You’ve found the one, popped the question, and she said yes. Much congratulations and celebration are in order. While love is the foundation of this next big step, there are some less romantic things to consider that will allow the two of you to better enjoy the happy moments together. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your wedding day and your life as a married man.
Craft the Ceremony Together
When you consider everything that goes into a wedding, you’re probably more excited for the chance to gather your closest friends and family for food, drinks, music, and dancing than choosing a location, a decoration theme, or the dress code. Even some of the more romantic aspects, like exchanging vows, might pale in comparison to the thought of your life together after the ceremony.
However, chances are high that the bride feels differently about the details of her wedding day, and she may have been imagining this her entire life. That doesn’t mean you have to care as much about every little detail, but you should get over the idea that the task of designing the ceremony uniting both of your lives rests solely on the bride.
Instead, find a few things you can take a bigger role in and be available for feedback about the rest. For example, choosing a wedding photographer can be a complicated task. Because these photographs will likely be the best documentation of your special day, it’s a good idea to work together to find someone you trust to immortalize the occasion. Hint: don’t rely on your cousin and his iPhone.
While plenty of your friends will probably take some candid shots, a professional photographer will have the skills and experience to capture the most important moments in a variety of angles and lighting conditions. Rather than simply booking the first photographer you find in your area, sit down with your partner and look through several photographers’ catalogs.
When you find someone who seems promising, schedule a time to meet with them and maybe even take some engagement photos as a trial run. Ask what their approach is to doing their job in the room. Do you want someone who stays out of the way and captures a lot of candid shots, or would you prefer a photographer who engages with your wedding party to pose people and create memorable moments?
There are a number of other elements you can help choose in order to create a unique wedding. You might look into holding your ceremony on the beach, in an art gallery, in a safari, or some other less-traditional setting that will be meaningful to your relationship. Making sure the guest list only includes people you truly want to share this day with can also help ensure that everyone has a positive experience.
Coming up with interesting party favors and games is also a great way to make your wedding memorable. Lawn games like giant Jenga sets, corn hole, and badminton are great choices to get people moving. A photo booth with plenty of props and outrageous accessories like mustache sticks and oversized glasses can also be a great way to capture the humorous side of your wedding guests and create memories that will last.
The Day of Your Wedding
All of this planning culminates to the moment when, in front of all your closest friends and family, you tell the woman you love exactly why you want to spend the rest of your life together. No pressure, right?
Fortunately, with some preparation well ahead of time, you can write amazing wedding vows. You might consider talking about special memories with your bride, like the first time you met, your first date, or the moment you knew you were in love with her. However, you should avoid saying anything that could be considered jabbing or insulting.
While a story might seem funny on paper, there’s a fine line between a loving memory and oversharing. For Grandma’s sake, keep it clean.
Of course, with all eyes on you and your bride, you’ll also want to look your best. Once you and the bride decide on a dress code for your wedding, it’s a good idea to start putting together your wedding outfit as soon as possible. This will ensure you’re not stressing at the last minute because your shirt doesn’t fit right, and it’ll give you a chance to really hone your style. You’ll be in a lot of photographs. Represent yourself well.
It’s also important to take care of yourself on your wedding day. Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself especially romantic, you’re probably going to be nervous, and this can cause you to neglect some basics. For example, don’t skip breakfast. You’ve got a busy day ahead, and you need some fuel to keep going.
With all the celebration leading up to the big day, you’ll be encouraged to party it up, but it’s important to get some rest the night before. Similarly, a drink in the morning might steady your nerves, but don’t go overboard. Nursing a bad hangover or a slurring your vows shouldn’t be the biggest takeaway from your wedding.
Preparing for Life After Marriage
Once you’ve said “I do,” you’ll officially begin your lives together as husband and wife. But just because the ceremony is over, doesn’t mean you’re done planning. You’ll still need to make some major adjustments — some of which are romantic, and some are less so.
For example, you should probably have a few conversations about finances. It’s possible either of you might enter this next phase of your relationship with assumptions about how you’ll manage your money together. Will you share a bank account or keep them separate? How will you manage your day-to-day expenses and banking needs? What are your long-term goals for saving money, buying a home, taking a trip, or other major expenses?
In addition to discussing these key questions, you should also be open about any debt each of you owe. This could include student loans, credit card debt, and other financial obligations. Depending on where you get married, you may be responsible for your spouse’s debts. If you or your wife miss payments on either of your debts, it could affect both of your credit scores. Building your life together will be difficult if you can’t get a loan for a car or your dream home.
It’s always best to be honest and open with each other about your finances. Then you can create a plan for paying your daily expenses as well as long-term debts.
Similarly, you should have many conversations about other major aspects of your life to decide if your plans make sense together. You don’t have to know all the answers, and of course, things can change over time. You should at least touch on some of these major factors:
- Would you like to have children together?
- Are there important religious aspects of your life?
- Where do you want to put down roots, establishing a more permanent home?
- What does your dream home look like?
- Which household chores would each of you be happiest doing regularly?
- What are your expectations for holidays and family obligations?
- What does your ideal vacation look like?
- What are your educational and career goals?
Disagreeing on any of these issues doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. However, you should be honest with your wife-to-be about the things that are important to you, and listen carefully to the things that are important to her. It may take effort to find a compromise, and you also need to be honest with yourself about whether you’re willing to put in that effort.
Unfortunately, not everything involved in marriage is lovey-dovey. It can be difficult to realize this, especially when you’re caught up in the passion of this huge next step. If you don’t pay attention to the finer details of your relationship, your marriage could suffer. However, if you’re willing to communicate with each other and be intentional with your plans, you can spend the rest of your lives happy and in love together.