The Top 10 Wedding Fights Engaged Couples Have (and How to Avoid Them)
Ah, engaged life. Fancy parties in your honor, champagne toasts galore and a legitimate excuse to plunk down thousands for one dress. You never expected the downside: whisper-fighting in wedding registry departments and slammed doors over the wedding guest list. The engagement period can be a minefield of hot topics that can trigger huge blowouts. Sometimes a seating plan isn't just a seating plan—it can be an indicator that a larger issue is at bay.
"Planning the wedding is a trial run for your future marriage," says Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist and author of True Partners: A Workbook for Building a Lasting Intimate Relationship. "The things you battle about now are clues to where you're going to have trouble in the future." Here's what lies behind the most common prewedding blowouts—and how to resolve them.
1. Your families have different guest lists, and aren't chipping in accordingly.
Tessina warns this particular argument is "a prototype for future financial dealings." Her advice: Be businesslike. Say to your partner, "This is what your family's guest list will cost, this is what my family's guest list will cost. What can we do to limit the cost? Will your family chip in?"
Patrick Gannon, MD, is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the co-creator (along with his wife, Michelle Gannon, MD, also a licensed psychologist) of Marriage Prep 101, a course designed for engaged couples. He suggests there may be more here than meets the eye. "Always be on the lookout for conflicts like these to be about 'hidden issues.' Are either of you sensitive about issues of fairness or balance? Does one of you have a greater sense of obligation to your parents that the wedding be a certain way?"
2. Your partner doesn't seem to care about wedding planning at all (and you're scared it's a reflection of how much they care about your relationship).
Tessina warns you could be expecting too much, but don't give up on including your partner. "Find out what they are interested in and encourage them to participate in that part," she says. For example, if they don't seem to care about table linens, ask them their opinion on the drink menu or hors d'oeuvres, if you know they happen to be a foodie.
Additionally, Michelle Gannon says, "Make sure there aren't any underlying issues, like they feel they should defer to you because you're the bride so it's 'your day,' or they feel that your parents or their parents are interfering with the wedding plans."
3. You'd prefer to spend more money on wedding fixings (like your dress), and your partner would prefer to spend that cash on the honeymoon.
Unfortunately, things that involve large sums of money—especially if the two of you are financing the wedding yourselves—need to be an equitable deal between the two of you.
"What entitles you to spend big bucks on the wedding dress?" Tessina says. "At least the honeymoon is something you'll both enjoy. Sit down together, like two adults, and work out the finances of the wedding."
4. Your partner isn't making an effort to understand the traditions of your religion.
Patrick Gannon advises first being sure your partner understands what's expected of them—your partner may not even know you want them to learn about your traditions. Gannon suggests this topic may even bring the two of you closer. "If handled calmly and sensitively, a discussion like this can be an opportunity to get to know yourself and your partner better just by getting clear about what these traditions mean and say about each other," she says.
5. You and your partner can't agree on the wedding aesthetics (aka, things like color palettes and candle placements),
First of all, you both should take the Style Quiz separately to nail down exactly what you're each envisioning, and see what overlaps and what either of you can compromise when it comes to your respective visions.
Additionally, if you have a partner who's almost too involved in wedding details (as opposed to one who couldn't care less), there's a solution, according to Michelle Gannon. "Both of you need to share the power and decision-making regarding wedding plans. Decide on priorities by having each person rate on a scale of one to ten the importance of each detail. Remember, it's good practice to learn early on how to prioritize, negotiate and compromise. These skills will come in very handy later on."
6. You can't decide where you should get married.
And we're talking states, not venues. For example: You live in New Jersey now, but your family is from South Carolina and your partner's family is from Ohio. Your partner would prefer to get married in New Jersey, and you'd rather get married in your hometown.
"Ask that question for real, not just rhetorically," Tessina suggests. "Why does your partner want to get married at home? Maybe having friends at the party is more important to them than having family. That's a reasonable want. Perhaps you can scale things down and have a wedding at your family's home and a party in New Jersey."
7. You're worried your partner will get too drunk at your wedding (primarily because his crazy college friends are groomsmen).
It's time to be both supportive and sensible. First of all, have a conversation with your partner sharing your anxiety so you can handle the situation together, and then your partner can take action from there. "If the best man has a drinking problem, the groom might address his concerns directly to the best man before the wedding," Gannon says.
You can also make sure there are some more reasonable wedding party members around to kep a lid on things—like your brother or a male friend—who can help him resist the the ploys of the crazy friends.
8. Your partner is calling you out for your bridezilla behavior.
If your partner calls you out for your new obsession with wedding details and bridal magazines (and your lack of participation in things you used to love doing together), they may have a point. "If the wedding has become more important than your relationship, that's a warning sign," Tessina says. "Yes, you want a lovely wedding, but not at the expense of your relationship. After all, what's the point? Keep your future in mind."
9. Your partner wants a prenup.
This could be a blessing in disguise, according to our experts. "If you pay attention, the prenuptial agreement can be as big an asset for you as it is for your partner," Tessina says. "It's another way to discuss essential financial issues before you commit." Naturally, the prenup brings up more than just finances for many couples. "This is usually experienced as an emotional issue between the couple, often involving feelings of trust, commitment and faith in each other and the future of the marriage," Patrick Gannon says. "Don't let this issue remain unresolved, because it can erode the love you have for each other."
10. Your partner's good friends with an ex and wants them to attend the wedding.
And you happen to not be a big fan of this particular ex.
This needs to be a conversation between the two of you, and your partner should know better than to add them to the guest list without consulting you first. But Tessina advises to remember "you've already won this battle—your partner chose you." Either way, express your feelings with your ex and come to a decision together. Regardless, this person may exist in your life if they continue to have a friendship with your future spouse, so this is a conversation worth having at some point regardless.
"You two need to discuss how involved ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends are going to be in your life together," Michelle Gannon says.
If you're looking for more ways to improve your communication and build a healthier relationship, check out Lasting. The science-based app backed by The Knot gets to know your relationship and then creates a customized program just for you and your significant other to help you to shape a better relationship and marriage.