The Expectations of a Female Engaged

So, I’m getting “officially” engaged soon. “Officially?” Yeah, officially. Over the years, Mr. Parkhurst and I have had a mutual understanding that our relationship would advance to the married stage eventually. Well, eventually is now one year away. The heat, my friends, is on.

I once mentioned here that Mr. Parkhurst and I are involved in a long distance relationship. This complicates the whole engagement and marriage process. We thought about not really having an official engagement period. We were planning on getting married this August, instead. We figured we’d have a big, traditional wedding (dress, tux, family, etc.) after we got legally married in August. (That idea was largely motivated by the lengthy, complicated immigration process.) Neither sets of parents liked that idea – especially mine.

In this situation, I am the daughter, the woman. I am the one being given away, as it were. It seems that because I am THE WOMAN, I should be proposed to with a ring. Furthermore, Mr. Parkhurst should ask my parents permission to marry me. We should, evidently, have a period of “engagement,” wherein frantic wedding planning ensues. Even though this is not the big, all-family-included wedding, this is the real thing, so it needs to be nice. I need to find a dress. Holy shit.

I am finding it extremely difficult to cope with all of these expectations (I can’t emphasize that enough). I don’t quite know what to do with myself. I’m torn between the desire to buck all tradition and the unwavering guilt I feel for not wanting the traditional fluff. I do not care about white dresses, especially since the idea is fucking wasted on me at this point. I do not want to be “given away” by my father because of the meaning behind that gesture. I do not want my boyfriend to have to ASK my parents whether or not he can marry me.

Most of all, I do not want to wear an engagement ring. I see very little romance in this. Wearing the ring is like carrying around a giant sign saying, “EVERYONE, I AM ENGAGED. DISCUSS.” I do not want people to judge me for being a married lady in my early 20s. I do not want colleagues and other professionals to look at my left hand and know that I’m married. My relationship has always been something I’ve kept so private, and having some kind of public symbol of my relationship on me all the time freaks me out.

As much as I hate all the traditional bullshit, I’m finding that my mother’s and grandmother’s quiet insistence that there must be a ring, an engagement, and at least a small ceremony (because, after all, the wedding ain’t only about the bride and groom) to be highly pressuring and influential. I’m starting to want an engagement ring, and I have no real reason as to why. I did not want one before it came to light that Mr. Parkhurst and I were scheming a marriage for August. I certainly never cared about being engaged before. But now, if we weren’t, it wouldn’t feel right. In fact, when we announced that there were no plans to be “engaged,” it felt like we were doing something wrong.

So, I’m caving to the pressure. We’re taking things slowly, and incorporating all the traditional fluff into what we originally wanted. It’s hard to differentiate between standing by your values and being selfish. Maybe I can’t stand by my values without being selfish, and without denying people something they really want to see. Don’t get me wrong – this is NOT an issue of commitment. I am wholly committed to Mr. Parkhurst and never intend to be without him. It just feels like all the built up social pressure around being engaged and getting married is one giant trap: at least someone will be unhappy with what we do, traditional values are enmeshed in the whole thing, and there is absolutely no escaping the drama.

Persephoneers, to the rescue: how have you dealt with this stuff? What do you think?

Published by

Profile photo of milly parkhurst

milly parkhurst

i would love to have a pet lamb.

162 thoughts on “The Expectations of a Female Engaged”

      1. You’re welcome!  I know they’ve discussed ‘no engagement ring’ before as well but my search terms weren’t throwing up anything I remembered. But yes, an awesome site, and I’m not anywhere near marriage.

  1. The first time I got married I did the whole deal. Cost tons of money and I was all stressed out and not really present for my own wedding. Bleh.

    The second time I got married I was in shorts and a t-shirt at the top of a mountain we (and the people who wanted to see us get married) had to hike to, with an amazing view of the ocean and coastline. Pissed my sister off because she couldn’t be there (had recently broken an ankle). We had a big reception party pot luck in a park a few days later for everyone. Sister said – it’s about getting up in front of everyone and making that promise. I said no – it’s about having the kind of wedding that we want because we are the ones getting married, not everyone else.

    Parents were dead – so no interference there…lol.

    I encourage you to hold your ground and have the kind of wedding you and Mr. Parkhurst really want.

  2. Best of luck to you and your fiance!  Weddings are hard, especially when parental units are involved with money.  I compromised on quite a few things (in fact, I ended up with something a bit different than I imagined, but I still loved the result).  The Mr and I married for immigration purposes as well, and then had the big family shindig in the States.

    I have a pearl on my engagement ring.  The Mr and I looked for ideas, then went to the jeweler together to design a ring.  It was a lot of fun, and the bonus is that no one knows it’s an engagement ring unless they ask or I tell them.

    I agree with other posters here, it’s your day and your way.  Do what is best for you and your partner!

    1. my parents are talking about paying for some of the wedding, to which i’m like NOOOOOO!!!!! first of all, i just don’t feel they should be paying for anything.  and i’m certainly not asking them to.  second of all, if they pay, then DO I HAVE TO DO WHAT THEY WANT ME TO DO? i’d certainly feel more of an obligation.

      1. It definitely gets awkward when they are footing the bill and suddenly want to invite their co-worker’s second cousin’s girlfriend.  Or other guests along those lines.  There were people I didn’t know at my wedding.  But when they came through the line and introduced themselves I was so over all of the stress from planning and dealing with everyone I couldn’t have cared less.

        You don’t have to do what they want you to do, but there is a huge element of compromise involved when parents are paying.  Unless you have parents who will write  blank check, essentially.  My mom tells an hysterical story where her father offered all of his daughters a wedding or $10,000 and a ladder.  At some points during the planning process, a check and a new ladder have a certain appeal.

        But don’t worry, the whole point is to have fun.  The best advice I’ve seen so far is to do what you want, and plan for a great day–not a perfect one, that will never happen.  But if you can have a great wedding day with your beloved (naturally) and your loved ones…isn’t that the whole point?  I may have not ended up with the wedding I originally intended, but hot damn we had a lot of fun and partied like loons. I wouldn’t trade that. :)

  3. Persephoneers, to the rescue: how have you dealt with this stuff? What do you think?

    By doing what we wanted. Because our wedding and marriage are about us, and no one else.

