Differences and disagreements are as inevitable in wedding planning as they are in marriage itself. This is a good time to learn how to deal with them. Here are some strategies you might find helpful to work through with your wedding plans or to discuss with the couple you are working with:
1. Consider the big picture as it affects each decision. Some decisions will be made consequentially as other wishes are discussed. For example, the guest list should be created early because it shapes decisions about facilities and costs, among other things. If one of the couple wants a tropical beach wedding and the other a home-town wedding, discuss these options in the light of other issues such as the fact both want frail grandparents to come to the wedding. Seeing the larger picture can help resolve differences.
2. Ask yourselves who cares more about the issue. You can decide to gracefully adjust your preference if your partner has strong feelings about an issue. You may prefer a small, intimate wedding but your partner has cherished the family tradition of a large wedding. Try setting a number that gives more to the person who cares the most.
3. Periodically assess your wedding-planning stress and feelings of competency. If your partner has not followed through on a task they were responsible for, or if you feel better equipped for a particular task, politely offer to help or take over (i.e., “I am interested in photography and have a light work schedule next week. Is it okay if I research a photographer?” ). The key is to agree together on a shift of responsibility, rather than saying, “Since you won’t do it, I will!” The person who has been relieved of one responsibility should then oer to help with other responsibilities.
4. Teach and learn from one another rather than assuming the other “gets it.” Sometimes one of you will not see a problem that is quite clear to the other. You can both educate each other about your families and their traditions. The groom from a Catholic family should explain to his Protestant bride what is involved in a traditional Catholic wedding, rather than having surprises keep coming up.
5. When you are doing your best to deal with your differences and yet remain polarized, consider whether deeper issues are underlying your conflict. For example, sometimes the issue is not about the size of the wedding but about a feeling of envy or competition because one of you has a bigger family or circle of friends. Sometimes the issue is not between the two of you, but between one of you and your family members.
The standard tools of effective communication taught in PREPARE/ENRICH are particularly important when there is tension between couples. Examples are speaking for yourself using “I-statements” rather than attacking the other person, listening to understand before proposing solutions, and choosing the best time and place to talk about difficult matters. Everyday communication patterns might be fine for everyday matters, but when you are negotiating a wedding, it’s good to be at your best!
If you have any questions regarding work with couples and wedding stress or you simply need assistance setting up your couple, please call us on (02) 9520 4049.
At PREPARE/ENRICH Australia we are committed to providing quality resources for marriage preparation and relationship enrichment. Any questions, please contact us.
Strengthening Relationships Since 1979.
PO Box 448
Sutherland, NSW 1499
ABN: 65 162 790 687
P: (02) 9520 4049