I'm all for being "sure" that you want to marry -- for knowing the time is right, but just as some people are responsible enough to hold down a job at sixteen, others are ready to marry before the age of 25.
Take me, for example.
I met my husband in my first year at university. I was eighteen, he was twenty five. I'd never been 'in love' before -- just a long unrequited infatuation. He was on the rebound from a broken engagement.
It sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn't it?
Maybe it would have been, if I hadn't been a mature eighteen-year-old, and he hadn't been emotionally aware, but then, we are the people we are.
We didn't rush headlong into a commitment. I had a degree to earn, and a future of my own to prepare for. I wasn't ever going to give up my individuality to be a man's possession -- even if I gave up my name to be his wife.
After a year, we moved in together. We made no promises to each other, no long term plans, we just wanted to share our living space, to see how we handled being together all the time. We rowed, often, but we laughed more.
After another year, he took a twelve-month contract in Saudi Arabia, and we again made no promises, but agreed that we would see how, having handled being together, we could handle being apart. There was no 'net then, and I didn't even have a phone, so, for a year, we wrote weekly letters to each other, speaking only three times -- once at Christmas, and once on my twenty-first bithday, and finally on the day I got my results, when I was able to tell him I'd earned First Class Honours in my degree.
I met him at the airport when he came home. Shy, terrified and not sure whether he would still want me, or I would still want him.
When we hugged, and he kissed me, and I stood in his arms, I knew. This was the one for me, and this was where I wanted to be for the rest of my life. He proposed in a matter of weeks, and we married a month after my twenty-second birthday. The date was 22nd March, 1986, we've recently celebrated our fifteenth anniversary.
Marriage is a big thing, and you shouldn't rush into it, any more than you should rush into any big decision, without thinking things through -- but it's about people, not numbers on a calendar.
Update: January 2011 - and now we are planning to renew our vows in a couple of months, to celebrate our 25th.