How Wedding Fever Can Ruin Your Relationship

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Seven ways to keep your wedding from overshadowing your marriage.

With that question in mind, here are my "lucky seven" suggestions for getting the focus where it belongs, so that you and your fiancé can get your marriage off to a good start:

1. Relax about the appearances, starting with yourself and your fiance. This is not the time to drop twenty pounds, become a marathon runner or turn him into a gym rat. My client Emma got engaged to Kurt (both names have been changed), booked a personal trainer for three sessions a week, and began a crash diet. Eight months after the wedding, she came to see me because she wasn't enjoying her life — just as she hadn't enjoyed her engagement or her wedding.

Thinking back about her wedding, she said, "I have beautiful wedding pictures, but I wish I'd bagged the trainer and the diet and had fun instead! I was a size zero on my wedding day, and Kurt jokingly referred to me as his incredible shrinking bride. He likes curves, but I was stuck on this idea that if I was the thinnest, blondest bride, I'd be the happiest bride." She laughs ruefully. "So there I was: the most uptight bride. And poor Kurt! I had him biking thirty miles five days a week to get in shape. Not fun!"

2. The devil is in the details. Usually that phrase means to pay attention to the details, but if you get stuck in all the wedding details, you're missing the fun. Is anyone really going to remember whether you had the lavender napkins or the deep purple ones? If they do, that's their problem! I assure you that bevelled edges on the cakestand can't guarantee a good marriage.

3. Stick to your budget. Your relationship isn't going to fail if you get married in a garden or a church instead of a Spanish castle, but regardless of the venue, there are choices all along the way that can either break your budget or respect it. Why start your marriage with the stress of unnecessary debt? The wedding is about your commitment to each other; it's not proof of your magnificence.

4. Don't stress over the wedding vows. Approach your wedding vows as something you want to say to your partner, rather than a proclamation to the world of your love or proof of your brilliance. Steve and Betsy (names changed) spent several weekends camped out at opposite ends of their apartment with writer's block, trying to compose the perfect wedding vows. Would people think the vows were silly? Were they too emotional? Too unconventional? Too sexist?

I suggested that they talk to each other about what they especially love about each other, something they struggle to accept about each other, and take their vows from that. After all, It's not for Bartlett's Quotations; it's for you and your partner. And since you and your partner are not Tom Hanks winning an Academy Award and using the acceptance speech as a love letter to your partner, take the pressure off and remember that the traditional vows are there for a reason. Alternatively, you can look online for some that fit your style. Keep reading ...

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