In the Pinterest era of wedding planning, perhaps now more than ever there is pressure and expectation about having the perfect wedding. Each detail is planned, paid for, and photographed, then posted online for all to see. Hours of thought and planning go into each dessert bar, photo list, catering item, schedule, and dance playlist. In many ways, the wedding market capitalizes on this perfect wedding expectation, adding extra pressure, price tags, and decisions to be made. Wedding planning can be all consuming. And planning a fun wedding is important; it’s a day to honor your love story, make commitments, and celebrate with those most important to you.
Often in the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, couples spend far more time discussing the minutia of the day and less time preparing their relationship for marriage. After you drive away from the wedding, the real work of your young marriage begins. Planning a wedding may surface many hot button issues, like finances, family dynamics, expectations, sex, preferences, etc. It can be a fruitful time to work through the relational issues that arise naturally from wedding planning. Imagine how prioritizing the “how are we” questions during engagement would set young couples up for success after the big day.
Here are few ideas to help you prioritize your marriage as you plan your wedding:
Premarital counseling - This can be done professionally with a trained therapist or through your local faith community. Many premarital counselors use helpful relationship assessments like Prepare Enrich and others that help assess for strengths in core relationships areas like leisure time, faith, culture, money, sex and affection, family, and personality style. Consider scheduling a few months of sessions before the wedding and pre-scheduling a few check-up appointments in the early months of marriage.
Marriage/Relationship Workshops/Retreats - Consider attending a weekend relationship retreat or workshop together as a way to dive into relationship issues and gain some helpful tools for the future. These are often offered through local churches, therapists, retreat centers, or popular marriage authors. Parents, this may be a great engagement or wedding gift for your newly engaged kids!
Find a marriage mentor - Identify a couple that’s a few years (or decades) ahead of your marriage journey to meet with regularly. This can be an informal monthly dinner together where you can share life, hopes, struggles, and wisdom for the future. Healthy marriages thrive in community and wisdom, find a couple that can model that for you into the future.
Read a book together - Pick up a book on marriage, relationships, or engagement and commit to reading it chapter by chapter. Use the book to honestly evaluate the strengths and growth areas of your relationship and set goals to grow together. There are tons of great resources available. One to consider is Making Love Last: Divorce Proofing Your Young Marriage by Laura Taggart, LMFT.
Set aside non-wedding time each week - Wedding to-do’s will take as much as your time apart and together that you allow them to. Consider setting aside one day a week where wedding talk is off limits. Take the time to play together, talk about your relationship, connect, and have fun.
Engagement can be an exciting and stressful season of life. As you prepare for your big day, I hope you’ll be encouraged to prepare even more so for the life that you will build together in the many days and years that follow.