So, you’re engaged

So, you’re engaged
Photo by Rachel McDermott / Unsplash

It turns out that writing a book isn't the same as writing blog posts, something I've been doing for 20 years now. It requires a narrative, some form and some kind of flow. So in-between chapters I've been writing, editing, and sharing here on the blog I've been trying to refine that. Plus as a family, we've been across three different countries in the last month and we've finally found our groove in Paris.

This book started as a bunch of wedding planning blog posts which I now need to edit into something resembling a book, but I've been encouraged to load up the front end with some of the stuff I might have thought wasn't inside my original scope. So this chapter is a pre-planning chapter which is basically about marriage and pre-marriage education and counselling. Something I need to do more of myself and with Britt, because it simply makes us better.

I still distinctly remember the day after getting engaged and Britt’s aunty called with thoughts on which horse-drawn carriage company we should use for our wedding. This was odd to me because in 2012 I had been creating weddings for over two years yet I had not even conceived of the idea that once I asked Britt to marry me that we would then proceed to a wedding. I was still excited about last night and was not at all ready for what came next.

People asked about dates.

People talked about stress.

I had no idea what things cost.

And the worst thing, the thing I wasn’t ready for at all, was that Britt and I would have to sit down wearing our big kid pants and talk about expectations, budgets, guest lists, who to invite, what kind of wedding we’d have, where we’d have it, would we invite all three people who identify in some way as a mother-like person in my life, if so would any attend (spoiler: no, none would attend), and basically all the big adult decisions and conversations that two people getting married should probably be ready to have but honestly most aren’t.

So let me share a few encouragements and affirmations to prepare you for this journey.

  • You can have your wedding whenever and wherever you like, the wedding police will not arrest you.
  • Don’t plan to have the wedding sometime later, don’t let your marriage rot away in the bottom drawer of the fridge of your life. Get it done so you can stop “getting married” and at the right speed move into “being married”.
  • Feel free to include or exclude as many people’s thoughts and opinions as you like in this process. Even me, feel free to drop me out, though I think you’ll be losing a voice of reason. I’m just glad you paid for the book before you read this tho.

Finally, wise people seek expert help on this subject, and I’m not even talking about wedding planners. I’m talking about therapists or whatever title they’re going to have today, like a counsellor, relationship coach, shrink, or psychologist. Whatever their business card says, invest some time and money into being the kind of person who can have big kid conversations with your partner, about money, relationships, marriage, kids, mortgages, decisions, disagreements and compromises. Then when you as an individual is well prepared, and they are as well, seek pre-marriage education, marriage preparation, relationship education, whatever it might be. And if you read this and think “not for me” it’s almost 100% actually for you.

Here’s why pre-marriage education is important: a really high percentage of couples I sit in front of to plan their ceremony, reception, and wedding, have some version of this:

Person A wants a thing. Person B thinks Person A wants a different thing because that’s what all Person A’s want at their wedding. So despite Person A not wanting it, and Person B not wanting it, a thing is ordered and paid for because they couldn’t have an adult conversation about it.

A common example of this is that Jane wants a small intimate wedding and she wants to get ready with her partner and walk down the aisle with him as equals. Jack isn’t ready for this because he thinks that all people like Jane want to spend the night apart in different hotel rooms, and they want to have a big white Greek wedding, and they want elderly men to walk them down the aisle. So Jack says it’s important, even though it’s not really, Jack just hasn’t prepared themselves to have a personalised wedding, they just think that Jane wants the big white wedding stuff.

So Jack and Jane have 150 guests and spend $100,000 instead of having 15 guests and spending $20,000 simply because they couldn’t communicate expectations, wants and desires.

We’ll cover these things through the book but I really wanted to encourage you to work on your relationship from the early stages because it makes you more successful as you go on, but it also saves you money and stress. $1000 worth of counselling could have hypothetically saved Jack and Jane $80,000.

The thing no one tells you is that you’re the adults now, and you get to decide where to go, but if you haven’t had the right guidance and help, you might just end up down a less-than-good path, and that changes the entire journey.

Share in the comments your experiences with seeing a mental health or relationship expert, a.k.a. a shrink, and how that's affected your relationships, I'd love to hear your stories.

Josh Withers

Josh Withers

The original rebel, husband, father, nerd and also a marriage celebrant for the world's most adventurous couple getting married today.
Baja California Sur, Mexico