Meaningful Wedding #1: Essential Tips for Engaged Couples

This is the first in a series of posts: “Tips for a Less-Stress, Meaningful Wedding.” Please add your own advice!

Me and Dan after our wedding. Credit: Melody Mejia Photography (St. Mary Magdalen Parish, San Antonio)
Me and Dan after our wedding. He hardly ever smiles for pictures! (St. Mary Magdalen Parish, San Antonio) Credit: Melody Mejia Photography

Disclaimer! Our marriage has been vastly ‘different’ from the beginning: We started dating after Dan had left a community he’d been living with for two years discerning priesthood/religious life. We’d been discussing marriage since our third date. I never wanted nor owned an engagement ring. We’re simple people, and it’s a lot easier to ditch stress with simple taste.

Ground Rules Minimize Regrets. After engagement, potentially-stressful situations can suddenly bombard you. Speak with your future spouse and anticipate those situations. Remember: You don’t want to end up with regrets. Enjoy your engagement and wedding. Pack them full with meaning.

After our engagement, Dan and I took time out to discuss how we were feeling; we had a full plate, and getting married can be intimidating. We decided to set ground rules for ourselves. For example: If any aspect of wedding planning became too stressful and time-consuming, we decided that we’d eliminate it and start from scratch.

That’s what happened with our wedding music: At first, we wanted a choir singing Gregorian chant. When that became too involved and stressful, we eliminated the idea and kept things simple. A friend sang the Psalm and Recessional Hymn, my dad played acoustic guitar, and the congregation sang some responses a capella. When all was said and done, we had absolutely zero regrets about loved ones providing music vs. stressing out for months over music. It was much more meaningful.

Never, Ever, Ever Forget the Big Picture. At the end of the day, you will be married. Ultimately, your exchange of vows witnessed by the Church is what matters. Everything else is bonus.

Weddings are Not ‘All About the Bride.’ You’ve undoubtedly heard: “Weddings are all about the bride and what she wants.” Politely disagree with anyone who says so. It is a terrible way of expressing common experience: men are concerned with the gist while women are more concerned with details; that’s why you’ll regularly hear him say, “Whatever you want, honey.”

However, the groom needs to be involved in decision-making. In fact, I was surprised to learn how much Dan did care about some of the details when I asked! Engagement is the time to start practicing teamwork.

My sister (MOH) and I
My sister (MOH) and I

Additionally, be mindful of your family and friends. That doesn’t mean you have to act on everyone’s suggestions. (On the contrary; you’ll probably have to turn down most suggestions.) Your wedding will join two families and continue their legacies. To demonstrate complete uninterest in family and friends would be rude, uncharitable, and therefore in direct opposition to self-giving LOVE. That’s what marriage is about, isn’t it?

Be Organized, but Don’t Go Overboard. Brides have become crazy list-makers. Every wedding website or magazine includes a gigantic list containing anything you could ever possibly prepare for a wedding.

The problem? As long as I used those lists, I felt inadequate and behind. Finally, I realized that these lists were created by the wedding industry to sell products and services!! Use them as references only; make your own lists. Every couple has different priorities, budgets, timelines, and situations.

Experienced folks: What are your tips for engaged couples?
Next up: Money, spiritual life, and communication!


One comment

  1. These are great reminders. I think your point #2 has a lot of bearing when you consider that in the Catholic ceremony, the bride and groom are invited to walk up the aisle together, because it shows a commitment being equally made by the bride and groom… I think I did a lot of mental repetition of “love is patient, love is kind” when it came to dealing with family stuff, and it really helped me be a better person, and a better bride.

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