The Engagement If you are reading this, then that means your life has just taken an amazing and wondrous turn: you just got engaged. We’d like to be the first to say CONGRATULATIONS! And as you begin your wedding planning efforts, we here at 0 To Bliss In No Time: Your Complete Guide To Planning Your Perfect Wedding are so pleased that you have chosen us to be your guide to help you through the fun times, the hard times, and the down-right exhausting times. With this book and your bridal glow, we’ll have your wedding from unplanned mess to perfection before you can say, “I do.” Each chapter includes a simple checklist so you make sure you get it all 100% right. While you admire and giggle over that beautiful, glittering new addition to your left hand, don’t forget that you need to act fast to make sure your big day is as perfect as you deserve it to be. Don’t let the thought of planning the perfect day scare you: millions of women have succeeded in planning their perfect nuptials, and you will be no different. But before the wedding comes the, dun dun dun, ENGAGEMENT PERIOD! 
This is a very special time for you and your fiancé. You are declaring to the world that you love each other enough to spend the rest of your lives together, so you had better be ready to make that declaration ring loud and clear for years to come. So, first things first: 1. Getting your engagement story right: We’re willing to bet that you have already told the story at least a dozen times, but you’ll be expected to recount your romantic story again and again. We recommend you and your fiancé discuss what happened and sketch out who says what in your story, that way you aren’t stepping on each other’s toes and stealing each other’s punch lines. We want your engagement to be a happy one, and staging it all is the only way to really ensure that happiness stays intact. 2. Make sure you put the announcement in the papers of every town that is important, including but not limited to: a) Hometowns of both the bride and the groom b) Hometowns of the mothers and fathers of the bride and groom c) College towns of the bride and groom d) any other city or town you or your groom lived for a period of more than 1 year. Why so many newspaper announcements? You need to make sure everyone knows so they can all share in your joy. Get the photos taken, the announcement written, and send, send, send! The entire world will love to be a part of your happiness; they just need to know about it! Announce it on social media, write a blog about it, and call all of your friends. This information is strictly for the people who need to know, and everyone is on that list! 3. Get a manicure. Trust us on this one. Everyone and anyone will be looking at that hand over the next few months and your cuticles are looking a little shabby if you ask us. And don’t think you can just one-and-done those finger nails. You should make sure to schedule in a manicure a week to keep those tips in top shape.
What are you doing? We just gave you a to-do list and we expect you to go do them! Vamoose! “Chris!” I yelled from the living room. “Chris! We have to discuss our engagement story, stat!” Chris leaned around the corner from the hallway. “What are you talking about? Have you forgotten how I proposed already?” he asked, skeptically. “No, it’s just that I’m worried when we tell people the story we might wind up talking over one another and stealing each other’s punch lines, and if that happens who knows what kind of wedge could be driven through our engagement happiness?!?” “I’ll tell you what, you can steal all of the punch lines, and I’ll just let my anger fester quietly until ten years from now when I resent you so much that I just can’t take it anymore and go all Lizzie Borden on you. Deal?” Chris extended his hand, waiting for me to shake it as if we were business partners. “Ha … ha … very funny. I just want to make sure that the stress of the wedding doesn’t wind up driving us apart and make us miserable for the next few months, okay? Is that so much to ask?” “Melanie, I love you. I want to marry you. And short of you becoming one of those insanely controlling, cry all the time brides on those ridiculous reality shows I will always love you and want to be married to you. So you can have all of the punch lines of the story, okay?” “Okay, but you still have to help me sketch out the entire story and what parts you are saying and which parts I get to say. It’s the only way to really get it right every time.” My voice started to rise little by little as I began to speak with more and more passion in my words. “Imagine if we were in a crowd of people that hadn’t heard our story, but one person had already. Then if we miss something or say something was different from what we said the last time we told the story they might discount everything we have to say and not take any of our stories seriously! This could lead to such issues as them not believing us when we announce we are with child, or we are moving, or some other huge life changing event along those lines. We need to get this shit on lockdown!” I