One Thing Nobody Told Me About Being Engaged

2023 Update

I’m so grateful this story has resonated with so many people across the internet, including being featured in The Huffington Post online. Since I first wrote this post back in 2014, I’ve been overwhelmed by the reception—every month hundreds of people type “post engagement anxiety” into Google, and it’s my hope that my story makes them feel less alone.

As I sit writing this updated introduction in February 2023, I’ve been married for almost nine years. Every year gets better, and the anxiety I experienced during our engagement only brought us closer together as a couple. You can read the original post below!

My Post-Engagement Anxiety Story

I sat on my bed crying, looking down at the diamond on my left hand. I had never seen a more beautiful ring. The perfect colour, the perfect size, the perfect engraving around the band. I loved this ring. I loved the man who gave it to me. And I loved our surprise proposal in our favourite coffee shop in one of our favourite little towns only two weeks before.

So why was I cuddled between blankets and pillows in my bedroom in the middle of the afternoon sobbing because soon this wouldn’t be my home anymore? This would never be my bedroom anymore. Why was I afraid? Why was I terrified the wedding date we had just set of March 28 (less than four months away) was a mistake? Why did I walk up the stairs to my bedroom with tears in my eyes after every evening lately? Why wasn’t I feeling happy?

I couldn’t picture my life with any other man.

I knew that I knew that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt Randy was the man I wanted to love forever. He was faithful, constant, steady and kind. He was giving, caring, thoughtful and strong. I wasn’t afraid of him. I was afraid of marriage. And moving out of my parent’s home. And becoming a wife.

I was sad. Overwhelming, all consumingly sad. Three days before, we had sent our invitations to the printer (Yeah, I know, two weeks in – we had a tight timeline!) and I cried thinking about them. I told so many people our wedding date by now… I couldn’t change it. I couldn’t postpone our wedding. Most of all, I couldn’t tell Randy I was feeling these things. It would break my heart to have his heart think I was having doubts.

They weren’t doubts. They were… well, I don’t know.

I didn’t hide my emotions well. Every night for a week straight, I would greet Randy after work happily and by the end of our evening together, I would be in tears. Randy would sit with me and hold my hand and rub my back. He didn’t understand why I was sad. And I didn’t either. With a ring on my finger (a ring I knew was coming for two months and was excited about!) suddenly, life started moving at a rapid pace. I wanted it all to slow down. And most of all, I wanted to stop crying and stop being sad about dumb things. I was lucky to have Randy in my life.

Try as I might, I couldn’t simply “stop being sad.” Many late nights in bed were spent on my iPhone googling: crying during engagement, scared during engagement, anxious about engagement, postponing engagement, scared of marriage, overwhelmed engagement and by some miracle, I stumbled upon two books that changed my life. And I don’t say that lightly.

I immediately purchased both books. While I waited for their arrival, I read forums and blogs and reviews. Any information I could find, I soaked it up. I was desperate to be known and understood. When the books arrived, I took a day off work and sat in my parent’s living room. I read them both cover to cover. I realized other brides out there had experienced the very same emotions that were ripping me apart.

Turns out, Experiencing grief and sadness while you are engaged is normal. 

Wait, what? Let me say that again.

Experiencing grief and sadness while you are engaged is normal. 

In Emotionally Engaged, Allison opened up my eyes to the life changes taking place. Before the diamond ring was on my finger, I was a daughter. First and foremost, a daughter – my parents were my “covering.” Now, I was committed to becoming a wife – I was leaving the only identity I had known to become somebody new. I would be Jamie the wife, a role I knew nothing about. It wasn’t a fear of house-cleaning, cooking, bill-paying, taking-out-the-garbage, sharing a bed or a closet. I could handle those changes.

It went deeper than that.
I was losing a part of myself.
And it was terrifying.

Sheryl in The Conscious Bridewrites about engagement as a “rite of passage.” In North American culture, we have very few traditions to signify a rite of passage and generally speaking, we are uncomfortable with grief. (To contrast our culture, think about Spanish Quinceaneras, Jewish Bat Mitzvahs or Bar Mitzvahs, Native traditions of learning from tribe elders – all marking “rites of passage.”) Add the two together and we live in a culture afraid to feel sadness and left to transition through life stages primarily on our own.

Emotionally Engaged gave me the key to understanding my emotions. I opened up to my fiancé Randy and was able to communicate why I was sad and what I was grieving. He listened patiently, tried his hardest to understand and we had some great conversations about the transition we were headed towards. I can’t say that’s the last time I cried during our engagement – and it wasn’t all “magically better!” – but Emotionally Engaged gave me framework to work through my grief.