    We did get engaged I guess, but it was more a proposal of marriage and an agreement we would get married. That instead of getting down on one knee and asking for my hand, we had talked about marriage (among other times) that morning and he pretty much said, “How about it Juniper?” The “romance” side was rather unintential: we were in London Kings Cross station and I was on the massive train back to Scotland, the type of train where the old slam doors can have the windows pushed down. So, hanging out of this train window, Mr. Juniper was on the platform and asked. Then two minutes later the train was leaving the station. An interesting goodbye, for sure.

    We dealt with everything else by doing it our way. We told my parents a few weeks later and five months after that, we had a tiny wedding. Eight guests, beautiful old registry office (gorgeous old Georgian building), a dress that was right for me and we walked up the aisle together.

    Anyway, I digress. My point is that it’s up to you. If you want an engagement ring and a big party, then go for it, just make sure it’s what you and your partner want. It’s your relationship, no one elses. And doing what the both of you want, is not selfish in the slightest.

    Oh, and Mr. Juniper did give me a little diamond ring for our first anniversary and my goodness, it was a pain. It now resides in a drawer because those little stones catch on everything.

  4. I am in a similar situation to you. My long distance boyfriend and I (27 hours of travel time between us) know that we will get married eventually. (“If we weren’t going to get married, why would we put up with the long distance bullshit?”) Initially, I was very much ambivalent about the whole wedding/engagement process because the dark specter of immigration looming over us made me think solely about the legal problems we were facing if we didn’t sign that little piece of paper. But as “eventually” draws nearer (and as I watch his brothers go through the wedding process with their partners), I find that I actually do want some of the wedding stuff. In his very large family, I’ve realized that they have all these little traditions that emphasize how much it means to become part of their group. Of course they love and accept me no matter what, but I do want to experience it with them. Nor did I ever think I’d want my dad to walk me down the aisle because-I’m-not-chattel-goddammit…BUT…I really want my daddy to walk me down the aisle because he loves and supports me and that’s probably something he’s always wanted to do with me and I want him to be there. It’s so weird.

    Even weirder? After all those months of telling my boyfriend how much I hated the idea of weddings and him saying, “Of course we have to have a big wedding with the white dress and the cake, etc.”, he finally started agreeing with me. And now that we are talking about imminent engagement, I’m the one trying to talk HIM into the damn thing. I’ll have to sit him down and explain that he has to want a wedding, and he has to let me act like I don’t really want a wedding, even though I really do. His first lesson in the sacrifices of marriage! Ha.

    1. he loves and supports me and that’s probably something he’s always wanted to do with me and I want him to be there. It’s so weird.

      ah, yeah. see, that’s my biggest hangup.  i don’t want him to walk me down the aisle or whatever because of what it represents.  but, i know it’s something he thinks of doing when we talk about my wedding.  and he would never say he wants to do it, but i know he probably does.  it makes me really sad and torn.

      1. Would it make you less torn to have both of your parents do it, or to have your parent walk you part way (and then you could walk alone or meet your fiance to walk the rest of the way)? Those are some other options I’ve heard about, that might minimize some of the uncomfortable connotations of being “given away.”

  5. I created an account just to respond to this.  In the end only you can decide what you’re comfortable with, and I don’t want to sound like I’m putting more pressure on you (albeit from the other side of the issue), but I had to say something about the benefits of standing up for what is right for you.  I support the idea that everyone should do what makes them happy.  I personally couldn’t accept a lot of the traditional wedding stuff for many of the reasons you outline in your post.  Despite pressure and the threat of “disappointing” friends and family, my husband and I did things in a way we were comfortable with (no engagement ring, no wedding, no wedding rings, etc.)  And I cannot emphasize enough how very, very glad I am that we did what was right for us.  I knew that incorporating even just some of the traditional stuff into our day would have made me wholly uncomfortable, and I did not want to enter into marriage feeling like I’d betrayed my own beliefs just so that others could have theirs indulged.  Marriage is a pact between two people, and while I understand that there is joy in allowing others to witness and share in the occasion, when all is said and done this is about you and the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.  And those who love you should want you to feel truly happy and comfortable with the way you go about making your commitment.  For me, when all was said and done, my friends and family ended up being TOTALLY FINE with how we got married, because they knew that we did what felt right and good for us!  They were happy for us because we were happy.

    Anyways, I wish you the best of luck in navigating this situation.  I know from experience that it isn’t easy, but I have no regrets (and i think I would had we done things differently for the sake of others).  I hope that – however the actual day and the march towards that day go – you find joy and happiness.

    1. thanks so much!

      i’m a bit anxious for to the “i don’t want dad to walk me down the aisle” conversation, but that is something to which i’m strongly opposed.  i can’t really waver on it and still feel comfortable. my mom keeps telling me to do what i want because it’s my wedding, but then when i say i don’t want to go with some of the things she’s suggesting we do, she gets all pissed off!  there is no winning!

      sigh, family.

      1. My mom did a lot of that “do what you want…what do you mean you’re not doing x?” kind of stuff.  I think what ultimately made her come around was realizing after we got married that she didn’t  actually feel like she’d missed out as much as she thought she would.  I mean, I still think she would have liked it if we’d done something (we essentially eloped), but it’s not like she has some big hole in her life because we didn’t do the wedding shebang!

        Regarding your father walking you down the aisle, that’s tough.  My father had already passed away and even if he’d been around, we weren’t on good terms so it would have been a non-issue.  If, in some alternate universe, I had wanted a wedding, I would have gone the Swedish route where the bride and groom walk down the aisle together.  I like the idea of both partners walking into the marriage together.  Or, if you still want to include your father and sort of eliminate the sexist aspect, you could have your partner’s parents walk him down the aisle, and have your parents walk you down the aisle.  That would be a lot more equal and allow for participation by both sets of parents.

  6. Here’s my thought: if somebody is going to be unhappy no matter what you do, then why does that person have to be YOU? Your parents already had their wedding. Now, it’s your turn to have the wedding YOU want. Incorporating things that they might like into your wedding is very, very generous of you. Your parents should be extremely grateful that you are a: willing to have an ‘engagement’ and b: willing to have a ceremony, and let the rest of their expectations go. My cousin and his wife actually called off their entire wedding ceremony because too many of their family members were getting het up over wedding plans, and they finally said “screw this” and got married at City Hall. You should have the wedding that you want to have. If your parents give you a hard time about bucking tradition on any of the things you want to forego, you can try asking them why it is so important to them. Do they have a reason, or is it just because “that’s the way things are done”? Or, turning that famous parental question back on them, if tradition stated that the bride and groom jump off a bridge together, would they want you to do that as well?

