Wedding Etiquette Forum

Sister Just Got Engaged, How Long Do We Wait?

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year.  We were introduced last Thanksgiving by his older sister, a friend of mine.  We immediately connected and our relationship has moved quickly.  After 3 months of dating we moved in together, and now have two puppies together that are almost a year old.  We just got approved for a mortgage and are shopping for homes.  I'm also older (31), and want to start having children within the next few years. (He's also totally on board with having children soon, if it were up to him they might come sooner!) I've never been happier! 

Here's where I come into my predicament. My boyfriends sister just got engaged a couple of months ago to her boyfriend of 2 years.  They plan to get married next September.  While I'm SO happy for them, I'm beginning to realize that this will delay our plans.  We would like to get engaged and married soon, but are hesitant to do so because we don't want to take the spotlight off of his sister. (And she LOVES the spotlight) 

The reality is that if we decide to wait until after their wedding to get engaged, then we're looking at another 2 years before our wedding.  At that point we'll already be in a home we own together with our 2 dogs and we'll be ready to start having children. I would really like to be married before we do those things, if at all possible. Also, we're worried that his family won't be able to afford another wedding. Most of his family lives on the East coast and will be spending a lot of money to travel to the Rockies for his sister's wedding.  They do not have a lot of money as it is. 

The only 2 options we think we have are:
1. Elope this year quietly before their wedding so that we can be married and still let them have the spotlight. Then maybe in a couple years we can have a party for close friends and family.   
2. Talk to his sister about having a small, family-only ceremony on the weekend of her wedding while everyone is together.  I just have a few close family members that I would like to come out from the East coast for this. 

In either scenario, it seems as though his sister will be offended and we don't get to have the kind of wedding that we want.  We aren't interested in a big wedding anyway but since all of our family is far away they are looking at big expenses no matter what.  Worst of all, his sister and her fiance are on another continent doing seasonal work so we can't actually talk to them, only send emails.  I'm worried that no matter what we do, it's going to be hard to explain via email.  

Does anyone have any suggestions on the right thing to do here?

Re: Sister Just Got Engaged, How Long Do We Wait?

  • Why are those your only two options?  You can get engaged whenever you would like, and then maybe have a discussion with your BF's family (like parents who may have a financial stake in this, I don't think you need to ask the sister about timelines, really) about the acceptable amount of time between weddings.  I say this because sometimes it can be too stressful to have them too close together for parents and OOT guests, so a buffer of a couple of months would be nice. 

    I don't get why you would elope, and DO NOT have your own wedding the day after hers.  I know it's "one day for the couple" but I would judge anyone who "took advantage" of the fact that family is together for someone else's event for their own purposes.  

    A couple doesn't need a year for their wedding.  You're feeding in to some ridiculous expectations of how much attention a couple needs leading up to their wedding, and it's not necessary.  I had two cousins get engaged after me - one got married 2 months before me, one is getting married 4 months after me.  Neither of these scenarios offended me AT ALL because it was the appropriate amount of time for our families to attend all the weddings (financially speaking and in terms of using vacation time for travel).  

    Literally the only thing that bothered me was that my cousin who is getting married after me sent out reminders to book hotels at pretty inappropriate times, and was judged by some family members (the day before my hotel room block ended and the day after my wedding - both times when they were more concerned about the financial considerations of my wedding).  It was more AWish than anything.  
  • Thank you all for your replies so far!

    I get that option 2 is horrible! There are some major financial barriers going on with close family members of his (Grandparents, brother and sister) that I think would prevent them from coming to our wedding, should we have it anytime close to hers. That's the only reason why I threw that option out there.  I would love to pay for those family members to come to our wedding, but I don't think we would be able to afford that.  

    It makes me feel a little better to hear everyone saying that they don't need the spotlight for too long.   
  • why this: "The reality is that if we decide to wait until after their wedding to get engaged, then we're looking at another 2 years before our wedding" ?

    Why do you require a 2 year engagement?

    If spacing things out is your primary concern (and I agree with above posters that it's NOT required, but if you do want to...) why not just get engaged now, and set the date for your wedding 4-6 months after hers?

    Or, when is HER wedding?  If it's 2 years out, just get engaged now and set the date for 6-8 months out.  Plenty of time in between. 

    I do see how it could be burdensome for family members who would have to travel for both.
  • pegasuskatpegasuskat member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 250 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited November 2013

    If all of these VIP's are coming from the East Coast why not have your wedding this spring as a destination wedding on the east coast

    so the majority don't have to pay for travel.  That would leave a several month cushion between the two and keep the one's that can't afford it from traveling.

  • I would eliminate option 2 as an option at all.

