I’M GETTING MARRIED BUT IT’S NOT AN ACHIEVEMENT

A friend of mine recently got engaged to a very cool dude. In fact, they’re both so cool it hurts. As I was writing what would be your standard, customary congratulations in an email, I had to suddenly stop and think. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, and I must admit that this whole congratulations thing bothers me a tad. I got engaged almost 6 months ago and as much as I was on cloud 9 when it happened, I quickly felt anxious because I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to deliver what would be then asked of me.

The first part being, jumping around like a squirrel on bloody G with a really content grin screwed on my face while everyone is congratulating me, but not so much my other half, for getting engaged. This I can almost handle without you noticing that I want to scream with frustration, but more on that later.

What I struggle the most with is part 2 of the post engagement ceremony: ransacking WHSmith for whatever bridal content I find (that I did, peer pressure and FOMO. You know) while I sign up my whole posse to the next 3 London wedding fairs, already feeling merry about the idea of having bottomless glasses of Prosecco poured to us, as we leaf through swatches of table cloth and browse floral arrangements.

I knew people would expect me to act a tad dramatic and spoilt, because try and find a woman who wouldn’t jump at the chance when society has deemed the bridezilla status acceptable and completely relevant to modern humanity (!), I knew no one would have flinched at the sight of me walking to said wedding fairs crowned with an Accessorize tiara, whilst allowing my bridesmaids just a limited time to talk about anything else than me and how amazing I’m going to look on D-day. Urgh.

 

– So why the agony here?
– Well, where do I start?

The problem is, we’re ignoring a whole side of the story here. And it’s breathtakingly annoying.

In most cases, the man proposes to the wife to be, so maybe it seems fair to expect the women to take it from there. After all, he’s the one instigating this new jump in your lives so perhaps it’s only normal to consider his job done for the moment.

He has spoken and decided. He brought the diamonds, got you teary and mentioned wanting to spend the rest of his life with you. Do you see what bothers me here? The problem is not the proposal – it’s a beautiful thing, the issue is the misinterpretation that follows it.

Because he took his commitment up a notch, we’re now going to congratulate you, scream at the size of your diamonds and quickly get going with frantic wedmin plans, always making sure not to bother him so much with our girl stuff. People will of course congratulate the man, for the bravery it took him to ask I guess, or for the wonderful woman he just bagged, but rest assured that the woman will be congratulated even more. “Congratulations! Show me the ring! Oh you lucky girl, you’ve done well!” You even have girls who will give you the exact amount of time, including days and hours, it took their now fiancé to propose, which adds to the confusion again: is getting engaged an achievement?

When I said that we are ignoring a whole side of the story, I meant the man. It almost sounds like the woman achieved something grand here, she managed to find a man who wants to live with her for the rest of his life, and she even got a ring out of it. Little attention is given to his cut in the trade. After all, if he put a ring on it, I assume that’s because he’s getting a sweet deal himself.

So why do we expect women to go berserk at the brideziling- let’s make it a thing – so much that every bit of wedding related content is marketed for them only?

Because when it sounds like it’s some kind of reward, we’re flooding the world with even more unnecessary complexes. Getting engaged doesn’t sit in the trophy room, it’s mostly luck. You found someone you want to stay with forever, and it happens that the feeling’s mutual. You’re both sitting on the other side of the stalker spectrum but it doesn’t make any of you more special or capable than anyone else, it’s just compatibility at its best. And last time I checked, compatibility doesn’t validate someone, it’s plain random and not particularly fairly spread: Wasn’t Hitler married?
And in case you find this last example too dramatic, I can give you a long list of examples of terrible people who tied the knot too. Starting with Tom Cruise and Katie Hopkins.

While we’re at it, let’s stop with the congratulations altogether. The engagement in a new step in your life, so is each one of your birthdays and New Years. So instead of congratulations, I suggest we introduce “Happy Engagement” (I’m emailing Hallmark as we speak, don’t think you can overtake me on this) It’s a stage that we should welcome with blessings and warm wishes, not with congratulations.

Don’t get me wrong, I screamed at the size of Dewey, Huey and Louie, the diamonds on my ring, when I first met them on the South Bank. I had numerous bottles of prosecco (although I’d go with any excuse for a party) but that’s the wildest I’ve gone. I’m sure the wedding day is going to be a beauty, but I don’t lose sleep over organizing it, at all. I have friends giving me space because they assume I must be busy organizing the wedding! Bring back the party please, I’ll have to be on my best behaviour on the D-day (grandparents, relatives you last saw in the 90s, and all that) so can we be naughty now and have a Happy Engagement?

More than the wedding day, it’s the idea of the lifelong marriage, the friends and family I’m getting closer to through these past months of celebration, that keep me excited!

I’m getting married but it’s not an achievement. We’re just as bad as we used to be before the dazzling trio came in, but immensely happy to be lucky enough to share the same feelings and agenda. No congratulations de rigueur then, just a Happy Engagement and countless more glasses of champagne.

I’d love to read your thoughts on that – watchathink?

Freddie x

By Freddie

Paris-born, London-based All smiles sass bag, personal stylist, confidence consultant & Top UK fashion blogger. I help women claim their confidence and power back through workshops and videos. Frankie's not my name.

