December 5, 2011
As a newly married woman, I can relate to those of you out there who are engaged. The excitement, the romance, the love.
I’ll be honest: It’s also overwhelming and all consuming.
Most of us have a romantic notion of engagement. After he slips that ring on your finger, you imagine pure bliss from then until you say “I do.” But along with the ring comes wedding planning. As soon as I entered that territory, I felt pressure from family members, stress with the wedding budget, frustration with the guest list and worries about my appearance (read: getting “wedding dress” ready).
If I had known a few things before going through the wedding planning process, it would have helped me live in the moment of being engaged a little bit more. So ladies with rings on your fingers, please read on…
Rule #1: Engagement is awesome, wedding planning is tough
For me, being engaged was wonderful. I loved looking down at the sparkle on my left hand and saying “my fiancé” because it excited me. But after a brief time, “The Wedding” began to overshadow those good, heart-all-a-flutter vibes. With a to-do list a hundred-plus items long, it was hard to bask in the beauty of early engagement.
For many brides, this happens. The wedding day is beautiful and will be one of the best days you ever have – it was for us. But the second it’s over, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Thank God it’s done!” The good stuff comes after you walk down the aisle. Being married is everything I wished for and more – so much better than being engaged and wedding planning. Still, when I was engaged I tried to enjoy the process even amid all the wedding chaos. It’s such a short amount of time, and you don’t want to look back and wish you had appreciated it more.
Rule #2: Count on your groom
With bridesmaids, supportive parents and enthusiastic family members—all with ideas of their own —it was hard for me to stay focused on just what my husband and I wanted for the wedding. But we became each other’s rock during the engagement when we felt frustration with wedding planning or pressure from family. We made a single rule: Never to fight over the wedding. Granted, there were tense moments, but we stayed very committed to taking a deep breath and a step back in those moments. We talked out the source of the frustration (usually someone or something outside of our relationship) and promised not to take things out on each other.
We made almost every decision together, and we counted on each other for support instead of getting caught up with all the others involved. I was fortunate to have a very involved groom (he was the one who picked out our wedding cake!), and it helped us plan a wedding that was true to who we are as a couple – not just what I wanted, not just what he wanted, and definitely not what everyone else wanted.
Rule #3: Forget about the wedding
Depending on the personality, some brides want to spend every moment focused on their wedding, while others may detest the idea altogether. I fell somewhere in the middle – hating some of it (the guest list, coordinating details and transportation) and loving other parts (flowers, wedding shoes, food and wine).
One thing I learned that I would advise other brides to do is to take a break. Spend some time each week doing something that has nothing to do with the wedding. We would try to have family dinners without bringing up the wedding, or we would go play tennis, take a hike or catch a movie. Turns out there is life outside of the wedding…a fabulous life!
Rule #4: Take it slow with big decisions
From moving in together to getting a puppy to buying a house, engagement often spurs additional root-laying actions. My fiancé and I moved in together. And then we adopted a puppy. While moving in together was totally right for us, the puppy proved to be way too big of a challenge. We were anxiety-stricken and totally freaked out as new puppy parents, and we realized it was too much, too soon. We found the puppy another home, said our goodbyes and got back to wedding planning.
Almost every bride will be overwhelmed with feelings of settling down and joint decision-making. For me, it made me want everything a married couple has right away. But I learned to just take it slow. Big decisions like buying a house or car, getting a pet or moving are better made after wedding is over. Advice? Being engaged is already a big decision. Unless something feels totally comfortable, don’t rush it. You have forever ahead.
Rule #5: Remember what the wedding is all about
My husband and I are huge NBA fans. One of the things we did while engaged was go to lots of pro basketball games because we both loved it, and it took our minds off the wedding. It kept us interested, energized and enabled us to be ourselves and appreciate each other’s company.
I had to remember that that’s what the wedding was about. It was about that handsome man who at times makes me laugh hysterically, at times drives me crazy, and at times brings so much joy to my heart that it takes my breath away. Without my groom, there would not have been a wedding. I realized that I had to keep our relationship as the top priority. So for any of you brides out there, keep going on dates, make special dinners, do whatever it is that keeps you two in love. You cannot walk down the aisle unless he’s waiting at the end of it for you.