I’m often asked for advice regarding the mistakes I made when I was planning my wedding. One of the most common questions being: what do you wish you had known before you got married? My answer is always the same: it’s not about what I wish I knew, but more about what I wish I had paid more attention to. Because let’s face it, when it comes to weddings, we’ve all heard our fair share of quotes and sayings. Unfortunately, we don’t always take that information seriously, you know? So here are 5 things I think every bride and groom should know and consider.
1| Not everyone will be happy for you
What you thought it would be like
You know how you’ve always imagined gathering your friends around a dinner table and just casually raising your ring finger while sipping on some Moët to let them see your huge rock? (don’t front, you know exactly what I’m talking about).
You’ve also probably imagined every single one of your girls (or guys) being over the moon and wishing you all the best, offering to help and jumping at the opportunity of being part of the wedding. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but this might not be the way things play out.
And you need to prepare because not all friendships survive an engagement or a wedding.
What could actually happen
Some of your closest friends might not react the way you’ve envisioned it (like that BFF you’ve had since Kindergarten). They might not even show it right away, the day of your big announcement.
Most times, it won’t even be obvious. But over time, you’ll notice the small things like not asking about the wedding planning, not offering to help, and an overall change in attitude.
Why wouldn’t they be happy for you?
I always thought my friends would be super happy for me. I was wrong. I lost some of my closest friends while I was planning my wedding.
Why isn’t my friend happy about my engagement or wedding? You may ask yourself this question. Well, everyone is different, and there may not be one specific answer to this. But if I had to take a guess, I would say these are some reasons many friendships don’t survive an engagement or wedding:
- Your friend might compare their own situation to yours (single or in a relationship that is not progressing) and might be feeling jealous
- Your friend might think marriage could change the dynamics of your friendship (you might not want to do some things you used to) and might have a hard time adjusting to it
- Your friend might not want to deal with everything being about you and your wedding for the next year
How you should deal with it
It’s up to you. You can talk about it, or you can ignore it. But you might want to keep your distance and accept that the friendship might not survive this season of your life. And let’s be honest, if a friendship can’t survive this, then maybe it wasn’t a real friendship to begin with.
But don’t spend some precious wedding planning time dealing with this and thinking about somebody who can’t be happy for you. It will only drain you emotionally.
2| Planning the wedding will be challenging
Planning a wedding is hard. Even if it’s a small wedding. Trust me. For most people (and especially for African, ethnic, and multicultural couples who tend to invite a lot of guests) their wedding will be one of the biggest events they will ever plan.
A wedding can easily be considered one of the most emotionally, financially, and physically draining experiences in a lifetime.
Planning your wedding can be an emotional roller coaster
Needless to say, wedding planning is emotional. This tends to be a stressful year, especially for brides.
Here are a few things that can emotionally overwhelm you while planning your wedding: dealing with your expectations, your families’ expectations, people butting in, friends being flaky and even arguing with your future spouse.
In the midst of it all, remember that it’s your wedding and you and your fiancé (e) should have the last word.
Planning your wedding can be physically draining
Seriously. While I was planning my wedding, I was running around town, having meetings with different vendors, looking for the perfect dress, playing chauffeur to all the family members who kept visiting because they wanted to “help”. It was no joke. It was so bad that I would forget to eat sometimes. I got tired and weak.
And that’s when my parents had a little intervention for me. Most of us still work while planning our weddings, so it feels like having 2 full-time jobs. And let’s keep it real. Most of the time, the brides are the ones jumping around going crazy because the to-do-list keeps getting longer, and the wedding is in 3 weeks. Meanwhile, our dear beloved grooms are still trying to figure out why they are so stressed.
So what am I trying to say?
Take care of yourself. No one wants the couple to be burned out on their wedding day. Sleep, exercise, eat, and have fun!
Planning your wedding can be financially challenging
Do I even need to get into this? We all know weddings are expensive. We also know that having to save up (no matter what you’re saving for) can be a hassle.
3| The first year of marriage is tough. And the second year. And the third year.
See where I’m going with this? Marriage is no game. Seriously, it’s tough, tough. You have to keep working at it. Or else it will fail. That is a guarantee. So forget the whole “the first year of marriage is tough” thing —every single year of marriage is tough and you should continuously work on your relationship.
Marriage isn’t the end. It’s not a destination. It’s the beginning. So ladies, just because you’re married now, it doesn’t mean you have to stop wearing those cute outfits you used to. And gentlemen, just because you’re married now, it doesn’t mean you should start wearing the same Adidas sweats every single day.
Don’t stop dating your spouse just because you are married and don’t start acting like the boring couple you never wanted to become. Your marriage is what you make of it.
Keep that spark alive. 😉
4| Where there is no communication, there is no marriage
We all know this; we’ve heard it a thousand times. But we still all seem to have trouble with it. Let me share a secret with you: your spouse isn’t a genie! I know, it’s crazy, right?
If you don’t communicate your wishes and expectations for your marriage, how do you expect your spouse to know? And no, “we’ve been together for such a long time, he or she should know what I’m thinking” isn’t a valid answer. Obviously, there are things they should know after a while: like whether you like pineapple on your pizza or not (let’s not start this debate). But your expectations might have changed over the years.
Here are a few tips to improve communication in your marriage:
- Listen to your spouse (let them speak and don’t interrupt!)
- Communicate in person (please don’t argue via WhatsApp, trust me, I’ve made the mistake)
- Communicate respectfully (don’t be hurtful and say things you might regret)
- Do not bring up past issues (do I need to say more, ladies?)
Now granted, communication isn’t always easy—I still struggle with a few of these points myself ;). But it’s the foundation of any happy and healthy relationship.
5| You don’t have to follow every single marriage advice you’ve ever heard
Let me explain.
We are all different
Every. Marriage. Is. Different.
Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. And sure, we are all trying to learn by getting the right marriage advice here and there and by not repeating the same mistakes we’ve seen other couples make.
But we have to keep in mind that no one —except God—will ever know your marriage the way you do.
Listen, I’m not saying you shouldn’t take any advice, but I am saying you should always ask yourself: who is this coming from, and should I listen to it?
You know your spouse best
Let’s keep it real. Sometimes people who have had unsuccessful marriages try to butt in and give us the very same advice that has made them unhappy all these years. Other times, people mean well, but they just don’t know the dynamics of your relationship.
Here is an example.
In many African countries, when a woman is about to get married, another group of women—usually aunts and grandmothers—get together to give her advice. Needless to say, some of it is just outdated and not relevant to some young women getting married today.
Now I know for a fact there are some African girls out there (or even other multicultural brides) who know exactly what I’m talking about 😉.
This is usually how it goes down:
Aunt: “You have to make sure your husband is always well-fed. You have to make him traditional food”.
You: “But what if he doesn’t like it? He would rather eat a low-carb meal in the evening.”
Aunt: “Do you want to starve your husband? Do you want your mother-in-law to hate you?”
In this situation, following that advice wouldn’t be the smart thing to do. Do you agree?
You know your husband, what he likes and doesn’t like. They don’t live with your spouse, you do. There is awesome advice out there, but there is also a lot you should ignore.
Don’t let other people’s standards define your marriage.
How to deal with (bad/unsolicited) marriage advice?
Nod, smile, and as soon as the conversation is over, forget everything you’ve just heard.
Or you could just tell the person to stop butting in. Your choice 😉
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