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7 Unexpected Things That Have Happened Since I Got Engaged

Although September 8, 2015 – the day I went from girlfriend to fiancee – was seven months ago, it doesn’t quite feel that way. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been engaged for foreverrrr. And on other days, it feels like it was just yesterday. Either way, there are a few things that I’ve felt, learned, or experienced in these past seven months that were rather unexpected.

I’m ALWAYS Worried My Ring Will Slip Off My Finger Into a Gutter

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You know when you first paid for your own phone and anytime you walked over a gutter you would clench it more tightly than your edges so that it wouldn’t fall through the cracks? I’ve been stuffing my hands in my pockets while walking around because I’m deathly afraid that my slightly loose ring will fall off into the sewer and be forever gone. I’m being stubborn about getting my ring resized because 1. I was sized by the jeweler beforehand and 2. I am claiming that I won’t be spending much longer in cold temperatures, and I don’t want my ring to be too tight when I’m in a warmer environment. I really just need to go ahead and buy some ring insurance, but then again…

Sometimes I Forget to Wear My Ring

I’m gonna blame this on the fact that I work from home both as a grad student and a blogger, so days can go by without me leaving the house. When I do go somewhere, especially if it’s just to run a quick errand like going grocery shopping, I’ve been known to venture out without my engagement ring. Is that bad? I feel like it doesn’t fully honor the commitment Bae made to me by proposing, but then again…

I’ve Had Several Identity Crises

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I’ve really struggled to reconcile my identity as an individual person with my identity as a person attached to someone else. I’m an African feminist – meaning I try to be like Chimamanda but I also was raised by parents desperately trying to hold onto their culture in a foreign land – a culture where dowries and bride prices exist, and women can be “sent back” to their parents’ home if their husband is unhappy. Pretty much I’m as feminist as can be while also respecting (most) of my Nigerian cultural traditions.

That said, I’ve been bothered by three identity issues: First, the last name debate – in the back of my mind, I assumed that I would change my last name socially and legally, but keep it professionally to maintain continuity with my published research in public health. This made lots of sense to me, but after talking to my fiance and some family members, not everyone feels the same way.

Secondly, my mom has been sliding me nuggets of wisdom in preparation of this venture called marriage, and I love that we’ve gotten even closer during this time. But when she tells me to cook the future mister rice rather than quinoa if he prefers it, I can’t help but feel that he should cook his darn self rice if he doesn’t want quinoa! I just feel like there’s a really fine line between doing something for someone because you love them (aka making rice because I know he likes it), and doing something because its what you’re expected to do as a woman and a wife. I’m not here for the latter.

Third, the whole becoming someone else’s daughter thing really threw me off while I spent Christmas in Kenya. Though I am VERY grateful for having future in-laws that are incredibly kind and welcoming, it made me feel weird to have people who were not my parents and not my kindred refer to me as “their daughter”. It made me feel like once married, I would no longer be a member of my family, but would join someone else’s. Speaking of being joined…

I Still Don’t Have a Wedding Date

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If getting married was just about me, I would be walking down the aisle in roughly two months. But alas, I have NO idea when we will ALL be getting married, because it really is a joining of two families for us. I know that some people choose to elope or have their families minimally involved in their weddings, but J and I (ooh I like that) made a conscious decision to include our families and their opinions as much as possible. Since we’re coordinating different personalities, schedules, and even time zones, it has proven to be a much slower wedding planning process than I planned. Even still…

I Spend Hours on Pinterest Planning For No Reason

 

Though I have no date in sight, that doesn’t stop me from staying up until 4 in the morning every once in a while scouring Pinterest for color, dress, cake, flower, and all sorts of other inspiration. I mean, my Pinterest board is POPPING. *hint hint, follow me* Hopefully this means that once we actually settle on a date, the planning/execution will go smoothly since I pretty much have it all figured out. However…

J is Way More Invested in This Wedding Than I Expected

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I’ve been VERY surprised that my fiance has been really invested into certain details about the wedding. Anyone who knows the guy knows he’s extremely laid back and go with the flow, so when he turned down my initial purple and blue color scheme, I looked at him like he had two heads! From colors to cake to groomsmen attire, J has had a lot of opinions about the wedding, which makes me really happy because it shows that we’re both equally excited about it. Now we just gotta figure out where this money is gonna come from…

