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Supergirl's avatar

How do we keep our wedding planning from destroying our relationship?

Asked by Supergirl (1666 points ) November 20th, 2007

We are planning a wedding for next summer. One of us wants a big wedding, the other a very small wedding. How do we compromise and stay focused on what really matters: us spending the rest of our lives together? Help!

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10 Answers

sjg102379's avatar

How about a few sessions of couples therapy?

figbash's avatar

Sit down, wipe the slate clean and talk about which details of the wedding are the most important to you, and leave numbers out of it. Assign numbers to the priorities, and you could naturally come to a compromise that feels like it’s fair to both people. For example, if having an extravagant cake is a top priority to you, get that in lieu of something else. If having specific people there is important, make that clear from the beginning.

I also agree with talking to someone prior to the wedding. A lot of times what rears its head during wedding planning are issues completely unrelated to wedding details – no matter how solid the relationship is. They’re hard to spot because they’re masked as “wedding planning stress.”

cwilbur's avatar

Also, focus less on the what issues and more on the why issues. Why does one of you want a big wedding? Why does one of you want a small wedding?

If you find out, for instance, that the person who wants a small wedding is trying to avoid huge wedding bills, then you can focus on that rather than on big wedding/small wedding. On the other hand, if you find out that the person who wants a small wedding wants it to be fairly intimate and have only really close friends, you can focus on that instead.

Once you’ve established that, you can find other ways of addressing those issues.

Also, I think you have your cause and effect backwards: you won’t focus on what really matters because you’ve found a compromise, but you’ll find a compromise because you’re staying focused on what really matters.

nerfmissile's avatar

What an excellent learning opportunity for both of you. Now is the time, more than ever, for a trial by fire to expose whether your marriage will be among the 50% that last. Three easy steps:

1) How are you going to co-create this event? Selfishly or intelligently? Each of you must ask whether you’re going to push for domination (a giant wedding that will please commerce, capitalism and the Establishment), submission (“Anything you want, dear… I am your humble slave”) or intelligent compromise (set a VERY reasonable budget for this one-day event and start saving for baby’s college or your retirement because these events impact lives much more than a one-day ceremony, and Social Security won’t be there).

2) Keep it in perspective. The marriage event lasts about a day. Your wedding is symbolic of your relationship and your lives together, not the other way around. Also, no one really cares or remembers what was spent on an event as much as whether they had fun… and spending too much can actually be ostentatious and alienate more interesting and enlightened friends who might otherwise stick around and offer useful advice.

3) Contrary to what the commercials want us to believe, it’s not a “me” day. It is your first “we” day. It is not the first and last day all bow down and worship Bridezilla. Are you internalizing your partnership and representing it, or are you still worried primarily about your own gratification? If either of you are going to make this a “me” day, then do the world a favor: stiff a divorce lawyer and stay single.

Jill_E's avatar

Great tips above.

It is hard to please everyone and you cannot. This is your honey and your day together. Its about exchanging love and commitment.

I believe you can find a compromise. Good suggestion to sit down and write it all down.

Since weddings are so very expensive this day, we had a family wedding at the small chapel in the mountains and a small family reception afterwards nearby at the coast.

Then 2 weeks later a reception at my parents’ home. And we wore the dress and tux for a few hours at the later reception. We ordered the same wedding cake for the 2nd reception and put up the wedding pictures of our wedding day and showed the wedding video. Put candles and flowers on each table outside and had someone catered the main dish (tri tip) and some side dishes. We did the appetizers (costco cheese, crackers, veggies and dip). A lot of family/friends at my parents home’s reception commented that they really enjoyed that and they were so relaxed.

Also Wedding planning can be so stressful or/and overwhelming from time to time.. The best advice I got when we were engaged was to have a date night or set a night not to talk about the wedding planning. Some days, your honey or you might not be in the mood to talk about it after work. etc. Or have a picnic in the park. or catch/rent a movie.

Continue to take care of you and your honey. A walk does wonders, or hang out at the bookstore with coffee.

The holidays are coming up. And I remember we were planning a wedding and the holidays. That was more stressful. I remember I wept after christmas celebration. I was stressed out and wanted to marry sooner than later.

Try to enjoy the holidays. Things will have a way of working it out.

