I've watched a lot of couples take the leap across the altar and dive into marriage. It's always an honor and an adventure to witness brides and grooms make the transition to being husbands and wives. After years of running RecycledBride.com, I've noticed some definite correlations between the type of wedding a couple plans, and how their marriage turns out. While not entirely scientific, these patterns hold true for nearly all of the thousands of couples I've met and observed.
Here are five popular wedding styles and what they predict about your marriage:
1. The Destination Wedding
Couples who plan destination weddings share a tight, time-tested bond, and march to the beat of their own drummer-for-two. You don't mind leaving your comfort zone, as long as you do it together. You're great at teamwork, share lots of inside jokes, and form a united front on nearly every issue. But sometimes your closeness to each other can leave friends and family feeling second-best. It's important to strike a balance between your individual lives and your married life, or risk alienating those you love.
Your Marriage's Strengths: Like two peas in a pod, you're a tightly knit pair that's perfectly in tune.
Watch Out For: Codependence! It's the silent killer of marriages. A healthy and sustainable marriage thrives on both independence and connectedness.
Try This: Make plans to see friends or family separately once a week, and pick up a hobby or practice that you do just for "me time".
2. The DIY Wedding
Crafty couples enjoy a healthy dose of "we built that" pride, and enjoy being resourceful and practical. You tend to share strong beliefs about things like money, lifestyle, and politics, which makes it easy to make decisions together. But many DIY brides (or grooms, if you guy is the crafty one!) suffer from "Superwoman Syndrome" -- the tendency to take on a number of challenges and projects at once, which often leads to burnout. And when one partner gets exhausted or overwhelmed, guess who bears the brunt of it? The other! And that affects the marriage as a whole.
Your Marriage's Strengths: You're a "can-do" couple and will tackle any challenge with gusto, whether it's creating a family, a business, or a wedding.
Watch Out For: Workload inequity. It's likely that one partner will shoulder the majority of the responsibilities in your household, which can lead to resentment.
Try This: Schedule regular "appreciation dinners" where you recognize each other's contributions and sheer awesomeness.
3. The Elaborate Affair
If you're planning a big wedding, you may run into your share of stress -- but you wouldn't have it any other way. You and your future hubby love a good party, and you don't exactly mind being the center of attention. As family-oriented, sociable people, it means a lot to share your big day with others. But part of getting married is becoming part of a new nuclear family unit, and prioritizing your partner. In the future, it may be challenging to adjust to the (occasionally monotonous) routine of married life, and to balance your obligations to your spouse with the influence of other relationships (hello, in-laws!).
Your Marriage's Strengths: You're a family-oriented, warm, confident couple that will thrive at parenting and build a happy home.
Watch Out For: Conflict with extended family, and the post-wedding hangover, which happens when the big day fairytale is over and you're left with dirty socks on the bathroom floor.
Try This: While planning your wedding, practice establishing boundaries with your respective families and friends by making all major decisions together and presenting a united front to others. And afterwards, make sure to keep the romance alive with quarterly "mini-moons" -- weekend getaways that bring back your honeymoon sparks.
4. The Elopers
Couples elope for countless reasons, but the common denominator of those who elope are that they're spontaneous, adventurous, and non-traditional -- qualities that, when shared, make for great chemistry and loads of fun. But an elopement can take some of the levity out of a marriage commitment. When you take away the witnesses and all the pomp and circumstance of a traditional wedding, saying "I do" can feel like a lightweight gesture. It's important to recognize that you're making a huge commitment, and ensure that you're both ready for the inevitable ups and downs that come with marriage.
Your Marriage's Strengths: There's never a dull moment! Your marriage is exciting, unconventional, and full of passion.
Watch Out For: The downside of your strong, spontaneous personalities can be disagreements or even infidelity. As you mature into your new roles as husband and wife, it's important to learn tools for compromising and to find ways to keep the flame alive without the drama.
Try This: Make a habit of sending each other regular emails with the subject line "I'm Glad I Married You Because..." to stay grounded as a couple and focused on the connection that brought you together.
5. The Intimate Wedding
An intimate wedding is characterized by its smaller guest list, and a pared-down take on the traditional wedding format (No 10-piece band or elaborate entrances for these couples!) Those that opt for intimate weddings tend to be mature, stable, and say things like, "he/she is my best friend" or "our relationship already feels like a marriage". Unions like these are built to last and the sense of security that results from a stable partnership has tremendous physical and emotional benefits for both partners. Just beware of losing your spark. It's great to settle down, but by all means don't settle for too many evenings of snoozing on the sofa watching "American Idol."
Your Marriage's Strengths: You're in it for the long haul, and the stability that your relationship provides really lets you thrive. You handle conflict calmly and laugh often.
Watch Out For: Don't get complacent! It's important to stimulate each other's minds (which can lead to other stimulating things!).
Try This: Go places that spark interesting conversation or even debate, like seeing a controversial documentary or going to a football game where you're rooting for opposing teams. Some healthy sparring will keep your marriage fresh.
Do these wedding and marriage styles match up to yours? Tell me in the comments!