I’ve Saved Over $15,000

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Man nothing will get your behind into savings mode quicker than hearing from a venue that the price per head is ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DOLLARS. In New Jersey. Like without the cost of flowers. And a DJ. And suya… because there WILL be suya at my wedding. Since September I’ve gone into overdrive with saving, working three part-time jobs last semester and putting the earnings from two directly into savings, and now I’m living with my parents in NJ (thanks guys!) while AirBnBing my Harlem apartment to save all my rent money. So far I’ve saved over 15 grand from just these two things, which I think is pretty impressive for someone whose primary income is a graduate student stipend. Weddings are incredibly expensive, but J and I have been working together to ensure that we do not go into debt, do not overburden our families, and have money for life after the wedding… you know that part that matters.

I’ll continue to keep you guys posted about my engagement and wedding journey!

All photos by Rich Allela of Rich Allela Photography, Nairobi Kenya.

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Comments

  1. Congratulations! You look good together. You inspired me to go natural????????. You have lovely hair. I recently got engaged and I must say reading through your blog I can relate.I have been planning my wedding on Pinterest. I love your boards????????. Keep Slaying. All the best with the wedding.

  2. Hi, I enjoyed reading your blog!!! You are absolutely gorgeous!!! You mentioned that you stay at home and current in school. Im interested in becoming a blogger but dont know where to start. I would like your help

  3. Sister, I am going through the same journey with you, the last name is an issue because, who will understand and pronounce the last name OKAGBUE, After building my last name Fredricks and created a brand from it, why change it. The stubborn me it’s still fighting with that one. Marriage is a union, and with the Nigerian culture, no matter how Americanize that you may become as I was told to me, loll, you still will install some part of your roots with the family you soon to have.

    1. Haha I can pronounce Okagbue! I haven’t thought about imparting some of my roots on the family I’m entering, but I’m sure that will happen too. Everybody is about to learn to love okra soup!

  4. Congratulations on your engagement! You two look great together! Also, congrats on saving $15,000! That’s major!!!!

    Although I’ve only been engaged for about 2.5 weeks, I’ve experienced some unexpected things too…like people giving their opinions when they won’t be paying for anything…or people who don’t even know me talking negatively about my ring when they’re at home by themselves (where they do that at? lol). It’s unfortunate but I’m choosing to focus on the positive!

    I can’t wait to read more about your wedding and marriage journey! #BLMGirls

    1. Congrats to you too!! When people give opinions when they’re not paying – girl how about people giving opinions when they’re not even on the guest list!! And anyone who has anything to say about your ring is a bonafide H.A.T.E.R. But yes, stay positive and enjoy this time!

  5. Yes mariage is bigger than people think. Not that you asked for any advice, lol, but definitely use this engagement period to understand and come to terms with the meaning of marriage and to see if you and your Bae are in agreement on such idea. It may be a cultural thing to feel as if you are joining your future hubby’s family, and although in a sense you are, maybe you can view it as you and your Bae are now creating your own family (2 becoming one, both leaving mother and father and cleaving to each other.) With you guys parents now being “extended family”.

    And yes you might want to lock in a date, because certain seasons and days (Sun-Thur) are cheaper than others and you can save some money that way too. ~Signed a married woman 🙂

  6. Hahaha “I have NO idea when we will ALL be getting married” I found that very funny; I actually burst out laughing. I really enjoyed the post and your candor. I also think I might wrestle with balancing my feminism with some expectations of culture (I’m Yoruba). Like you, I also worry about “losing” my family to become a part of a new family. On the other hand, I have a great respect for culture, and wouldn’t want to lose mine at all. So I am all for culture and letting it fully display at my [future] wedding. Oh your ideas for saving money are spot on and very timely. I’m not even about to get married, but I’m about to live on a graduate student’s stipend and loved the suggestion on how to save money. Finally, I’m glad you and your boo are including your families in your wedding plans. People sometimes complain about how families are overly involved in weddings. But I have never thought of it as a big deal. I feel like if my parents have sacrificed so much for me all my life, what’s in a day? Anyway, congrats again! I hope you have a fabulous wedding. Even more, I pray you have an incredibly blessed marriage and home.

    1. Girl we sound like twins! I need to do a separate post on surviving financially while in graduate school because it’s not a game. Thank you!