I read somewhere that planning a wedding is one of the top five of life’s most stressful timeframe. (I sure agree)

This too shall pass.

You are not alone.

hossman's avatar

Putting details aside, I suggest a general application of common sense. If the person who wants a small wedding is expected to pay an equal share of the large wedding, then I suggest the wedding should be small, or the person desiring the large wedding should pay the additional amount for the large wedding. If the person wanting the “extras” is paying for all of it, the other person should just be grateful.

That said, I’ve had plenty of couples retain me for a bankruptcy on the credit cards they ran up on their big wedding and honeymoon, which is obviously a bad idea.

I would also offer as general advice in any relationship: “It is better to be asleep than to be right.” Sometimes it is better to give in as your own gift to your spouse.

cwilbur's avatar

I think that “if you want a big wedding, you pay for more than half of it” is exactly the wrong way to approach this, because it may not be about money.

It may be that the person who wants a big wedding is so pleased about the relationship that he or she wants to invite everyone he or she has ever met, and throw a big bash to celebrate the union.

It may be that the person who wants a big wedding has embraced consumerist culture and thinks that a big wedding with lots of conspicuous consumption is a necessity, just like driving a BMW and owning a McMansion.

It may be that the person who wants a big wedding has a large family and doesn’t want to upset the numerous friends and relations by only inviting a small group of them.

It may be that the person who wants a big wedding is tired of acceding to his or her partner’s demands, and is insisting on a big wedding simply because his or her partner wants a small wedding.

All of these have very different solutions, and focusing on the what as opposed to the why won’t get you very far towards a real solution. Focusing on what means that you oppose each other at a very superficial level: you’ve both got things you care about with this wedding, and being big or small is a means to an end, not an end in itself. (Nobody sensible cares about having a big wedding just to have a big wedding.) If you focus on why, you can make sure that the reasons one of you wants a big wedding and the other wants a small wedding can be addressed.

This is also not a time when you want to win. You’re entering into a partnership with your future husband; if you win in wedding planning, he loses, which means that since you’re his partner now, you lose too. There are only two kinds of solutions here, win-win, and lose-lose.

mdy's avatar

I would start by agreeing on a budget first.

It’s a bit cold hearted to think this way, but reality dictates that the kind of wedding you can have depends on how much you are willing and able to spend (and whether or not you intend to go into debt!).

Once a budget has been set, then the discussion can focus on figuring out what both of you feel should be at the wedding. It’s always good to start with the things that you both feel are important. It feels more like “our” wedding than “his” wedding or “her” wedding if you start with this step.

When you’ve finished itemizing the things that are important to you both, figure out how much that all costs and compare the figure to your budget. If you’re lucky, you’re within budget and still have some excess to play with. That’s when you can start talking about what each person wants.

However, if you are over budget even on the things that you both want, then you’ll need to rank your list of items in order of priority, or modify the list so that you still get what you want, but pay less to get it (e.g., get the economy version instead of the deluxe version).

IMHO, the worst possible thing you can do to your marriage is to go into debt to pay for the wedding you want but really can’t afford. A wedding is just a ONE DAY event. In contrast, you have to live with your debt for weeks, months, maybe even years until it is paid off. Relationships and children suffer when there’s not enough money to go around.

So in summary: Agree on a budget and stick to it. Focus first on the things that are important to you both. If there’s still money left over then you can talk about individual wants.

Angelina's avatar

If the budget allows, having a larger wedding is fun. I originally thought I wanted a small wedding, but was convinced to invite more people (130 or so) and I’m really glad we did. It was so much fun to see people from various stages of our life come together to celebrate with us.

It takes more time and effort to plan a large wedding, so it’s important to be realistic about whether you can both take that on. If you decide to go ahead with it, my advice is to share the responsibility of the planning equally—divvy up tasks so that no one feels resentful, especially the person who wanted the smaller wedding in the first place. At the same time, the person who wanted the larger one shouldn’t be stuck planning the whole thing. It’s important to come to an agreement, and both be equally responsible to the the decision you’ve made.

By the way, there will be family members who will make you crazy, friends who make you crazy, and you will drive each other crazy every once in a while. And trust me, it will all be okay. Your wedding day will be a blast.

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