As summer winds down, I’ve been reflecting on the season when many couples say, “I do”.
Sitting with couples during the crescendo up to their wedding day, I am reminded what a significant milestone weddings are in life. Though each person’s wedding planning experience brings with it their unique brand of challenges, there can be some universal trials and tribulations.
Here are some ideas to help couples decrease the stress and increase the joy when it comes to planning the big day.
I know that word sounds so charged (and dry). Just seeing it can send people into a state of dread. However, having a budget can save you and your partner from the tortuous roller coaster of arguing, anxiety, and panic-induced “calling it off” moments.
Get clear about your budget from the very beginning.
Decide on the amount of money you and your partner feel comfortable spending and set a number you refuse to go above. Make sure it is an amount both of you agree on and truly feel good about. Determining budgetary parameters will lend itself to making the scores of decisions ahead much easier to make.
This is a two-part process. The first is setting aside time to self-reflect. Many people have dreamed about their wedding day since they were young. They have a vision of what they want it to look like. Take some time to think about your vision and what feels most important to you. Is it the people? The venue? Having a certain kind of meal? Get as clear as you can about what your priorities are. Pick two.
Once each of you has gained some clarity on your own priorities, come together. Hear what your partner’s vision is and what is most important to him or her. Share your vision and what is most important to you. Ideally, there will be some overlap but if not, the two of you have done some homework to help clarify where you can be flexible and where you feel more passionate.
Beware of Information Overload
The wedding industry is a snarly beast. Everywhere you look there are blogs and books and television shows about creating the “perfect” wedding. Not to mention your friends and family who have planned weddings themselves and want to share every detail with you about what they did.
Sometimes this information can be helpful and inspirational. Other times, it can be overwhelming and even shaming. Keep checking in with yourself: Are you enjoying the wedding blog or is it making you feel inadequate? Is listening to your friend’s wedding experience fun or is it irritating? Notice your pleasure around the process. When it begins to wane, it’s probably time to step away.
Event vs. Ritual
Weddings can be a tricky balance. They are a celebration of your union but they are also an event and an event most likely means guests. I hear so many couples spin with worry about their guests: what they’ll think, if they’ll have a good time, if they’ll be properly entertained, etc.
Family expectations, extensive travel, and the wedding ideology that permeates our culture put a ton of pressure on the event aspect of weddings. This can force us to lose sight of the deeper meaning of the wedding ritual and the step you and your partner are taking together.
Though it is no doubt challenging, reorienting and reminding yourselves of the commitment you are making to each other and what this means for you personally can help in putting the external pressure into perspective.
This is probably the hardest part of wedding planning because it tends to be the most emotionally charged. Many couples have to contend with family expectations and input, especially if mom and dad are helping to foot the bill. At the least, it might be mom “suggesting” some friends of hers you’ve never met be invited. At the worst, it could be your parents insisting on controlling every aspect of the day.
In many ways, a wedding symbolizes a rite of passage into adulthood. You are leaving your family of origin to begin your own family. Setting clear boundaries in a loving but firm way is part of being an adult. Though this can be scary, let this rite of passage inspire you to step into a new role when dealing with family and encourage a thoughtful creation of your adult identity.