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MAKE PLANNING FUN … REALLY!
An all-consuming planning stage is inevitable, but instead of thinking of that time as a series of spreadsheets, appointments, tough decisions and BlackBerry checklists, approach it as a chance to reconfirm all the things you already love about each other. You might even rekindle that feeling you had after you met. Go out to dinner or take a walk, and talk — in a low-key way — about what flowers you like, your dream cake frosting, your favorite songs. “It’s really sharing your vision,” Barness says, “and embarking on sharing a lifetime of expectations.”
A chef’s tasting menu with a group of friends is a fun night out, but when you’re sampling brisket and snapper with both sets of parents and trying to decide what will please everyone from Aunt Millie to your vegan cousin Vera — well, then things feel pressure-filled. Resist that feeling. If you’re going to a band showcase to hear your reception and ceremony music options, focus on having a good time listening to the music. Same with photographs, says Barness: “When you go and look at someone’s work, go with the attitude of ‘I’m looking at art.’”
Remember, too, that sometimes having the best attitude is knowing when to give in … to one another, or, yes, your mothers. “I had a wedding where the mother of the groom was extremely involved and wanted to be, and what the bride did was pick her battles and step back,” Barness says.
The Huntingdon Valley bride with the overly involved fiancé finally asked him to make the list of songs their reception band had requested. “He felt like he had something to do at last, but in reality, I was thrilled to get it off my plate,” she says. As for his family? “In the end, I told him he was responsible for them. And that helped me immensely.”
You’ll find yourselves getting pulled in different directions, trying to please your parents, his parents, your friends. If that happens, reinforce that yours is the relationship that matters most. “You get inundated with all these other relationships and opinions,” Ellenbogen says. “If someone gives you an opinion, just say, ‘We’ll consider that.’ You’re putting out there that it’s not just about me anymore. Stress that to people in your life.”
THE DATE NIGHT
The most common piece of advice pros and former brides-to-be give: One night a week, there should be no wedding talk. This might be as simple as pizza and Netflix. (For more extensive stress reduction, see “Beyond Date Night,” on page 64.) Or the date might be a time to do more serious work, like talking about what you mean to each other and reinforcing the dream you each have of your future together. “Discuss what you are committed to,” says Ellenbogen. “Is it one night a week, making sure we have dinner together? Or sharing the role of making dinner? Keeping our families in our lives? Or travel?” Or pick up a self-help book on relationships and take the quizzes together. The point is to reflect on being a couple in love — and forget, at least for a night, that you’re a couple going crazy with wedding planning.
If tension is making you want to give up, don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with a therapist. “When we’re making this huge transition, things about ourselves surface. If the planning is causing you a ton of anxiety, a therapist can be incredibly helpful,” Ellenbogen says. You might even learn to communicate better, which in the end is one of the best ways to get through wedding planning and make a happy marriage.