Comments (17)
  1. Colour Me In July 24, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    This post beautifully and eloquently engages in an issue that is too often ignored! I absolutely agree with you; an engagement is a celebration of love between two, not just a performance and party for the bride-to-be. Love this post, and happy engagement to you both! x

  2. Mwape July 25, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Great article! I agree with you. I’m tired of people thinking of the wedding as the woman’s “big day.” It’s a mahoosive day for you both. You both made the decent to spend the rest of your lives together, navigating this meandering road called life. You both deserve commendations for this brave choice. He only bought the ring because he’s the man, and he did “find a good thing. ” I hope your Tom (I think this is his name) is taking it all in his stride. Happy engagement Frankie and Tom. God bless x x

    • Frankie July 27, 2015 at 11:18 am

      Ahahahah Tom is a lucky guy, isn’t he? But you’re right, that’s exactly what I was saying in another comment, I really hope that an engagement comes after a conversation both members of a couple had; then there’s definitely no reason to see it as an achievement for the woman! Thank you very much for your wishes my darling xxxx

  3. s. badiyah austin July 25, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    while i do agree: getting engaged is no “achievement”, the process is made out to be one because it HAS been left all up to the man. that’s the feminist in you that denounces such.

    after-all…it is he who you are waiting for to “pop the question” (not the other way around), he who goes out and buys that expensive diamond ring. so i suppose, the congratulations is for landing a man who is willing to go through the traditional process of doing something that you both want to do anyway.

    after-all…what if he just said “let’s get married and forget this whole ring thing, eh”?

    your love would still be there…but i bet you wouldn’t squeal 😉

    • Frankie July 27, 2015 at 11:15 am

      Ahaha I don’t think that the fact that I squeal or not changes anything since I’m talking about the engagement in itself, not so much the proposal. I don’t think that I should be congratulated because I’m getting married, diamonds set aside. Or because I met someone who is willing to go through this process, it’s not like he’s not seeing his own benefit in it otherwise he wouldn’t do it LOL!

      Then I think the engagement is too romanced, Hollywood got us all confused ahah! We tend to think that the man decides one day to surprise you with a ring, when I really hope that both parts had a conversation about marriage before! So if it’s the result of a mutual conversation, I really don’t get the congratulations. My proposal was a surprise, but we had definitely talked several times about getting married.

  4. niesha July 27, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Interesting you say this. A friend told me a story about another friend who was definitely smelling herself over being engaged. Like it was some grand achievement. Complete with shade filled comments like, “I’m getting married before you,” and even laughing in her face when she invited her out to go dancing. “I’m engaged now.”But congrats on everything. As someone who is chronically single I have to remind myself that being in a relationship/marriage is not some sort of achievement.

    • Frankie July 27, 2015 at 10:57 am

      OMG she sounds like she doesn’t think she’ll achieve much in her life so she has to brag about this. I would feel sorry for her! You definitely have to remember it’s not an achievement, even if we’re too often lead to, hence this post. The fact that you are single also means that you are in power, because you could easily settle for something less than what you want, and you haven’t…

  5. Tilly August 21, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! LOVE THIS – and too right! x

  6. HS February 2, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Tom Cruise and Katie “Holmes”…

    • Freddie February 19, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Tom Cruise is one person, Katie Hopkins is another. The fact that she’s called Katie too doesn’t imply that I got both women confused. I was talking about two different couples. if you’re going to read a whole post and only highlight what you deemed was wrong, please make sure it’s wrong in the first place. Thank you x

  7. Reggie March 1, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    I totally agree with you. There should be an orientation for ladies on this. Some people do not feel they have to have an impact, they just function the way the society is shaped. I’m glad this is coming out. Do you know certain people disregard you if you aren’t engaged? And sometimes it’s just your voice against many even in the family *sigh*
    When I read through your words. I sometimes thank God for your existence (no flattery)

    • Freddie March 9, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      Though I do feel flattered <3 !!
      I'm not too sure why some people feel like we have to rush into it, we have so many more options in every areas of life now, finding someone that's going to be the ideal match is therefore harder. If anything, we should all take it easy!

  8. Bay March 26, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you for this post. And I’m so happy to have came across via IG. A few months ago a friend of mine announced her engagement on social media and I just couldn’t get my mind around all the “I’m so proud of you” messages people were sending.

  9. Petra April 2, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    This exact thing was always bothering me too. Just like the expectation that the man has to propose, as if we were trophies to be conquered, not equal partners in a complex venture! I love how smart you are about it (and everything else, really). I wish you a happy life together & all the success you deserve with your brilliant, creative ideas! Thank you for sharing! Petra (I’m a follower of yours from Slovakia – you’re getting global see? 🙂

  10. Yve August 9, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Fab blog! well delivered points. It’s so frustrating! We women have come a long way and are able to achieve all we set out to do., no longer only confined to the role ‘wife’ unless we chose to be. So, yes! You are totally right! Ite is not an achievement rather a shared life memory to be cherished by both parties 😀

  11. Linda Ehui August 9, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Ahahahah !! I love your post !!! I am still laughing at “even Hitler was married” lol I remeber my engagement with my husband, it was somehting so intimate between both of us only ! And nobody would have talk of the size of the diamond since i did not bear rings, i get the most minimalist ring on earth and was so happy of that! Engagement is just the first official steps to a long life of joy, happiness, but also disputes, problems etc. and indeed it just time to wish the best and not congratulate as a diploma !

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