questionswell, i'm engaged. now what? (please read all…

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@sgoman5674: Thanks for your comments. Amen, only simchas! Sorry for the delay, but my laptop was down for a few days. Religious-wise, it seems like you and I are on about the same page. I shared all these ideas with Light, and when I told her the bed idea, she was like "Oooh, that's a good idea!" All in all, very helpful. Thank you again :D

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3. Furniture. If you live in NY go shopping for your living room, bedroom and dining room furniture in Lakewood. Its cheaper, trust me. Also don’t get the 48" beds, they suck. Get a king and a twin. Yes, it looks weird, but trust me, you’ll have more room on the king and not have to worry about the crack between the mattresses.

4. Wardrobe. Get a whole new one right before you get married. Get rid or give away all of your old stuff and buy new things. Underwear, socks, undershirts, tzistzis, suits, shirts etc.

5. Housing. @moondrake mentioned about buying a house. While that is a good idea, an apartment might be easier in terms of upkeep for the first two years of marriage. Also you aren’t going to need the space a house offers right off the bat. My wife and I are looking into buying a house in Phoenix, AZ. Property is cheap and my parents live there, so two very good reasons to go there. Also Jewish community doesn’t have the NY mentality, which is why my wife hates Monsey.

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Baruch Dayan HaEmes.

I am sorry to hear about your girlfriend’s mothers passing.

Mazel Tov on your engagement. Only simchas in the future.

I have noticed people recommending things in regards to the actual wedding ceremony. I want to focus on things that will need to be handled that is not directly related to the chasuna.

As to what to do now that you’re engaged, I can recommend a few things.

1. Make sure where you live after are married is a place you BOTH like. After my wife and I got married, she told me she hated where we were living. Unfortunately where we were was the only feasible place for us at that stage in our lives.

2. Wedding Registry. Only register for what you need, not what you want. Who needs all that extra clutter? Also only register if you are going to let people know you did, otherwise it’s pointless.

Continued..

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@shrdlu: There are spelling variations :P I considered writing "Mazel/Mazal Tov" but was too lazy at the moment to add those few letters. And yet here I am explaining myself, so that kinda backfired ;)

I'll be offline for the next 3 days due to a holiday, but I will try to respond after then to all comments

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@abramokids: I said "Mazel Tov" -- ;-}

{My friends who speak Yiddish bet me that I wouldn't come in and point it out. They lose.}

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The following people get bonus points for saying "Mazal Tov"
@shrdlu: @codex: @thedogma: @levenhopper: @neuropsychosocial: @magic_cave: @capguncowboy:
Truly, it is the little things that count!

Even though I replied (or at least attempted to reply) to all the posts that were made here, I just want to thank everyone again for all the kind words and suggestions. As I've said, you guys are like a family to me. An awkward family that only talks to me via internet forums, but a family nonetheless. Thank you all. I really mean it.

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@klozitshoper: Thank you very much :D

@capguncowboy: There's that loving sarcasm I was talking about! Thank you very much

@aafalke: Thank you very much for the input and advice. I mentioned to Light that she should instead wear the wedding band at all times, rather than the engagement ring, and she is totally on board.
And you can be darn sure that we will be doing some sort of a memorial at the wedding! No dount in my mind there. I was close with her mother as well.

@dmaz: Thank you very much. The problem with all-inclusive is that it usually focuses on food, and we keep strictly kosher. My uncle has already pointed out that he and his wife are travel agents and will give us the family discount :D
Congrats to you as well!!!

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First off, CONGRATULATIONS!

Being newly engaged myself (22 days), I recommend to just enjoy those moments of bliss, and get excited about the big day! It's a great feeling! :)

BUT, we definitely can't be in a ooey gooey blissful state 24/7. Definitely take the time to research EVERYTHING wedding related, online (including honeymoon destinations). I'd recommend making the honeymoon destination a decision to make with your future wife, rather than a surprise. I'd also recommend choosing something all-inclusive, if you can afford it. I've had MANY family members rave about that, so that's what we went with on our bookings.