    I’m sorry, I’m probably being too harsh here. I am just of the mind that each couple should get to make their own memories in their own way, so that those memories are good ones. I say this as a person who decided against a lot of traditional things (engagement ring, wedding dress, having dad walk me down the aisle, taking husband’s last name, etc.) and still had a lovely wedding. (and now, two kids – one with my husband’s last name, one with MY last name. That was a fun conversation with my MIL, but I prevailed!)

    1. Here’s my thought: if somebody is going to be unhappy no matter what you do, then why does that person have to be YOU? Your parents already had their wedding. Now, it’s your turn to have the wedding YOU want.

      Actually, this sounds like very sound advice to me.

    2. I’ve never heard of giving different last names to kids! Tell me more!!! How did you decide which children get your name and which get his? And how did you convince your MIL that this was ok?  I’m most certainly keeping my last name forever.  I get a lot of shock and awe looks when I say this, but after seeing the hassle my mom went through to change her name back to her maiden name after her divorce I decided that I’m NEVER changing my name.  It’s a little sad because most of the shock comes from people my own age (mid 20’s) who seem to think I’m being disrespectful to the BF by saying I won’t take his name, even though my BF doesn’t care either way at all.

      1. I was actually gunning for having all of the kids take my last name,because the name itself is quite rare (like less than 40 of us in the whole world), so having one child take his name was my compromise. Our daughter, the oldest, has my last name for her middle name and the same last name as my husband. Our son has my husband’s last name as his middle name and the same last name as me. That way, our names are all connected together. If we ever had a 3rd kid, that kid would also have the same middle and last name as my son (because of the rare thing, and also because I’m the one going through pregnancy and childbirth so I win).

        I think I did less convincing my MIL that it was okay and more just telling her that this was the way it was going to be so tough titties if she didn’t like it, and telling her over and over again when she brought it up multiple times. At one point she sort of acidly suggested that if we were going to use a name that was different, we could use her maiden name, since that was pretty rare as well. At which point I looked directly at her and said “You certainly could have done that when you were naming your kids. It’s too bad you didn’t do it when you could have.” That kind of ended it. Besides, she was lucky. I was thisclose to convincing my husband that he should take my last name.

    3. your comment is so empowering. i’m going to read it before skyping with my parents. hahaha

      i think over time, as my parents (more specifically, as my mother) acclimate to the whole idea of me getting married, it’ll be easier to get more of what mr. parkhurst and i want.

      1. I think that’s a wise point. Right now the whole “wedding and marriage” thing is really new, and it’s bound to be freaking them out (as it does, I imagine, when one’s kid does something to concretely remind one that they are now a grownup and no longer a cute little toddler running around and how the hell did THAT happen???). Maybe you could tell your mom that you really welcome all of her ideas, but you’re going to be really noncommittal for a while as you peruse magazines and websites, just to get an idea of what’s out there? That way she gets to throw all the stuff she wants at you in the name of “wedding ideas” without it becoming anything you have to commit to or decide on right away.

        Just as another option on the whole “walk you down the aisle” thing, one thing you might consider is having both of your parents walk you down the aisle, and have Mr. Parkhurst’s parents do the same. I was at a very beautiful wedding once where the bride and groom did just that, and it was really sweet and definitely did not give off any “giving the bride away” vibes. Or you and Mr. Parkhurst could walk each other down the aisle, as my husband and I did. He wanted a processional, too!

        1. well, as of right now, my parents don’t really consider this engagement to be “real” because there’s no ring yet and mr. parkhurst hasn’t asked my parents to marry me.  LOFUCKINGL  so my mom hasn’t been throwing TOO many ideas out there…yet.

          i like the idea of both my parents walking me down the aisle.  maybe i should just have my brother do it!

  7. I’ve told Mr Cesy I want a candy red Kitchen Aid mixer as an engagement “ring”. We’d both get enjoyment out of that. I believe he’s told a friend that I’m “disgustingly practical” for this request.

    I do still want a little ring, but that would be the main thing. None of this 6 weeks worth of wages shiny conflict diamond crap.

    And we could never get away with a small wedding. We both have close families (particularly on our paternal sides, and our fathers both have 6 brothers and 1 sister each. Many uncles and aunties). So big close families mean big wedding. But I’d rather it be a big party than a big “wedding”. And I want to do it on our terms. All I know at this stage is that would involve bagpipes.

  8. Wow, can I relate to this. I got engaged last summer, and I hate that pressure placed on me of what I am *supposed * to do. It doesn’t help that my fiancé is a bit more traditional than I am. It first started with the ring: I never placed much importance on a ring but he did. So he spent more money than I would’ve wanted him to. Then there was the church thing. He wants a church thing; I’m an atheist. His mom jokingly offered a bribe for us to have a ceremony in a church. And then there’s the potential compromises based on our budget (i.e., he doesn’t want to give up certain things that we don’t have money for because it’s not what a wedding is supposed to be like). But the one thing that really annoyed me was him suggesting that I “compromise” on changing MY name.

    Anyhow, the thing I’m doing to cope is focusing on stuff that we’re doing that is important to me. Don’t focus too much on minor things, I guess… If your parents want to invite a couple more people (within reason), then let them. If you get a ring, you can always get a nontraditional, non-diamond one.  But, although weddings are not JUST about the bride and groom, don’t compromise on what IS important to you. If it is very important too you and your fiancé to forego the e-ring, then don’t get it. I really hate this idea that you’re not really engaged unless you get a ring. I also really, really hate the idea of being “given away.” I think if you are upfront and firm about you’re your desires are, your parents will come to accept it.

    TLDR: It’s okay to compromise on some things re: a wedding. But don’t compromise what is really important. Prioritize and decide on non-negotiables. Then be honest with your close family members.

    1. yeah, i need to start really figuring out what i’m willing to bend on and what i’m absolutely not.

      i, too, hate the idea of needing a ring in order to be considered legitimately engaged.  it is such a bizarre and wasteful marker.  and it’s a marker only the woman must wear.  although, to be fair, mr. parkhurst offered to wear a ring as well, but i think the whole idea is stupid and neither of us should feel that obligation.

      my parents definitely know no church will be involved in the doing of this wedding.  we aren’t that religious anyway, but i feel like because church fits within the archetype of a typical wedding, there might be a shade of an expectation…

      1. Well hold strong! Like I said, focus on what is important to you. Your parents will accept it. I think sometimes parents forget that their child’s wedding is not a chance to recreate their own wedding wishes.

