As soon as you get engaged, for the most part, the positive energy that weddings generate is infectious and contagious.
We get absolutely thrown into the euphoria and more so into the details.
From the traditions and formalities, to the fashion, florals, and the multiple types of chairs, cakes and lighting options.
You are guided through wedding planning timelines with great precision, courtesy of your favourite magazines and blogs. When to book a photographer, how many people a bottle of champagne will serve, to what songs to pick and how to pose in front of a camera.
But what happens after the day you’ve been building up to for so long has been and gone? When the poppers have popped, the shoes are off and the dance-floor is empty?
What next? What do we do now? Where are the timelines that help us work towards a happy healthy marriage? Where are the guidelines that help us define and understand our new roles in our relationships and households?
Photographer Julie Michaelsen wrote a poignant piece, inspired by Share The Honest Love Campaign, focused on planning for beyond your wedding day, which I have also covered over on The Great British Wedding Blog.
It’s easy to get caught up in the cosmetics of planning a wedding. Don’t get me wrong it’s exciting and its infectious. But it can also create a lot of haze! When every detail seems so important, the pressure of perfection takes over, the focus of marriage and building a life together becomes blurred and we end up in this overwhelming bubble of neon LOVE lights and cake toppers, with little thought about the most important part, creating precious moments and our union.
It’s not uncommon for people to place a lot of unrealistic expectations on marriage, that everything will be perfect ‘once’ you are married (I blame Disney Cartoons lol), only to set themselves up to fail and I addressed some of these here.
Why do so many of us place unrealistic ideals on our relationship, that life will be perfect and everything hunky dory the moment we say I do? Life continues to happen. Challenges continue to burden us. I’m sorry to say, but the thrilling wedding bubble of ‘we’re getting married’ euphoria is temporary and it does burst.
Marriage is incredible, it is wonderful, but it is not a fairytale. It takes more than a show-stopping wedding day and a piece of paper to stand the test of time. It still requires effort, it still requires romance, laughter, honesty, respect and most importantly room for growth and transition.
This assumption and pressure for everything to be perfect and without challenge after marriage is damaging. Everything pre and post marriage is valid. Don’t wait for marriage to happen. Build on your foundations from now. Nu Bride, WOW Festival
Before Mr Nu Bride and I got married we had been together for over 5 years, so when people ask us “how’s married life” (a completely contrived question if you ask me), nothing much has changed in our relationship post marriage. We had already bought a home together and gone through those delightful transitions of discovering beastie little habits we never knew existed (LOL). We talked about and still openly talk about career prospects, ambitions, retirement plans, dream destinations, children, politics, wills, money, you name it. lol!
For us, marriage solidified what we already had. It definitely didn’t mean that we had ‘made it’ or that we should rest on our laurels though.
Marriage in this day and age surely has never been more difficult. The daily grind of providing for your family, the modern-day stresses as well as the overbearing influence of social media outlets flaunting perfect relationships and lives. Julie Michaelsen Photography
Julie goes onto to say:
The wedding industry has an almost iron like focus on the wedding day itself and less so on the marriage that follows…
So how do you prepare for a marriage? If you’re planning a wedding there are hundreds, thousands of articles giving advice on how to do it to perfection, tips and secrets on how to procure your dream wedding….but what about the dream marriage?
There is an enormous amount of visual inspiration and practical support to help couples with planning and knowing what to expect from their wedding day. Whilst the support might be deemed as superficial, it is HUGELY helpful. Planning a wedding day is no mean feat. But planning a marriage requires a lifetime of investment. In response to Julie’s comment above, I also acknowledge, it would be equally helpful to have a platform to share experiences of ‘what happens next’.
Helping couples re-adjust to ‘normal routine’ to re-align their focus post wedding. There are no guidelines and timelines post marriage in the wedding industry, there is no perfect marriage handbook to scrutinise and study. Why? Because ultimately what happens next is down to you. No couple is the same. What works for one couple could be a recipe of disaster for another. It’s important to build on your foundations, find your own rhythm and make your own rules.
I like to watch other couples public and often subconscious little “ism’s” that are unique to them. Their little nuances reveal how established they are in their relationship. The way they communicate and the way they just are at peace with each other when they are simply in silence.
I’d like to think that most couples pre-marriage, have nurtured and taken the time to get to know each other inside out. To share common beliefs and values, to be transparent and upfront, from discussing past relationships to bank balances, to spending habits and thoughts on children. To have discovered the good, the bad and the indifferent, so there are no surprises post marriage and that their values, hopes and dreams for the future are in alignment. If you are reading this and these are a mystery to you, go back, take some tome to discover each other, before ploughing ahead blindly.
The one tip I think is universal to all couples embarking on the journey to “I do” is work on yourself, first. Know who you are, be confident in who you are and build on a solid foundation.
I asked Nu Bride couples to list their top tip to plan for a healthy happy marriage. Some of the answers were enlightening, others refreshing, and others; downright hilarious. Here are a few of my favourites:
Equal balance of time apart and time saved especially for the two of you. No interruptions.
Honesty…..and a LOT of laughter
Trust and champagne… (LOL)
Communication! And to have fun – (Nu Bride: This is a great tip. Recent reports from charities encouraging positive wellbeing all put a huge emphasis on the importance of ‘play’ in our adult lives. Doing things for fun, learning new things together)
Don’t work towards perfection, work towards authenticity
Being open, compromise, understanding and honesty. The most important thing to building on a successful marriage is really knowing yourself and the person you are marrying
The answer is FOOD and SHOES! And lots of it!! A way to a mans heart is through his belly, and a way to a woman’s heart is through a good pair of shoes! (Nu Bride: Who knew! Problem solved! lol!)
Phone passwords (LOL!)
A woman who loves watching Predator Pssst….You can tell which comments are coming from the gents can’t you!)
Great relationships come from having great foundations with lots of smiling and laughter.
Don’t compare yourself to other people’s relationships, everyone is different.
Talking together and laughing together. Seek things to laugh at. Learn new things and repeat old things too.
Learn that your partner may not express love in the same way that you do. You both have to appreciate and understand that
Never go to bed on an argument, life is too precious
Respect and kindness
Aren’t some of these gorgeous. What are your tips to planning and preparing for a happy marriage?
Photography: Julie Michaelsen