You’re engaged, congratulations! Now that you’re a newly engaged couple, you’re probably wondering what’s next? With all the excitement, it’s hard to think straight. Emotions will run high as you will have so much planning as a newly engaged couple. Making sure you stay on track both with your wedding planning and your relationship is key to getting through this adjustment period. Being a newly engaged couple is a marvelous time, here are a few things to be aware of in maintaining the wedding bliss intoxication.
The Rules of Engagement
The cardinal rule you should have together as a newly engaged couple is that you need to be a solid duo throughout the entire process. What do we mean by that? The newly engaged couple needs to have each other’s back, they need to decide on things together, and they need to put their relationship and each other first. It is imperative that the couple establish their own rules in the very beginning of the planning phases.
Examples of rules for a Newly Engaged Couple:
- “Before saying yes/no to anything, come to me first so we can decide together” OR “you are the primary decision maker, I will be the person who runs the errands to put it all together” OR “We will split tasks depending our availability and interest in the activity/choices”
- Who will be the point person to have conversations with parents/in-laws
- Do we have the conversation together with them?
- Do we have the conversation on our own, and then whoever’s family member it is will be the point person to talk to them?
- Do we have a wedding planner that is our middleman?
- What is our wedding philosophy?
- Do we want it to be a representation of all of our families?
- Do we just want to have fun with family and friends and we don’t care about the details?
- Are we trying to make a statement with our wedding?
- What is our major driver in planning this wedding?
- Statement Wedding/Vision
- Spending time with loved ones
- What is our vision and what are we willing to compromise on for others involved (i.e., parents/in-laws, religious leader)
- Discuss how to hold one another accountable, how to check one another when things go array, and how to stay connected
- Identify discretionary time where you get to just be a couple that isn’t doubling as wedding planners
Meet the Parents
We all hope that our parents get along with our soon to be in-laws, but the reality of that happening can be rare, especially when both sides are putting out large sums of money and emotions are running rampant. Everyone wants to put their 2 cents in. Weddings are a joyous occasion! Try not to lose sight of that in the hodgepodge of tedious planning.
Choose your battles
Pick and choose your battles and remind your family members to do the same. At the end of the day, how important is it to have ivory chair covers over eggshell chair covers? Create a scale for family members to rate 0-100 of importance. If your mother-in-law puts flowers at a 90 and your mother puts them at a 10, give that decision to your mother-in-law.
Balance is key
Your father may have been dreaming for years now of relaxing with his closest friends, the ones who looked out for you as you were growing up, on a veranda smoking a cigar. Let him have that. You may have to balance this with something that your father-in-law wants. Addressing the needs of each family member and allowing them to feel heard will lead to more compliance with you and with each other.
The necessary adjustment phase
If your families disagree right from the start, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Look at the wedding planning as an adjustment phase. You and your fiancé should be switching your alignment and priorities from your parents and siblings to your soon to be spouse. Parents are in the mindset that they have the primary influence over you. Further, sharing that influence may be challenging and is an adjustment for them. Utilize this time to establish new boundaries with your family where your relationship with your fiancé becomes the priority.
The challenge comes when an individual’s knee-jerk reaction is to rely on their parent’s advice as they’ve done for so long in the past. Having transparent conversations with your partner can help mitigate the need to get support from your family. If you and your fiancé have discussed what the two of you want and have an open line of communication, you’ll find more comfort in coming to your fiancé for support and for making decisions with them over the comfort of your family members.
The trick is setting the boundaries and honoring them. Remember, your alliance is now to your partner and your relationship with them. Parents are going to push (understandably so if they’re contributing money to the wedding). Remind family members that it’s your wedding and you want it to be a representation of your combined love. Reference your wedding philosophy that you and your fiancé created in the beginning. Stay strong with your boundaries. Utilize the 0-100 scale of importance.
Adjustment phases are laborious, and there will be kickback. Your in-law may insist on having a sushi table despite you not eating fish. Or, your mother might be going overboard with the flowers. Did you and your partner decide that your parents can have whatever they want as long as they pay for it? Or, did you determine the look you’re going for, and despite wanting to please your parents, you want to honor your partner and the couple’s wishes? Stick to the rules you created in the very beginning of your wedding planning process as a newly engaged couple.
Controversy is expected
When faced with controversy, be a united front. Have a detailed and concrete conversation with the family members making requests and with your partner. First, discuss the issue at hand with your fiancé. Come to a resolution that fits for the two of you. Then, stand by your rules for protocol with communication. Next, sit down with the family member that wants something and have a conversation with them. Acknowledge the family member’s desires and validate their experience, while also sticking to the resolution you’ve decided on with your partner.
Your love is beautiful, but sometimes it doesn’t fall in line with your finances. The unsexy reality is that a wedding and marriage is a financial decision. Before setting your date and picking your venue, sit with your accountant or financial advisor and see where a wedding will fit into your 1 or 5-year plan.
Questions to get you started:
- Discuss what will be different about filing as a married person versus a single person.
- Where does buying a home fit into this?
- Are taxes and down payments different if you’re single or married?
- What is your partner’s FICO score?
- Do they have any debt, how much, and from what?
- What assets do they have?
- Do you need a new car soon?
- Are you switching jobs?
- What does your healthcare look like?
- Is it to the couple’s benefit to get a prenuptial agreement?
- Understand thoroughly why each partner does or does not want a prenuptial.
- What’s the tone you’re setting for the marriage?
All of these topics are the humdrum details of becoming a unit with your partner that need to be discussed.
Having help from parents to pay for a wedding is great but doesn’t always cover the whole wedding. Often, couples are left pinching pennies and living a lifestyle they aren’t happy with to have a dream wedding. Understand that if you choose this route, you will have to have discussions about finances and lifestyle changes and frustrations may run high.
Make a budget and stick to it the best you can. Be prepared that you may go over budget as you get wooed by wedding intricacies. Always make the financial decisions together and with the financer(s) (i.e., parents). If something significant comes up that switches your budget, take a step back and adjust for all of the other details that you know about, as to minimize any future surprises and major adjustments.
Like a lot of life events – moving in together, buying a home, having a child, retirement – planning a wedding can take up a lot of your time, energy, and thoughts. Too easily do couples get sucked into a “wedding rut.” Couples go days (or even weeks!) where it seems like the only thing they talk or think about is wedding planning. Being hyper-focused on the wedding can leave partners feeling a little neglected, or like a bit of the spark in their relationship has faded. Sometimes your love takes a backseat to the details of wedding planning, which can feel surreal if you hold expectations that your love should be the most important thing throughout the process.
Challenge yourself not to let your love take a backseat. Take a night off where you’re not allowed to talk about details of the wedding. Go on a date. Remember why you’re marrying each other in the first place! Connect in the way that you connected before you started planning the wedding. Remember old inside jokes or get back to the routine you had that didn’t involve looking at cake toppers or seating arrangements for 2 hours.
Bringing us back to the cardinal rule as a newly engaged couple, stay connected with one another and stand by your partner. Make sure the two of you are on the same page. Check-in with your partner before making promises to others if making changes. Lastly, enjoy this monumental time in your lives that is just the beginning!
If you’ve found yourself intrigued by this tip and want the help of a trained therapist to guide you through the throes of engagement, we would love to help! Please, call us today to set up your FREE 15-minute phone consultation, 267-495-4951.