brought my left fist down into my open right hand for emphasis. He needed to know how serious I was about this, and gosh darn it; I was going to make sure he did. I realize listening to one of these super cheesy books is probably not exactly a good life plan, but I can also tell you with complete honesty how entirely and utterly terrified I was of planning a wedding. If there is one thing I have learned from being a twenty-something it is that no matter what you will ever do, no one will ever actually think your wedding turned out perfectly. I had been a bridesmaid for 4 different people in the year prior to us getting engaged, and I had heard every complaint every single guest had: the food tasted awful; there wasn’t an open bar; the napkins were scratchy; the DJ had acted more like a guest than an employee of the bride and groom. I was bound and determined to do everything in my power to make sure that people kept their traps shut about all of those little opinions at my wedding, because there wasn’t going to be a single thing anyone could find fault with if I had anything to do about it. “Okay, I’ll let you map out our engagement story on one condition,” Chris said. “Fine. What is it?” “You consider the possibility of us just eloping. And before you just shoot down the idea I want you to think of the thousands of dollars you haven’t even budgeted yet but know you will once you start planning this. Think of our student loans. Think of how happy we will be with or without a huge party. Think of the stress you’ll avoid by not having to create the ‘most perfect day ever.’ Hell, think of the cruise we could go on with that kind of cash,” he added. “I will consider it... briefly. But I make no promises,” I said. “That’s all I ask.” And with that, he kissed me on the forehead and headed for the kitchen. He really is the sweetest man ever. I might be saying this only because he just proposed a couple of hours ago and I have the newly engaged goggles on, but I am fairly certain that I am right about this. When I saw the ring I knew right then and there that this next year was going to be the best of my life. Not because I was going to be planning a wedding, but because I was going to be planning a wedding that would result in spending the rest of my life with the perfect guy. I mean, how often do you— Oh crap. I need to write the engagement announcements for all of the papers! “I thought it was just your average, every day picnic. I mean, we don’t go on picnics every day, but you know what I mean.” Wait, that’s not what I meant. “Actually, we don’t really go on picnics ever, so I guess I should have realized something was up when he was like, ‘let’s go on a picnic, sweetie.’ Plus, he never calls me sweetie.” Oh god, oh god. This is way harder than the book made it sound. And all these people are looking at me like they are expecting me to tell them the greatest love story ever told. “I mean, he does sometimes, but it’s not like it his normal term of endearment or anything like that. You know, what with feminism and all!” WHAT THE HELL AM I TALKING ABOUT?!? I could feel my face turning red. I was screwing this all up, and I had practiced for hours the night before. We were at a party for a guy in Chris’s office that was retiring and since we had just gotten engaged the day before it was the only thing anyone wanted to hear about, naturally. Or maybe it was that it was the only thing I wanted to talk about. Either way, I had rehearsed the story over and over again, getting the timing right and the facial expressions down pat in front of the mirror in my bathroom. And now I was getting all flustered and screwing up my perfect fairytale proposal story in front of all of these people that were going to wonder what on earth it is that Chris sees in this ditz that can’t even tell a simple engagement story. What was wrong with me??? I swore to myself that I would do better next time. I would plan it out, write it all down, maybe even have a notecard with a prompt or two on it. I was going to be the best bride ever. I would be prepared, insightful, and a pro at this whole perfect wedding thing. I would break out of my normal boring self and be the super bride. I would be perfect, as would my wedding. And with that, 0 To Bliss In No Time: Your Complete Guide To Planning Your Perfect Wedding became my bible. “Oh my, that is a beautiful ring. It’s so different, so perfect for you,” the manicurist said. “I know, isn’t it just the greatest thing ever?!?” Looking back on it, I have no idea what basis the manicurist’s opinion about my ring was from seeing as how I had never been to this nail shop before. It was just the only clean place that had an opening within 72 hours of our engagement. In fact, I’m pretty sure she didn’t even really speak English, because after that she didn’t say another word except for, “You want pedicure?” and after I said “no” she went back to watching her Korean soap opera. But I didn’t care. I was just happy she appreciated my ring the way I did, even though it wasn’t your typical diamond engagement ring. “It’s an emerald, because