Image by Ben Spark/Flickr, Art by Alex Alvarez/Fusion

Your engagement is a thrilling, wondrous time, even and maybe especially if it ends with you being swept off your feet by a Manic Butcher Dream Boy. But you should be prepared for the things that will happen the moment you announce this particular phase of your hopefully long and beautiful lurch towards death. Because, as you'll soon discover, everyone knows how to be engaged better than you.

I myself am recently engaged (to a human, NBD) and have some nuggets of something almost like wisdom to share with you, should you choose to be receptive:

Everyone will have a thought about The Ring.

An engagement ring, should you and your partner choose to use one (I am a very Modern And Progressive Woman of Today, and if you choose not to mark an engagement with Pink Chocolate Champagne Mustard Diamonds by Sanrio for Ed Hardy, I am with you,) can be a nice symbol of your love and commitment, or something to pawn off down the road should you need to (that is not a joke). But it can also serve, in some people's eyes, as a material symbol of a couple's love for one another, which can lead to judgments and assumptions that may be incorrect. As any celebrity with a couples name will tell you, the size and price of your engagement ring does not correlate to the depth and magnitude of a couple's love for one another. If anyone ventures to tell you otherwise (and they will, with carefully-practiced smiles), you may smile warmly at them, with dead eyes, declare yourself a minimalist, then slowly, languidly, look down the length of their outfit. Likewise, if you revel in "more is more," and your ring rivals Versailles, the Vanderbilt mansion, the Kasa Kardashian, do own it. The only taste a ring has to reflect, after all, is your own.

Everyone will wanna hear the engagement story, but also not really.

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People will ask to hear your engagement story, whether your betrothed was shot out of a canon and onto the backs of endangered white tigers, or asked you at dinner, while the couple at the next table was loudly and passionately discussing genital mutilation over oysters. You will tell your story, over and over, and watch as people's eyes slowly glaze over and they scan the room for something else to talk about. Remember: It is the thought that something something.

Everyone will have advice.

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You will receive a lot of unsolicited advice during this time. My unsolicited advice to you is to actually listen to all of it, weigh it in your mind, and reject whatever does not apply or sit well with you. After all, even though it is annoying and perhaps intrusive, this advice shows that people care about you and the person whose jokes you choose to hear over and over for the remainder of your life. And simply because advice is not asked for does not mean this it will not be useful to you.

Everyone will want to know about the wedding.

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All in due time. Do not plan the wedding before you are ready, and do not plan the wedding for everyone. I may be in the minority in believing that a wedding is for others while the marriage is for the couple, but the truth is that you cannot and will not make everyone happy. Some things will have to give. Some people may not be able to attend because your wedding will be in a city or at a date that is not convenient for them. Not everyone will enjoy what you believe to be a very festive soy, nut, gluten, dairy, and meat-free taco buffet. Everyone will hate your U2 cover band. Just make sure that as many people are having as much fun as possible, and focus on planning an event that celebrates not only the next phase in your life, but the people who are enjoying it along with you.

You will have to be a jerk.

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Sometimes you will have to say no. You might say no to having children at your wedding or anywhere near your person. You might say no to offers of a lap dance from Lolly Popp on the eve of the wedding. You might say no to advice, or offers of help, or suggestions or criticism. Do this with all the grace and civility you can muster, but know that, sometimes, there is no winning.

This time is what you make it.

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Focus on the positive. Focus on your schmoopy-poo. Focus on the friends and the family who are delighted for you. Focus on the family you may create. Focus on what the future may hold. And also, do take time to not focus on anything at all, to slip into a state of just feeling content, and warm, and loved.

Congratulations, and try not to barf.