Deirdre Reynolds: The very, very long engagement
Popping the question may still be popular, but walks down the aisle have slowed to a crawl, writes Deirdre Reynolds
Dublin Housewife Lisa Murphy was earlier this week forced to quash rumours that her engagement to Gerald Kean is on the rocks.
Two and a half years after celebrity solicitor Kean popped the question, there's still no sign of the socialite couple making it official.
So when the glam beauty salon owner jetted to New York alone when they were due to be on honeymoon, it prompted speculation that, well, the honeymoon was over.
But Lisa (36), who's appearing on TV3 reality show Dublin Housewives this week, insisted: "Everything between me and Gerald is certainly nice and strong."
Meanwhile, Gerald (54) has confirmed that the wedding of the year is set to go ahead at Christmas -- but teased: "I haven't said which year yet."
Loved-up Gerald and Lisa aren't the first celebrity couple to take their time down the aisle.
Twenty years after partner Stedman Graham got down on one knee, chat show queen Oprah Winfrey is still engaged.
The power couple announced their engagement in 1992 -- but later settled on a "spiritual union" rather than a legal one.
"I'm not the marrying kind," Oprah (58) revealed.
"If [Stedman and I] were married, by now we would be divorced."
In The Dictator, Sacha Baron Cohen jokes about his many wives as General Aladeen.
In reality though, it took the star six years to wed just one -- Australian actress Isla Fisher.
The A-list couple married in a private ceremony in the city of love in 2010 after a long engagement -- reportedly so that Fisher could convert to Judaism.
Meanwhile in 2009, indie darlings Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard tied the knot in Italy after a three year betrothal -- during which time they welcomed their first daughter Ramona.
Carmen Electra, who got engaged to rocker Rob Patterson in 2008, and Jessica Simpson, who got engaged to Eric Johnson in 2010, are just some celebrity brides-to-be yet to set the date.
So when did 'happily ever after' become 'happily ever engaged'?
"In the '60s, engagements often lasted three to six months," says Professor Terri Orbuch of the University of Michigan. "Today, a woman may be engaged for two, three, even five years."
In the past, same-sex marriage supporters Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie told how they would only wed when their gay pals could too.
Despite announcing their engagement last month, now it looks like Brangelina may stick to that promise after all.
"We have no date at all right now -- there is no date," says Pitt (48), who reportedly presented his fiancée with a $500,000 ring in front of their six kids.
"We're still hoping for marriage equality in the States before we [get married]."
For thirty-something couples who are already living together, getting married may have a certain ring to it.
"Sometimes when a couple gets engaged it can have a domino effect," says David Kavanagh of Avalon Relationship Consultants (avalonrc.com). "Suddenly all their friends get engaged too.
"It's very easy to go into a jewellers and buy a ring.
"But most couples are not aware of the legal implications of taking the plunge.
"Engagement rings are produced with no real commitment."
Perhaps it explains what happened to Katie Holmes and Chris Klein, and Rachel Weisz and Darren Aronofsky -- all of whom fell victim to the 'long engagement curse'.
When Dawson Creek's girl-next-door Holmes hooked up with the dreamboat Klein in 2000, it seemed like a match made in heaven. But just three years after he asked her to become his wife, Katie became Mrs Cruise instead.
Following five years in engagement limbo, Rachel Weisz and director Darren Aronofsky also ended up calling it a day instead of saying 'I do' in 2010.
But the 42 year-old actress got her Hollywood ending when she married Daniel Craig six months later.
"Longer engagements are not necessarily a good thing," says pre-marriage counsellor Kavanagh.
"By the time they exchange vows, there may be doubt about why they're getting married at all.
"Being 100pc sure about why you want to marry your fiancé(e) is far more important than the length of your engagement."
As she gets ready to wed her "best friend" Gerald, it's advice that's sure to ring true with Lisa Murphy -- who was previously engaged to Riverdance star Michael Flatley.
After all, who needs a diamond when you've got a rock?
"There's nothing about it that's traditional," adds Winfrey.
"[But] here is someone who is willing to stand up for you -- and that is love."