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I can understand living together without being married. I can then understand wanting to get married. But I don't really 'get' going through an engagement phase at that point. I guess part of it is that I don't really 'get' engagements at all these days. It's like people feel they have to run down the proper pre-flight checklist, even if they're already in the air. OTOH, what does it matter what I think?

What does anything matter, when it comes right down to it? (See what a rabbit hole you just uncovered?) Really, marriage is like college graduation: there's the getting-to-call-yourself-a-graduate part and then there's the commencement ceremony. You don't actually have to go to the commencement ceremony if you don't want to; it's just a photo-op. My commencement ceremony was half a year after my graduation, so it felt all the more anticlimactic.
Likewise, marriage being mostly a contractual arrangement (albeit a heavily-regulated one), there's not really any reason to put it off if you're ready to sign. Basically, that's just to put in place promissory estoppel so people will feel less reluctant to take irrevocable actions: "Uh, honey, you said if we had these kids, you would help provide for them, and you're not doing that. That's a violation of article III, section a, paragraph 4, subparagraph C, which allows me to invoke the provisions of article VI, section d ..." You can immediately begin expressing your love for one another in such a manner as soon as the contract goes into effect. The marriage ceremony's another matter; you can put that off all you want without legal consequence.
Ah, marriage. It's so romantic just thinking about it! It's almost like a chapter of U.S. history: "Well, we were living together under the Articles of Confederation, but in light of all the conflicts we were having, we decided those Articles didn't bind us together strongly enough, so we enacted this marital Constitution. We had to spend a lot of time in convention negotiating and compromising, but we're confident that the framework we came up with should provide a means for adequately addressing all the situations we're likely to encounter. True, someone might get disgruntled at some point, but that's why we enacted provisions allowing the use of force to execute the laws of the union and suppress insurrections." Nathan Larson (talk) 03:23, 27 December 2013 (MSK)
c'mon, it's just a beautiful, public declaration of love and commitment.
...which sets you up for the divorce, in which you publicly announce you no longer love that person in such a way that you would want to remain committed. Nathan Larson (talk) 03:23, 27 December 2013 (MSK)
exactly! and I get to keep the awesome blendtec my friends bought me
That's the spirit! Maybe there's something to this marriage stuff after all. Nathan Larson (talk) 03:23, 27 December 2013 (MSK)