An all too common thing occurs the minute someone realizes I’m engaged. They instantly lower their gaze to my ring finger, examine it with such determination that I truly believe their eyes will fall out of their mouth just to get a closer look, and then ask the age-old question without skipping a beat: “So have you guys picked a date yet?”
When I first got engaged back in 2017, this didn’t bother me. I was a freshly engaged woman, hot out of the oven. I was eager to discuss how my fiancé proposed, what our possible dream wedding would look like, and everything in between. When I would answer “no” back then, people would get it. They just got engaged, how could they have a date picked already? But now when I answer no, two years later, I get a look of concern and wonderment that’s quickly met with a smile after hearing how long it’s been since I officially said yes.
Truth be told, I give myself this same look of concern and wonderment every now and then. We’ve been together for 10 years, and even though we already feel like we’re married to one another, I sometimes can’t help but feel like we’re a wounded horse on a track who’s just trying to make it to the finish line, when everyone else who’s gotten engaged after us has already, or is about to, cross it.
But then I remember how our situation is different than most. Four months after being engaged, my mother passed away. A little over a year later, I was informed my position at my job was financially no longer available to me, and then, around that same time, my grandmother passed away. While grief and financial instability have prevented us from creating our dream wedding at this time, we also don’t feel the need to rush through the process just to say we did it.
It’s hard not to feel the pressure, though. While there’s nothing wrong with answering, “So have you guys picked a date?” it’s the follow-up questions that can be daunting to answer. When a stranger or loved one inquires about our long engagement, I don’t necessarily want to go down a deep dive of what we’ve gone through. I don’t want to explain how I don’t want to spend $40,000 dollars on my wedding when I barely have two pennies to rub together. I know people mean well when they ask this question or when they provide advice, but they assume they know what’s best for our situation, when in fact, they know no more than we do.
We’re taught to follow this “yellow brick road” because it’s supposed to bring riches, happiness, and answers to all our problems, and the minute we want to deter away from the recommended path to find our own unique joy, we’re expected and pressured to fall back in line.
But isn’t that life? Don’t we all experience this form of pressure at some point? While mine might be about my non-existent wedding, you might be feeling pressured to have children, to quit or find a job, to get engaged, to stay or leave your hometown, or to go to college. We’re taught to follow this “yellow brick road” because it’s supposed to bring riches, happiness, and answers to all our problems, and the minute we want to deter away from the recommended path to find our own unique joy, we’re expected and pressured to fall back in line.
The recommended path doesn’t work for everyone, though, and you should never feel pressured to go down the road someone else recommends because there’s simply no one way of doing things.
While my fiancé and I do want to get married one day and live happily ever after, we know our path is different than others, and that’s okay. Yes, we want to throw a wedding and have everyone we love there, but maybe we just want to do it at city hall and go to a bar, or maybe we want to save enough money to travel to Italy to say “I do,” eat an abnormal amount of pasta and wine, and go on a “buddy moon” with our friends.
All I know is that whatever wedding we decide to plan, it will reflect our unique journey as a couple. We’ve gotten engaged way later than most, we’ll probably have kids way later than most, and we may even (okay, we most definitely will) adopt more dogs than most. For us, being married is an added perk to what we already feel about each other. And while we’re grateful to have people who love us enough to give advice or inquire about our nuptials so they can make sure they can be there—because, heck, we want them to be there, too—we’ll take their advice with a grain of salt; we won’t feel pressured to do what others expect of us.
All I know is that whatever wedding we decide to plan, it will reflect our unique journey as a couple. . . . For us, being married is an added perk to what we already feel about each other.
After all, if there’s one thing I’m sure about, whether we get married tomorrow or five years from now, it’s how much we love each other. Because while I don’t necessarily want to answer why we haven’t picked a date yet, I know I’ve already answered the most important question I could have ever answered to the most important person in my life—and thankfully, he already knows I said “yes.”
Raven Ishak is a writer by day and Netflix binge-watcher by night. She loves a tasty matcha, isn’t afraid to befriend a puppy at a party, and will ask you where you got that dress with pockets.
BY Raven Ishak - September 29, 2019
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.