        As for the church thing, I did tell my fiance later that I’d consider a Unitarian church. But I don’t think that’s what his mom had in mind.  :-)

  9. We didn’t get an engagement ring, for mostly financial reasons, and because I had never wanted one.  There have been weird times when I’ve felt like “he didn’t get me a ring he doesn’t loooooooooove me,” but they subside pretty quickly.  I’ve also had people say to my face, “oh, yeah, we thought about foregoing a ring, but my fiance decided I was worth it.”

    So: didn’t want, went through strange periods of longing, but after seven years, I’m back to don’t want, and haven’t felt like I wanted one in maybe four years.

    1. Well, I am sort of your alternate-reality e-ring twin. I didn’t really care for a ring, and I made it clear to my fiance. He got me one anyway. It can be hard to convince someone that you mean it–he did feel that he wanted to do it for me b/c “he loved me so much.” And many people do have the “worth it attitude,” which I think influenced his decision… But, although I really like the ring, I kind of wished he wouldn’t have spent the money (some of which he did not have). There’s a million other things I probably would’ve wanted to do before I spent money on a fancy ring. But, that was what he wanted to do. :-/

        1. Yeah, you’re right. And I don’t really spend much time dwelling on the ring thing. It is very pretty. :-) I guess, in my mind, it’s related to his less-than-stellar spending habits and my control issues… But I know he had sweet motivations for wanting to get me a ring.

          Oh, and if you really want to wear a pretty ring sometimes, there’s always costume jewelry.   Fake jewelry has the added advantage of freeing you from fear of losing it.  :-)

  10. To answer your tag, yes you CAN just go to Vegas. We went to City Hall about a month after deciding to get married. And that was that for the pesky “engaged” bit. It was great. We had a big party with our friends and family a couple of months later.

    It’s not for everyone, for sure, but it worked for us.

  11. I too am an extremely private person.  My dream wedding: eloping and not telling a damn soul about it.  Reality: I know my parents & my bf’s parents would be hurt not getting a wedding, so I’ll probably end up getting married w/ just parents and siblings present and having a party a few months later.  I can’t imagine going though something so intimate in front of a lot of people & I do love a good party so it works out in the end.  I’ve been telling my parents since I was 20 that if I ever get married I’m eloping, so they haven’t been pressuring me to plan anything to big or fancy, they’ve just asked that they be allowed to come.  So I guess the only advice I can give you is set their expectations really low (tell them they aren’t invited), and then give them a little so they’ll be happy (ok, you can come, but only you!)

      1. :( I’m sorry, that’s no fun.  I guess I’ve always been the black sheep of my family (middle child here!) so I’m kinda already shunned.  I’m kind of a loner (in my family) so I think they just added it to the pile of stuff that I refuse to do & that there’s nothing they can do to convince me otherwise.

    1. Maybe we should get married! Your dream wedding sounds a lot like mine.

      It’s very odd for me, because I’m really not a private person at all (seriously, I am TMI girl). But marriage feels like an incredibly personal thing – plus I have seen the amount of planning that goes into a wedding for 80 people. NO THANK YOU. On the other side, there is my boyfriend (it’s kind of agreed vaguely that we’ll get married when I finish uni in two years) who wants a medium-sized wedding in a nice place with an open bar. And yes, the parents.

      Also middle child solidarity!

      1. Woot middle kids!! Unfortunately I live in a state that doesn’t allow lady-lady marriage… otherwise I’d totally be down :-p

        If my bf and I were to invite anymore family it would get to be ridiculous.  His family is catholic, so his dad is one of 12 and mom is one of 6…. meaning if we include our aunts and uncles we’d have ~50 more people, not even including cousins.  NOT HAPPENING!!!  I know if we were to not have the tiny one that I want w/ 10-15 people, it will balloon past medium, to ginormous.  I don’t want the stress of trying to plan that shit. I’d be happy to have an open bar party way after the fact which I think will be way less stressful to plan.  I hope you have the wedding you want, and that if your bf wants something bigger, that he agrees to help you plan it.

  12. SO TIMELY!

    I got “officially” engaged last May (he actually proposed last January, but we didn’t tell anyone for a while). The expectations, while starting off awful (when’s the date?! I dunno. where will you get married?! I dunno. what kind of dress do you want?! are you serious?). But then it got better as I completely avoided answering all manner of questions. It wasn’t passive aggression, per se, because really- I had no idea. Neither of us had a clue of what to do and no real impetus to start since we were both starting field seasons (him for his masters, me for my phd) and we were about a quarter of the country away from each other at the time. It wasn’t foremost on either of our minds since we were both just happy in the security of being engaged. So, you keep telling people that you have no plans and that you don’t know when you’re going to start making plans and the questions and pressure from strangers/acquaintances (and most family, really) just stop.

    I am going for a fairly non traditional wedding all in all. This has mostly been dictated by the fact that I refuse to take my parents’ money for the wedding (I saw what happened to my brother, I don’t really want to deal with those shenanigans). Thus, we have a tiny budget. My parents also know how independent/stubborn I can be, but I also usually have good reasons for doing things a certain way. ie. I want it to be small because I get really uncomfortable around being the center of attention around a lot of people and I probably shouldn’t get freaked out and go for a hike instead of showing up to my own wedding. Other non-expectation bonus move: Fiance is all for having a full say in planning and doing stuff for the wedding, too- which automatically takes half the expectations from me when I get to say “Oh yeah, Fiance was thinking of either doing that thing, or that other thing. I’ll have to ask him about that sometime.” It’s great for all manner of reasons, really.

    There are also some things I’ve given in on: I too wanted to just go to the town hall one day and sign a paper and call it good (my mother almost burst into tears when I told her that); I upped the number of guests from 50 to 80 so more family could be invited (also per my mother’s request); and I will let my dad walk me down the aisle (I can’t tell you how much I hate the fact that a wedding nowadays is still so strongly tied to the selling of daughters from one family to another). On the other hand I’m standing firm on many of my own caveats: I will not wear shoes, make-up, nor a traditional foofy dress (I found something simple and white in a consignment store for $16 that I LOVE); I’m sticking to a max of 80- no, you may not invite the entire town I grew up in; and screw the expense of a caterer, we are roasting a pig and it will be local, delicious, and awesome (that’s actually going to be father-in-law’s gift: the roasting of the pig).

