Here's the Average Engagement Length for Couples

Engagements range from weeks to years—but the average length may surprise you.
kim forrest the knot
by
Kim Forrest
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
Senior Editor
  • Kim writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in etiquette and planning advice
  • Kim manages freelance writers for The Knot Worldwide
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Kim was Associate Bridal Editor at Washingtonian magazine and Associate Fashion Editor at Conde Nast’s Brides Local magazines
Updated Nov 27, 2023

The duration of your engagement is entirely up to you—some couples want to take their time, while others want to get married, like, yesterday. But what's the average engagement length in the U.S.? Well, we surveyed nearly 12,000 couples to get an idea of how long couples are waiting to wed, on average—and how it's changed over the past few years. We've also enlisted a relationship expert to share the benefits of both long and short engagements if you're on the fence about how long your engagement should last.

In this article:

What Is the Average Engagement Length?

According to The Knot 2022 Real Weddings Study, the average engagement length for U.S. couples was 15 months. Of course, it's important to keep in mind that this number is a national average and takes into account a variety of responses. Some engagements are shorter (like a month, for example) while others last for years.

The average length of an engagement has had a bit of a roller coaster ride over the past few years, due in no small part to the pandemic—it was 16 months in 2021, 15 months in 2020 and 14 months in 2019. It's important to note that couples were waiting longer to wed in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-related wedding postponements. At the time, those who postponed their weddings were engaged for an average of 24 months, which skewed the results. Thankfully, these postponements are a thing of the past, but whether due to COVID or not, the length of engagement has increased slightly in recent years. We're seeing couples take their time to plan a personalized and unique wedding and book their desired vendors well in advance, so a longer timeline makes sense.

Wondering about how long couples are dating before getting engaged? Turns out the length of time couples dated before the engagement varied widely. According to The Knot Jewelry and Engagement Study, three-fourths (72%) of all couples who exchanged vows this year dated for two or more years before getting engaged. However, 30 percent (28%) of couples dated for less than two years—and nearly half (47%) of those couples dated for less than a year.

Is There a "Normal" Length of Engagement?

The 15-month average length of an engagement is just that, an average based on data collected from thousands of couples. But, in our expert opinion, how long should an engagement last? Here's the TLDR: There's no such thing as a "normal" engagement length, and there's no "too long" or "too short" length of time to be engaged—every relationship is different, and you and your partner should decide what's best for you. If you're debating whether a long or short engagement is right for you, ​​here are a few things to consider when it comes to your time frame.\

Pros of a Long Engagement

While the current average length of an engagement is 15 months, there are some benefits of having a longer engagement. If you and your partner are long distance, busy with work or school, or would like more time to plan your celebration, a long engagement might be the best choice for your love story, according to experts.

"Long engagements are helpful when individuals are at significantly different places in their lives," says Scott Haltzman, M.D. So if you or your partner are still finishing school or living abroad at the moment, it might be better to start thinking about the wedding once you've completed those chapters in your lives—then your marriage can signify the start of a brand new one. Haltzman also says that a prolonged engagement gives couples extra time to engage in premarital education, so that they can learn skills that help improve marriage.

One of the most common benefits of a longer engagement is it means having more time to save. Couples also reported that an extended engagement allowed them to do thorough research and find vendors who can bring their vision to life.

For some couples, those extra savings are important, as weddings can cost a fair amount of money. According to our 2022 Real Weddings study, the average cost of a wedding is $35,800, including the price of the engagement ring. Our study found that couples typically pay for 49 percent of the wedding (while parents of the bride contribute 38 percent and parents of the groom contribute 13 percent). Because of the cost, some couples require more time to save up for their nuptials.

A longer engagement also means taking more time to plan and organize logistics, especially if you're without a wedding planner and you're hiring a range of vendors. (Our internal data found that couples hired about 14 professional vendors for their wedding day.) And with the current wedding boom still very much in effect, a longer lead time will give you more options when it comes to selecting your wedding pros, as many vendors are booking up years in advance.

Another pro of a long engagement? More time to think about personalizing your wedding. More and more couples are adding thoughtful details to their big day for a unique experience. Our Real Weddings study found that 58 percent of couples provided photo booths at the reception, while 27 percent arranged a musical performance, and 19 percent provided games. If having sweet and special details like these are important to you, a longer engagement allows you more time to plan them.

Pros of a Short Engagement

If the national average engagement length seems too long for you, perhaps a short engagement is the best route. A brief engagement may work better for you if you're eager to make big life decisions (like having children or moving in together).

Another advantage of having a shorter engagement? You, your partner and your loved ones will be extra excited about your nuptials. "One of the problems with an extended engagement is the level of excitement begins to diminish over time, not only with the person who is engaged to get married, but with friends and families as well," Haltzman says. According to real nearlyweds, this is a major pro of having a short engagement. Some couples claimed a shorter engagement time meant they could really soak up all the excitement in a condensed time period.

An extra benefit of a short engagement period is that it gives you and your partner less time to stress out. Let's face it: while the wedding planning process can be fun, it can also be overwhelming. Less time spent planning can mean less time to worry about all the tiny details so you can focus more on your love for each other.

So, there are pros and cons for both a long engagement and a short engagement. Our advice? Do what makes sense for you and your partner—whether that's a three-month, six-month or a three-year engagement—and enjoy this special time in your lives.

Maddy Sims contributed reporting to this article.

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