Anyhow, congrats again man :) Saying those four big words is huge (for me the four words were "voce quer casar comigo? as my finace is Brazilian, hehe), and demonstrating a seriousness to commitment that is becoming less common in our crusty culture. Best wishes in everything!

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The second thing I wanted to mention was the difficulty she will face next year as her wedding approaches and her mother is not there. My mother was a HUGE part of my wedding, both the planning and execution, and I cannot imagine going through that day without her. As Light plans the wedding, shops for dresses, flowers, etc, there will be many, many difficult days. You sound supportive and caring and very kind, so I wanted to mention it so you can be prepared! Some days it may seem like every single thing about her wedding simply reminds her that her mother is gone. I know very little about traditional Judaism and what you follow, but maybe you could incorporate somewhere into your ceremony/celebration space an honor to her mother? That way you can help her shift her focus from feeling the loss to honoring her mother's memory. And some days, Light will just need to mourn and a shoulder on which to cry.

Best wishes to you both!

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I have two things I would like to add, but firstly, let me extend my condolences as well as my congratulations!

Firstly, in regards to a ring: you addressed what neuropsychosocial said about things getting caught in the ring, etc. I have 3 rings (I know, overkill), an engagement ring, our original wedding band that is plain gold, and an enhancer/diamond band that is more intricate like my engagement ring. When I am doing things with my hands where my diamond bands will get dirty, etc, I remove them and only wear my plain band. Since this is the band with which my husband and I were wed, it is the most significant for me anyway! You can get her a ring keeper or a box to keep them in, if you feel the societal pressure to get her a more "traditionally" styled engagement ring. Also, I had a coworker who had a very beautiful, but non-traditional, engagement ring: it was a heart-shaped pink stone (not sure the type) set in a gold band. Stunning. Unique. Not diamond! CONTINUED...

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Congrats @abramokids. Mazel tov!

On getting married and for bringing tears to @shrdlu 's eyes despite her cold dark heart (she knows I love her anyway) :)

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There have been so many wonderful messages and bits of advice and encouragements and expressions of sympathy made by so many here already, I can do little but add to the wishes, hopes, and prayers for you and Light as you journey forward. I would like to add to the many, many good thoughts and good wishes that have already been sent your way. We will be sure to follow your journey toward a wonderful and happy wedding day.

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@kristiwsu: Believe it or not, this is actually pretty stretched out as it is. Orthodox couples usually marry 3-4 months after the engagement, so everyone is saying "What? So long?" This should give us more than enough time, seeing as how all the wedding halls and such are used to booking mere weeks in advance.
We will certainly be sure to prioritize. Thank you for the advice and condolences

@magic_cave: Thank you very much. I'm surprised that with my mind the way it is currently, I remembered how to tag someone with a space in their username :P
The general consensus is that it is indeed strange to wish Mazel Tov and condolences in the same sentence, but it is called for. Bring it on, I say. We need all the happy we can get right now

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@unpetitfou: Thank you very much. Our relationship is certainly the kind where material things are not needed, but I would feel like a bad person if I didn't follow the standard. Light has insisted that she doesn't want diamonds on her ring, and my biggest concern is that people will think "He gave you an engagement ring with Garnet? He must not love you enough." or "What a cheapskate. WHERE'S THE DIAMOND???"

I don't want her to go through any embarrasment because of these little things that the world just expects.

I think I completely digressed...

Anyway, yes, our love for eachother is more important than some rocks

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Every comment and bit of advice I've read here is what I would have said (but not have said as well) had I gotten here earlier.

It feels very odd and a little sad to say Mazel Tov! and then offer condolences in the same sentence, but what else can one do? My heart and thoughts are with you both, in sorrow and in joy.

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@neuropsychosocial: Wedding planning- This is basically the same idea as with the books. It may be helpful for her to focus on this rather than having sad thoughts all the time. Again, I will discuss this with her as well, but she seems really happy when we make plans. Both of us are planners by nature.
With a username such as yours, I can safely assume you know what you are talking about and I picture you as a counselour of sorts, so I will be going over all the above with Light

Wearing the ring at all times- My main reasoning is that she takes off her watch and rings when she relaxes, she sometimes can't find them. Losing an expensive tiny object disturbs me :/ She has agreed to wear it at all times (As I type this, Light is looking over my shoulder saying “I told you I'm not taking it off!” and this is her choice) We are getting a ring with inlaid (inset?) stones to avoid problems such at dirt/snagging on things. It was never a demand but a request

I think that about covers it...