    So really: if it’s important to you, it’s your wedding, do what you want and is going to make you most comfortable. And if you don’t want other people’s expectations heaped on you (it’s like babies or pregnancy- you are automatically entitled to EVERYONE’S OPINIONS) don’t talk about it. It’s not their decision, so if they’re not going to be supportive, then they can find out what’s going on when they get there (or when they see the pictures afterward).

    1. dude, hell yes to the pig roast.  i’m mad jealous. send some delicious, crispy skin my way.

      I want it to be small because I get really uncomfortable around being the center of attention around a lot of people

      yeah, that x500 for me.  this is one of the things i’m dreading.  i don’t like the idea of being fawned over just because i’m publicly committing to someone i’ve already privately committed to.

      my maternal grandmother once made the comment to me that i need to get married in my hometown because ‘the girl should get married in her hometown.’  LOL OK.   nonsense expectations.

      ETA: CONGRATS on your engagment.  happy planning! hehe.

  13. I really appreciate your sharing (and I hope continuing to share!) the negotiation you’re going through between your values and tradition. I feel pretty strongly AGAINST a proposal, against my parents giving “permission,” against the changing of names, against being walked down the aisle, and against like… most of the reception stuff like only dancing with the parent of your opposite sex like you don’t have a meaningful relationship with the other one and the garter toss which is just so intimate and awkward to me. Anyway, all of these things cause me no undue stress in part because (OBVIOUSLY there is a conflict) I am nominally Catholic and I LOVE Catholic weddings. Which seems so incompatible, right? And I’ve been so many weddings (I’ve been a bridesmaid five times) that I would want to include those friends in my wedding, at least as guests who help make the day special, too, even though I also think exchanging vows in front of a crowd of people with cameras is weird. So I don’t even KNOW what I will do someday. So I like reading other people’s thought processes because it helps me feel less alone and also gives me ideas.

      1. Ooh I think that could be good. You can feign ignorance on things that are convenient, but you can also tell your grandmother/mom that things have changed “according to my friends” whenever you want, too! Best of both worlds. Plus now that so many of my friends had FANCY weddings, I feel like someday when my partner and I have a cheapie deal outside with potato salad and beer they’re going to be bitter, like, “WE spent $65 per head on you at our wedding and you don’t even provide jordan almonds!” But they’ll have to deal if they think that way, because we are poor and probably will stay that way for like… ever. Ha.

  14. I got married last December, and my husband & I were both very opposed to a big ceremony.  He wanted to elope, but I wanted to have my parents there, so we had a teeny tiny ceremony with just our immediate families – 10 guests total.  My dad was our officiant.  We made it how we wanted it to be – no giving me away, no cliche vows, and no white dress!  I wore eggplant, and it was awesome.  I thought our ceremony was perfect – it represented exactly who we are.  Our own people in a private, loving relationship.

    Our plan was to have a big reception/party on our 6 month anniversary and to invite any family/friends who missed the ceremony – separating the party from the wedding felt nice, since it kept the ceremony itself private but still allowed us to celebrate with everyone we love.  But!  10 days before the wedding I found out I’m knocked up, so a big party when I’m 7 months pregnant doesn’t sound too appealing anymore.

    As for the ring/proposal, we had been discussing marriage for a long time, and both knew we wanted to do it, so there was no real mystery or surprise or whatever.  But I did want a ring and a proposal because of tradition, romance, and the fact that I am still a tool of the patriarchy sometimes.  So we got my grandmother’s ring, to avoid spending a ton of money on a symbol (and to keep from contributing to the diamond trade).  Then I waited weeks for him to do it, but it took too long, so I got all emotional and burst into tears at a restaurant all “I know you’re going to do it eventually but it’s taking so looooong and I feel so saaaaaaaad” and he pulled the ring out of his pocket and said “uh…so should I just do it here?  Because I had a plan for 2 hours from now.”  And, scene.


      actually, what you did sounds almost exactly like what we plan to do.  i sososososo do not want to wear a white dress.  or ivory.  or even champagne colored.  i’d love to wear a really nice tea length baby pink dress.  not sure why. i had pink hair once, but can’t have pink hair now, so i will have a pink dress instead?  whatever.  i’ll wear anything that isn’t white or a derivative thereof.

      we’re planning on having the reception/party months (or a year?) after the wedding, as well.  only super close, immediate family will be there, or so i envision.

      as for my engagement ring – sigh.  i have a ring of my grandmother’s that i think i’m just going to get resized.  i was feeling totally sucked into the patriarchal idea of MAN MUST BUY WOMAN RING, WOMAN MUST WANT RING, but now i’m like fuck it.  this ring was my grandmother’s and it’s got a family history.  way better than a tacky diamond of some sort.

      1. I HATE THE RING THING.  If I decide to get a ring someday, it will be one that I choose and probably that I, or at least both of us splitting equally, pay for.  Why is a man buying a big expensive thing that I must wear every day, without my input on style (and I’m pretty particular about my jewelry, usually), a prerequisite for marriage?  I do not understand.  It seems like one of the most regressive traditions that people still seem to think is a Big Deal.  That and the name thing.

          1. Societal narratives are a powerful thing. It’s also possible to get caught up with the narratives of the whole engagement/marriage process and decide that it is what you want, after all. It’s no real shame to want it, but if it’s not want you want, there’s no shame in denying it, either.

          1. Haha.  I love that.  Yeah, I can be down with some of the traditional stuff, both because I like things like white dresses and because I’m willing to accept that certain things will have meaning for those around me and I don’t care enough to do away with them, but changing my name and the traditional ring narrative are out.  Also, if some dude or dudette ever has the nerve to ask my parents’ permission (or worse, just my dad’s permission) before they ask me if I want to marry them, I will probably say no on principle.

            1. While the ring narrative and the name changing can go stuff themselves, the asking permission thing need to die several fiery deaths.  And I also would not marry someone who did it anyway, because if they thought I’d be okay with that, they clearly don’t know me very well

              1. Oh my god the Asking Permission.  Someone just posted about that on Hello Giggles and was all “nothing wrong with it!  tradition is sweet!” or whatever and I nearly punched my computer.  My family joked that if my husband had ever asked my dad for permission he would have said no, since it meant the dude clearly did not know who he was asking to marry.

