June is coming, and with it the perennial bridal season. It seems that the magazines, the web, the bookstores, the department stores - everything is filled with weddings!
I happen to be an incurable window shopper, so whenever I see these things I stop and look: The Complete Wedding Planner, Complete Bridal Registry, How To Get Your Wedding Dress for Less... all accompanied by full color photos. It's enough to make your eyes flutter. You just don't know where to look first.
There was one tagline, though, that caught my attention:
"Every bride knows, it's all in the details."
That one left me thinking.
What's the all? What "all" is in those details?
The flowers? The dress? The wine? The menu?
Are these the things that give a wedding it's "all"?
Or are there other, more important, things that make a wedding the momentous occasion that it is? Things like commitment. Respect. Dedication.
So I decided to come up with my own wedding planner. You won't find this one in the stores - because money can't buy it.
Let's start with the proposal.
Often in life, the way something continues is determined by the way it began. So the way a couple gets engaged has the power to start the whole process on the right foot. Now, I'm not referring to the way the "stage is set", to the external trimmings. Even if you go as far as someone I know - who hired the Good Year Blimp to fly over the park where he and his intended fiancÃƒ©e were walking, and had it say on the side, "I love you, Debbie. Will you marry me?" - that's not what's going to make or break your proposal. Just like the true success of a wedding is measured not by the trimmings but by the essence, so it is for proposals.
So, what kind of a proposal will start the engagement right? Well, first of all, women, you can relax. That's because the one who has to propose is the man. It may not sound so "liberal", but even in today's unisex world, there are still some elements of chivalry that remain. And it's not only a matter of chivalry, by the way. If you propose to him, you take the risk of scaring him away. If he seems to be taking too much time, the most you can do is create the right atmosphere for a proposal. If he still doesn't seem to be getting it, you should make sure that he's not just commitment phobic.
So, men, the success of the proposal is on you. And the number one rule is, be a man about it. What does that mean? That means that when you pop the question - "Jessica, I really want you to be my wife. Will you marry me?" - or whatever phrase you decide to use, make it obvious that this is exclusively your decision. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT say something like this: "Jessica, I really want you to be my wife, will you marry me?" And when she says, "Yes," you say, "Great! Now I just have to clear it with my parents." That is an unbelievable turn-off for a woman. If your traditional or family values dictate that your parents give the OK before you get engaged, make sure that's taken care of before you propose. For example, maybe a week before you could invite her to dinner at your home, or bring her along on a family trip to Disneyland so that your folks can meet her. Then, after they've cleared it, you can take her out to a restaurant or wherever and ask her to marry her the way she deserves to be asked.
Another important detail - and this one's not gender-specific - is discussing the date. The proposal is a great time to discuss when the actual wedding will be. I'm not saying that you need to pick a specific date right then and there; obviously, there are other factors - family, for example - that need to come into consideration when choosing a specific date. But deciding on a month is a very good idea. So when he says, "Will you marry me?" and she answers, "Yes," the next thing one of them should say is, "When should we get married? How does October sound to you?" And then they can discuss it together and decide on a month. If the parents are the ones making the wedding, then they can get together and say, "Mom, Dad, we wanted to know how October sounds to you." Then a final date can be set. In any event, the engagement period should not be an excessively long one, because that can put a real strain on the relationship. Planning a wedding and getting ready for it can be a tense, emotionally stressful time; if care isn't taken to keep it as short as possible, then that tension and stress can have an effect on the relationship itself, which is a real shame.
This brings us to the next (and most expensive) stage, which we'll talk about in the second part of this series: the wedding itself.
Reframing Your Marriage | The 5 Word Formula to Make Your Marriage Work - Part 2 | The 5 Word Formula to Make Your Marriage Work | The 3 Main Challenges to Marriage - Part III | The 3 Main Challenges in Marriage - Part II | The 3 Main Challenges to Marriage - Part I | See More »