How long for engagement?


My girlfriend of 1.5 years and I are both sophomores in college, and have already discussed getting married and have agreed that we will after we graduate (in December '08 tentatively), which puts our wedding approximately around March or April 2009.

My question pertains to the length of our engagement. At this point, we have kept our marriage talks just between the two of us, and haven’t told our parents or anyone else, so it’s not really an “official” engagement yet. I will be leaving for the summer for an internship in St. Louis, and I am thinking very hard about officially proposing before I leave. This would give us an approximate 2 year “official” engagement. What is a good length of time to be engaged to be able to take care of everything and properly prepare ourselves? Keep in mind we need to do things such as take NFP classes, find a place to live, figure out finances, plan the wedding, etc. What is an appropriate amount of time?


There is no right or wrong answer here. It’s an individual situation. At your age, and in your situation, 2 years is not an unreasonable engagement period. For others, that would be overkill.

The church requires 6 months for marriage prep. In many parts of the country the actual logistics take a year or more-- some wedding reception locations book up 12-18 months in advance in other places they do not.

DH and I got engaged at Christmas and got married 8 months later.


One interesting note to ponder : It takes 6-7 years for a priest or nun to actually become a priest or nun. This whole process is a time discernment and prayer to make sure they are making the right choice. Also, if it takes 4-5 years just to get a Bachelors degree how much more time should we spend determining if marriage is right for us? Just some thoughts to ponder.


Well typical wedding planning schedules are based on a year-long engagement. Doing it quicker is possible but can be stressful if your wedding is not going to be very simple. Taking longer will relieve a small amount of stress - but many aspects of wedding planning can’t be done THAT far in advance, so it won’t help too much, unless you live in a place where you need longer notice than that to reserve the church or the hall.

NFP will require a minimum of one month of abstaining. But 3 months is a reasonable amount of time to have prior to the wedding to really learn it. Nothing wrong with learning it a little earlier though - but obviously, there will be aspects of of it you won’t understand until you are having marital relations, so you really don’t NEED to do this too far in advance - aside from just calling enough in advance to make sure there is a class available.

Again, unless you live in a place where there are waiting lists for housing or your finances severely limit your abilities to find housing, you won’t need more than a few months to find a place to live.

So, I think as long as you’ve got at least a year, you’ll be able to get everything done. More than that is fine, although there are some who say that long engagements can cause temptations to sin against chastity, so you may want to consider if you want to make it longer than you need to. I also suggest that you set the wedding date as soon as you get engaged. If it’s too early to set a date, then it’s too early to be engaged.

God Bless your discernment.


I’ve been told the Church recommends between 6mos to a year. I could be wrong about this, maybe it was just a priest who recommended this. I’d say it’s completely dependent on your situation and you and your girilfriend. I wouldn’t rush into anything, seeing as you have plenty of time, but pray about it and maybe seek the opinion of a priest or your parents or hers.

I will say one thing - the engagement period is a time of great growth, but also the hardest as far as chastity is concerned. You’re making plans to become one, but you aren’t there yet, so it’s more tempting. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to overcome temptation, or that it will be a huge struggle for you.

My husband and I were engaged for a little over a year and most of it was during our senior year of college. Planning was easy because it was spread out over such a long period of time and I spent my breaks doing a lot of wedding planning. Depending on the type and size of wedding you want, where you live, etc. depends on how much time you will need. Also, if you are at school and plan to get married somewhere else, pre-cana and NFP classes could be difficult, although you could possibly find a parish that is nearby to offer either/both of these.

Anyway, you and your girlfriend will be in my prayers :). This is an exciting time! :slight_smile:


I don’t have any expert advice to offer you, but I can tell you what my bf and I are doing.

We’ve been dating for almost two years and know we will one day be married. Always having been advised against long engagements, we had decided a few months ago that it would be prudent to wait until there was not much more than 18 mos (or maybe 2 years… still seemed kind of long to us) before we planned on getting married.

Having seen some of his engaged cousins, I know that the first question out of everyone’s mind is “So when’s the big day?” and it seemed, well, exhausting, to have to explain to people that it was somewhere in the not-so-distant future, and that we’re using the time as discernment.

