Planning a wedding is a major undertaking. Whether it’s a big wedding of a thousand guests or a small and intimate wedding of just friends and family, the logistics, budgeting and planning that needs to go into making it a memorable event are in themselves daunting. Add having to balance the needs and feelings of both your families, some of whom might be struggling with feelings of loss because you will be leaving the family nest, and you have a very complicated situation indeed!
Yet, planning a wedding can be a fun and exciting time for many couples, and a celebration which includes family and friends is important for many of us. It reaffirms our choice to be together, it provides an auspicious start to our new life together and it tells us that we have the support and trust of our families to build a new generation together.
With so much going on, what’s the best way to keep the peace at your wedding? How can you make planning and preparing for your wedding a positive time for everyone? The answer probably lies in making sure that you get 3 important areas to work; keeping to your budget, planning the event and managing conflicts well.
Stick to a Budget
If you and your future spouse don’t share the same saving and spending habits, working on a budget for your wedding and sticking to it are likely to cause quite a few disagreements. It is however important to get this right. Think of it as a test drive for managing your future household’s income and expense plan. For many young couples, the wedding is the first time in which you will spend such a large amount of money in such a short amount of time.
Who’s Paying for What?
This has to be the first thing you agree on. In some cultures, the family of the bride or the groom may pay for some or all of the wedding. In others, the bride and groom may do so. In Singapore, guests may also contribute in the form of hongbao or gifts.
Have an open discussion about how you plan to pay for the wedding. If families are involved, talk to them early. Understand how much they are happy to help you with and respect their wishes. Stick to the budget they give you, whatever they offer to help you with, consider it to be a generous gesture and be appreciative of it.
If you plan to pay for the wedding yourselves, talk about how much money you want to spend on it and ensure that you have the funds ready and available before you start lining up your expenses.
Agree on a Budget and Work with It
Talk about what you think is important about the wedding. Is having a photoshoot and an incredible honeymoon important? If so, you might plan a simpler wedding and save more money for the things you really feel will make your wedding special.
In other words, agree on your priorities for the wedding, understand how much money you are prepared to spend and work out a budget for each major item in your wedding. Finally, keep track of your budget. Set up a spreadsheet, put your expenses against it and agree to have a discussion with each other if you think you will need to spend more than the allocated amount you have planned for.
Planning and Event Management
Planning for a wedding is a fulltime job in itself. If you are both working or if you have other commitments try to assemble a team of friends and family who can help you. Some couples opt to engage the services of a professional wedding planner or an experienced and enthusiastic friend or relative to help out. Create a team-based strategy to tackle this big task!
Involve Friends and Family
Reach out to friends and family and ask if they would like to get involved. You might be surprised at how willing they will be to help you. Ask them what they would like to do and take note of their preferences.
Give Each Person a Role
Take a look at what each person has told you they can help you with. Make sure that there are no overlaps as these can sometimes cause conflicts. Give each person a role and a responsibility, and then trust them to be able to do it well. Listen to their suggestions and let them know how much you value their efforts to help you make your wedding special.
Set Up a Web-Based Planner
Weddings are just glorified projects. So set up a web-based planner. Any project management software will do, and there are some wedding focused ones out there too. Share it with all the people involved and use it to work together. It is much better than trying to keep it all in your head and managing everything alone.
Keeping the Peace
This is what we all hope for; a harmonious merging of our families and our lives. This process actually begins in the months before the wedding itself and should culminate in that promise on the day of the wedding. Start to address the possible areas of conflict as you plan for you wedding and hopefully you will have been able to resolve most of them before the day you pledge you “I do’s”.
Address the Big Issues before the Wedding
There will always be a few big issues before the wedding. Ones which you know might cause conflict, but which perhaps you’ve been reluctant to engage with. Typical ones might be: signing a pre-nuptial agreement before the wedding, agreeing to certain religious practices or even a religious conversion, discussions about where to live, how much you will continue to support your parents, whether or not you will invite certain family members to the wedding, how much money you will spend on the wedding itself and in some cases, cold feet about even going through with getting married to each other.
Don’t avoid these. Face them head-on and have an honest and open discussion about them. If you really cannot resolve these issues happily before the wedding, rethink your wedding. These types of issues don’t magically go away just because the minister has said “I pronounce you Man and Wife”, they are likely to simply grow bigger. Resolve these types of issues before you go ahead with your wedding. Your future together will go beyond the day itself and you want to make sure that you start your married life on foundations which are safe and secure.
Include Customs and Suggestions from Both Families
Ask both sides of the family if they have any customs and suggestions which they would really like to include in the wedding. If possible, include them, if not, work with your future spouse to address their concerns and get them to accept why you can’t include some of these suggestions.
If you work together and engage your families early, you will have a better chance of keeping any special wishes from becoming an area of conflict later, or by being blindsided by a last minute request which you can no longer plan for because of other commitments you have made.
Pick Your Battles and be Flexible When You Can
Give in a little when you can. Have a clear idea of which aspects of the wedding are most important to you and be willing to be flexible and compromise on all the other areas. Not only will your families and future spouse feel that you are trying hard to make things work, but they will also be more willing to concede to your wishes too.
Resolve Conflicts Actively and Together
Work with your future spouse on managing any issues. Start thinking and acting as a team. Each of you should be the key “ambassador” to resolve conflicts with your own families, but agree to be united in your purpose and commitment to each other and to your relationship.
Plan your wedding together and make sure you agree on how you will manage your budget, the event and any conflicts in advance.
Agree to a budget and keep to it.
Address the “big issues” before you go ahead with your wedding.
Act as a team to resolve conflicts together.