A few things that are inevitable during wedding planning: boiling-over happiness, a case or two of Pinterest fatigue—and disagreements with your partner. Throw in a few wine or coffee-fueled (depending on how your role) spreadsheet sessions and that’s it. That’s wedding planning in summary. The good news? You’ll still be overjoyed the moment you say, “I do,” no matter what it takes to get you there. But today we’re talking about wedding planning fights because even if they’re bound to happen, there are ways to handle them.
Elizabeth Wellington is a psychotherapist and founder of Kinship Collaborative. Through online courses, communities, and counseling, Elizabeth and her team are your emotional allies for life’s biggest changes. And as the Creative Director at A Good Affair, Natalie Good has had her fair share of soldiering couples through disagreements on the way to the alter. Between the two of them, they’ve got practical advice to help you wade through wedding planning arguments up to the big, drama-free ;) day.
How to Prevent Wedding Drama Before it Happens
Before finalizing your wedding party, stop to consider the personalities you’re bringing together. Will the combination be consistently supportive or cause drama? Be honest with yourself about people’s strengths and limitations. —Natalie
How to Handle Wedding Planning Arguments with Family and In-Laws
The wedding planning process is an emotionally charged time for the family. Sometimes feelings get hurt and you’re left stuck in the middle. I’ve had many conversations with brides over the years (therapy sessions, lol) and the best thing to do is first, take a deep breath. Weddings bring out the best—or the worst—in people. Your job is to keep your perspective on the situation. If a family member or future in-law is causing the problem, take time to discuss the issue one-on-one. Perhaps they are feeling left out and really want to be involved. Set healthy boundaries for you and your fiancé but also give that person ownership in a task. These people are your family (or soon-to-be) and working it out through communication is essential to your happiness as a couple. —Natalie
Practice Compromise with Your Fiancé
Wedding-related disagreements with your fiance present an invaluable opportunity to practice compromise. Conflict and tension exist in even the best marriages. This is totally normal and healthy. It’s how you navigate the tension and resolve the conflicts with your partner that matters. It’s crucial that both partners feel heard and respected in the course of settling a dispute. And it’s equally important that each partner feels the other has given a little, rather than stubbornly insisting, “My way or the highway.” —Elizabeth
Avoid Wedding Planning Fights by Seeking to Understand
The first step to compromise is communicating with openness, honesty, and non-judgment. Dedicate time for each partner to speak openly about their feelings and motivations at the heart of the disagreement. First and foremost, the “listening partner” must seek to understand, not to convince, argue, or tell them they’re wrong. Feeling emotionally understood can soften even the most intractable wedding planning arguments. Your goal is to make sure your partner feels completely understood as you accept their position. You do not need to like your partner’s position, but you do need to try to understand why it matters to your partner and accept your differences. Ask questions like, “What about this matters to you?” or “Why is this of emotional significance to you?” —Elizabeth
Set the Stage for Negotiation
Once both partners take a turn communicating and listening, negotiation can begin. Set the stage for the negotiation by making yourselves open to influence. This requires that you both take a deep breath, relax your bodies, and tell yourselves: “I will be open to being influenced by my partner. I will be open to changing my position. I will be open to making decisions for us rather than for me.” —Elizabeth
Define Negotiables + Non-Negotiables
Next, each partner needs to define the issues they will and will not negotiate. Begin with your non-negotiables. These are needs for the wedding (or the process) that you absolutely cannot live without. Be realistic about them and try to keep your list short, remembering that being open to influence means you are thinking about what’s best for ‘us’ not just ‘me.’ Next, define each of your negotiables: the needs each of you are willing to live without. Your negotiables may include the specifics of your broader non-negotiable needs like how, when, and where your non-negotiable needs are met. —Elizabeth
Practice Creative Collaboration
Partners should listen to each other’s needs with the goal of working collaboratively and creatively. Aim to satisfy as many of BOTH partner’s non-negotiables, using each partner’s negotiables to get there. The spirit should be: “Okay, how can we get some of your non-negotiable needs met? Now, how can we meet some of mine?” —Elizabeth
Commit to Understanding
If you and your fiancé are each committed to understanding, serving, and working as a team to meet each other’s needs, you should each be willing to give a little by looking at the big picture. Your wedding (and your marriage) is a symbol of your commitment to your partner’s wellbeing. This process should reflect that. If there are areas of conflict that appear gridlocked, it may be that you and your partner have not completed the first step of nonjudgmental understanding and acceptance. You may need to keep coming back to this piece and work on exploring the emotional significance of this issue with the utmost sensitivity and compassion before negotiation can occur.” —Elizabeth
Here’s to fighting the good fight.
photos 1 + 3 by Shari + Mike Photographers from this Epic Mountaintop Wedding with a Must-See Video + First Look
photos 2 + 4 by Avonné Photography from this Classy Home Wedding Inspiration Turned Real-Life Vow Renewal