I officially became a wedding photographer in the middle of planning my own wedding. This was not planned. In fact, I would NEVER EVER suggest it to anyone. Just like how I would NEVER EVER suggest DIY renovating a bathroom three short months into marriage and while building a NEW business. Nope, never.
I think many people get into the whole wedding planning thing and decide they could do it for cash. That wasn’t me and if my coworker/work bestie Sarah hadn’t been getting married and had had the cash to hire one of the amazing individuals I have followed for several years now on Instagram, then I probably wouldn’t be on this journey at all.
But that’s a story for another day. Because today we’re putting down all things wedding and talking about marriage preparation.
I really do love weddings. There’s something really beautiful about people in love and people surrounding themselves with people who love them (or not, that’s cool too). But I love marriage so much more because marriage lasts longer than just a very short, very expensive day.
Planning an event, no matter how large or small, is difficult, albeit one with many cultural and familial expectations attached to it. There are people who literally plan events for a living because they really often require a lot of attention to detail and experience to ensure that everything runs smoothly. And I think with weddings so many people get really hung up in that planning process. It’s overwhelming, there’s so many choices to make, and Pinterest has literally ruined everything for all of us (love the platform but MY GOODNESS EXPECTATIONS).
Marriage preparation is so important, y’all
Underneath all of that, there’s something bigger. There’s a marriage coming. And my goodness, y’all got to be ready for it.
This weekend, Josh and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary. Yes, ONE YEAR! It seems like just yesterday we were dating, but also it feels like we’ve known each other forever. I share a lot about wedding preparation because I spend a lot of time helping couples prepare for weddings. But I wanted to celebrate our anniversary by sharing some thoughts on marriage preparation.
Marriage Preparation Tip 1: Communicate.
If it was up to me, couples would cover a whole lot more BEFORE the engagement than some do. Because before the engagement, there’s a lot more time to focus on the relationship at hand. Relationships always take work, no matter how long you’ve been together or how in love you are. But as referenced by lots of conversations I have with friends, people on the Internet, and some pre-marriage books I read, many couples just don’t talk about the tough stuff like finances, cleaning, deep dark secret insecurities, etc.
You’re in love, YASS. I love it. I truly enjoy working with in-love people. Being around them is a literal joy and treat. But friends, you got to communicate as much as possible. Do the counseling and take it seriously. Spend time together reading marriage books (highly recommend The 5 Love Languages…changed our whole relationship). Most importantly, spend time TALKING. A lot.
Things to talk about:
- Share what you want life to look like in 5, 10, 15 years and compare notes.
- Share the deepest fears and insecurities you have
- How you will handle finances — who’s a spender, who’s a saver, etc.
- Children. Seriously please cover this.
- Cleaning and your ideas about cleaning roles. Maybe this is my own cleaning needs coming through but observe habits and discuss them.
- Emotional labor. Ladies, you know what I’m saying. Start that discussion now.
Marriage Preparation Tip 2: Practice Patience.
I did not jump head first into marriage. And what I mean by that is I felt like Joshua and I slowly fused our lives together over the course of a year, making the actual getting married part feel less substantial. We got a dog, he moved in with me, we opened a joint bank account, we fought about cleanliness expectations, we started sharing financial information, we completed many house projects, we got engaged, we met families, we fought about cleanliness expectations (again), we got married. It just seemed like less of a shock because I didn’t suddenly find myself with a new roommate, new last name, new societal identity, etc. etc. etc.
Not everyone will do what we did. That’s okay, you don’t have to. I’m an advocate for it, but your life is yours. But even though we did all that, I still needed to practice patience, which was a major goal for me during the first year. I think it’s an ongoing selfish human thing that you do get better at but you’ll never be fully perfect at (unless you are super gracious perfect).
After nearly two years of cohabitation, I still have to stop and take a breath when I discover a poorly cleaned pot (Josh is responsible for dishes in our household), or when Josh forgets to handle something (are we sensing a pattern that I may run my household like a company…entrepreneur at heart!). I’ve gotten better at just trying to show love instead of losing my shit when my expectations are shattered.
I think even if your new spouse is perfectly paired for you and you literally know everything about each other, you still need the patience. We promised to love these people and sometimes showing love means extending grace.
Marriage Preparation Tip 3: Shifting from me to us
I might take some flack for this one, mostly because there are many people out there who’ll say, hey we are two separate identities and two separate people who happen to be doing life together.
Yes, totally. Agreed. I am of that camp. Despite sharing MANY personality traits with my husband, we come from very different places and have different strengths. Great!
But I think humans have this big issue with selfishness. But marriage, in my eyes, is about the complete opposite of selfishness. It’s about being stronger together than you would be apart. I do not mean throw out what makes you awesome and just become a complete different person in marriage. You’ll change, sure. But I think the most important thing is to remember it’s not just about you anymore. It’s about both of you.
The decisions you make impact two people now. When your husband comes home with a speeding ticket, your bank account is impacted too (remember to show patience, guys. PATIENCE). When you get a new job across the country, your spouse has to move too. It’s a life of give and take because sometimes there really is no perfect way to please two people. So we give out of love to our spouses. And then they give back.
This is probably the biggest transition you’ll make in life (unless you have a dog which obviously you already know how to give, give, give) before you have kids. Shifting from “me” to “us” really changes your perspective and when you’re an incredibly independent person like me who has trouble accepting help and support from others, it will take some time to realize what this truly means for you as a couple.
Conclusion: the marriage is better than the wedding
I had a really great time at my wedding. It was a really great day. But that’s really all it was: one day. One day out of so many that I’m blessed to share with someone who is possibly the best person I know (not the best dishwasher by far). And one year in, I’m just really glad I picked him and he picked me. The marriage part is hard work but really, nothing worthwhile is easy. We all know that.
So in the midst of all the floral arrangement picking, guest list trimming, centerpiece dreaming, make sure you’re preparing for this big thing you’re about to do. I think it probably goes without saying, but too many marriages end poorly, and let’s be real, it’s a serious legal drama mamma if it doesn’t work out. Put in the work now, have a blissful first year and every year after that.
That’s my two cents. We’re going to read the notes for our first anniversary that people wrote us at our wedding on Sunday. I’ll let you know if there are any tidbits of advice in there.