As a 20-something year old woman, I cannot remember the last time I logged onto Facebook and did not see an engagement announcement or wedding photos. Lots of my friends, acquaintances, and their siblings are getting married. They’re planning weddings, dealing with the stress that comes with it as well as the joy, and ultimately trying to settle into a new kind of life. I, for the record, really never want to have to plan a wedding. The goal is to elope–though I guess it’s not really an elopement if I’m planning for it. But I’m intrigued by weddings and know that a lot of women look to others that have been in the same place for advice. So, I talked to three women in their 20s getting married this fall for their advice on the pre-wedding process.
Here’s what they had to say!
I finally get to say “I do” to my fiancé on October 26 after a year of planning our wedding! For months, it felt like this day would never get here, but once it hit the one-month countdown, time has seriously flown. I knew planning a relatively large wedding (150 guests) would involve quite a bit of planning, but I had no idea just how many decisions I’d be making every single day. My best advice is to start tackling tasks as early as you can and focus on the things that are absolute non-negotiables to you, then delegate some of the less consequential decisions to other people. One thing that is so important to do during your engagement is continue strengthening your relationship with your fiancé. Sometimes the stress of wedding planning can bring out the worst in all of us. At the end of the day, take a step back and remember all the wonderful reasons why you are marrying this person. Once the big party is over and everyone goes home, your life begins with your new spouse and that’s when things get real. Don’t let the stress of planning your wedding make you grouchy, or cause silly arguments, or make you neglect quality time with your fiancé. Put in the work to start off your marriage on the best foundation possible. We did premarital counseling with our pastor who is marrying us, and we have also been working through a Bible study on preparing for marriage. It is a great way to keep the big picture in mind and remind yourselves why you are doing this in the first place. Also, it’s only inevitable that something will go wrong either on your wedding day, the week before, or at some point during your planning process. Remember that your wedding is not a performance, but literally just all your favorite people coming together to celebrate YOU! If at the end of your wedding day, you are married to the one you love, then everything went perfectly.
Something that really strengthened my relationship with my fiancé was premarital counseling. Our reverend didn’t give us a quiz or compatibility test but rather put things into perspective about how God is the center of our relationship. We feel that we are better people together than we are apart. That even in tough times, we are to see each other as children of God and therefore offer the other the respect they should be given. It has completely changed the way we speak to one another and really made our relationship full. We take time to appreciate the little things and celebrate the accomplishments of our partners. We communicate better because of the pre-marital counseling we have received and it has shaped the priorities in our life as well. People often joke about whether or not they pass or fail pre-marital counseling but because ours is not a pass-fail kind of thing, we get to cherish these pieces of advice from the reverend who baptized me at 5 years old. Premarital counseling is exactly what we needed to go into this marriage thinking of God’s purpose for us and our union. It has made this whole process that much more special.
I’m currently in the middle of planning a wedding with a four month engagement. We wanted a short engagement, and with my school calendar as a teacher, December was a great fit. On the other hand, I’m also graduating with my masters in December and am a full time teacher. With that being said, I’d highly recommend using some sort of paper planner or app to stay organized. The Knot has worked well for me, because I’m super busy and always have my phone. It lets you direct message vendors and easily plugs in your wedding information in the message that you send. The Knot’s management of the guest list is a huge plus, and RSVPs are all done within the app. This saves money on return address stamps as well as easily manages each group’s response. Pinterest was also a life saver for me. Honestly, I’d had my board for a while, but once I actually got engaged, people were shocked that I knew exactly what I wanted and how to make it happen. Pinterest will be a life saver when creating your wedding vision!
In terms of your relationship, I’d highly recommend pre-marital counseling. Before my fiancé and I got engaged, we read Ready or Knot by Scott Kedersha. Scott is the head of the pre-marital program, Merge, which originated at our church in Dallas. Their curriculum is now used in churches across the country. His book was a great introduction to our upcoming premarital class.
Regardless of the premarital program that you choose (secular or not), make sure that you’re able to discuss potential sources of contention in your relationship in a safe and encouraging environment. This will help prepare your hearts and minds for what marriage really will be like.