Disagreements and arguments are normal—even healthy—aspects of any relationship. That's especially true when you're dealing with something as stressful as planning a wedding. Appeasing both families, creating the guest list, and choosing the venue can leave you feeling pitted against each other rather quickly. "Emotions are running high, way too many people are meddling in your life because of the event, and the logistics are crazy-making—if you didn't have a fight before the wedding, it would be unusual!" says April Masini, New York-based relationship and etiquette expert.
But even if it's normal to disagree while planning your wedding, no couple wants to feel resentment towards their partner. To help minimize fighting, we reached out to relationship and wedding experts for their best tips for keeping the peace.
Listen to one another.
This involves more than simply hearing what your partner has to say (even when you don't like it.) You should also try to understand what your partner is trying to say and how he or she truly feels. "If you can't listen to each other now, this will most likely be an issue in the future," says Cristen Faherty, wedding and event planner at Cristen & Co Event Coordination & Design. And it's not just about listening, but also about communication patiently. "This will help you better understand one another and resolve big and small issues quickly so you can move on to happier moments."
Make a list.
"Whatever the topic of debate is, write it down," says Kimberly Lehman, wedding and event planner at Love, Laughter & Elegance. "Break it down into sections for discussion and go over each subject individually." For example, if the argument is over the budget, list out your individual priorities for the celebration and then discuss how you can come to an agreement on what's most important. Another helpful strategy is to rate each item on your list on a scale of one to ten (ten being a very strong preference) to show its importance to you, suggests Claudia Six, Ph.D., clinical sexologist and relationship coach. For example: "I want my ex-wife's parents to attend, and that's an eight for me. I feel pretty strongly about it." The other person may say: "My objection to your ex-wife’s parents being there is a two, so let's invite them." You rate your preferences and go with the highest rated option.
Delegate whenever possible.
"There will be wedding-related tasks that one person, or both, just do not wish to take on, such as choosing table linens or floral arrangements," says Lehman. Her quick-fix? Consider the interests of each partner and then divide and conquer. "If your fiancé is a fan of local breweries and pub food, consider having him choose a craft beer as part of the cocktail hour, or selecting favorite appetizers to delight guests with." When neither party feels compelled to decide on a certain aspect of the wedding, be it the flowers or the napkin fold, divvy those decisions up to family. Bottom line: Not everything has to be decided together.
Take a break for a while from planning.
In addition to being exciting, wedding planning comes with its fair share of stressful moments. If you and your partner find that wedding stress is getting in the way, or leaving you with less time to enjoy being engaged, plan an escape. "This could be something as simple as a romantic dinner together or taking off on a weekend trip," says Lehman. "Rediscover all of the parts of each other's personality that made falling in love so enjoyable."
Focus on the big picture.
"Remember that you're planning a day, but it's the life beyond that day that truly matters," says Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, a clinical psychologist and couple's counselor. "This day is a celebration, and it is symbolic, but it is only a day, and the planning and execution of it is something that you are supposed to enjoy." Her advice is to not let it create undue stress or drive a wedge between the two of you. Remember that it's the rest of your life after that day that matters. "Keep things in perspective and don't let too much weight be on this event, enjoy it, because hopefully you will only do it once."