Hi SMP readers! I'm Marianne, the blogger and bride-to-be behind the style and beauty blog, The M. A. Times. My fiancé, Ryan, and I got engaged in November of 2016 in the Tuileries Garden in Paris, France. That day was an absolute fairy tale! I met Ryan a little over five years ago, and realized very quickly I wanted him to be my forever. We took our sweet time dating, soaking up every second, until the moment that every girl dreams of happened that morning in Paris November 2, 2016. To say it's been a whirlwind since our engagement would be the understatement of the century! Upon getting engaged that day in Paris, both of us had an idea of how we thought our wedding day would look. We immediately started chatting about plans, and of course, pinning our hearts out with inspiration from Pinterest. When we came back from Paris (aka back down to reality), and as we conversed with family about the news, our plans quickly shifted. With lots of varying ideas and opinions about our big day clouding my vision, I took a step back from planning our wedding. Fast-forward to over a year later, and we have just started the process of setting a date, picking a venue, and getting full-force into wedding planning. While taking our time planning used to make me feel like the worst fiancé in the world, I've realized having a long engagement is actually one of the best things I could have done for Ryan and me, and ultimately our future together. It’s not for everyone, but keep reading below if you’re anything like me to see why drawing out your wedding planning process can actually end up being the right decision you in the long-haul! Getting your vision clear I’ve quickly learned that when planning a wedding, Pinterest suddenly becomes both your best friend and your worst enemy. Truth be told, even prior to my engagement, I had a secret wedding board where I kept ideas for my “dream wedding”. The more I pinned, the more one thing became clear: my vision wasn’t clear. Everything on Pinterest is beautiful, and it took lots of combing through picture perfect pins to find exactly what suited us best for our wedding day, and ultimately what our aesthetic and vibe would be. Picking your ideal date During our first stab at the planning process, we checked with some of our ideal venues for availability. Like many brides, I had my perfect time of year in mind for my ceremony. However, I was served a quick dose of reality when I realized how quickly venues and churches book up – especially if you want to get married in peak season. Though it’s completely realistic to plan a wedding in under a year, it may also require a dose of luck (or lots of compromise) if you’re hoping to have your first choice of venues and vendors available on that day too. Planning so far ahead has definitely cut down on some of that stress! Budgeting & Saving If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that weddings aren’t cheap! Though I consider myself fortunate that I have traditional parents willing to pay for our wedding, I also knew I’d like to financially contribute to the big day as well. Having a little over two years from the time we got engaged to the day we say “I do”, has allowed both Ryan and I time to put away some pennies for the extra elements we could enjoy having at our wedding. Enjoying the Process Though the question of “Are you two ever going to actually get married?” has gotten a little bit old at times, I still wouldn’t do it differently if I could. I’ve seen so many couples rush through the process and before they know it, they are happily husband and wife. I’ve loved soaking up every moment of this new stage of our lives together – after all, we won’t ever get to be just engaged again! We’ve grown so much as a couple already and having marriage to look forward to in the future has made the last year of engagement that much sweeter. As excited as we are about tying the knot, we’ve also had a fairly stress-free and laid-back engagement being able to take our time with decisions, and truly enjoy the planning process.