Your engagement should be a joyful time. You have a lifetime ahead of you with the person you love. What could be better than to celebrate that love surrounded by friends and family? And yet, somehow things go awry. Conflicts flare. And the time that should be so happy — the build-up to your wedding — is fraught with possibilities for strife.
The good news is you can avoid most of the problems by planning your wedding planning. That's right. Plan how you're going to plan.
Identify your planning styles
Yup. People have planning styles even if your style is “seat-of-your-pants,” meaning not much planning at all. But your partner may be more type-A. The one who wants all the details buttoned down. One of you is bound to be more of a planner than the other. Talk about the planning process as you expect it to unfold.
Decide who takes the lead
Maybe now, if you've discovered your partner's more into planning, it may seem natural for them to take the lead. But also consider which of you is more organized and detail-oriented. Which of you has the natural inclination to be in charge, and which of you has the time and energy to take on extra tasks.
Determine the desired outcome
It's hard to plan unless you have some idea what you're planning for. Have you always dreamed of an elaborate wedding in an exotic place with plenty of friends and family? Or would you just like to have a small ceremony in an intimate setting? You and your partner need to agree on the general direction in which you will go. Remember, compromise is an important part of any joint endeavor.
Share the chores
One of you should be in charge of calendar and appointments, and crucially, keeping the other informed of the schedule, changes, and updates. That way you won't both be calling the caterer or setting up conflicting appointments. One of you should be in charge of the budget and tracking the paperwork, preferably the one who's best at math. There will be some things you'll want to work on together, like choosing the venue, and other things you can do individually. Just be clear about who's doing what so you don't overlap or let anything fall through the cracks.
Agree on a schedule
One of you will probably be more laid back than the other and not worry about getting things done. But this may keep your partner up at night wondering if you'll have a ceremony in the rain because the tent rental place was all booked when you finally got around to calling. Create a general timeline of tasks so you can see what's completed and what still needs to be done. And consider that one of you may want to get everything done all at once so they can relax and enjoy while the other may want to do a little bit each day so as not to feel overwhelmed.
Check in with each other
What decisions are small enough that they don't require consultation, and when do you need to weigh in with your partner? Determine major decisions that you want to make jointly. For everything else, consider scheduling a weekly time to touch base. You can report what you've accomplished during the week and see how it's going for your partner. Are they getting frustrated with something that you can help with? Are things going as scheduled? By checking in regularly you can get a sense of problems that might come up and nip them in the bud.
Agree on who else to involve
If you have parents who are contributing financially, they may have some thoughts about what they'd like to have, too. Talk with your partner about how much involvement they should have before you start planning. Then have a heart-to-heart with your parents so they're clear about what your expectations are.
Remember to smell the roses
This is a wonderful time to work together to achieve a common goal. Do not let this bonding opportunity pass without taking a little time to enjoy it, no matter how busy you are. Perhaps you could make your weekly check-ins at a romantic dinner for two. Maybe you could savor the flower selection by sending a small bouquet to your partner's office. With careful planning, you can enjoy and be happy throughout the process.