There are the difficulties of developing relationships with your new in-laws and learning how to handling fighting with your soon-to-be spouse. The list goes on and on but I want to get back to my 2 concerns.
The first, and to me as a Marriage and Family Therapist for many years, the most serious, is about expectations. If I had a dollar for every time a young woman or man or an older woman or man said to me, “My wedding is going to be the best day of my life” I’d have an awful lot of dollars.
I’d like to break this sentence down. “My wedding (a single event) is going to be the best day of my life.” If that were to turn out to be true, and based on what couples tell me after their weddings are over, it almost never is true even at the time, then what does that say about your hopes of happiness for the rest of your life? Apparently, these people think it’s all downhill from the wedding. Putting such pressure on a single day, a single event causes tremendous stress on everyone to try and make everything perfect, and we all know nothing is ever perfect.
According to GoodTherapy.org, quoting a book by R.S. Miller (2011) called Intimate Relationships, couples site constant pressure, criticism and opinions from others as sources of substantial stress when planning a wedding. They also indicate that finances, and expectations for perfection (unattainable) are equally stress-producing per H.T. Reis, Rusbult, C.E. (2004) in his work “Close Relationships: Key Readings. N.Y. Psychology Press
Why does this concern me? Because when perfection is not achieved, depression and self-criticism often sets in. I see couples come in and feel deflated. They had such high expectations for their wedding day and then there were problems. The band wasn’t as great as they’d thought. The food was too cold. The flowers were wilted. The guests didn’t seem to have much fun. And even when all these things went really well, many couples feel let down after the day itself. I believe this is because reality has now set in and the real work of being married and learning to live with someone else and be committed to that person forever feels overwhelming. So many brides and grooms feel doubt. Did they pick the right person? Why aren’t they feeling all tingly and excited anymore? Can they really stay with only one person for the rest of their lives? Coming from such a high as the perfect wedding expectation back to the real world is a roller coaster ride and can be quite devastating. If couples had realistic expectations for their wedding day it would make for a much smoother transition.