        1. I think I’d only wear a ring if he also wore one during the engagement. I hate how it connotes that he paid X amount in exchange for your promise (3 months’ salary or whatever? is that the “rule”?) but he goes around with NO visible sign of that commitment for however long you’re engaged. It just doesn’t make sense to me in 2012. My parents don’t even wear their wedding rings–the ring is a symbol of love, but you can be happily engaged or married without one.

        2. That’s why I was so happy that a family ring was an option for us.  It was free (other than the resizing charge), and it came from my own family, and it’s exactly what I would have wanted in a ring anyway.  It was nice to get to have that little symbol but not have to fuel the wedding/diamond industry.

          I know that wearing a diamond ring still supports the industry by making it common/expected etc etc etc but IT’S SO SHINY AND PRETTY.

        3. I have a deep abiding hatred of the “ring shot” wedding photos that have become so popular as of late. You know, where the picture is basically of the engagement ring and only really the ring on the bride’s hand. While I have pretty strong feminist thoughts on it being SUPER patriarchal I also just think it`s kind of tacky.

      2. re: the ring – if you’ve got a family ring, I highly recommend using it!  I love that I’m wearing something that has been in my family since 1943!  Since the engagement ring is a sign of a commitment to join/create family, it seems really sweet to honor/symbolize it with something that has already been part of that family.  I like looking down at it and knowing that my grandmother looked down at the same stone for years, and that my dad grew up seeing it on his mom’s hand.  It makes me really happy, and feel really connected to my familial history while simultaneously starting my own family (yep, I was a PREGNANT BRIDE – GASP).

        Also, it feels good to not contribute $$$ to the insane diamond industry.

      1. Thanks!  Post-proposal I hugged him really hard, and I thought I heard him crying and I thought “OMG THIS IS SO ROMANTIC” but it turns out I was just choking him.  Oops.  Then we went and bought a bunch of fancy beers.  We are tres romantical.

    2. I was married in a floor-length, avocado satin strapless ballgown. I remember that when I tried it on, my mother’s face fell and she gestured at my epic cleavage and said sadly, “There’s just so much Olivia there.”

      Which, frankly, still hurts.

      But I wore the hell out of that dress, let me tell you.

        1. I got to talk my mom into wearing a bright red silk cocktail dress. She didn’t want to wear red to a wedding, at first, so she ordered it in a bronze shimmery fabric.

          And then she put it on and it was awful. Lobster-colored, and it made her look about ten years older, and sickly to boot. I asked what she thought, and she said, very clearly, “I hate it.”

          And there was not enough time to order it in red.

          And then I remembered that the sample dress was red, and was the perfect size. So we haggled with the bridal shop, and they agreed to keep the lobster dress and sell us the (gently used, but unharmed) red sample dress instead.

  15. My dream wedding (I have thought about it. Also, not gonna lie, most others guys I know have too, they just don’t really talk about it much) involves about ten people, a small manor, and a forest clearing. Ideally I want to get married in a copse (no dresses at a gay male wedding, bazinga) but if the rain fucks me over then indoors (but with big windows because English summer rain seems to last for ages and it’s pretty).

    This will probably not happen, but one can dream.

    Again; ten people. I only speak to about 3% of my family as is, wtf would they want to come to my wedding.

    1. dude, ngl, i read “i want to get married in a corpse.“  WOOPS.

      anyway, 10 people would be how many i’d have at our wedding. and maybe it’ll be about that…except mr. parkhurst keeps mentioning that his mother wants like 5 million of his family members attending what was supposed to be a small thing.  sigh. we’ll see what happens.

      the fewer the people, the better.

          1. “If you’re really handy, make one yourself! The equinoctal ritual slaughter of a virgin is a great way to call on the powers of Cthulhu and make a smart wedding budget choice for the new year. I summoned seven hellhounds and a gaping maw of Kathandrax and acquired a charming venue in the process! Easy!”

    2. My cousin got married in a forest clearing! It was absolutely lovely, although the bride freaked out about the weather for a few days before it turned out to be perfectly sunny and warm. My cousin, the groom, wore a Middle Eastern-style tunic and linen trousers rather than a tux because they got engaged in Syria (before the bombs started). His mom and a few friends played “When I’m Sixty-Four” for their wedding march, and they held the reception in a very picturesque barn with legit barn-dancing. Yeah, that side of my family is a bit crunchy : )

      Best wedding ever.

  16. yay august weddings! (i got married last august)

    i was definitely not OMG ALL WEDDING PLANNING ALL DAY EVERY DAY. honestly my parents planned most of the wedding with my input/guidance, especially since i live on the other side of the state while the wedding was being held in my hometown. i had a catholic wedding and to my surprise the deacon we selected to preside insisted that there will be no giving away of the woman by her father (oh boy was i relieved as i despise the concept!) . both my husband and i were “given away” by our respective parents. i have an engagement ring but what made me especially fond of the idea was designing it myself, and the wedding band. i was torn at first about the idea of my SO asking my dad for permission but i ultimately instructed him to not do it, because i wanted to be consistent with my values.

    i’m not sure of the family dynamic in your situation, or the degree your family insists on tradition, but in my opinion it ultimately comes down to your desires. it’s you & your SO’s wedding and marriage, so hopefully you both will be able to carve out a meaningful engagement and ceremony despite all the outside pressure. as for questions and judgement from others, just keep answering others questions with confidence and respect. i have found that this will help them stfu. i got quite a few questions from coworkers at first for keeping my last name but i just kept telling the same answer with confidence and everyone got the point. could you compromise and have a ring, and just wear it whenever you want to/feel the need to?  just because you have it doesn’t mean you have to wear it 24/7/365. just a thought. be creative, and best wishes!


    1. thank you!

      i’ve thought about not wearing the engagement ring all the time, if i got one.  i probably wouldn’t wear it at work – to be really honest, i end up doing a lot of freaking box-lifting and other weird quasi-manual labor stuff sometimes so i wouldn’t want to fuck the ring up.  not sure if that’s even possible, but i’d be paranoid all the time.  also, i just think it would invite all these stressful questions about WHEN i’m getting married, WHERE i’m getting married, etc. etc.  ugh.

      i feel like my parents are majorly disappointed that i’m not going to be taking mr. parkhurst’s last name.  my mom just kept asking “WELL WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE KIDS?”  geez, talk to me when i’m in my 30s.