After a couple weeks of processing privately and aloud with Randy as well as journaling my thoughts, I started to open up to my bridesmaids. (Four of whom were newlywed in the last two years.) Guess what?

Three out of four had experienced these same emotions.

It may have been two weeks before her wedding day, in tears seriously considering calling it all off. It may have been on the honeymoon, anxious and emotional about the wedding being over. It may have been in the first few newlywed months, as the reality of “the rest of my life” sets in.

But almost every newlywed woman I have asked has felt sadness during the course of her engagement.

A tension between “the happiest time in my life” and “everything is changing and I want it to stop.” 

By Christmastime, one month after our proposal, I was well on my way to understanding my emotions. Randy and I learning how to navigate the new tensions and pressures of our relationship. We had open lines of communication – a trust that allowed us to share happy thoughts and terrified thoughts. I adored our engagement parties, our Christmas season and the rest of our wedding planning months. We worked on wedding projects together, laughed at my Pinterest fails and thought about March 28, 2014.

The week of our wedding, I was as calm as could be. I was happy, joyful, at peace! I felt sadness thinking about my last week in my parent’s home but I smiled through my tears, knowing this was normal. I packed for the honeymoon and prepped all the individual decor boxes for each guest table with anticipation in my heart. The night before our wedding, after the rehearsal dinner, Randy kissed me and dropped me off at my parent’s home. I hugged him tight. Upstairs, I found my mom getting ready for bed in her bathroom and I hugged her with tears in my eyes.

“I’m excited for tomorrow. But a little bit sad.”
“I know,” she said. “Me too. It’s going to be a great day.”

I didn’t experience one bit of sadness or fear or anxiousness on my wedding day.
I would re-live our wedding week, day and honeymoon, again and again and again.

I truly owe it all to the knowledge both Emotionally Engaged and The Conscious Bride shared with me. If you’re struggling with these emotions or know someone who is – I cannot recommend Allison Moir-Smith’s Emotionally Engagedenough to you.

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  1. Heather Pepin says:

    I LOVE that you wrote this! Definitely sharing.

  2. Ica says:

    This is beautiful jamie. Sadness & facing the reality of such big changes were definitely sprinkled upon our entire engagement. It was such a weird combination of happy & sad and no one really preps you for the weight of both. Where I was most emotional were the weeks after the wedding. I was like an uncontrollable faucet for days. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Brides always tell me how isolated and alone they feel in their sadness and confusion — before they learn, as you so beautifully put it, “Experiencing grief and sadness while you are engaged is normal.”

    I so appreciate your sharing this, Jamie. It’s going to help many brides-to-be empower themselves through this transition.

    Congratulations on your first 6 months of happy marriage to you and Randy!

  4. Joey says:

    Beautiful post, Jamie. It really touched home for me. I cried super hard when I first moved away from home. My mom and I have a really tight relationship and it broke my heart that I was leaving her nest. Guess we all have to go through the various stages of growing up and establishing our own families apart from our parents. Still not quite used to that idea though :)

    Happy 6th month anniversary!

  5. jen says:

    this couldn’t be a more accurate blog on my exact feelings. love that you boldly write stuff like to share with people. uz da best.

  6. A says:

    Thank you for this post! I’ve been married three years now and had almost forgotten what that engaged feeling was like but, without my knowing what to call it, I was totally struggling with this! I remember sitting in our brand new house we had just bought together with the man I loved with all my heart, sobbing and not understanding why. Poor guy, he didn’t get it either. It was hard to explain because I knew I wasn’t making a was just so much.. and so much change. In trying to figure out what on earth was going on I remember thinking to myself the question is not to marry or not to marry him, the question is whether to ever get married because if so, this is the guy!! Anyways, the same thing happened though where on my wedding day I was probably one of the most calm brides ever. No anxiety, no doubt, no stress.. it was the best day. Thank you for this! I think it will help me help other woman in the future understand what’s going on when they feel similar emotions. 3 years of utter happiness and counting :)

  7. Jamie,

    I have no clue how I stumbled upon this, but I wrote almost this exact blog late last week. ( I got engaged a month ago and was terrified when I cried for days straight after Cory proposed to me. I am past the initial sadness, but this blog post was SO refreshing for someone who just recently went through it.

    My best!
    Kaylie B. Poplin

  8. thank you so much for sharing!

