Make the most of your long engagement
While many couples these days are going for short engagements, still others are extending their engagements. It's not at all unusual to find a couple engaged for 18 months to up to three years. Sometimes a long engagement is planned from the beginning. Many times people want to save money for a large wedding, or finish school. For other couples a military service, or a family issue(including another couple's wedding) interferes with what was meant to be a more typical length engagement. Whatever the reason, if you're having a long engagement, you'll want to make the most of that time.
As with any wedding planning, your first step is to determine your budget. If part of the reason for your longer engagement is to save money for the wedding then make sure you have a reasonable amount in mind, and a plan in place to save for it.
When you first get engaged it's natural to want to shout the news from the rooftops. But one of the advantages of a longer engagement is that you can savor a little alone time for you and your groom. Once you start telling others about your engagement the advice, instructions and questions will start. Depending on your reasons for the long engagement you may not feel like answering all of those questions or hearing all those opinions. Truthfully, your friends and family will also appreciate you keeping the news to yourself for a little while. Few people have the patience to listen to two years worth of engagement discussion, unless of course it's their own wedding! If you do decide to tell people sooner rather than later, make sure to share your plans for a long engagement as soon as possible. If you don't tell people your plans for a long engagement upfront you may start a swirl of rumors and speculation.
You absolutely know you want six bridesmaids and who they are, and that you want to book that gorgeous reception site your friend used last year. Although the impulse is to get tasks out of the way, a lot can change in a year or two. Once you've asked someone to be in your bridal party it can be very difficult to un-ask them, and once you've signed a contract, you're committed, even if your plans or ideas change.
Use the Time
Instead of making plans that you can't change, use your time to research and get inspired. Check out magazines and blogs, make scrapbooks and digital inspiration boards. Come up with general ideas to which you don't have to commit, but that let you take advantage of any sales or other opportunities that come up.
If you're a bride that has more time than money, consider getting a head start on any DIY projects you have in mind. Knowing your budget and the feel that you have in mind for your wedding can let you get started on prototypes of your DIY projects to make sure that they're reasonable for you to finish.
Don't Wait Too Long
While you shouldn't rush into anything, you also shouldn't put your decisions off for too long. If you get too used to thinking that the wedding is "so far away," you may not notice the date creeping up on you, and may ironically find yourself rushed with planning. If you've done your homework and advanced planning then once you set the date, you'll be able to hit the ground running.
Alternatives to a Long Engagement
Sometimes a long engagement is put in place because one or both parties don't feel quite ready to be engaged. If this is the case for you, don't feel pressured to get engaged. In the past, couples used terms like "engaged to be engaged" "going steady" or "pinned" to indicate that they were exclusive and serious. While those terms are old fashioned, the concept behind them is not. If you aren't ready to be engaged, consider exchanging promise rings or just promises.