Articles for Engaged Couples

Everything listed under: wedding

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    How to Plan a Great Wedding Experience

    When you dreamed about your wedding, did you ever think so many people would participate in the process? 

    Your mother is hurt because you aren't wearing her wedding dress. The maid-of-honor has forgotten it is your wedding - not hers. Your fiance’s family thinks the wedding plans are too formal. How will you choose two flower girls when you have six cousins who are the right age?

    “These are the landmines that often hit brides out of left field,” says Elizabeth Thomas, co-founder of The First Dance. “After planning our wedding and finding out the hard way that lots of people had strong feelings about certain aspects of 'our' day, I wondered if there were other brides out there feeling the same way. I found out there were tons of them. My father and I decided to build this website to help engaged couples manage the people stress of wedding planning and have more wisdom to carry over to their marriage.”

    Checklists can’t predict which wedding tasks or people in your life have an emotion, opinion, or stake in how to complete a task. To make matters worse, sometimes the person with the emotion or opinion doesn’t even know it until it's already final or it’s too late. Thomas discovered this when her wedding invitations arrived.

    “I was so excited!” Thomas says. “I went into the living room to show my dad. Keep in mind that up to this point he had not seen nor expressed any interest in the invitations. He took one look at the wedding invitation and panicked! He started moving from room to room, but no matter what lighting he was in they were too difficult to read. They were unique invitations with red ink on red paper, orange ink on orange paper and yellow ink on yellow paper. We have a ton of middle-aged and older guests who will have similar eyesight to my father. Reprinting the invitations was out of the question. Needless to say, it was an emotional moment!”

    Ask any bride what they are experiencing. You'll find that underneath the “it’s my day, my way” mentality is the desire to have a joyous wedding planning experience. Nobody enjoys making their mom angry, stressing their dad about invitations or frustrating their groom. Some brides stress so much trying to maintain their ground that they just give up and let someone else have the final say.

    After surviving her own wedding, Thomas believes that couples can intentionally make the wedding planning experience pleasant for everyone involved. Here are a few ways to make that happen:

    To the bride: Over-communicate about wedding plans that involve your groom. Whether you two agree that he'll do a few tasks or you want his opinion on something, if he has no clue then he will have no idea what the decision is about. He needs to know who is impacted by it, the work involved and the timing of the task. Huge breakdowns happen when grooms are not given specifics around tasks. Then, the bride invariably believes he doesn't care or is not being supportive enough.

    To the parents: Keep your cool when others lose theirs. It’s not your wedding, but you do have a stake in it. Don’t be passive or pushy, but recognize that this is about more than money. It’s about emotion, relationships, loyalty, obligation, influence, control and competition. Money should not trump relationships. Don’t use it to blackmail, threaten, or manipulate - or you will pay a big price.

    Know your role in decisions. There are three general roles:

    • enthusiast

    • adviser

    • partner

    Roles will vary issue by issue and family by family, but should be as clear as possible to avoid problems. Sometimes clarity only comes after a disagreement or conflict.

    “I think the best wedding day is when the people you care about most feel loved, heard and valued,” Thomas says. “Every wedding checklist item is ultimately about your values, communicating those values with your spouse and about, well, married life!

    "Weddings, like marriage, involve hundreds of routine decisions, big and small. They involve small and large sums of money, and require a lot of work. The outcome of the planning and wedding day itself will stay with you and your loved ones forever. It can change your relationships for better or worse and set the stage for how you go through life in the future.”

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    Wedding Expenses and Marriage Stability

    A friend's Facebook post that said expensive wedding rings lead to more divorce caught Randal Olson’s eye.

    “My girlfriend and I had recently talked about wedding rings,” says Olson. “She said she did not want a big wedding ring. After reading the study, I was thankful. I am one semester away from graduating with a doctorate in computer science. My focus is on research so I don’t take things at face value. As I read the study (A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration), I ran across this huge table of many different factors that play a role in long-term marriage.”

    Some of the findings make perfect sense to Olson, such as:

    • Couples who date three years or more before their engagement are 39 percent less likely to divorce.

    • The more money you and your spouse make, the less likely you are to ultimately file for divorce.

    • Couples who never go to church are two times more likely to divorce than regular churchgoers.

    Other findings, however, took Olson by surprise.

    “I was pretty shocked to see that the number of people who attend your wedding actually has a huge impact on long-term marital stability,” Olson says. “Couples who elope are 12.5 times more likely to divorce than couples who get married at a wedding with 200 plus people. The more I thought about this, the more it actually made sense. Having a large group of family and friends who are supportive of your marriage is vitally important to the long-term stability of your marriage.”

    These findings surprised Olson, too:

    • There is a relationship between how much people spent on their wedding and their likelihood of divorcing. The findings suggest that perhaps the financial burden incurred by a lavish wedding leads to financial stress for the couple. Women who spent $20,000 or more on their wedding were 3.5 times more likely to divorce than their counterparts who spent less than half that.

    • The honeymoon matters! Couples who went on a honeymoon were 41 percent less likely to divorce.

    • A big difference in educational levels could lead to a higher hazard of divorce.

    • If looks and wealth are an important factor in your decision to marry a person, you are more likely to divorce down the road.

    “Some of my friends read these findings and commented that they were in the bad categories. They asked me if their marriage was doomed,” Olson says. “The answer to that is no, but according to this research, statistically they are more likely to run into challenges. I believe the biggest takeaway for someone considering marriage like myself, is this isn’t a list of do's and don’ts. However, this was a very large study and the findings are worthy of consideration to help couples have a more stable marriage."

    “I think planning is the key,” he shares. "It takes a lot of work to plan a wedding. Put that same amount of effort into planning for your marriage.”