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Wedding planning isn't always pre-wedding bliss. Says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia, "Wedding planning can be an incredibly stressful time for couples. It's a huge undertaking filled with emotional highs and lows, and between the money, family dynamics, decision making, and scheduling, it's easy for couples to fall victim to wedding planning quarrels." Here are five wedding planning fights you might have and how to handle them.
1. How to spend your wedding budget.
Sometimes the way you spend your dollars doesn't make sense to your partner. For example, you may want to put the bulk of your budget toward your big day, while your partner wants to splurge on an extravagant honeymoon. Your difference of opinions could cause sparks of the fighting variety to fly. "Money is the number one thing that married couples fight about, so it's not surprising that it's also a common disagreement in the planning process," says Fisher.
When it comes to your wedding budget, our experts agree that compromise is key. But coming to an agreement you can both live with is just the start. "Now is a good time to talk about what you both feel comfortable spending money on and where you might be willing to negotiate," explains Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage. "Being open to each other and being curious about why you each feel the way you do is important. You each must be willing to go beyond the cost of the flowers or reception and identify what is driving the desire to choose one thing over another."
2. Who's more enthusiastic over planning.
Your wedding may be your passion project, while your partner can barely muster two cents to contribute to any wedding-related discussion. His or her lack of enthusiasm — as you chat over centerpieces or anything else wedding-related — could cause you to think he or she doesn't care at all or care enough. But Doares warns, "Just because one of you is more interested in the flowers or where you go on the honeymoon doesn't mean the other person doesn't care about you or the event. People have different levels of emotion and focus about all kinds of things, and expecting your partner to care at the same level that you do is unrealistic."
So rather than expecting your partner to plan a certain way, "it's important to move out of the right or wrong, good or bad view and allow your partner to feel the way they feel," Doares says. "It's what you want around your feelings so you have to be willing to give it to your partner. Stay away from judgment just because you feel a different way. Taking a position of curiosity is always more productive. Ask about what each is feeling, really listen, and be open to a position that is different from yours."
3. Who's doing the lion's share of planning.
Fights often erupt during the planning process, Fisher says, when one person feels as he or she is doing all the planning him or herself. "This can be hurtful because the one doing all the work feels like their spouse-to-be doesn't care, when in reality, he or she may just not know how to help," she explains.
If you feel as if you're running the show without so much as a single hand to help, Fisher urges you not to turn those feelings into a fight. "Talk to your honey about how it's a celebration of the two of you and you want the wedding to reflect that," she suggests. "Find out which areas of planning they are most interested in and have them take the lead in those categories. If he's a music aficionado, have him lead the band search. If she's a foodie at heart, have her coordinate the caterer."
4. The people who'll make it onto your guest list.
You'd think choosing the friends and family members with whom you'll surround yourself on your big day would be easy, but it's not. "This is one of the first opportunities to set boundaries around yourself as a couple," Doares explains. "The people you invite to share your special day are an indication of who will support you going forward in your life as a married couple." Not only that, but Fisher points out that how big your guest list grows also affects your budget, venue choice, and the overall feel of your wedding day.
So don't leave this sticky subject for the last minute. "Get clear with each other what kind of event you want and how the people there will support you in your life together," Doares suggests. "If you don't want children present, that's okay. Just be willing to understand the why. Try to take it out of the right or wrong view and see it as just different."
5. Your opinionated family members.
Says Fisher, "Whether it's overly opinionated parents or a know-it-all sister, family tends to find a way into many wedding planning arguments," warns Fisher. And while it's important to listen to your family's requests, bending to their wills rather than setting boundaries could create "a slippery slope in designing your life together," Doares says.
So when it comes to fighting over family, it's most important to let your partner vent about his parents without joining in. "Since we instinctively feel defensive of our family and emotions are already running high, this can quickly lead to a fight with your partner," she says. "When family becomes a wedding planning topic, be sure to keep the conversation constructive and respectful to avoid conflicts."
Then, adds Doares, you must realize that even though you love your families, the new family you are creating together must come first. "If as a result your family's wishes aren't followed, that is their issue to handle," she says. "Presenting a united front to each family is critical to stake out your own place. Really listen and be open to what is important to each of you as you build your new life because it has to be a good fit for each of you."