they absorb things like oil and other stuff, so they deepen in color over time like they are growing with you. This pale emerald will darken over the years as our love ages.” Chris isn’t normally that much of a romantic, but man, when he hits it, he hits it right on the head. I wonder if he practiced the proposal the way I practiced its retelling. Since the manicurist wasn’t all that interested beyond what little English she knew, I decided to rehearse my story on the lady that sat next to me. “I just got engaged,” I nonchalantly mentioned. “Oh, congratulations! When did it happen?” the redhead responded politely. “Just yesterday. That’s why I’m here, getting my fingers engagement ready.” “Well all the happiness to you.” Then she turned to the television on the other side of the salon. I suppose this was a hint that she wasn’t all that interested, but it was like the words just kept bubbling up inside of me and had to be said. I had to share my story. Otherwise, how was she going to be able to share in my joy?!? “He did it in such a romantic way,” I began to recount the story I had rehearsed so many times and now had down pat. “He surprised me with a picnic, which should have been the tipoff right away, since we so rarely go out on picnics.” The redhead turned toward me with a close-lipped smile and slightly glazed over eyes, but I figured that was just because she hadn’t really been focused on the TV, so she needed to be told a story. “Then just before dessert, he pulled out a photo album of pictures of us. As we got about halfway through, there was a picture of him, kneeling on that very blanket in that very spot, holding out the ring.” I lifted my hand a bit to draw her attention to it. “I looked up, and there he was, kneeling like a gentleman, in exactly the position as in the picture. And he said, ‘Melanie Sandra Fenton, will you make me the happiest man in the world and marry me?’” I paused for dramatic effect 1, 2, 3 seconds. “And I said. ‘Yes.’” NAILED IT. “How nice,” she responded. Nice? I thought. NICE? I told that story perfectly. I had every punch line right. I had the dramatic pause. I had the ring lift to draw attention to the rock. AND ALL SHE SAYS IS NICE?!?!?!? “It was just so romantic. You know, some men just don’t have a romantic bone in their body. But not Chris. He is just so perfect,” I said knowingly. “Mmhmm.” How could she not have anything more to say than “Mmhmm?” There was so much more I wanted to talk about and she was denying me that right, especially when I was spot on with the re-telling. It had taken me two days to finally get it right after the work party debacle. You know what, clearly she doesn’t deserve to share in my wedding joy. I’ll just freeze her out and show her. And with that decision, I spent the rest of my manicure glaring at the redhead. I’m not sure whether or not she noticed, since she seemed to have learned Korean very quickly since she was watching the soap opera so intently, but I’m sure that she looks back on that day and remembers how incredibly rude she was to that newly engaged bride. I’m sure of it. “I can’t read your handwriting. Where was it that your mom lived during middle school?” “Do you really think that you need to send engagement announcements to every town my parents ever lived? I mean, my mom was an army brat. They moved every 18 months from when she was born and through college. Even after they would up settling down for her dad to work at the Pentagon she still never lived anywhere for more than 2 or so years,” Chris said. “I just want to make sure that everyone can share in our joy! By the way, we need to make sure we have a variety of engagement pictures taken so they are appropriate for the different places. What size cowboy boot would you wear?” I asked. “Why would I need a pair of cowboy boots?” “You’re family lived in El Paso, Texas, for a couple of years, right? We need to make sure they feel like we identify with them. We need to be cowboys,” I explained. “Mel, El Paso isn’t like the rest of Texas. I mean, there are a couple of TEXANS, but for the most part it was people from Mexico that lived there. And again, we were only there for 18 months. I hardly even went off base.” “So…what size hat would you wear?” “I am not wearing a cowboy hat. I draw the line at that.” “No, I am looking at sombreros online. I can get us both customized ones for less than $30 a piece. AND IT COMES IN PINK!” “I swear on all that is good in this world….” Chris sighed. “I am taking away your credit card so you can’t order these things.” “You’ve forgotten one very important thing,” I said. “Oh? What’s that?” “Paypal continues to exist, and they have my card number stored to help ease my future purchases,” I said with a smile. “No hats.” And with that, he walked away, leaving me with a list of no less than 30 cities or towns that he or his family had lived in over the years, many without the name of the biggest newspaper to contact. I would have been googling for hours, but I had to have my manicure touched up, so the list that seemed like it went on forever was going to have to wait.