Tess's guilt and joy in the engagement keeps her from naming a date. Angel keeps asking her at tempting times, surrounded by natural beauty or among the cows. One night they are alone beside the river and Angel mentions that Dairyman Crick doesn't need much help for the winter. He had suggested that Tess leave when Angel did, around Christmas.
Setting a wedding date would be like submitting to fate for Tess, so she avoids it. She is most vulnerable and passionate in nature, as Angel has learned. Finally reality starts to catch up with their fantasy.
Tess feels bad at being asked to leave but then is caught in a dilemma. She has to really set a date or else find a new and foreign farm without Angel. He reminds her that they cannot continue as they are forever, and though Tess wishes that they could, she promises to pick a day.
Tess finally gives in to the inevitable future and accepts that this time of easy happiness cannot last. She must face both the past and the future at some point.
They tell the Cricks, who congratulate them and lament losing Tess. Mrs. Crick swears that she always knew Tess was meant for great things. They really set a date and Tess accepts it with the fatalism of her people. She writes again to Joan, reminding her that Angel is a gentleman, and of a different and more discerning society.
Despite the many bad things that have happened to her, Tess still has some of her mother's ability to accept harsh realities and move on. She has to remind Joan of the disparities of class between her and Angel, and how judgmental his community is.
Angel had emphasized the practicality of their marriage, but really he is still enjoying the recklessness of this time of his life, and his love for Tess remains naïve and fanciful, unsuspecting that she could have any troubled history.
Angel also experiences this time as dreamlike, avoiding the realities of his life. His love for Tess comes from a similar state of mind, which will lead to disastrous consequences.
Angel has begun to influence Tess's way of speaking and thinking, and he fears to leave her to revert to rustic ways. He will present her to his parents, but then wants her with him wherever they venture next. But first he wants to ready Tess for a few months before she meets his mother.
Angel plans out their future but fears to startle Tess. He wants to “train” her to meet his mother, so she doesn't embarrass him. Angel still cares more for other's opinions than he thinks.
Angel also plans to spend a while learning about flour-mills at Wellbridge, and he is greatly influenced by the fact that their lodgings would be in an old d'Urberville mansion. He decides to go there right after the wedding, but keeps his plans vague to Tess.
Angel makes more decisions based on whims and sentiments that will have lasting effects on Tess. He unknowingly dredges up her past just at the start of her new life.
Tess contemplates the date (December 31) in wonder. Izz asks her if Angel will follow the customs and ask her parents for permission, but Angel explains he wants to get a quiet wedding license, much to Tess's relief. She feels that her good fortune now will mean bad luck later, as that is how God works.
Angel buys her new wedding clothes, and Tess is overcome with delight. She tries on the dress and then thinks of an old nursery rhyme about an impure bride, and wonders if the dress will betray her and turn red.
Tess is still steeped in both her mother's superstitions and the judgments of Victorian society. The song and the dress seem like bad omens, and she feels impure again.