I remember when Aaron and I got engaged. It was such a wonderful night for us. He surprised me and popped the question on a Wed night in front of our entire student ministry at our church. He was a youth pastor and we had been dating for a little over a year. Our parents were in on it and they were there as well. I had no clue and was super surprised. It was sweet and romantic and I bet if you ask those kids that were there that night, they remember it as well.
When we set out to plan our wedding, we were going to get married in October, and that would give us 8 months since we were engaged on Valentine's Day. Then as we started looking ahead to the 8 months ahead of us we pushed it to August. That was 6 months and much better. After a few weeks we looked at our calendars again and settled on June 22, four months from when we were engaged. After my moms initial freak out we began planning and everything came together. She was the one doing all the work, so she was allowed one freak out!
I don't remember much about our engagement period. I have no idea what store the bridesmaids dresses were from. I couldn't tell you what florist did our flowers, or what the name of our photographer was, but I do remember that Aaron and I struggled more with our physical relationship during our engagement than we had in our dating time. It's as if something clicks and all of a sudden you want to just kiss all day long and touch each other everywhere. I can't explain it, but if you have been through this before then you get it. It's as if your brain begins to tell you all the stuff you hadn't done before is okay now because you are eventually going to marry this man.
I found this picture the other day and it brought back those weeks before we were married. I know that this picture was taken at Aaron's parents church for a shower for us. I think that this picture was taken about 2 weeks before we were married. The reason I know that is because I remember what happened before we went to that party. We were hanging out in our soon to be apartment and we started making out. Now I'm so very thankful that Aaron and I actually had a very pure physical relationship. VERY. But this day we did more than we had, even though that was not that much compared to what it could have been, and I remember feeling like when we walked into the room at his parents church that everyone would know! ha!
Whenever I meet someone who is engaged I talk about two things with them. #1 is how things change physically. You are automatically going to want to do more with this person because you have just made a huge commitment to them. You are committing to give them your whole self on your wedding day and that's big. Your level of commitment just jumped a hundred steps. No longer are you just dating with a way out, but you are now engaged. Big deal. It is super easy to justify going further and further now since you are committed to marriage with this person.
I encourage couples to up their boundaries. You know what boundaries you need, so there's no reason for me to list them out here, talk about these with your fiancé. Figure out what is best for you guys and stick to it. Ask good friends around you to keep you accountable. For Aaron and I we were never alone at his apartment or my house. Ever. Except those few hours before that shower and look what happened. No kidding. We were really strict about this and I know it helped us stay pure in our relationship. Maybe you need to check in with friends on dates. Maybe you need to pull back the reigns on how much you do physically. These are precious months and not only is it a time to plan a wedding, but it's a time to grow closer spiritually with one another and that's hard to do with your pants down.
#2 thing I tell them is that they can always get out. No one likes it when I say this and I can understand why, but I still say it. I think everyone should know that you can always get out of an engagement. In fact what a better time to get out if you are having second thoughts. Why wait until your married to figure this out. I was engaged to another man before Aaron and I began dating and what if I had never acted on my second thoughts I was having? I'm thankful that I truly listened to the Holy Spirit and didn't just push these thoughts down as nerves, but I truly explored them and eventually broke off the engagement. I'm not out to break off people's engagements, I just want women to never feel stuck. I want them to truly know they love this man and he is the right one for them.
When Aaron and I were engaged I could have never imagined what our live would look like 12 years from then. Four kids, 3 of them through adoption, living in Austin, working at an amazing church, me getting stay home, all the adventures we have been on … the list could go on and on. If you are planning a wedding, know that this season will pass and you will be left with the man you love. Invest in that relationship. Don't let the stress of planning a wedding overwhelm the purpose of this time to grow closer with your man and the LORD.