Find my soul mate: check.
Set a date for our wedding: check.
Register for gifts: check.
Now all we have to do is to plan the perfect day.
Planning a wedding really can be a great experience for two people who are in love. But it can also be intensely stressful and create all kinds of conflict between you and your fiancé. Arguments over money, time, and the actual details of the wedding can take a lot of the fun out of this meaningful journey that you two are beginning together. You might even have fights about how stressed you are. And we haven’t even mentioned trying to please all your friends and relatives who have their own opinions and agendas.
Here are ten suggestions to help you fully enjoy this process together, so that planning your wedding can bring you closer to each other rather than leaving you both gritting your teeth as you say “I do.”
1. Commit to Making your Relationship the Main Priority
It’s dangerous to maintain a naïve belief that your love for each other will help you avoid the traps that other couples fall into as they plan their weddings. So instead, talk with each other and acknowledge the very real potential for conflict. Promise that you’ll both keep in mind what the wedding is really all about—your mutual love and devotion—and commit to each other that your relationship is more important than the ceremony and reception.
2. Learn to Watch what you Say
There will be moments—we promise—when you’ll find yourselves in a heated argument about some decision you’re making about the big event. It’s important that you’re honest with each other and talk about how you really feel, but be careful that you don’t say something you don’t mean or that really hurts this person you care about.
3. Learn to Watch How you Say what you Say
Words matter. And the way you say something can make all the difference in the world. For example, guys, when she brings up the subject of “registering,” she’s not suggesting a trip to the DMV. And while registering for gifts, she may ask you to help her choose one of eleven different spoons, all of which look pretty much identical to you. You might be tempted to say, “I don’t care which one we choose!” Instead, you might want to say, “I know this is important to you, and I care that we get the perfect spoon for our place settings. I just don’t have a preference on this decision.” The “I don’t have a preference” response will save you a lot of conflict and help you begin honing the diplomacy skills that you’ll need for years to come.
4. Learn to Watch for When to Say What you Say
It’s late at night, you and your fiancée are both exhausted, and you’re feeling pressured by your mother to hurry and set up the meeting with the caterer. This probably isn’t the best time to bring up the face that your fiancée made earlier when you told her you didn’t know what a calla lily is. If your feelings get hurt, there’s nothing wrong with addressing the situation. Just use your best judgment in terms of when you want to bring it up.
5. Don’t Lose Perspective about what Really Matters
Is it really worth fighting over whether to invite Aunt Betty’s landlord to the wedding? It might feel like it is when you’re both rushing around trying to make all the right decisions, but it’s probably not. Give the details the attention they deserve, but stay focused on why you two are planning a wedding in the first place and on what ultimately matters—your love for each other.
6. Make Time to just Hang Out
Of course planning the wedding is going to demand a lot of your time. But as you read wedding magazines, visit florists, sample menus, and choose china patterns, be sure to prioritize the friendship part of your relationship. Make sure that you’re regularly spending time together just laughing and telling stories. In fact, make it a rule that there are times when wedding talk is strictly forbidden.
7. Maintain the Long View
Your goal is a lifetime together, so don’t let a few months of wedding planning undermine all that you’ve built and all that you have before you. Remember, and remind each other, that you’re both in this for the long haul.
8. Get Plenty of Help
Enlist friends and family to run errands for you and to take care of some of your other responsibilities. This can reduce the overall stress you feel, which means that you’ll be less likely to take things out on each other.
9. Set clear Boundaries with Other parties Involved
Even if you rely on other people for help, don’t forget to take care of yourself. One of the quickest ways to damage a relationship is to try to please everyone else. So realize that there may come a time when you need to tell a friend or family member, “We’re going to run this errand, just the two of us,” or, “You’ve been a huge help, but now we need to make a few decisions by ourselves.”
10. Remember to have Fun
It’s going to be really easy to get so caught up in all the details and decisions that you forget to enjoy what you’re doing. So remind each other frequently that you’re only going to do this once. Then you can make sure to do it in a way that guarantees you fully enjoy yourselves and each other.
Plenty of people are going to tell you not to sweat the small stuff right now. But that’s not our advice because, let’s be realistic: the small stuff is what makes for a great wedding. So sweat the little details as much as you want and create the perfect, magical wedding that’s exactly what you both desire. Just make sure that while you’re putting together your dream wedding, you don’t turn your relationship into a nightmare. Remember that you’re on the same team and that your ultimate goal is to continue strengthening and deepening the connection between you—the connection that made you decide to live the rest of your lives together in the first place.