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    7 Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Got Engaged

    Crotchless panties are not always the answer.

    1. There's no such thing as the right time to get engaged.

    Fox Searchlight

    You know when you know, right? As unhelpful as that statement is, it turns out to be true.

    My partner and I had known each other for nine years before we knew we were ready for engagement. We'd covered pretty much everything by then. We'd had an initial friendship, a teenage relationship, a grown-up friendship, and then an adult relationship. Things were serious. So serious that he once held a cardboard bowl for me to pee in while I was in hospital with a kidney infection. (A word of advice, ladies: If they stick around after you pee a little bit on their wrist, lock that shit down. )

    Our mutual split during uni turned out to be the best thing we ever did for our relationship. We stayed friends, met up throughout our years apart for coffee, and eventually, after five years, ended up single and in the same town at the same time.

    We got back together to see what happened, and when we realised that nothing we'd found apart even remotely matched up to what we had together, we knew it was the right time for us to get engaged.

    2. A proposal is about so much more than the ring.

    New Line

    As far as I'm concerned, anyone who says a woman can't have a hand in the selection of her engagement ring is absolutely wrong. Of course we can, if we want to; we're the ones wearing the damn things.

    Once we'd had the "I'm ready if you're ready" conversation, my then-boyfriend and I had an afternoon of browsing jewellery shops. I decided I wanted an emerald on a gold band, and then left the rest up to him. Fast-forward eight or so months, and we're in the Yves St Laurent Gardens in Marrakech. It's around 8:30am, and it's my birthday. I turn around from taking a photograph of a particularly Instagram-ready potted plant and he's down on one knee. I scream and leap backwards into aforementioned potted plant.

    Neither of us can remember what was said, or what happened next. I do remember that his hands were shaking, and the sun came out, and he had to prompt me for an answer. But that's pretty much it. I'd imagined all of those things. But what I hadn't imagined was that when he opened the ring box, it would be the least interesting thing about the whole situation. It received a cursory glance before we hugged (both of us), began breathing again (him), and cried (me).

    It wasn't until after this that I actually looked at the ring itself. It wasn't what I had expected: It was an emerald, yes, but not the picture I'd had in my mind's eye. But do you know what? I fell in love with it instantly. Because what really matters is what that ring means: It's a symbol of our relationship, and it's a symbol of those perfect few moments on a sunny Saturday morning in Morocco.

    3. Dealing with in-laws is an art form in itself.

    Universal

    I didn’t meet my in-laws until we got engaged. Before then, I’d never fully grasped just how many opportunities there are in an average day to totally fuck things up with a group of strangers.

    The first time I met my father-in-law, I pretty much licked his temple when trying to kiss him on the cheek. The first time I went to their house, I had a minor panic attack in the car outside, clutching a bunch of Tesco chrysanthemums. Once inside, I’d never wished my partner and I had telepathic qualities so much. Can I put my feet on the sofa, I wanted to ask him, or will your mother slap my feet away in disgust? Will I offend your ancestors if I refuse a second portion of dinner?

    Once everyone stopped being so damn polite, we all finally got a chance to get to know each other. I won’t pretend it’s been totally plain sailing. We’ve had to learn each other’s boundaries and quirks. There have been a few awkward AF conversations, and one or two passive-aggressive texts. But now time has passed, adjusting to my new family is not only easier, it’s truly enjoyable. I’m from a pretty small family, and had never imagined a future with three new siblings, three new (utterly adorable) grandparents, and dozens of new cousins. And it was only natural that I’d get on with his parents. After all, they’re each half of the guy I’m getting married to. I put my feet on their sofas now and everything.

    4. Be prepared for the baby questions to start rolling in.

    Blunt Cards

    I had a flat with a spare room and a car before I realised what every young woman who grew up in a teenage-pregnancy town one day realises. I was no longer at the age where a pregnancy would be met with disappointed sighs and strategically left-about-the-house leaflets. From that point on, it would be met with cooing and balloons.

    Pretty much the exact instant that I escaped the "So when are you getting engaged?!" questions and had answered the wedding day questions, the baby questions began in earnest. And not just questions, full-on statements, like "Ooh you'll have kids of your own before you know it!" Or the even worse "Will we be seeing an extra flower girl on the wedding day then?" It is always me these comments are directed towards, I might add. As If I'm capable of immaculate conception, and my fiancé is just there to hold the bags. (In actual fact, only one of those things is correct.)

    Thankfully, my partner and I both adore babies and can't wait to have a little brood of our own one day. We've got our names sorted and everything. But that's not right now, or in fact anytime soon. We've both got a ton of travelling, working, and sleeping in until 2pm on Sundays to do before then.

    5. You will freak out about a possible wedding cancellation at least once.

    HBO

    You know that bit in Sex and the City: The Movie when Big tells Carrie he's not coming to the wedding? And Samantha, Utter Goddess that she is, says: "I'll stay here and take care of all of this." We follow Carrie outside and watch her pummel the big-eyebrowed MORON with her bouquet. Well you know what I wanted to see? What Samantha did next. Because how the piss do you cancel a wedding?

    Now, this is not to say I've factored a casual cancellation speech into my wedding plans. But I can't say the whole thing hasn't crossed my mind. Because how many people do you inconvenience if you cancel your engagement? A maximum of two, potentially just the one if your other half is pretty breezy about it. But how many if you cancel a wedding? Hundreds, nay, thousands (it seems). "But what about the lovely cheeseboard lady?" I'd be wailing as I was led off to a side room. "She came all the way from Sheffield!" I'd only have to hope that my bridesmaid Aggie would whisk me off to Mexico. And my other bridesmaid Amy would shit her pants.

    6. It's pretty normal for your sex life to die down amid wedding planning stress.

    Universal

    We all know that one slightly miserable married person who weirdly loves to boast about how little sex they have now. Well, once you announce that you too are headed in the marriage direction, they really get into their stride.

    As it turns out (and while it pains me to say this), there can be a, shall we say, reduction. In fact, it can even happen in the engagement period.

    After a while, we got comfortable and busy; I'm now of the opinion that these are the two primary killers of a sex life. It led to a, um, dry spell, in every sense of the word.

    First, I tried to fix it. I even bought crotchless sodding panties from Ann Summers, for god's sake. But it took any sort of real sex-for-sex's-sake out of it. So we tried accepting it. This turned out to be way more effective (soz, Ann). We got back into the swing of things and now we're back to normal. And you know the best bit? (Other than the sex, obv.) Knowing that if it happens again, we won't need to freak out about it. And I won't need to waste another £16 on a few pieces of string.

    7. Having doubts doesn't mean you've made a mistake.

    Paramount

    I knew my guy was a good egg when I was 16. Five years later, I realised that not only was he a good egg, he was a marriable egg. He checks all of my boxes. He makes me laugh in the most unattractive way (aka the best way), he's up for getting a kitten one day, and he treats me like the queen I've always suspected I might in fact be.

    But you know the fear you get after one too many sambucas? Turns out that happens after you get engaged too. Thankfully, for me, it was a fleeting, logical conversation I had with myself one night, not some hysterical phone call to my mother. But it would be dishonest to pretend I hadn't wondered about things for a few minutes. Was I really going to be able to look at his face every day and not want to stab it with the closest implement to hand? Was I honestly happy to be giving up all and any one-night stands with wildly inappropriate strangers?

    Asking myself these things was hard, but realising that the answers were all a resounding yes was pretty damn wonderful.

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