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@neuropsychosocial: Don't think I forgot about you! Thank you for the extensive and insightful input. I will try to address all the things that you mentioned, but forgive me if I miss anything:

Books- The jewish mourning period is actually very therapeutic. You have people walking in and out of your house for 7 days and everyone tells stories about the person or anything else really. Even if a mourner is closed off at the beginning, they tend to open up towards the end. Today is day 6 of mourning, and while at the beginning, Light didn't want to talk about much of anything, now she has completely opened up and is having full conversations.
Light is definitely a reader, but I don't know whether or not she would want to read those kinds of books. Everyone has their own way of dealing with issues, and what may be right for some, may not work for others. That being said, I will still pass on your book suggestions and let her use that information as she sees fit. CONTINUED...

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@sgrman05: Thank you very much, and congrats to you as well!

@gmwhit: Thank you. You're too kind! I honestly just do what I think is right and I've been getting so much positive response to what I honestly felt was the most logical and sincere thing.

@pemberducky: Thank you very much. New ring is definitely the way to go

@levenhopper: I mentioned that we had hoped to have it on her mother's birthday. What I didn't mention was that her mother's birthday is July 3rd. It would have been amazing to have pre-celebration fireworks for our anniversary, but as mentioned, it coincides with a time when marriage is not permitted

@flyinggirl: Very important to remember. Thank you very much

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Sorry for your loss. If you can, I would give yourself extra time to let your fiancee grieve for her mother before stressing her out with wedding stuff. We were engaged for a couple years and early on I just tried to nail down the date and get location ideas, then book the location as soon as I was sure (book it as soon as possible: deposits are usually refundable). The best advice I was given is to decide what your priorities are early on and why they're a priority. Don't try to compete with your friends or the blogs or what everyone in the wedding industry says you HAVE to do. Just figure out what will make you two happy and represent your personalities. Also, it's just a single day and is over in a flash so don't sweat the small stuff. Some things about my wedding day didn't quite go right, but nobody else noticed except me. I look back and remember the love I felt and being surrounded by family/friends and not the things that went wrong.

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In regards to not feeling "prepared" or what have you without a ring, remember this: she is saying "Yes" to YOU, her lover and best friend, not to a shiny piece of high-pressure carbon. A very good friend of mine told her boyfriend-at-the-time that she did not want to see a ring in his hand when he proposed. Instead, the day after he popped the question, they went ring shopping together, to pick out the symbol of their commitment. They just celebrated their first wedding anniversary.

Obviously your fiance's one of those women whose heart and feelings need no physical gift, other than your shared love and commitment. Wise woman. And may God bless you both on this new adventure! Take pleasure in the little things.

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My fingers swell/shrink quite a bit with weather and hormonal fluctuations (i.e., resizing wasn't the answer). I was nervous wearing my rings when my hands soaked and I found picking flour, etc., out of them to be a huge pain. After misplacing my rings over and over, I started just taking them off when I walked in the door and putting them in a basket. I am not sure of your reasons for asking Light to never take off her ring, but it's unusual for people to never take them off (I have known men who never took off their ring once in 30+ years of marriage, but I can't think of any women I know who say the same thing; I think rings must come off for labor and many (most?) women find that their rings don't fit in late pregnancy). I'd hate for Light to feel like she was letting you down if she decides that she'd rather shower without them, for example.

I wish you two a future filled with love, laughter, and joy, and I hope that you'll continue to update us on your plans as they develop.

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Okay, one piece of early-engagement-planning advice that I give to anyone who will stand still long enough to hear it. :) I've observed that couples who are newly engaged often tend to rush into wedding planning and the period of engagement becomes very much about wedding planning. This is a special time in your relationship: soak up the attention that you'll receive, enjoy the time together and the love between you, and try to stay in the present moment even as you're planning your wedding and discussing things about your future life together.

