Some couples weren't meant to be married to each other. Ever. That's a cold, harsh thing for a wedding planner to say - heck, I need clients - but I think it's important for brides and grooms to realize that the simple act of having planned a wedding doesn't actually mean they have to get married.
No, seriously, this is a problem. Couples fall in love and they get engaged and the wedding planning begins. Sometimes they've known each other forever, sometimes the romance has been a whirlwind. The pressure of planning a wedding (especially if it's a big one) can cause a lot of drama and fighting in a relationship if the couple is not entirely on the same page. But when the fighting escalates to the point of breaking up and reconciling, cancelling and un-cancelling the wedding multiple times, and generally behaving like complete jackasses across the board, it's time to rethink getting married at all.
I have heard more than one Father of the Bride tell his daughter "You don't have to do this" just before I sent them down the aisle for daddy to give his little girl away to this man he's telling her she doesn't have to marry. Just for the record - THAT'S NOT NORMAL. As the wedding planner, it makes me feel physically ill.
I mean, I wholeheartedly endorse telling your son or daughter - before the wedding - if you have reservations about the commitment they're going to make. They may not listen, but as a parent, if you feel obligated, you should do it. The sooner the better. Waiting until she's holding a bouquet and there are 50-plus guests seated and waiting is a bit like waiting until after the ship has sailed to mention there's a big hole in the bottom of the boat.
Please consider these five reasons to reconsider taking the plunge:
1. If either the bride or groom has the slightest reservations about whether they want to be married - for life - to the person they're engaged to, DO NOT GET MARRIED. Stop the process. Postpone the wedding. Yes, you may lose some deposits. And you may feel like you're embarrassing yourselves and losing face with some of your friends and family, but at the end of the day, you shouldn't marry somebody you're not 100 percent certain is "the one." If all you needed was more time and you postpone, your love for each other will win out and you'll do the deed eventually. Love has no deadline.
2. When your potential personal and professional mortification is the number one reason you're going to say "I do," you really need to say "I don't." Just because your boss and everyone else you know and love has already purchased plane tickets and you and your parents have shelled out thousands for your actual wedding activities, and you have a designer gown that looks amazing on you waiting in a giant dress bag, you shouldn't get married for the wrong reasons. And those are all BAD REASONS to join your life with somebody else's life. Money be damned - it's going to cost you more in legal fees and therapy later if you marry somebody you know you shouldn't. And let's face it, most brides and grooms who aren't ready to exchange vows but do it anyway end up divorced eventually.
3. Physical violence is never okay, no matter which half of the couple is raising their hand to the other. That is called DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - you don't have to actually be married for it to be classified that way. If he hits her, or she hits him, it's against the law and it's domestic violence. If one of you were to call the police, one of you would be arrested. There's a reason "must arrest" laws exist in all 50 states now - it's to give the fighting couple room to breathe and calm down away from each other so that things don't escalate to the point where somebody gets killed. It happens all the time. I'm a cop wife and I have heard absolutely horrifying stories over the years about couples who got into fights and the neighbors called the police, but both halves of the couple denied the violence (even when one of them is bleeding but they say it was an "accident") and sent the police away. Hours later the police return after one of them has shot and killed the other. It happens more than you can ever imagine. If the man or woman you THINK you're in love with or want to marry hurts you, DO NOT MARRY THAT PERSON. Ever.
4. It's not "normal" for the family or their best friends to take the bride or groom aside prior to the wedding (wayyy in advance or right beforehand) and tell them they don't think the union should happen. If this happens to you, there's a serious problem that everyone else is seeing even if you are in a grave state of denial. I don't mean your father doesn't like what your fiancé does for a living or your mom thinks your bride-to-be dresses like a tramp. I mean serious concerns about alcohol abuse, drug use, aggression, sexuality, infidelity or lies. There are probably a bunch of other really good reasons a parent would feel compelled to step in - but it's not easy for a parent either. Telling your adult child they're about to make the biggest mistake of their lives cannot be easy. No mom or dad wants to break their son or daughter's heart. If they're doing it - if a friend or family member seriously sits you down to talk about legitimate worries - something is so monumental that it had to be addressed and could not be swept under the carpet. Do not ignore these concerns. Take a serious look, and maybe consult a third-party such as a therapist, to make sure you aren't making a terrible decision. Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees and you need somebody with a degree in counseling to give you a reality check.
5. If money is a relationship problem before you get married, money will be the reason you will eventually divorce. Prenuptial agreements are common nowadays, but they can even be the thing that's causing the biggest arguments in the month prior to the wedding. In some cases, it's not a big deal and is merely a formality to protect everybody's pre-existing assets. But if you have fundamentally different beliefs about marriage and finances, you are not ready to be married to each other. If you truly believe in "what's yours is mine and what's mine is yours" and your future spouse does not, there will be problems. Money should never be the motivation to marry someone who otherwise treats you badly. Likewise, if you have cause to think your future mate is more interested in your money than your heart, it's time to do some soul searching before you get married.
I'm not writing about any particular couple today, or any specific circumstances. I'm telling you that I've planned almost 500 weddings and I've sent several couples down the aisle knowing full well that half the people witnessing the affair were adamantly opposed to the marriage. It's a weird feeling as the wedding planner. I'm not a licensed psychologist and my job is to plan and execute the wedding, not give relationship advice. In my entire career, I have only spoken up three times before the actual wedding to tell the bride or groom (or both) that I felt they should not move forward with the ceremony. There were shades of domestic violence in each case and I couldn't ethically ignore what I had actually seen with my own eyes.
None of them listened to me and all of them got married. Some, not all, are still married. To this day, I regret having opened my mouth because they didn't hear a word I said and got married anyway and all I did was give them an additional negative memory of their wedding planner sitting them down to ask "are you really sure you should do this?" when my job was to just make it happen. Believe me when I say that it was only in the most extreme of circumstances that I crossed what I consider to be a professional line. But what did it accomplish? Absolutely nothing.
If you are engaged and you aren't sure you should be getting married, STOP PLANNING THE WEDDING. Take a step back and think about why you are concerned. Make a list. Schedule an appointment with an unbiased third party. If you have been abused, go by yourself to see the counselor first. If you won't listen to your friends or your mom and dad, maybe somebody with a bunch of letters behind his name can make you see the light. Perhaps a professional can help you both work through the issues that are causing the problem and eventually you can get married.
Postponing the wedding doesn't mean you will never marry that person. It simply means you are not ready to take the final step yet. There is literally no reason in the world that you HAVE to get married. I've heard it all - one needs the other's health insurance, they've spent a fortune on the wedding, they already own a house together, they've made a baby - and none of those reasons are good enough for a bride or groom to say "I do" to someone if there are other serious problems in the relationship.
Cancelling or postponing your wedding is probably one of the most embarrassing, depressing and frustrating thing you will ever have to do in your life, but isn't that better than explaining why the marriage only lasted a few months or that your spouse has been locked up for hitting you, again?
I want every person out there to find true love and marry that person but not every couple is meant to marry each other. Just because you've planned the wedding does not mean you have to go through with it and get married if all the signs tell you it's the wrong thing to do.
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