For the moment, we've been operating on an "unofficially engaged" status, which is a beyond weird thing from an emotional standpoint. From a practical standpoint, it makes sense - my partner decided that he really wanted to wait until he could give me a ring (even though I was not super-tied to the idea of needing to have a ring), and expenses for our ongoing home renovations skyrocketed several months ago, so the money for a ring just isn't there. But since we've decided that we're getting married in 12 months, for my own sanity, I needed to start the planning process. Though we haven't told our parents that we have a definite date (they all know that we are eventually planning to get married) and that it will be next year.
We've talked about telling our parents that we've decided on a date and are moving ahead with actually planning the wedding, but I am incredibly hesitant for a variety of reasons, most of which are merely a product of my own neuroses and family issues, but exist nonetheless.
1) My mother, bless her soul, is difficult to deal with. Not in any sort of mean or intentional way, but she has difficulty interpreting and reacting to situations in appropriate ways. She has an idea in her head of what being a "Mother of the Bride" (she really likes titles) should do, and tries to do it, though that idea may not necessarily be based in reality. My older sister got married just over three years ago, and after only a few weeks of attempting to plan, essentially eloped instead. It is safe to say that dealing with my mother was most likely a factor.
2) Although I do know better, I feel like if we tell people now and then money doesn't materialize for a ring soon after, I will never get a ring. Which is not the end of the world by any means, but after my initial feelings of "I don't need a ring, why do we have to get a ring", my partner gave a long spiel about how it was important to him because I deserved to have the physical representation of the promise it represented, and because I was worth it to him. Since I picked out my ring, I know it's not horribly expensive or extravagant, but now that I'm at the point where I can tell select people that we're planning to get married next year, it really hurts when I see people looking for a ring on my finger. It would be different if we had decided not to do an engagement ring, but the disconnect between deciding on a ring and not having it (and not knowing if it will really be possible in the near future, given ongoing expenses for other things) is distressing. Plus I am neurotic.
(Yes, I've investigating doing a super-cheap ring instead, but I have metal allergies and can only safely do surgical steel, sterling silver, and platinum jewelry with absolute safety. My partner hasn't been thrilled with any of the non-traditional rings I've tried to show him, and wants to get me a more classic ring. I am also incredibly wary of prong-set stones because my future mother-in-law lost the diamond from her engagement ring from a prong setting last year.)
Here is what I am doing to cope with these things:
1) Making as many decisions as possible now, before involving my mother. I know my mother well enough at this point in my life to know that if I am firm about a decision, she will respect it. While I am wary of how my mother will cope with the planning process, I should probably be more concerned about how my father is going to handle things - I'm very much a daddy's girl, and he and my mother have already talked about assisting with financing the wedding, but I have a sense that he is going to have a heart attack when he sees the actual costs. I'm trying to find the most budget-friendly options I can, but there aren't many that fit our criteria for number of guests, space for both ceremony and reception, and availability in the winter months.
2) On particularly rough days, I look at the picture of the ring I picked out and take deep breaths. Maybe I don't have an actual ring, but I have my super-awesome partner. That is more than enough to get me through the day.