A brief thought about asking Light to wear her ring all the time: be careful asking her to do something that may turn out to be somewhat impractical. (continued)

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My condolences on your loss.
And for the wedding, just remember-the wedding is one day, the marriage is a lifetime.

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I also recommend the companion book, which consists of letters women wrote to Edelman after the publication of the first edition; understanding that I wasn't alone, that others had experienced the same thing, and I could survive it if they had, no matter how difficult, was extraordinarily valuable. It looks like Edelman has published a third book, Motherless Mothers: How Losing a Mother Shapes the Parent You Become. I am not a mother and I'm not sure at this point in my life if I ever will be a mother, but I may visit this anyway. At the time these books were published - and when my parents died (1999) - Edelman's books were the only ones available that specifically looked at motherless daughters rather than parent loss in general; looking at The Parent Corp, it appears that there are several other books available that touch on motherless daughters, but I'm not familiar with any of the others. (continued: sorry!)

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Focusing on the engagement and wedding planning would probably be a welcome pleasant distraction for Light right now, but that's not necessarily a good thing in the long-run. I highly recommend Hope Edelman's book Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss; I've only read the first edition, although it looks like it's now in a revised second edition. It was recommended to me by my second cousin who lost her mother when she was 21; I found the book both enormously painful and helpful: painful to read the stories of women at all stages of life discussing how they missed their mothers at different milestones - graduations, weddings, childbirth, child-rearing, menopause, reaching the age their mother was at the time of her death - and realizing that the loss of my mother was something that I'd never "get over" but would instead revisit in different ways at different points in my life. (continued)

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@abramokids: First - and most importantly - condolences on the loss of your mother-in-law/your fiancee's mother, and mazel tov on your engagement!

My advice, FWIW, is a bit different than previous posters. My suggestion would be to let wedding planning be for a while; the loss of one's mother is often one of the formative events in a woman's life, no matter how old she is when she loses her mother or what the relationship was like. I think it's extremely touching that Light's mother was able to witness your engagement and that she knew of it, as well as very touching that you were able to propose with her mother's ring. My ex-boyfriend showed up at my mother's funeral, the first time I'd seen him since we'd broken up a year earlier, and we ended up getting back together; I used the relationship as a distraction from my grief and that was a huge mistake in the long-term. (continued)

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My ex-fiance and I had our wedding date picked out as July 7th, 2013. We liked that date because July 4th is a Thursday, so people could come to D.C. and make a long weekend out of it.

Just an idea...if you have extended family around the country, the holiday weekend would give you more time to see them if you don't get to see them often.

And, Mazel Tov!

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Congratulations!

One word: Delegate.
Your time is valuable. These things are stressful.
Enroll support and help liberally.

(ETA: Yes, new ring. New.)

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Most before me have said what I wanted to say to you, and with warmth & eloquence. Joining in with my heartfelt sympathy to you and yours. Congratulations on your new life, too.

Will only add: I am astounded & heartened at the depth of your feelings. The thoughtful & open expression of your love is refreshing. In a time of throwing aside values, yours prevail. Thank you for sharing with us. I've learned something from you.

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First off, my condolences and congratulations as well! Being engaged is very exciting!

@thepenrod had a great idea about just letting things progress naturally -- do activities that give you lots of time together...and thus time to talk!

Also have to agree with @elforman about compromise...this is definitely true.

@moosezilla is spot on here. My fiance and I are currently going through pre-marital counseling right now and have gone through a couple of books.
(101 Questions Before Saying I Do)
We're both Protestant Christians, and go to the same church, so thankfully there's no real issues that way, but I've seen others with different belief backgrounds do alright...it's DEFINITELY something that you're going to want to talk about BEFORE the big day...at least get it out in the open.

@jimmyd103 is correct as well -- those wedding planning books list everything! So many things that you probably wouldn't have thought of right away!

Glad @johnnys13 comment was removed! Ridiculous!

