Dear future-engaged-person,

Next time you hear from me on Family Edge, I’ll be a married woman. With only 15 days to go, I wish I had written a day-by-day journal of the ups and downs, the discoveries and lessons, and the raw beauty of the whole process of being engaged. So I’d like to take this last chance to reflect on being almost-married.

There is so much I want to share. I want to tell you all about the overwhelming joy of saying “yes” and looking forward to the future, and about the peace that comes from knowing that I’ve chosen the right man for me.

I want you to know that I thought I’d spend the months before preparing with the perfect work-out routine (is it too late to start now?), but that my preparation was more of the mental and spiritual variety – learning more about marriage so that I could make the commitment whole-heartedly, and trying to learn to love selflessly and put my fiancé first – all in preparation for a happy, fulfilled marriage.

I’d like to encourage couples to do the planning together instead of leaving it only to either the bride or the groom. I learnt that this is such a good way to deepen your knowledge of each other, make decisions as a team, and plus it’s a way for both of you to be equally invested in your future.

I want to share how the lead-up to marriage is not the glamourised Hollywood version, but actually all the more beautiful in all its setbacks, struggles, personal growth and small victories. I’d like to tell you that it was a stress-free experience, but that would be a lie. It’s only natural to sometimes get caught up in the details that aren’t really important, react badly just because you’re tired, take people’s opinions too personally, or become selfish and inward-focused and think that the world revolves around the wedding. But I’d also like to tell you that that’s okay – as long as you step back, realise what you’re doing, apologise if need be, rectify your attitude and start again.

I’d like to show you how much you’ll grow in the process. How my fiancé and I have individually come up against a lot of weaknesses we didn’t know we had, worked to accept them, and are trying to support each other in the struggle against them. Like how my procrastinating tendencies had to be fought so that I could efficiently carry out all the bits and pieces that I had to get done; and how my naturally very efficient fiancé grew even more patient while putting up with said procrastination. And how we’ve also seen more virtue and goodness in each other, and grown more in the love we have for each other.

I want to share with you the best advice we received over the months. Keep the focus on the marriage rather than the wedding day. Find some grounding amongst all the chaos, which for me meant praying a bit every day, but for others might be regularly exercising to clear the mind or getting a good eight hours of sleep. Accept that there will be things I cannot change, such as the weather, and take it in stride – because the end goal is to marry my favourite person, not achieve the best photo album of all time. Look around at every face at the reception and be grateful that these are the people who are present to share this with us. Be selfless on the day instead of self-focused, and you’re guaranteed to enjoy it even more.

I also want you to know that you’ll really appreciate the people in your life. My fiancé saw me at my worst many times over the last months and never changed his mind about marrying me – how could I not be grateful for that? My family and friends did such an amazing job of trying to take the pressure off, showering me with affection, and encouraging me let it out when I needed to. My work colleagues were always ready with words of advice, and even perfect strangers shared in my excitement.

Engagement is not meant to be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. But it’s a beautiful, beautiful time. Just make sure you make the most of it.

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.