6 Steps To Having A Conflict-Free Wedding Planning Experience


Say "I do" to your vision.

When I was 9 years old, I was a candlelighter in my aunt Mary's wedding and I still remember the pretty peach dress I wore.

I remember my Aunt's long train as she walked down the aisle, and I can still imagine the sound of the soloist singing from the choir during the ceremony.

I loved throwing rice on the couple as they walked out of the church. Then, I drank orange soda until I was nearly sick during the reception and danced the polka with my grandfather.

A string of these kind of family weddings pretty much set the stage for me dreaming about my wedding day.  

Most women I know can relate to this. Since they were a little girl, they've had THE DREAM, THE VISION.

The beautiful day when they will wear the white dress with the train. Then, they are engaged and excited and happy and showing off the ring!  

But then, at some point in the wedding planning it's usually not so dreamy anymore. Even though it's normal to have a least some disagreements over wedding plans, it still puts a temporary roadblock between the bride and her childhood dream. And these kind of roadblocks, as you know, can cause tears and stress and tension you can cut with a knife.

Most women get pretty upset and even turn into the "Bridezilla" when conflict gets in the way of THE DREAM.

Premarital couples who end up on my couch, in some cases, are actually having a lot of stress over the wedding plans. Wedding planning can go from dreamy to yucky pretty fast, and for some people wedding plans can even cause some of the first real conflict that a couple experiences.

For example, the groom-to-be's budget conscious attitude may just go head-to-head with the bride-to-be's vision since she was nine about what her wedding would look like.

He, on the other hand, has been raised to save his pennies for retirement since he was nine to be the household provider, and he is starting off his engaged and married life taking his provider role very seriously.

Before you know it, horns are locking and the wedding day's vision, and even the romance itself can end up in question!

I have also seen brides-to-be who are seriously annoyed because they have done nearly all of the wedding plan with great care.

She tells me the whole list of everything she has done for the wedding plans.  (I get it. When I was engaged, I had three of those wedding planner books where you go month to month checking off lists of things that you need to do to make my VISION from age 9 come true).

She has asked her friends to stand up in the wedding, picked the dress, selected the invitations, nailed down the wedding venue, put a down payment on the photographer, and even made the personalized wedding website absolutely perfect!

Meanwhile, the three things she asked her fiancé to do, ask his friends to stand up in the wedding, decide on what type of liquor should be at the bar, and select a tuxedo vendor, he keeps putting them off until some unknown date into the future.  These are not difficult tasks she has asked him to do!  However, not only did he not do them, he does not remember what is on the list when she asks him. Nor does he know where he put the list that she gave him after the THIRD reminder.  

I hope your spouse-to-be remembers at least one of the things on his list! But here's the thing. Whatever your complaints are about wedding planning with your fiancé, I want you to be able to get them resolved without too much drama so you can have the wedding you have been dreaming about for all these years. Fighting was not part of THE VISION! 

I strongly encourage you to use these pre-wedding disagreements to fine tune your conflict resolution skills. Here are the tips I recommend for you to work through any drama and disagreements with your man over wedding plans. (Hint: You can use these same tips whenever you have a complaint or concern you want to bring up about any problem from now until death do us part).

1. Ask your fiancé if now is a good time to discuss a concern that you have

Tell him you that you want him to take you seriously, so you are finding out when would be the best time to have a discussion. I call this finding out when the customer service counter, or what I call the Relationship Repair Counter™ will be open.

2. I want you to increase the chances that your concern about the wedding plans (whatever it may be) will be resolved

There are some steps you can take when you file your complaint that will improve the possibility you will be heard and taken seriously.  These steps come straight from my book Relationship Repair for Couples and are outlined here in the next four tips!

3. Think about what your ideal resolution is before you start talking about your concern

Think about it — it does not help to go to any Customer Service Counter if you have not thought about whether you want a refund or an exchange or a gift card/discount to make up for the hassle you went through. The same is true for the Relationship Repair Counter™. You need to identify what you would ideally like before you register your complaint.

4. Say something positive that you appreciate about your fiancé, then give him the benefit ot the doubt

Tell him that you know that he wants the best for you and that he probably did not mean to create a concern with the wedding planning. Saying something nice and giving him the benefit of the doubt will help to reduce his defensiveness.

5. Try really really hard to state your complaint briefly

Most women can elaborate at length about their concerns and problems. However, for best chances to get your complaint resolved, save most of your feelings for while you are having a glass of wine with your girlfriend or schedule a time to talk with me or your personal therapist.

I am not saying your man should never have to listen to you elaborate about your feelings but it will help if you can refrain from long descriptions at least some of the time.

6. Assertively ask for the ideal resolution that you identified above

If your fiancé agrees to it, then say thank you! If he does not, see if you can suggest some compromises. If you still do not get a good resolution to your complaint, well then I think you have reason to be concerned.  Being able to work out problems is very important to future success as a couple!

I would suggest you take the quiz on my home page to grade the overall effectiveness of your fiance's Relationship Repair Counter.™  After you complete the quiz, you will get a grade and some recommendations about how to best move forward when you have problems and disagreements that you are not able to get resolved.

Research on marriage by Dr. John Gottman and his colleagues in his love laboratory has found that a primary predictor for divorce is how women bring up concerns and whether or not men are influenced by women to hear and resolve her complaints.

It's so important that if you are unable to work out disagreements during wedding planning to see this as a larger problem you are having with how to resolve conflict in your relationship.

Please, don't just ignore problems with resolving conflict and hope they will go away. They most likely won't. I hope you will seek premarital counseling and use these problems as an opportunity to grow your relationship.

To be perfectly honest, I also believe that people should continue to discern if they want to get married up until the day of the wedding and if you cannot trust your mate to work out problems with you, that is not a good sign for a long-lasting marriage. 

I want you to be able to relax and truly enjoy the wedding day that you DREAMED of.  And, I want you to walk down the aisle trusting that your spouse truly knows how to work out whatever problems and challenges will come your way in the future.

This is a wonderful feeling, and I hope that you will add something to your VISION for the perfect day — knowing in your heart that your partner has a Relationship Repair Counter™ and values you enough to take your complaints seriously!