Planning a wedding, as you know by now, is a huge undertaking. And as it turns out, all those late-night planning sessions and number-crunching crisis prepare you for more than one epic bash — they get you ready for your marriage, too. How so? Read on to find out how planning your wedding actually prepares you for the marriage to come.
1. You'll learn to compromise.
You want a formal black-tie fête, but your partner envisions more of a backyard bash — what's an engaged couple to do? "You have to be able to talk about your respective needs and figure out how to resolve your differences," says Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. In other words, you'll have to find a compromise. "You need to be able to come to a decision that feels comfortable for both parties," she says, just as you presumably will many times in your marriage. "You don't want your partner to feel like he or she has to sacrifice what's really important to them."
2. You'll start to manage your money together.
"You may have made it through dating without having any heavy money talks," says relationship expert April Masini, "but preparing for marriage requires you to have talks about money." And deciding how to finance your wedding will be just one of them, whether it's about how to spend the money you've been given or how to spend your own money for the big day. "Right and wrong is irrelevant here," says Masini. "What works for the two of you as a couple is key. Don't get stressed, but do be open minded and creative about how to get married."
3. You'll learn to navigate your in-laws.
You've heard it, and it's true: You don't just marry your partner — you marry into his or her family, too, whether you like them or not. But, "this is a great opportunity to start handling family, rather than retreating and isolating in an effort to make it go away," says Masini. And one way you'll do that is by deciding how to incorporate them into your wedding. "Keeping parents at bay or including them in every decision is part of the experiment that is marriage," says Masini. "If you have children or even pets, already, and from different relationships, deciding if and how to include them also sets the tone — as does your inclusion or exclusion of exes."
4. You'll figure out who you are as a couple.
From what music you'll play at your reception to where you'll celebrate your love on a honeymoon, now will be the time you figure out what you want to say about who you are together. For example, "finding music that you can listen to as a couple helps you work together as a team, and create a statement of 'this is us' rather than 'this is what I love,'" says Greer. Same goes for the honeymoon. "Being able to plan this trip brings into play your values, financial plans, and tastes," she explains. "You want to be able to blend all of this together to create an experience you'll both look forward to and enjoy."