Here’s the Average Length of Engagement for Couples
The duration of your engagement is ultimately up to you, but many couples are waiting at least a year before exchanging vows. According to our 2018 Real Weddings Study, the average engagement length for U.S. couples was 13.6 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. We say there's no "wrong" or "right" length of time to be engaged—every relationship is different, and you and your partner should decide what's best for you.
Similarly, there’s no science behind popping the question. In fact, the length of time couples dated before the engagement varied widely. According to The Knot 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, three-fourths of all couples who exchanged vows this year dated for two or more years before getting engaged. However, 30 percent of couples dated for less than two years—and nearly half of those couples dated for less than a year.
The takeaway? How long you decide to be engaged is completely up to you. But if you’re on the fence about how long you should wait before saying “I Do,” here are a few things to consider when it comes to your time frame.
Pros of a Long Engagement
While the average engagement length in 2018 was 13.6 months, there are some benefits of having a longer engagement. If you and your partner are long distance, busy with other commitments, 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 an opportunity to engage in premarital education, so that they can learn skills that help improve marriage. Couples who want to practice healthy relationship habits can use the extra time to download and use Lasting, the number one marriage health app.
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 on vendors and get the best deals possible.
For some couples, those extra savings are important, as weddings can cost a fair amount of money. According to our 2018 Real Weddings study, the average cost of a wedding is $33,931. Our study found that couples typically pay for 41 percent of the wedding (while parents of the bride contribute 44 percent and parents of the groom contribute 14 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 wedding logistics, especially if you’re without a wedding planner and you’re hiring a range of vendors. (Our Real Weddings study found that couples hired about 10 professional vendors for their wedding day in 2018.).
Another pro of a long engagement? More time to think about personalizing your wedding. More and more couples are adding thoughtful details to their wedding day for a unique experience with 70 percent of all couples having at least one signature element (like a photo booth, food trucks, signature cocktails or a creative theme) at the reception. If having those sweet and special details are important to you, a longer engagement allots 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 wedding. "One of the problems with an extended engagement is the level of excitation 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 is that it gives you and your partner less time to stress out. Let’s face it: while wedding planning 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 or a three-year engagement—and enjoy this special time in your lives.
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