  9. Sarah says:

    I am absolutely feeling this way right now as I have just a little over three months until my wedding day (we were engaged a month ago.) I needed to hear this so much and just to know that these feelings are normal, valid, and experienced by others makes me feel so much better. As you put it, they aren’t feelings of doubt at all, but you really can’t describe them. Just the unknown of what is to come. I’m also still living at home and am feeling the combination of excitement and sadness of leaving and beginning life with my husband. This made totally me cry in a good way! Buying the book right now. Thank you.

  10. Aw, Sarah, thank you so much for sharing with me. So glad you’re working through it – tears are a good thing. Enjoy the book!

  11. Leah Lacey says:

    Wow such a great article. Thanks for taking the time to write this all down and being brave enough to share your true emotions. It’s sure to help so many people. Your talent goes so much beyond taking beautiful photos. Thanks again!!

  12. Thank you so much Leah, that means a lot.

  13. Thank you so much for commenting Kaylie!!

  14. Thank you so much, A, for commenting and sharing all of this with me!

  15. Thank you so much Joey, I appreciate you commenting!

  16. Thank you so much Ica!!

  17. Thank you Heather! :)

  18. Marcy says:

    I am newly engaged and feeling everything
    you described!! I knew the day was
    approaching, we have been together for about 4 years. And you would think for me being in my mid-30’s
    I would be ready for this?!? We already live together so not much will change…what
    I am so afraid of?! It’s real now. I
    love him more than anything and couldn’t imagine life without him. I think I will be purchasing these books and
    writing a lot more to get through these fears.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

    Btw, your puppy is adorable!!! We have a
    goldendoodle, Tressel :)

  19. Hey Marcy! Thanks so much for sharing! It get soooo real and it’s totally normal :) Definitely read the books!!

  20. Elizabeth says:

    thank you, Jamie. I think people who are especially close to their parents might struggle with the emotional times during engagement. My mom (love her to death) can’t understand why I feel kinda sad. Has nothing to do with the man (I’m keeping him!), but there is a twinge of sadness when you transition from being your parents’ daughter to…being someone’s wife AND your parents’ daughter. I’m so glad you understand. Feeling normal is a nice thing :)

  21. Thanks for sharing Elizabeth. It’s SO NORMAL to be sad and I love hearing from girls going through the same thing I went through!

  22. Christine says:

    Jamie !! Thank you soo much <3 I got engaged almost 2 months ago .. after 2 years of a long distance realatioship and still it is .. Ì`m suffering on axiety discorder & panic attacks and it is the worst for me to feel this anxiety right now … for me its not just changing a bit … I`m going to move to another country and leave all my family and friends behind for my wonderful fiance´ … He is so patient with me … I will read the books and I hope I can go trough it better … But your story just helped me so much … and I started crying on the end, when you told the conversation with your mum … but it were tears from joy :) Thank you !!!

  23. Julia Feeser says:

    Thank you SO much for writing this. I got engaged a mere TWO DAYS ago, and the night I got engaged and the day after, I felt deep anxiety, panic, and sadness. I’d known for about two months that we would soon be getting engaged, and over those two months I had experienced peace, calm, joy, excitement, and then suddenly a lot of anxiety, fear, and doubt leading up to the actual engagement. As I learn more about engagement anxiety, I just feel so blessed to know other people have experienced similar (confusing!) feelings. And I’m learning that this, too, is part of the process. I love what you said in that things were not “magically solved” right away, because though right now I feel at peace and calm, I imagine I will continue to work through the grief and questions that come with such a life-changing transition. Oh, and I ordered The Conscious Bride book, I can’t wait to read it! Thank you again, so much, for sharing.

  24. H. says:

    In 2011 my boyfriend of four years proposed to me while we were in long distance. I loved him like no one else, I experienced all these feelings but was too caught up in the anxiety to communicate my feelings properly and the long distance didn’t help. I quit my job to move to be with him (7.5 hour flight away from home). I withdrew (easy to do in long distance) and about 6 weeks into my being distant he told me he had enough and didn’t want to be with me anymore. It took me another month to come to terms with how I was feeling and came out of it feeling really clear headed and reconciled any feelings of loss I was having because of the big change. I had relocated, as I had already resigned, with the full expectation of being able to salvage the relationship, I saw anxiety, he saw emotional betrayal. He blocked me out of his life, we never had a proper conversation during the break up. I recently found out he met someone while we were engaged (May 5th, and we broke up May 28). I’ve spent five years feeling guilty for destroying the best relationship I’ve had in my life because I withdrew and spent a year and a half abroad alone wondering what I did that was so wrong. I still feel the pain that was caused out of being isolated and dumped by someone who promised to always be there for me. I went through anxiety but I still feel that all he had to do was wait for me, I was the one who had to leave my job, family and friends. Its difficult for me to move on because he is still in that relationship whereas I haven’t been able to be with someone on long term basis. Anyway, anxiety is normal. Marriage isn’t a joke or an extension of your relationship, its a life decision that requires pontification and frankly, growing up. My story didn’t end so well, but I am finally starting to let go of the guilt I built up. I only hope that there is another fulfilling relationship out there for me that will not end because my partner is quick to move on at any sign of trouble.

