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May 3, 2013

Girls Gone Wedding

Image: Flickr/John Hope

Image: Flickr/John Hope

So you’re getting married! Congratulations! Such an exciting time in your life! Now onto planning the big day. 

Planning a wedding can be such a fun adventure. I got engaged 19 years ago, long before the days of endless wedding ideas on Pinterest, Say Yes to the Dress, and Four Weddings. When my husband and I planned our wedding, brainstorming involved looking through the latest issue of Bride’s Magazine. I know. I know. Yes, even admitting this makes me feel old! Today, I’m utterly amazed at the options afforded to couples who are planning their weddings. Seeing all of the creative photography ideas, wedding themes, and cake creations almost makes me want to plan mine all over again…until I remember the endless decisions that had to be made and how I often felt like the planning was a part time job. 
One of the biggest mistakes couple make in planning their wedding is that the couple doesn’t plan the wedding. The bride does. Now don’t get me wrong. Few boys grow up dreaming of their ideal tux and I don’t know of any teenage boy who has a Pinterest board labeled “Wedding Fantasies,” but who is getting married? Just the bride? Seriously! Have you seen any TLC shows about men planning their weddings? Nope. Just women trying on too-expensive dresses or planning a wedding that they hope will beat out three other weddings to win a lavish honeymoon.
Planning a wedding has the potential to set in place patterns that will continue throughout a marriage.  It can become a classic marital bombshell. What I mean is this…the bride takes charge, making most of the decisions regarding the wedding; meanwhile, the groom sits back, letting her control the situation.  Over time this pattern can take root, especially around big decisions (kids, home, etc.). This seemed convenient for both initially. She wanted to plan the wedding; he didn’t care one way or the other. But eventually, that pattern (she takes charge, while he sits back) isn’t so fun. Over time, she grows resentful, even bitter that he’s not more involved. Meanwhile he can’t figure out why she’s so upset; he thought they’d arranged things so that both of them were happy.
Last time I checked, the bride and the groom show up at the wedding.  So why not have the bride and the groom participate in the planning? I realize that many brides don’t like that idea because they have everything already picked out and they don’t want to give up some of that control. And frankly, many grooms might not like that idea either because they don’t really care about the details.  I realize that planning a wedding doesn’t seem like a monumental event that could set your marriage on the wrong course, but why not choose to create healthy patterns from the start? Why not use this time to learn how to negotiate, how to work together on a project, how to blend your lives now?  
Allow me to speak to each of you.
Brides:  Even if your parents are paying for the wedding, this is not just YOUR wedding.  Don’t be a control freak!  Include your groom in the planning. It doesn’t have to be 50-50, but the taste, traditions, and theme should reflect both of you. If he’s overwhelmed by the details, offer him fewer choices. (Which of these 3 bouquets do you like? Would you rather have a round cake or a square one?) 
Grooms:  Be involved. This is your wedding, too, so have an opinion. Don’t sit back and simply show up. Find aspects of the wedding that interest you and express your opinion, knowing that your experience of the wedding will be that much richer.
You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating. Your wedding is one day but your marriage lasts a lifetime, so set your sights on how you want your marriage to look as you prepare your wedding, and who knows…maybe TLC will start calling.


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