A friend recently told me about her nephew’s much-delayed wedding. First, it was going to be in April 2020. Then when the pandemic shut everything down and their scattered family couldn’t safely gather, they postponed it to June. Then August. And now, my friend just reported, the couple has booked a date in November. But there’s one little difference—which is actually huge.
They’ve decided that will be the day no matter what. Even if some of their dearest family members have to listen in over Zoom, the two of them will be married that day.
Somewhere along the way they realized the same thing that many other couples have discovered throughout history: As special as we want the wedding to be, what we most want is a special marriage. Which requires actually getting married, even if the day may look a bit different from the vision in our minds.
If you or someone you love is stressed about planning the perfect “big day,” disappointed by inevitable pandemic disruptions, or simply wanting to go into their wedding with the right focus, here are three steps that will make all the difference.
Stay Laser-Focused On This Truth: No Matter What Happens, You’ll Be Married!
When a close friend got married last year, I was wondering how she managed packed workdays, bridal boot camps, and family drama as she also managed the usual endless wedding details and tasks. And given this year’s pandemic realities, having myself recently planned a major event with a lot of moving parts, I can only imagine how much more complicated a wedding must be today.
Yet I also I remember with crystal clarity something Jeff said years ago when he saw me getting caught up in all the details and worries over whether our own wedding would be the one I’d always dreamed of. He put his hands on my shoulders to stop my recitation of the problems with the caterer, the soloist’s scratchy voice, and the bad storm that might sweep in right as we were supposed to be taking our beautiful send-off pictures. He said, “No matter what happens, at the end of the day, you and I are going to be married.”
The full-time job of planning a wedding can so easily make us lose that perspective.
Don’t let it. Remind yourself what your wedding day is really about: not putting on a show but committing to one another for life, before God and your witnesses.
In our case, each of those big worries I had actually came true. The scratchy voice caused some issues, the caterer did indeed run out of food, and the storm was epic. And yet because Jeff had moved my vision onto what mattered most, I wasn’t troubled. We were married!!
Allow Yourself To Grieve What You’re Missing
Every couple wants their wedding day to be the most special day of their lives. Even during normal times, that’s a lot to ask of an event. In a time when things are far from normal, serious adjustments may have to be made. Like the couple I mentioned earlier, you may have to even hold a wedding without some loved ones you’re longing to have present.
Give yourself permission to grieve what you are missing.
In the course of our current research project, Jeff and I are working closely with a very experienced marriage and family therapist. I was startled to hear him say that most of the work of a counselor is grief work: for example, helping a couple find a healthy way to grieve what isn’t and move toward joy in what is.
If you’re having a hard time with the reality of setting aside years of beautiful Pinterest board desires, your anticipated guest list, and many years of wedding expectations, tell yourself that it is okay to grieve those things. It’s okay to be sad and disappointed.
Then tell yourself that it is only part of the story. Even if you were to wait for the perfect day, even if you plan things perfectly, things will never truly be perfect. And the bigger story—the truly beautiful story—is what we said earlier. Things won’t be perfect, but you’ll be married!
Always keep in mind the timeless truth: You’re going to be a bride for one day, but you’re going to be a wife for the rest of your life.
Spend More Effort Preparing For Your Marriage Than Planning Your Wedding
You’re ready to commit your lives to one another. Now, consider how you’re spending your time and energy during this engagement season. Are you investing more in preparing to get married or in preparing to be married? Investments you can make in your marriage now include pre-marital counseling, seeking out mentors who can pour their wisdom and experience into your lives, and learning more about relationships and marriage.
Even if pre-marital counseling might have to look different (via Zoom!) this year, there is so much you can do to truly prepare. In particular, I’ve been so grateful that thousands of churches recommend that engaged couples read For Women Only: What You Need To Know about the Inner Lives of Men and For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women. One such church came up with a brilliant idea that we have recommended ever since: each of you read the book that describes yourself and mark up and make notes on what applies to you and what doesn’t. Then trade books. You’ll now be reading a personalized copy to take a tour into the most intimate thoughts, fears, and needs of this most important person in your life.
No matter what your planning and preparations look like, take joy in anticipating and walking through your big day. It will go faster than you can imagine. Savor the moments, be fully present. Be okay with those things that may not quite work the way you wanted them to. And enjoy the fact that at the end of the day, you’ll be married—married!—and that is what’s most important of all.
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her latest book, Thriving in Love and Money, uncovers the issues that cause money conflicts and provide couples with truths that are relationship game-changers. Because you need a better relationship, not just a better budget.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.