When I look back on my now-husband and I’s 10-month engagement, I remember being overjoyed, excited, impatient, and stressed all at the same time. When you get engaged and start planning a wedding, it can sometimes feel like a whirlwind. Before long, you find out all about those little details about a wedding you didn’t know existed. Who knew it took so much work to tie the knot?
Looking back on my own engagement, I was giddy with excitement to plan the big day. I’m a Type A personality, and I love organizing events. But that excitement quickly got snuffed out when I realized how much work it was going to take to get to the altar and then to the reception afterward. Coupled with the nervousness about a huge life change, I was kind of a mess.
Time Flies, and then You Realize It’s Here!
Your engagement is so much more than finding the perfect dress or suit, tasting cake, picking a venue, and putting together the ultimate reception playlist. During our engagement, there were times when it felt like all we did was talk about the wedding. It was easy to get lost in the details of the big day. Don’t spend all of your engagement planning a wedding—instead, focus on preparing for your marriage.
When couples ask us for advice during their engagement, my husband and I usually only have one piece of advice for them: spend just as much time planning for a marriage as you do planning for your wedding. When planning for the big day, you dedicate hours upon hours to picking out wedding colors and deciding on a reception dinner menu.
Have you spent that much time talking to your fiance about your expectations for marriage, or how your family of origin will affect your relationship after the wedding? Balancing the wedding planning and the marriage preparation can be tricky, so here are three practical things you can do to balance those two goals.
Counseling: Not the worst idea
Before you get married, you won’t know exactly how you’ll handle conflict together. You can only guess how you’ll react when she leaves her clothes strewn all over the room, or he stacks the dishes in the dishwasher wrong. But what you can do to prepare is spend some time in pre-marriage counseling. You’ll be grateful that you took the time to learn skills to help you handle future conflict and conversations one you’re married.
After your wedding, counseling doesn’t have to be a thing of the past. Marriage can bring with it conflict and have someone who knows you and your relationship can help you get through the tougher parts about starting a new life together. In addition to finding a good pre-marriage counseling program to help you prepare, don’t be afraid to invest in a relationship with a counselor to visit after the wedding ring is on your finger.
Continue to invest in hobbies
“What hobbies? Wedding planning is my hobby!” I used to reply when people asked me what I did during my spare time as an engaged woman. Although wedding planning does demand a lot of attention (and finances!) don’t make planning a wedding your hobby – or the only conversations you have with your partner.
Do you both love hiking? Then go on a hike. Is volunteering where you find joy? Then plan a day to go help out a local food kitchen together. After the wedding, you’ll have a lot of time together that you won’t need to dedicate to RSVPs and cake tasting. So that you’re not sitting around wondering what to talk about after the big day, invest in hobbies you love to do together.
Go on a wedding week date
Balancing a wedding and marriage preparation should be a goal even during the wedding week – typically seven days crammed full of everything that needs to be done before the big day. One way to make sure this happens is to set aside an evening for a date night.
This isn’t a date night to finalize wedding details, though. In fact, you’re not allowed to talk about the wedding at all. This date night is time specifically set aside for the two you to spend intentional time talking about your relationship and upcoming marriage.
When we got married back in January, we took time during our wedding week for the same kind of date night. We went to Mass together, grabbed dinner, went on a hike, and finished the night at a coffee shop to reminisce about our relationship. It may seem like one of the craziest things to do—set aside hours of precious time during your wedding week to NOT talk about the wedding. But investing in your marriage is one of the best things you two can do together in preparation for your wedding day.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
When couples we know get married, we send them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, a letter explaining how a wedding week date looks like, and a list of questions to ask each other on the date.
We encourage them to reminisce about their relationship together, what they like about each other, and what attracts them to each other. We encourage them to talk about what they’re looking forward to in their new marriage together.
It may seem like all that matters right now is the table decorations, or coordinating the guys to get tuxes, but there are much bigger things ahead of you than a wedding. A wedding day lasts 24 hours, but your marriage is meant to last a lifetime.