  25. LG says:

    This post was EXACTLY what I needed to read right now. Sitting in my office, I’m crying tears of relief knowing that I’m not the only bride-to-be that’s going through this. My fiance and I were engaged 3 months ago. For the first few months, I was over the moon excited. I love this man, and know that he’s the only one I want to marry. Since then, I have moved to a new city, started a new full-time job that requires lots of international travel, and moved into his apartment while we close on our first home together. For months leading up to this, I prayed and prayed for everything to work out. Now that it has, I’m filled with anxiety and confusion, and run on only 1 – 3 hours of sleep per night. I literally thought I was going crazy. Reading this though, I realize everyone deals with change in their own way. So many changes (even when they’re the BEST kind!) can throw emotions for a loop. It doesn’t matter if you’re an 18 year old bride, or in your 30s, like me…there are a lot of complicated emotions to process at one time.Thank you again for your honesty. I’m feeling better already.

  26. Oh I am SO glad to read your comment and know this brought you comfort! It’s SO important to read experiences like ours and know it’s sooo normal.

  27. I stumbled upon this blog as I was doing what you said googling “engagement anxiety” “I’m engaged why am I so emotional” “scared to get married”. I really appreciate you sharing your heart and soul in this. I’m 30 and am so thankful to live an amazingly full life. I’m fiercely independent but always prayed that one day the Lord would bring me a husband, someone to do life with. And then He did this year but as soon as we got engaged I started experiencing (and still am) anxiety. I realize it’s really a fear of loss. I’ve felt guilty to talk about it because hey this is what I prayed for and my future hubs is such a gift to my life but it’s been hard. I want to tell you thank you for writing this blog. It makes me feel better just knowing I’m not alone in experiencing this.

  28. Amanda Wyman says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I just became engaged last Saturday and it was probably the happiest moment of my life and that happiness lasted all of 3 days. Then out of nowhere I began feeling panicked and overwhelmed and scared and almost doubtful. I worry that I may not be a good wife and it scares me. And today I’ve been laying in bed all morning crying and I couldn’t figure out why or what is wrong with me. But it’s nice to know I’m not the only one whose ever been in this position. I have no doubts about my fiance and I love him very much. We’ve been through so many difficult times, this should be easy for us, but somehow it isn’t.

  29. Aw, Amanda I’m so glad this resonated with you!! It’s so normal. All the best to you!

  30. LaKisha Marie says:

    I got engaged 6 days ago and was over the moon. We have been together 8 years and that moment was the most special day of my life. But today I just started feeling…. overwhelmed. Anxious. Scared. Panicked. Overcome with happiness.
    I find myself crying a lot today and no signs of it stopping. I plan to snag those books. And it’s nice to know I’m not the only one experiencing this.

  31. Katie Thomas says:

    I am overwhelmed with tears right now. I love my fiancé. For nearly a year before we got engaged, we talked about the future. He asked me to get my finger sized and to show him some rings I thought were beautiful. I knew I wanted to marry him. I knew that God had put us together because I had prayed earnestly for God’s will in my life. When he proposed, I was kind of shocked and surprisingly scared. It took some time for me to let it sink in that I was actually going to get to marry him! The scary feelings made me feel icky, like something was wrong with me. A month later, I was excited, but I felt overwhelming anxiety about it. We’re five months into our engagement, and I’m still nervous. He’s moving to a different city to finish the last round of his schooling in a few weeks, and I’m a nervous wreck about that. We haven’t ever been that far apart (which may be a big source of some of this). We’re getting married in December, and I’m praying so hard that I don’t have a nervous break down before then. Thank you for sharing this. It is easy to worry that something is wrong with me because I have these feelings of anxiety. Just knowing that other brides have experienced this makes me feel better. Not many people tell you about the emotional rollercoaster we all experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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I’m Jamie! I capture joyful wedding and portrait photos that feel like you—through easy, natural posing. Since 2008,  I've photographed over 270 weddings and nearly 300 family sessions and it’s a joy to spend my career capturing natural, joyful images!

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