How The Internet Ruins Getting Engaged

January 16th 2016

There's a downside to getting engaged, as I learned shortly after my fiancé proposed in our shared apartment last month.

He had initially planned to pop question the following weekend during our planned San Diego getaway, but we'd just had a really fun night, so it felt right to do spontaneously. Having read several articles about over-the-top and viral proposals, I appreciated that he kept things low-key and natural.

For a few blissful hours — spent drinking martinis and old fashioneds and belting out silly songs until six in the morning — we kept it to ourselves, without facing the overwhelming reality of what it means to be engaged during present day.

The over-saturation of wedding content online.

In many ways, 2016 is the easiest time to get engaged. There is more wedding content than ever online, so any questions you may have about the process are just a Google search away from a thorough answer. Every topic from "What to Ask Your Wedding Venue Before You Book It" to "Creative Ways to Propose to Your Bridesmaids" has been covered many times — and all of it is free.

But there are negative aspects of the ever-present online wedding culture: you're oversaturated, expected to follow criteria, and also pressured into sharing each moment with the world.

My friend and fellow writer Marjorie Romeyn shares this sentiment, and she tweeted the other day that being engaged can feel terrible because of societal expectations on brides. From the time the engagement ring is on your finger, to the moment you're carted off on your honeymoon, you must be obsessively planning every aspect of the wedding all of the time:

The pressure to be an ultra-proactive bride can also seem sexist, as it implies a woman should prioritize perfecting her big day over everything else. It's expensive as well. A 2013 survey from the Knot found that the average wedding costs $31,213, and a more recent Knot survey found that nearly 70 percent of brides constantly think about wedding expenses (the latter survey definitely applies to me).

Romeyn told ATTN: via email that the wedding machine pressures women into getting everything right on their big day and that this is ultimately a drain on one's finances. She added that TLC's "Say Yes To The Dress" can reinforce bridal stereotypes by depicting women as helpless creatures in distress among professionals.

"The entire industry revolves around paying top dollar for 'perfection,' a childhood fantasy realized in adult dollars," Romeyn wrote in an email to ATTN:. "In the months before I bought my dress my mom started binge-watching the TLC show 'Say Yes To the Dress,' and it drove me crazy! All the episodes seemed the same to me. But I learned from watching the show that most women don't research the best dress that will work for them; they just want the designer brand or worse, have no idea what they want. Opinions of family and friends can make the bride feel indecisive and overwhelmed."

Romeyn added that the program consultants step in to save the "floundering" bride, "acting like the only adults in a roomful of children."

"In maybe dozens of episodes I've watched, only one woman advocated for herself," she continued. "She wisely asked for a discount, acknowledging to herself and the viewers that a dress you wear for one day is a huge financial commitment. She got the discount and left the salon beaming with pride. I've never seen that kind of self-esteem or self-advocacy on the show before or since."

You can't enjoy being engaged without the looming pressure of planning everything.

While I have been very appreciative of the many free wedding resources online and mildly entertained by series like "Say Yes To the Dress," the wedding industrial complex's pervasive online presence gives me great anxiety, and it also makes it difficult to enjoy the engagement process without feeling like you have to get to work right away.

With some of these pressures in mind, my fiancé and I set a date and venue exactly a month after our engagement, a move that we thought was ambitious given our busy schedules. While we were elated to solidify this part of the whole ordeal so early on, the excitement of our accomplishment was immediately overshadowed by the feeling of being behind and needing to slash more "to dos" off our lengthy checklist — which naturally we found online.

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"You're doing it wrong."

We were also swiftly ambushed with other questions about wedding planning: Have we been living on Pinterest 24/7? No, because the boards can be chaotic, and we have full-time jobs. When am I buying my dress? A task I am not ready to seriously tackle for a few months, given that our wedding isn't until late spring 2017. There's less interest in how it feels to know you're marrying the love of your life and more of an emphasis on how the day of matrimony is going to compare to wedding day blog posts.

There is also an expectation to have a cinematic, fairytale proposal that little girls supposedly dream of all of their lives. Many inquired about our proposal story, and certain people reacted to our unceremonious yet defining moment by saying, "That's it?" And who can blame them for being underwhelmed when newsworthy proposals frequently assault our newsfeeds and many invest hundreds of dollars in engagement photo shoots?

RELATED: Weddings Have Become A Nightmare For Young People


Emory University researchers recently found that spending less on a wedding decreases a couple's chances of divorce, and to an extent, this is also the case for engagement rings, which have a complicated and poorly understood history in the U.S.

Last year, sociologist Pepper Schwartz told Ozy that she wouldn't blame high wedding costs on broken marriages but acknowledged that in our culture, the "wedding has become the highlight rather than the beginning of something."

Beyond the checklist boxes.

I value the wedding industrial complex's online presence for its great utility and nothing else. Though I've been thankful for the comprehensive wedding information readily available to me online, I don't think I need to buy the perfect napkins, the perfect dress, or the perfect decorations for my day to be worthwhile. I've already found the perfect individual with whom to spend my life, and that's better than any viral blog post about how the day looked in pictures.

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Share your opinion

Do you think Internet pressure has made it harder to enjoy being engaged?

No 23%Yes 77%