    PP's are correct- they get the spotlight for a limited time and that's it. They don't get a whole year to themselves. It is nice to be considerate of whether or not guests can travel for two weddings but if you space them out by a few months and spread the word early, people can possibly plan their finances accordingly.
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  • Thanks for the reply.  Her wedding is set for next September. There were a few reasons for the long engagement.

    1. Because I just wanted to give her time to have her wedding. She's the older sister and I know that's what she wants.

    2. For financial reasons of our guests.  I think they would need at least a year to recover.  Our relatives are scattered all over the country and it's at least a $600.00 plane ticket to get where we live. 

    3. His parents work seasonally out of the country and are only here for about 4 months in the summer so we would probably need to wait until the following September to get married.   
  • KatWAGKatWAG Chicago member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    With this additional information, I think you need to decide whether its more important to you to get married soon without some VIPs or to get married in front of family but wait 2 years.
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  • Having our wedding on the East coast is definitely a good idea.  Thank you. 

    A lot of our guests would still have to travel a distance, but it will be a little easier. 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    You are not required to wait until after your FSIL gets married to get engaged yourself.
  • BlergbotBlergbot An enchanted land member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
    Don't know if this will help at all, but we had a similar dilemma with FI's older sister. She got engaged in May, and we started discussing getting engaged in August. We didn't want to steal the spotlight, so to speak, so we waited until they set a date (or, in your case, since they seem toalready have set a date, just wait a few months). It was totally fine. She will be getting married at the end of March, we will get married next October. I'm 32 and FI is 34. It sounds like you have some logistical issues with family being stateside at certain times, so I get that that makes things harder. Not sure what to tell you as far as that goes. Do consider having it on the east coast, though. We are having our wedding on the west coast, because that's where FI's family live (and it's beautiful there), but that's not where we live, so it's sort of a desitination wedding.
  • Lavender123Lavender123 member
    25 Love Its 10 Comments Name Dropper
    edited December 2013
    I agree with all the posters above, do what suits you and definitely not option 2, maybe just try and get married in a place where your most important guests are and accept that not everyone will be able to come but you'll see them at the other wedding... 
  • Thank you! All your comments have been super helpful.  I lost sleep over this last night and am feeling so much better about it now.  I think having the wedding on the East coast is the solution to most of our problems.

    One more question though...

    If we get engaged now, would it be rude to get married before his sister? We have such a small window where family members are available, plus the weather is nice.  I know a lot of you said that I shouldn't consider them at all when deciding on a date but I still feel a little guilty.

    If she gets married in late September, would it be in poor taste to have our wedding in June next year? 

    Thanks again! 
  • BlergbotBlergbot An enchanted land member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
    I think as long as you have a buffer of a few months, you should be fine. But you might want to send her an e-mail right after you announce your engagement and feel her out about it. In the end, though, it's your decision.
  • It's definitely not poor taste to get married before her. She chose her day, you get to choose your day.
  • Simky906Simky906 member
    250 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited November 2013
    Would it be possible for you to subsidize travel costs for the grandparents and siblings who may have trouble attending otherwise? Working that into your budget may be the best way for you to get married earlier then 2 years out and still have your VIPs in attendance. ETA: I absolutely think having your wedding a few months earlier is fine. One of my fiancé's cousins got engaged in September and is getting married in June. We got engaged in June and are getting married in September. We're happy we get to see more of his family that way.
  • You are right, they should be happy for us.  His sister DID set us up after all! She did good ;)

  • I think June of next year sounds fine. I wouldn't run it past his sister either - what if she says no? Are you really going to wait? It's a 3 month buffer which is PLENTY and no one's spotlight is being stolen. Putting your life and future plans like kids on hold because someone wants a whole year dedicated to their wedding is silliness.

    If finances are concern for members of the family, you may consider having it wherever those family members live since it sounds like everyone is traveling anyway. I planned a wedding in another city and while it wasn't ideal, it wasn't that big of a deal. You sound pretty easy going so I think you'd be just fine.

  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    My cousin got engaged in January and in April she set her date for July 2014. I got engaged in August, and we've set our date for November 2014.

    It didn't even OCCUR to me to wait until after my cousin was married to get engaged. And honestly, it's been SO much fun to chat with her about wedding stuff.

    My point is that it was not my cousin's responsibility to check in with me before getting engaged (when she got engaged, my partner and I had already decided when we wanted to be engaged and married), and it wasn't my responsibility to check wait until she was "done."

    Your wedding will be one day. Your future sister-in-law's wedding will be one day. As long as you don't pick the same day, then you're not breaking any rules. And if you have to wait until she's married to even get engaged ... who is making that rule?
    now with ~* INCREASED SASSINESS *~
  • I would say plan it so you get married 6 months after her. Gives you time to plan, and people who might not be able to make it to the wedding will at least be able to congratulate you/see you at hers.