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@jordan711: My understanding is that the Jewish wedding halls all have Chuppahs ready to go that they use over and over, but if that turns out not to be the case, or if we have it outdoors, I can certainly look into making my own. I consider myself to be fairly handy :P Thanks for the advice

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I built our chuppah for our wedding. If you plan on having one I would recommend building it - way cheaper.

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@shrdlu: She says we can refer to her as Light. That's not some weird poetic thing like how she is the light in my life (although she is.) She says if she ever joins Woot (which I think is an inevitability) her username will be some variation of that name

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@abramokids: Nope. I understood which year. I just extrapolated a year out from now, is all.

I think having a new ring is the right thing to do.

Would you consider sharing the bride's name with us? Either that, or choose a name we can refer to her by. It would make the discussions so much easier.

I'm still campaigning for a backyard wedding, you know. I love weddings. :-D They're just the happiest time ever.

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@shrdlu: Oh dear, I believe you misread the year. It's July of NEXT year.
As for the rings, a decision has been semi-made. She wants a new ring of her own, because I asked that she keep it on at all times, and she told me that for comfort reasons, it would need to be a different kind of ring. She has a tendency to take her rings off when she sleeps/ relaxes/ etc.

Currently, she is wearing her mother's wedding ring on her necklace

@inkycatz: Thank you very much

@thepenrod: I understood that you had not yet seen that, and I tried to convey that in my post. Guess I didn't do a good job. Oops.

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@abramokids: My post was before you said that. Also, I meant the two of you, not a party. Consider it a commemoration.

I'm much more familiar with ancient Judaism and I have no expectations that I know or understand current customs and traditions. (Ironic that "current" and "tradition" can be used together but they can when you are talking millenia.)

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Let me drop in my congrats while I'm here. :)

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@abramokids: You are so funny. Hopefully the comment will just disappear, like the wind. I have realized that a June wedding would put far too much stress on the both of you (I just glanced at my calendar, and realized that June is nearly here). July's a good month, too. ;-} Be sure not to get too close the the 4th. Best thing about holidays is that the weekend after tends to be easiest for those that will have to travel long distances.

I liked the idea suggested by someone else about using the bride's mother's rings, but that's a question best left up to her and her father, and it's awfully soon to be thinking about it.

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@jimmyd103: Thank you very much. That sounds like a really good idea, and I will certainly look into getting one

@thedogma: Thank you very much. As for why the date had to be changed, it coincides with a period in which marriage is pretty much forbidden. We are thinking of having the civil marriage on her mom's birthday, the jewish wedding a few weeks later, and celebrating the anniversary on the civil date

@moosezilla: We may indeed do some counselling, however we would be more comfortable finding someone on our own, but thank you for the thought, and this will help serve as a reminder to look into such things

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@codex: Thank you. That's very good advice and something I will need to keep in mind, seeing as I am a bit of a control freak.

@thepenrod: I was just saying a couple minutes ago, that there are no parties for a year. Jewish tradition says you have an engagement party, but due to the circumstances, that won't be happening. Perhaps we will celebrate when she finishes mourning. I will certainly be spending more time with her doing things, as she just finished a semester in college and will be very lonely at home this summer

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i realize you have been together for a long while, so this may sound silly. get pre-marrital counseling from whatever source you both feel comfortable with. the counselors (may i suggest someone from your belief system) have more experience with what you will experience in your future.

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@lotsofgoats: Ah, if he knows about Shloshim, you have a good source indeen. Shloshim is the thirty days after the burial where the family is still semi-mourning. After Shloshim, everyone stops mourning, except for children of the deceased, so she will still be going for the year

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@codex: Agreed about the wedding details. Compromise is key.

The bride and groom are the two people who, despite being the center of attention, really get to enjoy and experience the whole thing the least. While everyone is gathering, they're usually off taking pictures or getting dressed. For instance, I didn't get a single bite of the hors d'ourves at my wedding. (Someone snuck some out to my wife.) Then the ceremony is usually rigidly choreographed. Finally, at the reception, the bride and groom are constantly dragged from one activity to another, to the point where the entire ordeal will feel like one big blur.

