Yvonne Ncube, Showbiz Reporter
IF you recently said “Yes” to the big question, “will you marry me?”, you might be wondering how long you have to wait until you tie the knot.
Already, your mood has been lit up and all you hear are wedding bells.
You would also probably want to start window-shopping for the white gown.
You daydream about what theme you would prefer.
Already your excitement has been amplified so is the anxiety.
Trust me when I say it’s not only you curiously waiting for the sound of wedding bells, but the whole community is secretly curious too.
Over the years, the average length of an engagement has fluctuated.
In recent years, the average is around 13 to 15 months, as couples with varying budgets and circumstances prepare to say “I do”.
While other couples prefer short engagements to ensure that the excitement is not lost, others prefer longer engagements to guarantee the organisation of the wedding they want.
When it comes to saving money so that you can spend it all on your dream day, long engagements can be more beneficial than short ones.
However, extra time on the other hand can make the bride or groom impatient.
There is no written rule when it comes to an engagement length, it is more about the couple’s preference and how much planning is needed.
The duration of the engagement is entirely dependent on the couple but many couples often wait for not more than two years before exchanging vows.
Other engagements are a month short while others last years.
However, every couple is different.
Similarly, there’s no science behind popping the question just like the length of time couples dated before engagement is varied widely.
Contemporary engagements’ average length has dropped compared to yesteryear engagements where couples could spend more than 10 years or even a lifetime without wedding.
Experts have said a shorter engagement would make sense if the couple has been together for a long time and the marriage is just for formality, while a long engagement would be suitable for couples who have been together for a year or less.
Africa is rich in traditions and culture.
When it comes to weddings especially, people tend to make sure that every procedure is followed because a wedding in Africa is not only the joining of two people but the union of two families.
Most of these traditions include the spending of money hence a number of males who spoke to Chronicle Showbiz said these practices contribute to prolonged engagements as they eat into the budget.
Nkosilathi Ndlovu, a Bulawayo resident said the length of the engagement is determined by money at the groom’s disposal.
“I always tell people that when you decide to take the next step in your relationship with your girlfriend, make sure that you have reserved as much money as possible.
This is because once you have engaged her, you have put her hopes up about marriage.
Also, relatives from both parties will now be expecting marriage.
“However, it also has to be considered that the man has to follow a number of cultural procedures in order to marry.
These include isivulamlomo where you are expected to pay money for the in-laws to talk to you.
Mangaziwe where a man has to make himself known to the bride’s family also comes with an expense and lobola (dowry) itself among others.
“You find that all these expenses are directed to the man while the woman, on the other hand, has none.
That’s also the reason why many African engagements prolong and exceed five years.
However, if one budgets enough money before taking a step further in their relationship, they can wed in just a year after the engagement, which I think is the ideal life span of an engagement,” Ndlovu said.
Another resident Takunda Hove said there is no reason to wait after you have identified your soul mate.
“Three to five months is the ideal length of an engagement! Once you decide to marry someone, why wait?
The longer the engagement, the more you start to question things when your first instinct is usually the right one.
Of course, I am not saying plan your whole wedding in one week.
“Set yourself up for success by settling into the process slowly and then give yourself time to plan.
I think the ideal engagement length should not exceed a year.
If you share an anniversary during the planning period or see an entire cycle of seasons change, you’ve been planning too long,” he said.
Hove however said, it all depends on the couple although the shorter it takes, the better.
“A slightly shorter engagement keeps things exciting and means less time to get pulled in different directions by family and friends.
Longer than that, you are likely to change decisions every now and then which will seem out of order at the end of the day.”
One Emmanuel Nxongo said people need to take time to know each other before they marry thereby subscribing to engagements as long as five years.
“Relationships evolve from the moment someone wants to be more than friends and the moment you step into that zone, you start to view things differently.
The moment you propose, you are saying you are prepared to wed that person and live the rest of your life with them.
“However, it is not yet a guarantee, but it is a promise or an insight of your intentions.
Living the rest of your life with someone is scary, thus people need more time to know each other after the engagement because this is a decision that will affect your entire life.
“The moment you take the huge step, you get a new revelation of things.
You start to view things differently thus why I advocate that an engagement should not have a time limit.
Whenever you feel that yes this is the time then that’s it.
“Even if it takes 10 years that’s fine.
That’s why some people wed when they already have three or four children.
There should not be pressure when making lifelong decisions,” Nxongo said.
Andile Moyo said an engagement should not exceed a year.
She said more than a year proves that the other party is not decided.
“When your fiancée starts to delay the wedding after an engagement, it shows that he’s not sure about the step he has just taken.
When a man has decided that this is what I want to do, I’m sure that he can go against all odds to achieve it so crying about finances is just an excuse.
“If he’s to delay, it should not exceed two years. More than that it is extreme patience,” Moyo said.
Article Source: The Chronicle