Congratulations! You got engaged! Woohoo! One of life's major events and now it's behind you -- well, not exactly.
The ring and the popping of the official question are only the kickoff to what is likely going to be the most memorable year of your life. Memorable for a number of reasons: First, the engagement, then all the well-wishes from those who love you, then planning the wedding, and attending all the parties, brunches, showers and other generously planned events. Finally, you'll have the big day as your coup de grace and then suddenly, it's all over except the thank you notes and credit card bills.
Sounds like a lot... because it is. There are too many things going on all at one time for any couple to properly process and handle. It's puts a lot of stress on the engaged relationship. Regardless, it's up to you to keep things good and not let all the extraneous bullsh*t push you apart.
Some relationships do not survive this stressful time period. Parties are fun and all, but when you find yourselves having screaming fights over guest lists and hating his or her family even more, things escalate quickly. A relationship dissolved after an official engagement probably wasn't meant to be. Let's face it: If you can't survive the wedding planning process, you will never make it through real life as a couple.
Arguing over a catering menu is nothing compared to trying to buy a home together. Dealing with his mother at holidays is total cake compared to dealing with her for the next 40 years, potentially as her primary caregiver at some point. Fighting over skinnying down the guest list for the wedding is only a harbinger of what's to come for every birthday, holiday and other special event related to your life and any future children that you have to look forward to once you're married. Hopefully, wedding planning stress won't compare to any of those things you'll face down the road. If it does, something's seriously amiss.
What am I trying to say? That if you can't find a way to have fun with your engagement and revel in the excitement of the commitment you've decided to make, you probably shouldn't be getting married in the first place. So you have to plan wisely and work together to make sure the wedding planning experience stays fun for both of you. And the best way to make sure you actually make it to the altar is to adhere closely to the following three rules of engagement:
1 . Always Remember Who Is Getting Married...
...and that this whole she-bang is about the two of you. It's not about your parents or your siblings (sometimes brothers and sisters are the one causing ulcers instead of the moms). It definitely is not about the wedding party (do not fight over which guys the groom wants to ask) and you should be careful not to involve any of them (bridesmaids especially) too deeply in your relationship or your wedding planning. Do not let anyone (or anyone's opinion) drive a wedge between you two.
2. Make the Big Decisions Together Alone.
Decide where you want to get married and when you want to get married and who you are going to invite before you start sharing this information with others. Tell everybody the details at the same time (as much as possible). If your family is all onboard with the game plan and helping, that's great. But still, handle your business quickly and succinctly from the beginning to set expectations. Grooms, if necessary, reign in your mothers. Brides, put your own mothers, sisters and girlfriends in check. Do it early if it needs to be done. If you two aren't asking for (and don't want) input from the peanut gallery, you don't have to take it. You can listen to it and ignore it -- or don't listen at all. Whatever works best for you. But don't drag six girlfriends to the dress salon with you and then be upset when they offer their opinions. That's called "asking for it."
3. Do Not Make Your Big Announcements on Facebook.
Or Twitter or any other form of social media unless you're inviting everyone you've ever met to your wedding. I don't mean you can't show off a great engagement pic of yourselves or talk about plans for your "intimate" destination or backyard wedding, but keep in mind that the more you tell, the more people will want to be invited and who will share their opinions unasked. Not everyone can be invited, of course. But for those who wish they had been and aren't, the less info out there, the better. More importantly, do not fight with your fiancé on social media. While this may seem obvious to most of us, you know it's not because you read it all the time. Recently, I was appalled to see a married friend change her FB status to "in a complicated relationship." Really? Really? Relationships are hard and love and marriage takes work -- things are not always perfect. Do not air your dirty laundry in social media or you'll never make it down the aisle.
United you get married, divided you enter wedding planning hell so you need to start the process out together, excited and looking at it as a challenge you're going to conquer as a unit. Maybe you both want to elope and come back and have a party to celebrate? For some couples with complicated histories or families, that's the easiest option. But whether you want an intimate affair or a ginormous bash, as long as the two of you agree on the game plan and stick together, nobody can ruin it for you. Unless of course, you're two of the very few young couples left whose parents are picking up the entire tab for their wedding day... in which case you can pretty much disregard at least half of what I've said above because your mommy and daddy get a vote on everything.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!