  17. Caveat before I go into my thoughts: I someday (quite a long ways off, mind you) plan on having a big wedding with a pretty dress.  Mostly because I like pretty dresses (and think I look good in white but rarely wear it due to a tendency to spill all the things) and love throwing big parties for family and friends, so a wedding seems like a great opportunity to do this.  I also tend to be…more public about my relationships.  No, I’m not that friend on your FB page posting incessantly about how much I OMG LOVE my boyfriend because he is the best boyfriend in the world blah blah blah.  But being in love is a Big Deal for me, and I tend to like to share those things.

    That said, it is YOUR wedding and YOUR marriage, and I don’t think you should let yourself be pushed into anything you’re really uncomfortable with.  But I also understand the desire to make your family and not deal with the disapproval/criticism.  Are there some concessions that are easier than others to give?  Maybe you go for a band ring instead of a big one with a rock, but put your foot down on being given away (or at least have your parents both give you away?  That seems like a slightly better symbolism to me – it’s like blending your families, rather than one man giving you away to another man.)  That might be a way to compromise.  Also: I have a relative who married her fiance in dead secret for reasons similar to immigration concerns (though not the same) and just didn’t tell ANYONE before the “wedding.”  They had important reasons to get married, but they knew their families wanted the big church weddings, so that was their compromise.  Not saying you should definitely do that, but it’s a thought.

    And remember: it’s just the wedding.  You have many wonderful years of being together to look forward to, and that’s the important thing.  I totally didn’t learn this lesson from Buffy *coughs.*  But even if I had *coughs* it still stands!  I think with all the wedding hoopla, people forget that it’s just one day, compared to a lifetime together.  Don’t get so stressed out over “engagement” and “wedding” that you forget that.

    Good luck, and congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

    1. I think that’s at the heart of our differences in approach; for you, you want to share with everyone your love, but I’m such a private person with it that I would rather keep it between BF and I. For me, it doesn’t matter how involved family would want to be…I just don’t want them there. Period. It’s too awkward and embarrassing for me.

      But then again, I’m also generally uncomfortable with the idea of marriage; I can’t stop feeling like, if I were married to Mr. Silverwane, I’d be with him because I had to be, not because I chose to be.

      That probably sounds sort of silly, since if we were married, it’s not like I didn’t CHOOSE to marry him…arg I don’t know. It’s just some personal troubles I have. No judgments on anyone else’s choices. :)

      1. I think there are definitely different approaches.  It’s funny, actually, because I’m often really private about my emotions.  And I guess I don’t TALK about “being in love” much, which is maybe another reason why the idea of a big wedding – sort of a “show don’t tell” everyone else how I feel – appeals to me?  I don’t know.  I totally get where you’re coming from though.

        And the marriage thing makes sense too.  I guess for my part, I like the idea of making a commitment to do my best to work things out and be with someone.  Both my parents had previous marriages before they met and had me (and sibs,) so I guess marriage has never seemed like a “have to” but more like a “this is a commitment that we will try everything to stay together”?  Something like that.  Also, I like the idea of government benefits, rights, and tax breaks.

        1. No, that makes a lot of sense! I’m also more of a show-don’t-tell person, and I can be highly affectionate, but I also strongly dislike being the center of attention, and maybe that’s part of it?

          And you’ve got a similar frame of mind about at as my boyfriend; to him, he likes having that extra commitment to 1) show love and 2) make it less likely we’d just break up over something silly. He also has watched his brothers go through multiple divorces.

          Me, I was basically told, by my parents, from a young age, that if someone was divorced, they were  more or less “damaged goods.” That’ll terrify anyone, because how can you REALLY be sure you’ll want to be with that same person ten, twenty, forty years down the road? I wish my parents hadn’t done me such a great disservice by feeding me toxic messages like that.

          1. Ahh.  I love being the center of attention.  That may be a key difference here.

            That idea of “damaged goods” is terrible!  I could see how that would give you an aversion to marriage.  I guess I just saw too many broken marriages when I was young to get that message.  Plus, the whole fam is really good friends with my dad’s ex-wife (and my brother’s mom) so I also grew up, not with the idea that divorce is good exactly, but with the idea that it is not the end of the world and that it’s a better option for people who aren’t working as a couple.  So marriage feels like a commitment to me, but not quite so scary/permanent/”you have to be with this person forever”-ish.

            1. I bet it’s the “damaged goods” thing more than anything. Divorce was never “okay” in my mom’s eyes. Sure, she might talk about a couple like they’re not working and it might be better to get a divorce, but there was always so much judgment strewed across the sidelines. Like, judging on the choice to get married, judging on that person’s “taste,” judging on the fact of if one of the partners happened to have been divorced before…so on and so forth.

              It’s really stupid. I don’t think like that anymore about the people in my life, but I’m so terrified about the idea of, what if I no longer like the BF 10 years down the road, and we’re married, and then I would have no way out? It’s like I don’t even allow divorce to be an option for myself in that thought experiment.

    2. i just have to say that although it seems you and i have different feelings about being public with our relationships, i enjoyed your response because it wasn’t judgmental at all.  so, thank you!

      i like the idea of having one giant party.   i would totally just have a giant reception if i could get married with no fanfare. nevertheless, you are right – it is just one day out of a lifetime, so in the long term, it’s a mere blip on our radar.  perhaps as we get closer to the “we need to start making official plans” time period (whenever that is), we’ll start working out some compromises with the fam.


      1. I’m a big believer in not judging, especially things that are so personal.  But I’m also a big believer in full disclosure, and it seemed relevant that I am actually pro-wedding in my own case.

        Good luck with all this.  Sounds like it’ll be a rough ride planning everything, but on the plus side, totally worth it!  Also good luck with immigration.  I used to work in immigration law (specifically marriage-based), so I can sympathize with how much of a pain in the ass it’ll be.  But again – worth it!

          1. Tell me about it.  One of the worst parts about working in the field was feeling bad about charging our clients.  But given the work we put in – and the expertise of the attorneys – it wasn’t really unreasonable.  I just think it’s unreasonable that the whole stupid system requires that amount of expertise and money.

