How to plan your marriage while planning your wedding.

Planning a wedding can be viewed as a practice session for your upcoming life in marriage. You and your partner are going through a key life event, where you both need to devote time and energy to accomplish a common goal. There will be moments when you disagree or feel that one of you is doing more than their fair share. In a way, the entire experience is a metaphor for how you’ll learn to work together and support each other on the road ahead. You’re discovering how to be practical and disciplined with your finances, and how that relates to your habits and behaviors as a couple. Here are some guidance points on how to prepare for the longevity of marriage while planning the day of your wedding.

Learn how to compromise while setting a budget
Before you jump into wedding planning, determine how much money you have to put toward the event. Whether financial support is coming from family, yourselves, or a combination of both, you and your partner likely will not agree on how much to spend on every component of the wedding. Food, invitations, flowers, and music might be assigned a different level of importance by each of you. As you work together to prioritize, you’ll be practicing a key element of marriage: compromise.

Be open and honest when writing the guest list
Settling on a reasonable invite list can be a challenging task, but on the other hand, it’s a chance to hash out how you and your spouse feel about your peripheral friends and extended families. Share the full details of any eccentric cousins, fraught relationships with siblings, or sentiments toward divorced parents. Be cautious and sensitive if you’re voicing an opinion about someone on your spouse’s side. These conversations might be difficult, but they’re valuable practice for marriage because they force you to put everything family-related out there, without fear of being judged.

"Work together when you're motivated to get things done and don't waste time by challenging each other over the little things."

Learn compassion by setting aside time to NOT discuss wedding planning
There’s no question that planning a wedding can be all-consuming, so take a break from it when you need to. Not only will you come away feeling refreshed from a spreadsheet-free evening, but you’ll gain important marriage intelligence about conflict management and compassion. When you and your partner are not in a collaborative mindset to agree upon small details for a greater goal, productivity will decrease severely. Work together when you’re motivated to get things done and don’t waste time by challenging each other over the little things.

Decide what you’ll do with gifts—and practice gratitude for big and little things
The generosity of friends and family at your wedding can be staggering. Money you receive as gifts should be used to pay off any leftover wedding expenses. If you walk away debt-free, use any remaining money to invest. Whether your goal is to buy a home or build up an emergency fund, be sure to put it towards your future. As you write notes of appreciation to your wedding guests, remind yourself that gift-giving occurs on a daily basis in marriage. Give each other gifts—big or small, and with or without reason—and let your partner know you’re grateful for receiving such gifts. Beyond the financial goals of building a secure future together, the small interactions, understandings, and appreciations are the building blocks of marriage.

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