So just compromise when you can, let go of things that won't matter and go with the flow.

However, if there is anything that you feel you must be absolutely rigid about, then perhaps it's good that it comes up before the wedding and not after, as it may be a sign that you're not as compatible as you think. Get those issues out in the open as soon as possible.

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Mazel tov on the engagement and my condolences for your loss.

Seeing as you have an observant family (families?) something traditional might be best. Give it a couple of months, then start talking to her. See what she wants in the wedding and go from there. I know that she wanted it to be on her mother's birthday and since that isn't going to work out, perhaps slide in an homage to her? Either something public for everyone to see, or something just for her. I think that she would really appreciate that.

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Ugh. So sorry to hear about your wife's mother. Really must have been difficult to balance out the emotions, one minute elated and the next sorrowful. I commend you and your father-in-law for the courage to embrace the situation and insert some joy into it. You have my deepest condolences and blessings for a life of happiness with your bride.
As for what to do.... I suggest that you buy your fiance a wedding planning binder/book. My wife just loved hers'. It was a great tool at laying out the whole process from start to finish. It contained lots of great ideas, creative alternatives to traditional, money saving tips, and many other insights.

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@lotsofgoats: Thank you for the input.
1) According to Jewish law, my feonce will be in mourning for 11 months, and is not permitted to attend any parties or celebrations, including her own, hence the long engagement. Also, we like having well laid out plans.
2) I have been to many a party where there was a plant barrier, including my own High School graduation. As was mentioned earlier, we plan on having seperate seating/dancing at the begining and then breaking down the barriers towards the end of the wedding

@dergage: Thank you. Certainly words to live by.

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@abramokids: Well, you have over a year so I wouldn't worry too much about the wedding. Based on the kind of relationship you have, I would say that for the next few months, let those conversations happen naturally as you and your fiance think about things. That also gives her time to grieve. I'm sure she'll want to go do some things to distract her at times, but you also don't want to over do it. My recommendation is to do something enjoyable every week for an extended period. Not dinner and a movie but go to a museum or something like that. Plan a long date day every week. Those days will give you longer periods of time to just have fun, or to talk about ideas and plans for the wedding, or to remember and grieve.

I also recommend that you take her someplace special as soon as possible to celebrate your engagement. And if you haven't talked about it yet and if it's okay with her dad, have her mom's rings adapted or remade or stones reset or engraved.

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Condolences for your loss, and mazal tov in equal measures. Families are amazing, and it's amazing that your family story will have new chapters written just as old ones come to a close.

The best advice I can give is, don't sweat the wedding. Seriously, just don't. There are a million details, and for every firmly-held opinion, somebody is going to hold a conflicting opinion just as firmly. So take a page from Sun Tzu and be like water--give way with no resistance at every possible opportunity. If there are one or two points you personally need to hold firm with, do it--but be honest with yourself, is this about making sure X happens at the wedding, or about having control of the process? Control is overrated; let someone else have it.

In the grand scheme of things, weddings are not really about the bride and groom, despite all the cultural cues telling the bride "It's Your Day!" No. It's the community's day, to celebrate its continuance through new families coming into being.

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Or rather, the amount of time passing between then and now (he referenced shloshim, I think I have a good source here) rather than the date.

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@abramokids: Sadly, the only good thing about my brief marriage was our lovely garden wedding. We were poor, we had less than $1,000 to spend on everything, but we put together a really wonderful event. Although we wore the traditional tux and gown, we had a native American ceremony. My ex is an anthropologist and I have a deep love of Native American traditions and beliefs so it was the right choice for us. A family friend owned a property in Lincoln National Forest, so we were married in a beautiful garden bordered by tiger lilies and surrounded by thousands of acres of untamed forest. A co-worker with home baking business baked the cake as a wedding gift. The kids of another co-worker came and played chamber music on a violin and cello. We had a cookout instead of a plate dinner, and I spent a good deal of the money we had on a case of classy champagne. The garden was part of a summer home and the family friend let us stay there a week for our honeymoon. It was wonderful.