  7. Wow!I got engaged two days before that and I feel so great that am not alone
    I have lost my ring twice,I sometimes travel without it(shame on me),when I remember I have a ring?I wear it to sleep.lol
    I don’t have a date tooa few others you mentioned…you go girl!!!(feel like I’ve known you. Heeeeheeee)

    1. Omg I think I would lose my senses if I lost my ring! I can’t wear it to sleep because I’m a messy sleeper lol I would scratch my whole face up

  8. I love how open you are with these things. It makes it incredibly easy to connect and also gain real insight.
    Thanks for sharing!
    You guys are beautiful ?
    Congratulations!

  9. First – you’re on the right track with everything honey. Second, I would much rather have been called ‘my daughter’ than the ‘my-wife’ that some of my husband’s extended family called me . It set my teeth on edge, and still does till this day. Third, my mom used to tell me, when I was preparing for my wedding 11years ago, “No matter what you do or don’t do, your wedding won’t be the best ever, no will it be the worst ever.” It really helped to ground me when I was in panic mode. Turns out she was right. Wishing you every happiness.

  10. Hey KK! It’s so lovely following your wedding journey. I initially started following you for natural hair tips, then I began to devour your blogging tips (thanks for those by the way) being a newbie myself and now I live for KK AND BAE updates!-) Lol! You’re a wonderful couple plus I love the advice you give generally about life (esp saving).

    I’m not engaged but I totally relate to the ‘Identity Crisis’ part because they are conversations I have had with myself on numerous occasions especially as family members start subtly asking about weddings and the like. Being an African feminist myself I also wonder what is the place/role of the woman in marriages today more so when culture may sometimes dictate other wise. I loved the comparison to Chimamanda because I also can think of no one better to align my beliefs with the sphere of today’s African feminist.

    Let us know when you’re coming back to Kenya because I missed when you were around.
    Keep sharing your nuggets of wisdom and all the best with the planning!-)

    1. Thanks so much Silvia! My gut feeling is that there’s an entire world of this current generation’s African feminists who are wrestling with these issues so we need to talk about them more! I will definitely let you know when I’m back in Kenya ?

  11. Please keep us posted! 🙂

    Love your spirit, the hustle is within you! Well done on the savings (AirBnB’ing your apartment is a brilliant idea) and I pray more money making opportunities come your way.

    xx

  12. I know ONE THING for sure…..YOU’RE VERY FOCUSED. Good job mum and baba. Very interesting blog. I say, choose a date and work around that date, enter your wedding plans into your schedule like with your blogging, you tube, work schedule, school schedule and Bae schedule. It WILL WORK out because it’s quite obvious you’re a planner and not a slacker by any means. You’re doing good by browsing and “mentally” planning, but a date will sort of make you commit to your wedding decisions as far as colors, attire, venue, etc. I know you will negotiate the BEST rates to stay in budget. Sooooo while you have all this going on, I’ll live vicariously thru you and Bae. This is going to be a fun journey to read about. Keep up the good work and I see God alllll in what you do and represent. #godspeed

    1. I literally copy pasted this and saved because YASSS! Thank you so much for the advice and encouragement! I’m honored to know that God shines through my words and actions because that’s the ultimate goal!

  13. I’m guessing these are some of your engagement/pre-wedding photos, and I must say I love them all!

    On some of the things you’ve learned…

    I haven’t changed my last name and this is 2 plus years in. I don’t know anyone personally who agrees with my decision but it’s mine. To compromise I’ve suggested hyphenating my last name with his, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    Joining another person’s family will take time. You’ve been with your family for 25 years, so it’ll understandably take time to see his family as yours, especially since they don’t live near you. Just be prayerful about it and ask God for His love and peace to cover the merging families.

    If you’re concerned about forgetting to wear your engagement ring, what about me that forgets my wedding bands a little too often? LOL. My mum and sister keep scolding me and asking why I take them off.

    You’ll be fine! And I can’t to read more on your wedding process.

  14. Girl, where do all this wisdom come from at an early age. You travel, save ,go to school, visit different country for cheap and saving money for your wedding. I have nothing but utmost respect and honor for you. I have to learn to strive to be like you.

  15. Your Pinterest board is LIT! Seriously, your Pinterest board will be repinned and it might replace my current board lol. I like J better than Bae… KK and J? Anyway, enjoy the process. I’m so with you about the rice deal. I’ll make rice to be nice but that’s not my job. ?

    1. Haha go ahead and repin soon because I have to remove some stuff since I can’t do my darn purple and blue anymore ?. And KK and J is here to stay!

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