Things NOT to say to a (newly) engaged couple
With the holidays rapidly approaching, it’s almost inevitable that someone you know (or at least someone on your Facebook newsfeed) will be getting engaged over the next thirty days. And whenever engagement season or wedding season comes around, I often think back to a few years ago when I received a solitaire ring or was the young woman trying on bridal gowns. Getting engaged and planning a wedding was, for the most part, a blast, and an experience I’m so glad I got to have. But it also makes me think back on all of the strangely inappropriate and sometimes downright rude things that people said or did that left me, as the Brits say, positively gobsmacked. I’ve always wanted to write about these experiences, mainly because looking back, I can now laugh at them, but in doing so I’m also hopeful that someone reading this will bite their tongue if it means another engaged couple won’t have to endure any of the following . . .
- “It’s about time!” I’d like to preface this by pointing out that this term is never an appropriate reaction for any life event – engagement, marriage, pregnancy, purchase of a home, new job. It insinuates that the timeline of the person (or people) you’re saying it to doesn’t line up with your specifications of where they should be in life, and that makes zero sense.
- “When’s the wedding?” Now, if the couple has been engaged for a few weeks or months, it’s perfectly understandable that a friend, relative, or co-worker would inquire after the “big day” to show interest or continue the conversation. But this question was posed to me for the first time probably less than thirty minutes after being proposed to. Really? I’d be engaged for less than an hour and was expected to have a date set already?
It continued to be posed to me over the next several months, and for quite a while, we weren’t sure when the wedding would be. We wanted to spend some time enjoying being engaged, and we also wanted to find a home together, get new jobs, and pay off some debts before setting a date. Which brings me to my next point . . .
- “Why is he dragging his feet?” Whenever I explained to someone that we hadn’t set a date after being engaged for a few months (gasp!), they acted like I was telling them I planned on marrying a man who repeatedly cheated on me and treated me like dirt. They questioned his commitment to me, our commitment to each other, our motivation, everything. When in reality, we simply wanted to enjoy being engaged. And as previously mentioned, there were some logistical and financial things we wanted to take care of before tackling a wedding.
Of course, there was the other side of this question . . .
- “What’s the rush?” Since I had a two-plus year engagement, I didn’t personally get asked this question, but the daughter of one of my co-workers at the time did. The girl had a whirlwind romance and when her boyfriend gave her a ring, they decided to get married six months later in Vegas. Anytime my co-worker shared this news with anyone, they would feign a scandalous look and whisper, “Why the rush?” If the daughter had been present, they surely would have been shooting not-so-discreet looks at her midsection, assuming that anyone planning a wedding in less than six months was pregnant. And even if this had been the case, it’s still incredibly rude to suggest such a thing. Even if she was expecting a child, it’s not like this is the seventeenth century. People have kids before marriage all the time and no one is burning in the seventh circle of hell because of it.
- “But you haven’t lived together yet!” Speaking of so-called sin, since some people still like to raise their eyebrows over cohabitation prior to marriage, apparently there’s a flip side to that coin as well. My husband and I didn’t live together before we got engaged. We had made several attempts to do so, but thanks to job loss, death in the family, and family illness, we never got around to it. Prior to meeting my husband, I had sworn up and down that I would never marry anybody who I hadn’t lived with first, but it didn’t work out that way. And since we had been through so much before our engagement, I actually had no qualms about saying yes before living together. But just as people like to judge those who do cohabitate prior to vows, those same people also like to judge those who did not. I got several smirks and muttered responses from people suggesting that we didn’t know what we were getting into since we hadn’t lived together first. (I hate to burst their bubble, but we recently celebrated our fourth anniversary and things are just F-I-N-E.)
- “Weddings are expensive. Get over it.” This is probably one of the most outrageous things someone said to me about my upcoming wedding. One night, after spending hours trying to find an affordable venue and coming up short, I posted my frustration on Facebook in hopes that someone could make a recommendation. Most people were incredibly supportive and helpful, but one “friend” replied (verbatim) “Weddings are expensive. Get over it.”
I should take a moment to point out that this recently married person had two sets of parents and several grandparents helping pay for the cost of his wedding. He and his wife also both worked in the medical field, so money was of course no object for their nuptials.
Weddings do not have to be absurdly expensive. And suggesting to someone that their wedding will suck or won’t mean anything if they don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars is one of the most hurtful things you could say. (For the record, I am no longer friends with this person. Our seventeen-year friendship evaporated that very night).
- “You have my sympathies.” Yes, someone actually said this to me when I announced my engagement at work. The co-worker was going through his second divorce, so I could see why he would be bitter towards marriage in general. But really? He gave me sympathies? Low, dude. Low. Please seek therapy.
- “Don’t get married on my birthday/anniversary/etc.” The night I got engaged, someone actually told me that I better not plan on getting married while she would be pregnant. Um, excuse me? Do you want me to text you every month to see what the chances are that you may be pregnant for the biggest day of my life? Sweet Jesus. Some people really do think that the world revolves around them (no longer friends with this person either).
As far as birthdays and anniversaries go, it blows my mind that people can’t grasp the fact that every single day of the year is someone’s birthday or anniversary. If a couple was forced to pick a date that wasn’t significant for any of their guests, they’d never get married.
So there you have it. The most bizarre, rude, and positively insane things people say to engaged couples. I hope you laughed a little and maybe even learned something.