality: Mostly no one gave a shit
But only like three people asked me. My parents didn’t even seemed very touched; they just asked when were planning on getting married because my grandma is 90 and who knows how long she’s got to live (she’s still alive, by the way, so you can calm down with all the worry I'm sure you were acutely experiencing just now.)
What I thought: All my friends would be curious about whether they would be bridesmaids or not
Movies make it seem like it’s every girl’s dream to become a bridesmaid. This is super sexist. And super stupid. And I doubt every woman really enjoys spending a shit-ton of money on a dress she’ll only wear once and having to deal with a bride’s emotional turmoil. It’s not in our blood to want these things. However, I thought at least one or two of my girl friends would rise up to the challenge and at least hint to the possibility of becoming a bridesmaid.
Reality: I could feel them shirking away
Nope. And I get it – weddings are a pain in the ass and I’m only thinking of having one because supposedly they’re memorable.
What I thought: I’d get used to saying “fiancé”
You know who I think of whenever I say “fiancé”? I think of Cal in Titanic, Rose’s fiancé who looks like he is perpetually wearing eyeliner. Do you remember that part where he slaps the table away as he and Rose are having breakfast because he doesn’t like her hanging out with hoodrats like Jack? Cal goes something like, “I’M YOUR FIANCÉ!” As though that’s supposed to indicate that Rose can’t do anything ever again because she’s engaged.
Reality: Usually I just go with “boyfriend”
Or “my dude,” or “my guy.” Anything. Anything but fiancé. I still hate saying “fiancé.” It’s never grown on me.
What I thought: My guy and I would reach a whole new level of happiness, so we would never fight again
Engagement is supposed to be this magical bubble of happiness and love and supposedly, while we’re in that bubble, nothing can piss us off or ruin our day. We’ll never yell at each other again, or initiate fights because someone forgot to clean the cat’s litter box when they said they would. Being engaged means sex every single day, simultaneously saying “sorry” if you two do happen to disagree on something, and just toughing it out if there is any resentment (and there never will be in engagementland.)
Sure, you two might feel extra close for a few weeks. But things go back to normal. You’ll fight. You’ll be too tired for sex sometimes. You’ll be annoyed. You’ll be passive aggressive. Not all the time, obviously (and if so, you better rethink that whole “till death do us part” thing), but your relationship doesn’t necessarily become any stronger now that you’ve made some extra commitments. In fact, it takes even more work.
What I thought: Wedding plans would just come together organically
I blame Pinterest. Pinterest makes you feel like you can just slap some wedding boards together and immediately have a perfect idea of what you want your wedding to be like, and now all you have to do is call a venue and send out some invitations.
Reality: I haven’t even started thinking about a wedding. It’s been two years.
Thanks for nothing, Pinterest. Why don’t YOU organize my wedding, Pinterest? Sure, I’ve looked at a few themes and talked to my sister-in-law about what steps I need to take. But they all require calling a million people and paying them large sums of money I don’t have. I’m thinking about just having my wedding at Cheesecake Factory. Is that okay?
What I thought: I bet $5,000 could cover my dream woodsy wedding
I can just get some crafty napkins and paper flowers off Etsy! Target probably has most of the shit I need! Why would a venue charge me a year’s worth of college tuition just so that 50 people can hang out and eat and dance to a few songs for like five hours?
Reality: It’s more like $20,000
Yup. Having my wedding at Cheesecake Factory. Y’all are invited.