He Proposed – Now What?

You and your guy have moved to the long-awaited “next level” of your relationship, called getting engaged. What do you do now? Many future brides start a diet, hire a personal trainer, shop for the perfect dress, experiment with updos, and hire a wedding planner.

What is often left out of the flurry of planning for the big day is reality! Every couple getting married wants their wedding day to be special, but they often lose sight of what's really important. Here's an unconventional guide to being engaged.

Remember to be engaged. That means to focus on the relationship and nurture it during this time. This is the number one mistake I see couples make: They make the wedding the be-all and end-all and lose sight of the relationship. They make it about the one-day wedding instead of the decades-long marriage.

Get into reality and stay there! When you remember that the important thing is the marriage, rather than the wedding, it's easier to stick to your budget. The stress of paying off the big bills from the big day and the big honeymoon can seriously jeopardize a new marriage. That does not mean you must wear a burlap sack as a wedding dress and serve rice cakes at the reception! But staying within your means becomes easier when you keep things in perspective: one day, versus many years.

Make it about meaningfulness and fun, rather than appearances. You're not going to get an Academy Award for your wedding performance. This is the time to enjoy yourselves together, not crash diet to get the slimmest photos. Choose a song for your first dance that you truly love dancing to together, rather than thinking of it as a command performance with an audience of critics. Same with the vows: It's about what is meaningful to you and your partner, not about playing to the back row.

Make time to enjoy each other and talk about things other than the wedding. The wedding plans may feel all-consuming, but when you remember to put the merry in marriage, you'll have more fun with the plans. Six months after the wedding, no one's going to remember whether you had the plain chairs or the ones with curlicues. But that fight you had in the car on the way to the dance coach? The fall-out from that can have a very long half-life.

In relationships, as in life, it's not the destination that's as important as the journey. That destination wedding is just a destination. The marriage relationship is the all-important journey.

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