Planning — and surviving — a wedding may be the first in a long line of tests a couple faces in their relationship. Although a wedding is just one day, planning a wedding involves managing expectations, budgeting, balancing family traditions, and learning to communicate with your future in-laws. A couple able to handle the decisions, details, and people that make up a wedding will have better luck dealing with future challenges together. On the contrary, couples who aren’t equipped to deal with wedding stress may find their relationship strained time and time again as new challenges, like finding a place to live and planning a family, arise.
So how do you survive a wedding without destroying the reason you’re getting married in the first place? A couple of key strategies are to communicate honestly with each other, discuss expectations, and always remember why this is important to you.
Decide who will plan the wedding.
Talk with your partner about who will lead the wedding efforts. Will it be the bride, a wedding planner, the mother-of-the-bride, or will you share the responsibility? There’s no right or wrong choice. The important thing is to agree on who is doing what, and communicate that to everyone involved.
Discuss your expectations.
Even if you decide to let one person plan the wedding, it’s still important for both parties to talk about what they want. Even the most laid-back groom will likely have one or two things he wants to have at his own wedding. Write down what you each want, attach a priority to each item, and then discuss your expectations. Don’t worry if you don’t agree on all of the points right away. Set those items to the side and revisit them after you have a chance to think about them. Learning to share your expectations will be valuable later in life. If you can’t communicate why you don’t want to dance the chicken dance, you may have trouble explaining why you think it’s important to have dinner together every evening after you’re married.
While the idea that “it’s your day” is a great one, it doesn’t mean that you discard the opinions of others in favor of getting what you want. A wedding is an event that joins two families. It’s not just you and your partner anymore. Your parents and in-laws, and possibly even friends, have a stake in the game and an expectation here and there. Hear everyone out, and be willing to give in to something they feel strongly about. It may be your wedding but these people will play a key role in your marriage and the rest of your life, so a little good will now will go a long way.
Lay problems on the table.
Maybe your parents are divorced, your mother-in-law isn’t your biggest fan, or your partner has an uncle with a penchant for showing up at family events drunk. Whatever the situation, talk with your future spouse about any issues that may cause problems at the wedding so that the two of you can devise a solution (or two!) to minimize chaos on your big day. The two of you are creating a family, and you have to be able to talk openly about your problems. Good problem solving skills are essential to good relationships.
Get ready for the family rituals.
You’re getting married, and there’s no time like the present to learn the secret ins and outs of your future in-laws. Family rituals may be cultural or traditions that are new to you. Be careful not to judge or dismiss “suggestions” that are important to your fiance’s family.
Make time for yourselves.
Don’t lose sight of the reason you’re getting married in the first place! Take a break from the wedding plans and enjoy each other’s company. Spending time together strengthens your relationship, and making time for each other during stressful times will prove to be an invaluable skill for the future.
There’s no doubt that weddings can make for stressful times in a relationship. To keep your relationship — and your sanity — intact, you need to make your partner a priority, learn to work together as a team, and be open minded to what lies ahead in your future together.