We discovered some good rules of thumb. But the biggest lesson didn't come until afterward.
Just one verse each day.
“Wait, how many people do your parents want to invite to the wedding?” The guest list was just the first in a long line of things we discovered we needed to assess (and reassess!) during wedding planning. Both sets of parents had different ideas about what they prefer in weddings, and we ourselves didn’t always agree on our vision for the day.
Add to that the fact that we are both oldest children, and the first children to be married on both sides. There were many opinions, and we learned by trial and error how best to navigate planning a sacrament and big party together.
Here are a few things we learned along the way.
Teamwork starts now
The first thing we learned was that if we weren’t a team, nothing good was going to happen in the planning department. We had to be united in what we wanted as a couple; when we weren’t, it was too easy to drag other people’s opinions into the decision-making process, thereby complicating our disconnect even more. We had to learn how to prioritize, compromise, and discuss things well together.
Second, we found that once we were operating on the same page as a united front, we could much more easily navigate family and friends who were involved in the planning. For many couples this might mean taking into account close family members who are contributing financially to the wedding, or those who have a strong desire to see a certain tradition incorporated into the day. We discovered that even when someone says she doesn’t have a strong opinion about something, usually she does indeed have a decided attachment or idea about what is best.
So once the teamwork part is settled, here are four ways to navigate every one else’s opinion:
1Rank your priorities
One idea is to rank your priorities. If you both know what is most important to you about the day, then you can make sure that those things are set, and leave more wiggle room and openings for others’ input in the details that are less important to you.
2If it’s okay …
Another thought is that if you’re unsure if you should go ahead with a certain idea or aspect of planning, and you have a tendency to people-please, consider this. The priest who married us gave us a piece of advice that we still go back to in many different situations today, “If it is okay with you, and your spouse, and God, then do that thing.”
Thirdly, respond with gentleness and certainty to suggestions that will not work for you and your fiance. Truly listen to any and all input that people give to you (listening to other people’s wisdom is vital). But, beware the tendency to put someone off with a maybe or an “I’ll think about it” if you aren’t actually going to consider it. Rip that Band-Aid off now, with an “I don’t think that will work for us” rather than prolonging the conversation to another time.
Fourthly, make sure your family is included in your wedding, even if you are not able or inclined to take them up on all their suggestions for the big day. Give them responsibilities and places of honor to appreciate their impact on your life.
But now, remember this:
And, at the end of the day, for some perspective, I wish we had realized that the day of our wedding — and thus all the planning for it — was not as important as I imagined it was. While, yes, the day was special, and the sacrament vitally important, what color the flowers were, and what we ate for dinner, was not. What I thought were akin to life and death decisions (Is a videographer necessary? Are speeches important? What kinds of flowers are really us?) turned out to be fairly unimportant when it comes to the lifelong battle and beauty of marriage.
So, as you plan and dream together, remember that the day will pass quickly, and that each decision is not what will make or break your marriage.
St. Joseph, patron saint of marriage, pray for us!