Raise your hand if you’ve been planning your dream wedding since you were, oh, way too young to know what a venetian hour is. I’m talking serious planning here: Imagining your dream wedding dress lewk, drafting your vows based on your favorite rom-com movie lines, keeping a list of potential bridesmaids...
Yeah, same. But some women are taking this childhood fantasy one step further by putting down payments on venues and buying their wedding dresses—before they’re even actually engaged.
According to a recent study published by wedding company Zola, 60 percent of couples planned part of their wedding before they got engaged—like, 15 percent of them selected their wedding venue and 50 percent went ring shopping.
“My husband and I were dating for eight years and I knew we were going to get engaged soon, so I snuck down to Philadelphia with my sister to scope out a few potential venues during the holidays because I knew things would book up early,” says Jennifer Spector, Zola's brand director.
Spector booked the venue shortly after viewing sans ring...and saved some major dollars and stress in doing so.
Debbie S., a researcher from New York City, did some pre-planning too. After solidifying a venue, buying a dress, and getting quotes from photographers, all the 30-year-old had left to do was wait for the proposal.
"My husband and I had no intention of dating for very long anyway. It seemed like the sooner I did it, the better," says Debbie. And while her hubby was a bit shook on how fast the relationship was moving, he knew he wanted to marry her and didn't mind the pre-planning—especially when it guaranteed their dream venue during competitive wedding season, which could also fit their 400+ guests.
In fact, organizing the wedding ahead of time made the proposal that much more special, says Debbie. "Having the date, venue, and dress booked and ready gave my husband the luxury of time, in that he could work out the nitty gritty details of the proposal since the wedding was already arranged."
What's more, "It can be empowering to know what you want and to go for it," says Holly Richmond, PhD, certified sex and relationship therapist. And while there's really no exact timeline for when you're ready to get married, sometimes it starts by initiating conversations about things that don't require a signature on contracts or down payments right away—such as budgets, guest lists, and wedding designs (easy things to fantasize about!) Then, work your way up to the heavier ideas like location, payment, rings, and photographers.
But, before you go chasing your white horse and chariot, come back to reality for a sec: Is this what you want? Are you and your partner there yet? Should you wait for the actual question? Should you do the asking? Is your relationship ready to make the step of confirming ya’ll are pre-ancés (aka, pre-fiancés)?
No matter how much money or headaches or drama you'll avoid by starting the process early, remember: talk to your partner! "Don’t rush it because you have a vision of what it should look like," says Richmond.
"The wedding lasts one day. A marriage? Hopefully a lifetime."
Wishful thinking alone doesn’t always work well in this type of sitch, so if you want to book a venue or buy a dress pre-engagement, make sure your partner acknowledges that, yeah, you actually will soon be engaged. Or, at the very least, get that shit insured!
Start with an “I’m Curious” conversation with your partner to gauge his or her interest. Say: "I’m curious what you think about our future," or “I’m curious what you think our marriage will look like,” advises Richmond. Not only does this validate your partner’s ideas and opinion, but it opens the door to direct conversation about marriage, too.
And if you are really ready to get married, move forward to create the life you envisioned, even if it means you’re the one getting on your knee (literally or figuratively). It’s 2018, girl, sometimes we gotta take action into our own hands.
Just don’t get too caught up on the superficial stuff, alright? No matter how excited you may be for your on-sale A-symmetrical neckline, getting married is really about the lurve deep down.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.