Remembering the romance

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, a time for couples to pay some extra attention to one another and celebrate their relationship. While it may seem like couples in the throes of wedding planning may be extra-focused on their relationship round-the-clock, a romance reminder may be sorely needed.

No matter the size of a wedding, there’s sure to be some stress. And with stress may come heightened tempers and emotions between the soon-to-be newlyweds — a recipe for some fiancée fighting.

Studies have shown money to be the number-one wedding stressor, but the list of headache-producers can be endless: decisions on vendors, the guest list, menu, décor, ceremony readings, wedding party … And with the stressors may come the fights: Photographer A vs. Photographer B? Plus-ones or no plus-ones? Chicken or steak? Candle or flower centerpieces? Traditional or modern ceremony? Sweetheart table or wedding-party table? My fiancé and I have butted heads on things I would have never even considered caring about before getting engaged.

I’ve found that most wedding-planning disagreements are rooted not in both of our stringent investments to a particular point of view — really, who honestly cares about the difference between navy and peacock blue? — but rather a loss of perspective, aggravated by the tension of too many things on our minds. With details in overdrive, it’s easy to lose your grasp on the long run, instead ascribing heightened meaning to just about everything. We’ve tried to combat that by both remaining cognizant of how quickly we can devolve into wedding mania — and actively fending off the crazy.

We made a conscious decision to refrain from any wedding planning near the holidays. There’s certainly enough to worry about around that time, and we wanted to have the time and attention to devote to our family and friends. In that vein, we’ve tried to do our best to expand conversations with loved ones to beyond wedding talk; at family gatherings or outings with friends, we’ve found it’s common to be asked how the planning process is going, but it’s nice to have a break from wedding chat. After all, these folks were in our lives before we got engaged, and they’ll be there after, so it’s important to keep up ties that have nothing to do with the wedding.

We’ve also tried to re-frame our tasks. For instance, our DIY centerpieces required a plethora of thrift-shop outings, which could get quite tedious. So instead of thinking of them as Sunday-afternoon errands, we started building in more fun to the tasks: scheduling a dinner date at a restaurant we’d never been to near one of the shops, or doing the shopping first, followed by a movie. With so many to-dos, incorporating non-wedding outings can help you reconnect and remind you what all the planning is for in the first place.

We’ve tried similar tactics for other seemingly mundane wedding tasks. Before surrounding ourselves in a sea of wedding invites, stamps and labels a few weeks ago, we cooked dinner together, opened a bottle of wine and put on a movie we had been looking forward to watching. A lot of time has been spent planning things with pen and paper or in front of the computer; instead of doing this while holed up at home, bring your laptop or notebook to the park for a picnic and planning session, or schedule a weekend away just the two of you to work on wedding brainstorming, and spend some time together.

With the amount of stress, decisions to be made and joint projects, wedding-planning really does seem to be good preparation for life after the big day. While the wedding is all over within 24 hours, what it signifies is meant to last a lifetime, a journey full of choices and complications. Learning how to weather challenges, though seemingly small, together before the wedding day is good practice for those bigger obstacles down the road.

And though cliché, honesty really does seem to be the best policy. It’s too easy to head down that rabbit hole of wedding insanity, so sometimes a wake-up call is needed: Telling your partner if he or she seems to be losing perspective, or recognizing it in yourself, can help alleviate tension and avoid unnecessary fights.