But, especially as we’re feeling called by God to marry sooner (see my other thread, lol!) AND because our ideas about engagement are shifting just a bit… the engagement is probably coming sooner than next winter as we had originally planned. :smiley:

Our reason is that, really, we’re hitting a wall in our discernment process. Honestly, we have felt engaged in our hearts and minds for awhile now. We need the support of friends and family, and can really only determine exactly when God is calling us to marriage through counseling from a priest and by looking more acutely/realistically at marriage in pre-cana. For us it seems best to get engaged soon, even if that might mean an engagement of over two years. It would be best for our relationship.

That said, don’t take what people on here say about the challenges of chastity during a long engagement lightly! If you’re like us, though, you already are feeling a tug towards desiring the emotional/spiritual/physical intimacy of marriage as you have realized your vocation with one another. It just won’t get easy, even when distracted by wedding/future planning, I’m sure!

So basically, do what is best for your relationship. Do what God is calling you to. No, long engagements are not the best thing in the world… but I really think they’re understandable, especially when one is waiting because of college, and if it’s done for the right reasons.

Best of luck to you, you’re in my prayers!


My observation has been that, in the absence of a compelling reason that a marriage can’t take place sooner (like a unchangeable separation due to school or a military deployment) engagements longer than two summers usually result in the date being moved up or the wedding called off. I think when you get really serious, all that waiting gets to be too much.

That does not include all those couples that everybody just *knew *were going to marry but who never got around to saying so. My advice would be to announce your engagement around the time that you are ready to set a date. For purposes of reserving a site for a summer wedding, that tends to be the May or June the year before your wedding. Once you start wearing the ring, you’re going to want to get the process going.

As for NFP and getting one’s finances in order, I don’t see a reason that a young adult wouldn’t want to just have that done as a matter of course, plans or no plans. As the commercial goes, “Life comes at you fast.” NFP works the best for those women who’ve had the most opportunity to use what they learn get to know their own body well. As for finances, they say that those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

No reason not to start now…and you can be set to go in six months. (Couples who find themselves unexpectedly facing inevitable consequences have been known to do it far faster than that!)


Personally, I think there should be no engagement until ducks are in a row and the couple can actually start planning a wedding.

By ducks, I mean a place to live, knowing they can pay their bills etc. --KCT


my opinion is that six months is an appropriate period of time. If you can’t be ready (living arrangements, finances) in six months, then you aren’t ready for an engagment.

However, some parishes require longer. My parish says nine months, but I don’t know who seriously they enforce it.


Well, I am currently 19 years old and still in college, but I really feel a calling by God that this is what is right for us. I am going to propose by the time I leave. Thank you for your advice everyone, and God bless. May you be as happy in your lives as I know I will be in mine.


No matter how much time you give yourselves, you will need it all- and everything will somehow be done in that time frame :wink:

I’m in the middle of a 22 month engagment (less than 16 months left :thumbsup: ) and while it’s pretty long it’s working well because I booked all the big things early and got 2006 prices, not 07 or 08. Plus we did FOCCUS in the fall and have marriage prep in a few weeks. This way we have lots of time to work any potential problems out (though really- we already know what they are). And I’ve been doing my homework on NFP, and if we can we’ll take a class. I have to finish university also (he is long done school).

In my parish marriage prep is only once a year so you pretty much need a year’s engagment, or go searching for the class at another church.

It can be done in way less time, but I’m a lower-my-stress kinda girl, so having extra time has worked out nicely. AND I have all this extra time to show off my ring :stuck_out_tongue:

Best of luck!


Our engagement is going on 2 years come June, and we are marrying in November.

I remember when we anounced the engagement and the wedding date that many people warned us about the pressure of having sex. I guess their thinking was a boyfriend and girlfriend won’t have sex, but if they get engaged, they will really want to have sex. :rolleyes:

Well, we’re doing just fine in that department. :slight_smile: I haven’t noticed any stress or pressure due to that and we are staying on plan.

I think the reason is we decided about marriage and when and how to get there long before we could get married due to school. So becoming engaged was simply making it official.

If you know that you’re going to get married and it’s simply a long time aways for other reasons (such as school or the military) then an engagement might be just an official way of saying you are agreed on it.

The only problem we have had is with others, such as coworkers and friends, wondering when the planning is going to start. They seem more impatient then we are!



We attended an engaged encounter last year and will take more marriage prep over the summer.

I also have friends ready to cater and decorate as wedding gifts, and we got an outrageous discount on invitiations by buying off-season.

I liken our engagement to a person taking their first vows or attending the seminary. It is a good time to take it slowly and develop before accepting the full responsibility and sacrifice of marriage.


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