              1. I don’t want to get off-topic, nor derail your absolutely legitimate point; I just wanted to gently prod your pronoun use. Not necessarily a “he” there! ;)

                ETA: Although, your lawyer might be a he, which would justify using it. Sorry if I’m shoving my foot in my mouth.

                    1. well they were a weird whiteish color…so it’s like he was trying to have them blend in with his teeth..except they were mad obvious.  IDK why i’m judging his braces, it was just so unexpected.  i feel like i never see adults wear braces. lol

                    2. @millyparkhurst

                      I understand, you usually only see them on children/teens, so it’s pretty startling to see them on an adult. I had them briefly while in college, so I’m probably a little sensitive to being judged about it; I was constantly paranoid about it! It was kind of silly, really.

                    1. We seem to have hit a critical mass on actually replying to your comment, but that seems pretty steep (certainly compared to what we used to charge at my old firm.)  If you haven’t signed a retainer, it might be worth shopping around a little or trying to get other referrals.  It’s been a couple years since I worked in that area, but I doubt rates have gone up THAT much since then.

              2. I mean, I always recommend that people get a lawyer, since I’ve been there and I know how much knowledge and time it takes to do it well.  It’s just, after hearing people’s life stories (and financial difficulties, when applicable) and having to explain about the thousands of dollars in USCIS fees, I HATED having to add “oh, and you’re also going to have to pay us a thousand dollars/thousands of dollars.”

                1. our lawyer was telling us that some couples that come to him don’t have birth certificates because certain countries don’t actually issue those sorts of documents.  i can’t imagine how much more difficult that makes the entire process.

                  so, in some ways, we’ve got it good even if it is arduous.

                2. re: your above comment that i cannot actually reply to–

                  we didn’t sign a retainer or anything.  we just went to a consultation.  we’ve got time, especially since we plan on getting married next august.  shopping around is probably exactly what i should be doing in the meantime.  it just sucks because i’d like for us both to meet with the potential lawyers, but whatever.

                  i live in boston, so i’m not sure if that affects the cost in any way.  ah well.

                  1. I know less about Boston area, but I live (and worked in immigration) in Chicago, which is also a big city and expensive, so I think you should be able to find something better than that.  Obviously you also want to get someone you’re comfortable with and who will do a good job (I always go for personal referrals, but unfortunately I don’t know anyone to refer you to in Boston) but I would definitely check out a few more lawyers before you sign anything.

                    1. You’re welcome!  Feel free to shoot me if a message if you have any more questions, or want to vent.  I can’t give you legal advice (not a lawyer) but I can offer advice and many words of support.  It’s a tough process, for sure.

  18. My dude (The Rocket Scientist) and I are also doing long distance (I’m in the US, he’s in Germany) and we became “officially” engaged last month. I’ve been contemplating a lot of the issues you discussed, and working with my now-fiance (so weird to write/say) to figure out how we can balance our own wants/expectations with those of our families and the assumptions of society. For example, I don’t have an engagement ring. I probably will, but if I do it’s something we want to pick out together. But oh, the flack I’ve gotten from random busybodies who proclaim that it isn’t really an engagement until he’s stuck a rock on my finger.

    I suspect we’ve been quite lucky so far to have families who heartily believe that people should have the type of wedding they want, not the type of wedding the mum/dad/great aunt Bertha/judgmental friends and family want. Our engagement, wedding, and life after may buck traditions (don’t get me started on people’s reactions to the fact that I’m not changing my name), but they’re what we want and so they are what we’ll do. In the end, I’m getting to marry an incredibly awesome dude and start a new adventure with him, and that’s what I keep reminding myself whenever I’m tempted to tell someone to shove their Martha Stewart Bridal magazine where the sun don’t shine.

      1. Oh my god, if someone ever refers to me as Mrs. (Mr. Silverwane’s last name), I will have to try really hard not to rip their heads off. My name’s not changing. In fact, if there’s any name changing going on, it’s going to have to be on his side.

      1. I totally get the whole not wanting to change your name thing and find it hard to believe that people can be so judgmental about it. For myself I went through the rather annoying and, for a high school student, expensive process of changing my name to my mother’s last name and never plan to change it again. Unfortunately I’ve told a few people of this plan and they cannot understand–I’ve heard “what about the kids?” and “but it doesn’t show you really love him” . Don’t understand, it’s MY name, not yours and not something that you should concern yourself about.

      2. Yep, people can be really terrible about this. I remember, a long time ago, telling my brother I never wanted to change my last name and him saying, “Wait till you really fall in love.” I was just like, what does loving someone have to do with changing my name? I’d still be the same person, in or out of love. I haven’t really made an announcement to everyone about the name change thing yet, so I have not faced too much judgement thus far. But I have told my fiance.

        We had a little disagreement over that. I told him, “I hope you realize I’m keeping my name, right?” And then he got a bit upset, saying that’s not what people do and we should have the same name as a family, etc. (I get so annoyed when people say that-I have half-brothers w/ different last names and they aren’t any less of my family than any other sibling.) Anyhow, he asked why couldn’t I “compromise” by hyphenating or moving my name to the middle name. And I asked him why should I have to compromise on my name? Is he going to compromise with me about what his name is? Then he got the point.

  19. The whole “public” aspect of engagement/weddings is actually one of the biggest reasons why I’m scared shitless of getting married. I tend to be a very private person, and while I am extremely affectionate with Mr. Silverwane, it took a while for me to really be able to verbally express what I felt.

    So, why in ten million hells would I ever want to have a public engagement with a ring and a dress and a wedding with all these people going oh congratulations when they don’t even know me and they make it their business and then I end up feeling so fucking trapped.

    As you can see, this is a cause for deep, personal terror in me.

    Right now, my guess is, since he wants to get married some day, when we finally do, we just won’t tell anyone. Like, ever.

    ETA: I wonder if all this has to do something with the idea that, how can you genuinely want something you’re told you must have? Since I’m not made to feel like I have a choice in any of that shit, I want to run headlong away.

    1. So, why in ten million hells would I ever want to have a public engagement with a ring and a dress and a wedding with all these people going oh congratulations when they don’t even know me and they make it their business and then I end up feeling so fucking trapped.


      yeah that’s basically me.  no ring yet, and tbh, i do not mind that.  i like keeping my relationship to myself.  delving into the details of my relationship with mr. parkhurst just invites WAY TOO MANY questions.

Leave a Reply