    It will not "take the spotlight" of of them, nor do any adults need that much spotlight anyway!
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    As long as you have a buffer of a few months in between weddings, you're good. 

    My cousin got engaged about two weeks after me. My brother is getting engaged next month. I honestly wouldn't be bothered at all if any of them planned their weddings to happen before mine. 
  • auriannaaurianna member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited November 2013
    You should not have to wait two years to get married because of his sister's "spotlight." It's sweet of you to think of her, but this is one of the most pivotal events in your entire life, and you shouldn't need to postpone your wedding (and possibly starting your family) just because she might not like that you get married the same calendar year.

    Every couple gets one day, or at least one weekend, when they get married. Your FSIL would be incredibly unreasonable to get upset just because not every single day between now and September 2014 is about her and her wedding. June from September is a big enough window IMO.

    The financial concerns are valid. It's possible that some guests wouldn't be able to come to both weddings. So you may need to accept that some guests might go to your FSIL's wedding and not yours, and vice versa.
    I think having the wedding where his family is at is a wonderful compromise assuming that it doesn't put significant hardship on VIPs on your side of the family.

    And just some other things to think about (that I didn't intend to be depressing, but they sort of are)...
    If you really want to have children and are ready to have children soon, I would not put this off any longer than necessary. It takes some people longer than others to conceive.

    I know you want his grandmother there; waiting until September 2015 might not be the way to do that. Anything can happen in that period of time.

    My BIL got engaged 2 months before my husband and I did. We ended up scheduling our wedding only four months after theirs, at a date that worked for us. If we'd waited even 6 more months, not only would my grandmother have not made it, but neither would have husband's 28 year old cousin. Anything can happen given enough time.

    This all trumps her "spot light"
  • auriannaaurianna member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited November 2013
    blah. dumb double posts.
  • FWIW, if the sister "loves the spotlight" like you say she does, if you get married a few months before her, and as a result, members of her family go to your wedding instead of hers, she's probably going to hold that against you for a long time.  How important is your relationship with her?


    Get engaged whenever you want.  I'd make a list of the overlapping guests for these events (so mostly FI's family and any mutual friends) and determine how many would need to travel.  Then discuss this with your FI's parents and come to an agreement of when the best time for your wedding would be.  If they strongly believe that some relatives would need 6-8 months between events, and you want the relatives to be there, try to make that concession.  If they think that 3 months is plenty of time, proceed as planned. 


    I am concerned about your "elope quietly and then have another party later" plan...please don't get secretly married and then in two years have a huge fake wedding reception where you re-do the ceremony and do all of the trappings of a traditional reception.  If you want the trappings of a traditional wedding and reception, do it all at once.  Or go to the JOB and get legally married whenever you want, and then host a normal party later - without traditional wedding reception activities (white dress, cake cuting, first dance, etc).

  • This isn't the exact situation but it's similar.  My husband's cousin got engaged in April.  We got engaged that May.  My husband's extended family (the decedents of his grandparents) are super close.  We live on the east coast, the cousin lives on the west coast.  We got married in November of that year (6 month engagement) while the cousin (who was engaged first) got married in June of the following year (over a year engagement).  My MIL who lives on the east coast attended our wedding and her nephew's wedding.  My husband's aunt who lives on the west coast attended our wedding and her son's wedding.  The grandparents attended both weddings as did many other family members.  There was less than a year between the weddings but people found a way to make it work.  
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  • photokittyphotokitty where I want to be mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Similar story here too...
    My brother got married in Oct. I was told not to get engaged with two months on either hand - he said he was joking and we got engaged Nov 30. Our sister engaged prior to his wedding had wedding planned for Aug. Scheduled mine for July. Everyone was happy and fine. We did not have OOT guests to worry about, but people will have to spend the money to travel twice, if they want to come to both regardless. Get engaged when you want and then talk to VIP about the wedding date. I would have eloped before I would have waited 2 years to get started on my life with DH. Everyone was happy and flexible, you might be surprised that this is the case for you too :)
    :kiss: ~xoxo~ :kiss:

  • My sister got engaged a year after me, and got married 6 months before me.  We had a 2.5 year engagement so we expected things like that. 

    It wasn't a big deal to my sister or me. DH and I already had our date booked and deposits made, so when my sis was trying to select a date/location, we discussed the hardship on our mutual guests and she picked a date approximately 6 months before mine (hers was a destination wedding).  It worked out beautifully, and nobody cared about the "spotlight".

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