Planning a wedding can make any couple butt heads, even if your life together is so perfect, it's in Disney movie territory. "Wedding planning creates a microcosm of a couple's future life together, including relating to in-laws and extended family, making financial decisions, and blending your separate lives," says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D, (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. Here's how to deal with any arguments that arise.
1. The Budget
"A simple discussion of earning, spending, and planning for a wedding can quickly flare into a war," says Tessina. Avoid a financial fight with some wisdom from Amy Nichols, lead planner of Amy Nichols Special Events, based in San Francisco. "Each of you should write down the three things that are most important to you for the wedding," she says. If you have the same top three, you can spend the bulk of your budget on those components. If not, calculate how you can put some financial heft behind what matters most to each of you, then compromise on the others. It's good practice for the future!
2. The Guest List
If you want an intimate affair with your nearest and dearest while he's all about having a blowout bash, you may have a dilemma on your hands. "For any given wedding, you potentially have invitations coming from at least four sources: you, your partner, and each of your parents," says Nichols. That doesn't even take divorced parents into account! Not only does nailing down the guest list affect your budget, it can also speak to a disparity in your vision of the day. The key? Figure out a common ground you're both OK with. "Decide where you'll draw the line, like that you both won't invite coworkers, and stick to those rules," says Nichols.
3. The Venue
"There are so many directions you can go in with the venue that you may not be on the same page," says Nichols. This is another time when sitting down and each making a list can preempt a world of drama. "Jot your venue ideas down in order of your favorites, then take time to share them and see what speaks to both of you," says Nichols. She also recommends reminiscing about your favorite past weddings to figure out exactly what made them so memorable. "Maybe your favorite wedding was in Cabo, but what you really loved was that everyone was together for a three-day affair," she explains. "That's the kind of thing you can bring to a different venue."
4. The Planning Process Itself
If your partner is 100 percent as involved as you in the planning process, kudos to both of you for being on the same page. But if he's not quite as captivated by floral arrangements as you are, it can strike a nerve. "If you find your fiancé isn't engaged in the planning process, consider setting up a specific time, like certain nights each week or on the weekend, to talk about it," says Nichols. Also, keep in mind that a lack of enthusiasm about certain things isn't a red flag. "Guys normally just don't care much about the pomp and circumstance," says Tessina. "If he's willing to dress up and go along with what you want, be grateful. He'll still tear up when he sees you in your wedding dress on the big day."