Why Wedding Planning Breaks Up Couples

January 7, 2019  |  
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calling off a wedding last minute

Source: Greg Hinsdale/Corbis/VCG / Getty

I was invited to a wedding recently that was called off. When I mentioned it to my friends, I was astounded to discover just how common this is. Almost everyone I know has been on the guest list for a wedding that was cancelled. When this happens, it upsets a lot of people. Guests spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on plane tickets and accommodations. The couples’ family put down some hefty non-refundable deposits on venues and vendors. Then there is the emotional roller coaster the couple put everyone through. Hopes were up and then let down. Dreams were shattered. As someone who was going to go to a wedding that then got cancelled, I couldn’t help but find myself judging the couple: why were they engaged in the first place if their relationship was clearly so weak? That’s what I thought. Perhaps my thoughts were too harsh seeing just how common this catastrophe is. Here is why planning a wedding breaks up so many couples.

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Bossiness comes out

If one person has always been a bit bossy, that trait will come out in full force during the wedding planning. That person can leave her partner feel bulldozed, and feeling like his desires and feelings mean nothing. If you have a bridezilla or groomzilla who is treating the big day like just his or her big day, it can really leave the other person thinking, “Do I want to spend my life with someone who is so dismissive of my desires?”

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Someone slacks off

While one partner takes too much control, you could have one who just puts in no effort. He has a “to-do” list regarding the wedding, and misses deadline after deadline. His partner feels like she is forcing him to participate in his own wedding planning. This can, of course, leave the only person who is putting in work thinking, “Will our whole life be like this? Me putting in all the work for something we’ll both enjoy?”

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Outsider opinion creeps in

Everyone will have an opinion about the wedding planning. The question is: how much does the couple allow the opinions of others to creep in? If they don’t stand strong and create clear boundaries, it can be a problem. One person may take their friends’ and familys’ opinions more into account than their fiance’s opinions. Nobody wants to spend their life with someone who is clearly just a puppet on strings, controlled by outsiders.

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Financial differences pop up

You learn a lot about what someone values, based on how he spends his money. You’ll learn about this every single day while planning a wedding. Maybe one person would rather go with the really casual, cheap caterer, if it means affording having more loved ones at the wedding. Maybe the other person wants the fancy, expensive caterer in order to impress the guests and create some illusion of status, even if that means having to cut the guest list substantially to afford it. Just there you learned that one values relationships and the other values status. Uh oh.

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Selfishness can be revealed

If someone is slightly selfish and been hiding it all along, that will come out in full force during wedding planning. Whether it’s only allowing her fiancé 40 guests to make room for her 100 guests or pushing for the destination where only a few of her guests even live, making the fiancé’s 40 guests travel hundreds of miles, selfishness will rear its ugly head.

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Pressure on an already weak bond

If the couple didn’t know each other very well and got engaged too quickly (and I’ll suggest anywhere under two years of dating is rather fast), then wedding planning can bring that to light. Almost every element of someone’s personality is put to the test during wedding planning. Some couples just realize Oh I don’t actually like this person through wedding planning.

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No time for anything else

Wedding planning takes over a couple’s life. For the year or two leading up to the wedding, every single conversation is about planning the wedding and every spare moment is spent planning the wedding. By the time the wedding approaches, the couple can feel like their connection has been lost. If they don’t make a point to still spend quality time together—that’s not about wedding planning—they can just end up feeling distant.

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In-law disputes

Maybe the couple themselves don’t fight. But their families fight (about the wedding destination, venue, guest list etc.) Then each person in the couple takes a side in this fight, feels like their partner doesn’t respect their family, and then wind up in a massive fight.

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Guest list arguments

Perhaps one person tolerated her fiance’s group of friends for years. She didn’t like them, but she didn’t say anything. Now, when it’s time to decide whom they’ll spend $75 a plate on, she speaks up. She doesn’t want those friends of her fiance’s there. That leaves her fiancé feeling if she doesn’t accept my close friends, then she doesn’t accept me.

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Writing vows

When it comes time to write those vows, someone (or both people) in the relationship may come to a shocking realization: they don’t have much to say. They don’t really know why they’ve chosen this person to spend forever with. Uh oh.

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The couple drags their feet

They’re engaged, sure, but neither person takes any initiative to start the actual planning. They’re engaged for over a year before anyone takes even one step towards planning the wedding. It shows them both that maybe they don’t want to get married.

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Family exposes secrets

During the months leading up to the wedding, lots of family and friends from out of town come to visit. Sometimes, these friends and family don’t know that they’re supposed to keep their mouth shut about certain details about the bride or groom’s past. And sometimes they expose a secret that sends the couple into a massive fight.

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The bachelor/bachelorette party

The bachelor or bachelorette party could be the breaking point. If there were already trust issues there, and then the bachelor party goes to a strip club when they promised they wouldn’t, it could send the couple over the edge.

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Communication skills are challenged

You have to have excellent communication skills to plan a wedding with your partner, wind up with something that makes both people feel happy, and get through it without fighting (at least not too much). Some couples realize through wedding planning that they’re terrible at communicating, and maybe this wedding thing should be put on pause.

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The engagement was always a Band-Aid

Don’t forget that sometimes, the entire reason a couple gets engaged is that they felt they were heading towards a breakup. So, in an attempt to save an already bad relationship, they make a larger commitment…but the truth always comes out.

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