By KATE HUNTER
On Monday night I set the cat amongst the turtle doves with what I thought was a light-hearted status update on Facebook.
There had been a story on iVillage that day about Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux being reluctant to set a wedding date, a year after their engagement. My opinion was that you get engaged and set a date. Sooner rather than later. It’s a sign you’re serious. That didn’t go down well.
I don’t think Jen and Justin are lying awake, troubled by my comments. They seem very happy.
In an interview with Us Weekly, Jennifer Aniston said,
“We just want to do it when its perfect and we’re not rushed and no one is rushing from a job or rushing to a job. You know, we already feel married.”
So why get married at all? I wondered. Is it the party? The recognition? I’m genuinely curious.
I didn’t mean they don’t seem serious about each other. No doubt they’re committed to their relationship, but the marriage part? That’s easily pushed down the to-do list.
Not that there’s anything wrong with not being married.
These days it’s is an optional extra. If you’re into that kind of thing, great. If not, no worries.
There’s no shame in living together and divorce is invariably painful but entirely possible.
Babies are born into happily unmarried families every day.
So I completely get not getting married.
What I don’t understand is the endless engagement. People who announce breathlessly that they’re engaged, but when asked, ‘When’s the wedding?’ they say, ‘Maybe late 2017 or early 2018,’ or, ‘When the renovation’s finished,’ or ‘We haven’t even thought about it! We just want to enjoy being ENGAGED!’
Maybe I’m showing my age, but I’ve always felt you get engaged to get married. And an engagement should last as long as it takes to plan a wedding, in my opinion, that’s 6 to 12 months.
Clearly I’m a dinosaur, and a judgey one at that.
Facebook commenters told me, very sharply, that being engaged means a whole raft of different things to different people these days and who the hell was I to question their reasons:
There were three main reasons offered for getting engaged and not setting the wedding wheels in motion:
1) Money. This was the biggie. Apparently the average wedding in Australia costs $40,000 and it can take years to put that kind of cash away. If you’re also saving for a house, raising kids, studying or travelling the wedding could be a decade or more off.
I wonder though, if people are really dead-set on being married, why not opt for a simpler wedding? Call me romantic but I love reading about war brides. Girls getting married in the same beige dress their sister war the week before. Hurried weddings in faraway churches. Random witnesses and one black and white snapshot to remember it by. Sigh.
2) Time. I was told that most people need YEARS to plan a wedding. It takes time to wrangle relatives, sort out the seating, book the primo venue and negotiate with the photographer. Then there’s THE dress – and the bridesmaid’s frocks. The ‘event’ wedding is such a THING now.
Having the right kind of wedding is more important than getting married for a lot of people. That’s not a criticism, or a judgement – it’s a fact. If it wasn’t we’d all getting hitched at the registry office, not taking years and forking out forty grand.
3) Credibility. An engagement says, ‘Please take us seriously, WE’RE ENGAGED! He’s not my partner, boyfriend or defacto – he’s my FIANCE!’
In a time where some sixteen year old girls living with their parents refer to their boyfriends as ‘partners‘ you need to up the ante and getting engaged is the way to go. Some couples even plan it, years ahead, ‘Oh, we’ll get engaged Christmas after next,’ said a girl I once worked with.
‘Surely that’s like making an appointment to make an appointment?’ I thought, but didn’t say.
One man I know – who shall remain anonymous for his own safety – gave me his thoughts: ‘Lots of men get engaged to stop their girlfriends hassling them. Women are so set on a dream wedding, the whole thing can be put off for years. Possibly forever.’
What do you think being engaged means in 2013?