In theory, wedding planning is fun. You get to prance around in a magical world with your spouse-to-be, picking out beautiful items for your registry, designing and hand crafting your invitations, and planning an epic party for your closest friends and family. In reality, wedding planning is fun….some of the time. The rest of the time, planning a wedding is stressful, challenging, and might give you a serious case of cold feet. So, how do you plan a wedding, while maintaining a strong, healthy relationship? Here are a few tips from our Washington DC couples counseling office:
Take a closer look. Many married couples tell me in Washington DC couples counseling that the problems they have today are the same ones they had years ago, when they first started dating and got engaged. The engagement period is a great time to put your relationship under the microscope and figure out the unhealthy patterns you and your partner fall into from time to time. But, how can you tell if a problem is minor or if it warrants more attention? Let’s take a look at the following example: an engaged couple is arguing about what the dress code should be for their wedding. Seems innocuous, right? If you take a closer look, you might notice that the couple differs in regards to culture or socioeconomic status. With this in mind, the issue of wedding attire might be about money and status: one family has tuxes and evening gowns hanging in their closets, while the other family has to rent or buy these items on a tight budget. Or, maybe this is a cultural difference: one family prefers to wear traditional dress from a particular country, while the other family feels that all guests should wear the dress of the majority culture. An argument about attire could also be about power and control in a relationship, specifically who gets the final say when we disagree about what to do? If you solve the underlying issue through pre marriage counseling (e.g., differences in culture, wealth, and/or power), it will be easier to come to a resolution on the obvious problem (e.g., wedding attire).
Address doubt. Some doubt is normal and to be expected when planning a wedding. You might look at your partner during a particularly nasty fight and wonder “Can I really deal with (insert annoying personality trait) for the rest of my life?” Marriage is a big step in any relationship and it should not be entered into lightly, so some doubt is to be expected and can be a sign that you are taking this decision seriously. However, if you find yourself circling back to feelings of uncertainty, doubt, and anxiety, you might want to consider Washington DC couples counseling. Premarital counseling can help you understand the root of your uncertainty and move past the doubt, so you can enjoy the engagement period.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Most brides and grooms would agree that their relationship is more important than the centerpieces at the reception. And, yet, many premarital couples find themselves on opposing sides of an issue, ready to do whatever it takes to have their vision for the wedding prevail. When this happens, take a minute to step back and remember why you’re planning a wedding in the first place: you love your partner and you want to spend your life with him/her. In A Practical Wedding, Meg Keene writes: “…The real point of your wedding day is to end up married. Married, with grace.” That’s it. It’s not about the centerpieces, or whether you buy your bridal party the perfect thank-you gift. If, at the end of your wedding day, you are married, then you have already had a perfect day.
Any tips for staying sane and strengthening your relationship when planning a wedding? Sound off in the comments!