What's the purpose of getting engaged before marriage?

I have never been married so this post is completely biased. However, I’ve been to many weddings like most people have in their lifetimes. And in 3 cases I have been best man, twice to cousins and once to a best friend from school. I’m not sure if they were engaged but I assume they were because it’s such an excepted part of the wedding rituals. Anyway I received the following email from an American lady…

I have never done this before…messaging someone I don’t know at all, but I have a question to ask you and I would be most obliged and appreciative if you could give me an answer. I am from the United States and my boyfriend is from South Africa, and he’s lived here for about 4 years now. My boyfriend and I are planning on getting married in 2 to 3 1/2 years. He says that in South Africa (he’s from JoBurg), you only get engaged 6 months to a year before getting married… that they don’t do it like they do here (in America). I just wanted to know if this was true or if this is something that’s been fed to him in order to postpone getting engaged. I thank you for your time and would truly appreciate a reply.

Here’s my response:

Yes, he is telling the truth. Engagements are always less then 12 months because you set the date for the wedding. So the engagement is like a direct prelude to marriage and that 6-12 months is used to make all wedding arrangements. Be nice to him about this. A longer engagement makes no practical sense.

My further commentary…

Wedding engagements and especially the rings that go with them seem to me to be one of those things which are much more biased in favour of the woman. What does the man get from the engagement? A man may spend as much as 6 to 12 months salary to purchase this engagement ring. And still have buy a wedding. Imagine the cost of the entire wedding could be equal to to the cost of one ring! How ridiculous is it spend so much money on the prelude to the wedding?

Anyway I do not understand the purpose of engagement. You make a promise to your parents, friends or the public that you will get married. Why not just set a date and get married? Why make all the fuss and get your own expectations up, running the risk that you can be disappointed. I have a spoken to several men and women who have been cheated on during their engagement period. Then again this could be a good buffer period to find out how much you trust this person you want to marry.

So I’m really curious what the purpose of engagement is in the 21st century


Author: RJ Thomas

RJ Thomas is an International Relationship Builder. He was born in South Africa, and moved to China in 2013.

  • I was engaged for a long time before my husband and I got married. Part of the reason behind it was so I could finish school. The other part was to justify to my conservative parents that living together was ok because we were planning on getting married.

    I think its a great time to make sure despite your love for one another you can share your lives together. I know a few people that have gotten engaged and then broke it off because they just didn’t have the same life plans and found out because they had been engaged.

  • To be engaged before marriage is so important because if you are Christian it is good time to ask God for the person who needs you to be your husband or wife. The second thing is to know the family that you want to be connected. There are many things to investigate so that you can have a good time to be prepared to be married.
    you need to know the parents of your beloved one, you need to know their culture and etc.
    Let me encourage premarital to think careful in engagement.
    Asanteni sana