Entries in wedding (1)
When I meet with couples requesting premarriage counseling, they are required to complete an assessment that measures various aspects of their relationship. One of the measures focuses on the level of stress being experienced by each individual. Almost without exception, stress levels are very high during the months preceding a wedding because of issues related to its planning.
The expectation and preparation for your wedding, perhaps more than any other event in your life, should be the cause of great celebration and joy. But if you are experiencing more anxiety than delight I want you to know that, in my opinion, much of your stress is likely unnecessary and can be avoided.
Let me be very clear about that last statement. This is my opinion. I am aware that the suggestions I propose are not popular with everyone. I know I have "a guy's view," but my history as a groom, a bride's father, a former minister, and a counselor of engaged couples does give me some meaningful perspective. So take it for what it's worth...
Two issues that most often produce tension in wedding preparation are: (1) managing the cost of the wedding and (2) satisfying everyone else's expectations for the wedding. Making shifts in these areas will go a long way in creating a stress-free experience.
Managing the Cost of Your Wedding
The total cost of most weddings these days moves easily into six figures. Many couples feel pressured to spend an extraordinary amount of money on this one event, often resulting in increased debt or financial strain. And in some cases, the event becomes more of a spectacle than a celebration.
Should you spend money on a wedding? Of course. How much? Whatever your budget reasonably allows, and no more. Determine what that amount will be and stick to it. Any adjustments you make should be made to the event to stay within the budget, rather than changing the budget to keep up with an ever-expanding event.
Don't get caught in the trap of worrying about what other people will think if your wedding and reception are not "good enough." An inexpensive wedding does not have to be a cheap one. The most meaningful and personal weddings I've ever attended were ones that relied more on creativity than currency.
When I measure cost vs. benefit in this matter, I wonder if the wedding money spent on items that have such short-term benefit might be better invested in things that have greater lasting value... payment on a home, purchase of a car, paying off current debts, or even a longer honeymoon.
Managing Everyone Else's Expectations
Let's be honest, people do have expectations regarding your wedding. Family and friends expect to be invited. Close friends expect to be in your wedding party. Parents expect certain considerations. Mothers of the bride (sorry for the stereotype, but it is so often true) expect particular details to be just-so. Before you know it, it's not even your wedding anymore; it's everyone-else's.
If you come from a family or cultural system in which wedding details are planned out for you and you're comfortable with that, great! It probably makes things a lot easier for you. But most of you are responsible for your own wedding planning. If so, do whatever it takes to make it your wedding. Of course, be open to input and opinions, but do not bend to expectations that cause you to be restless or resentful. If that means planning a smaller wedding, do it. If that means eliminating a wedding party, do it. If that means asking your parents to join you in counseling for a family pre-marriage session, do it.
Years ago, I was involved in helping a couple prepare for their marriage. The pressure from their families to plan things in certain ways was squeezing all the joy out of their anticipation for the event. They were so determined to enjoy their wedding that they secretly eloped a month before the public ceremony, sharing a private ceremony and a few days of bliss. Except for the minister and a couple close friends, nobody knew that as they repeated their vows at the wedding, they were already wife and husband. Later, they told me they were glad they had done it that way. Everybody got what they wanted.
You may not go to such extremes, but I encourage you to make the choices that strip the stress out of your wedding planning. Experience a true celebration.