7 “Before the Wedding” Steps that Initiate a Successful Marriage

Before the Wedding Steps for a Successful MarriageMarriage can be wonderful, but only if you are entirely aware of your individual, unique circumstances.  Angel and I have been married for a full year now, and honestly, the transition to married life has been remarkably smooth.  I do not believe our initial success with marriage is based on luck either.  We took it slow and completed the following 7 steps in an effort to ensure a successful new beginning with each other.  I would recommend these 7 steps to every couple considering the commitment of marriage.

  1. Live Together for a Full Year First – There is no realistic way you could possibly know everything about someone until you live with them.  The step of combining your living space will have a dramatic impact on both of your daily routines.  This is something you do not want to put off until after the wedding.  You both need to uncover all the little surprises first, figure out if it works, and make an educated decision on your future living arrangements.
  2. Put All the Financial Cards on the Table – Financial trouble is one of the leading causes for divorce.  In order to build a successful bridge between your finances both of you need to be aware of depth and distance between your financial standings.  Put all the cards on the table, denote any discrepancies, and chart out a blueprint that makes sense to both of you. 
  3. Become Friends with Her Close Friends – Initially this one may seem unnecessary or even a bit strange, but mutual friendships are a vital key to the long term success of intimate relationships.  Her friends are a big part of who she is, just as your friends are a big part of who you are.  It is foolish to assume that close friendships with third parties will have no impact on your relationship.  If you two are as compatible as you think you are, it makes sense that you should be able to get along with her closest friends.  The flipside should hold true as well.  It may be a red flag if this is not the case.
  4. Agree on the Details Related to Children – The idea of having children may seem distant right now, but time flies.  Some people are very passionate and firm when it comes to their outlook on raising children.  Do you want to have children?  When?  About how many?  Are there any other expectations or assumptions in relation to raising them?  These are some of the questions that need to be answered at both ends.  It’s impossible to work out every detail now, but there should be some obvious overlap in your views on having children.
  5. Be Honest with Both Her and Yourself – Relationships are built on a foundation of honesty and trust.  No relationship, and therefore no marriage, can survive without both parties involved being honest about how they feel.  Don’t just be honest with her, be honest with yourself too.  If something is bothering you now, your distaste for it will only inflate as time evolves.  Make sure you head into marriage with a clean slate of honesty as it relates to both your feelings and your feelings for her.  Make sure she does the same.  This should be an open discussion.
  6. Discuss Personal and Career Goals – Everyone has a different set of goals pertaining to their personal life and career.  Some of these goals may have been written in long before you two met each other, long before marriage was under consideration.  Neither one of you should have to give up your unachieved goals, but there needs to be a mutual awareness of what these goals are, how well they mesh, and how they impact your future together as a married couple.
  7. Think About the Possibilities of Change – Change is an inevitable element of life.  Life changes with success, it changes with failure, and it changes with time.  Nothing in the future will ever be exactly the same as it is right now.  Marriage is a commitment that must be flexible in coping with the influences of change.  There needs to be proactive discussions now about the possibilities for change and a reciprocated consciousness of the uncharted waters that lie ahead.

Successfully completing these steps should reveal any hidden inconsistencies in your relationship that might draw a negative affect on your marriage.  It should also clear your minds of any confusing marriage myths that may have concerned either of you.

Advice for the Groom: Turn the Wedding Rehearsal Dinner into a Party

In continuing the short series of articles I’m writing to give other “groom’s to be” some wedding advice based on my recent experience, let’s discuss the rehearsal dinner. The parents of the groom are responsible for hosting the rehearsal dinner, but the groom should be assisting with the whole operation. The goal should be converting the rehearsal dinner into more than just a big dinner. Think music, humorous roasts and speeches, and possibly some dancing. No, this isn’t your reception, but it can be an exciting precursor to the festivities that lay ahead. Most people go out to dinner once a week, so forget about a rehearsal dinner and throw a rehearsal party.Turn the Rehearsal Dinner into a Party

If friends and family have already traveled from all different geographic locations, why give them merely a single night of excitement. Instead of limiting access to include only the wedding party, invite all the family from both sides and a few of your closest friends. Rent out the patio area at a local restaurant or country club, bring some tunes, and jazz-up the setting with a few decorations. Host a two hour open bar for your guests, and provide a decent buffet. This doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Three to five thousand dollars should cover a guest list of 60 people.

You can also prearrange some activities, like requesting that a few of your guests roast either you or your “bride to be”. It will get both sides of the family talking and laughing, which will make the following night, your wedding night, a setting filled with familiar faces from everyone’s perspective. If everyone sees familiar faces at your wedding, everyone will feel comfortable, and then everyone will drink, dance, and have an absolute blast. That should be the ultimate goal. It’s just another suggestion on how the groom can help coordinate a little wedding planning that doesn’t involve girly flowers and cake, but garners huge points in everyone’s eyes.

Next week I’ll continue the series of wedding advice for the groom that he might just enjoy.

Advice for the Groom: The Wedding Ring Selection

At first this might not sound like the most ideal task, but in reality it absolutely is. If you think about it, every single festivity in a wedding revolves around the exchange of these sacred rings. Not only can you make this task fun, but you will come out a hero in he eyes of your “bride to be” and all her family. If executed properly, you will also have a romantic story to share with loved ones for decades to come.

wedding rings around loveThis task involves the purchase of both the diamond engagement ring and the subsequent wedding bands. You don’t buy them all at once, so this task is really a two part process. Certain steps in the process might seem a little extravagant or bazaar to some people. But just remember, I’ve been there, done that, and I’m extremely content with the end result. So while everyone is entitled to their opinion, my advice is from firsthand experience.

Your first step is the worst step, but you have to handle it. You must do some simple research on Blue Nile. All of the info you will need in order to make an educated engagement ring purchase is on this site, including solid price points that can be used when you shop. A NY Times editorial on Blue Nile can be found here. Don’t waste your time on all the flashy female driven wedding ring sites… most of them are a complete piss in the wind. You want the facts and Blue Nile delivers these facts. You can also read this, this or this for a little extra credit research only if you feel like being diligent.

Take a trip to New York City with a couple of your buddies or male family members. You are going to buy her engagement ring from the shops in the New York City diamond exchange district on West 47th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Just inform your lady that you are going on a business trip or attending to some form of family business affair. If you plan ahead and set things up in advance, she’ll never suspect a thing. If you’re worried about lying to her, get over it. Believe me that when the time comes, not only will she understand, she will be ecstatic with your romantic efforts. Here’s why the NYC idea makes sense:wedding ring ceremony

  1. You can wheel and deal with the diamond exchange merchants using the price points and education you gained from Blue Nile. The merchants are used to bargaining and they will come down in price when they realize that you are serious about the purchase. The process of bargaining alone can be a crap-load of fun and rather hilarious at times. It certainly beats the heck out of talking to an old boring saleswoman at the local jeweler.
  2. There are an abundance of shops and a plethora of ring choices which guarantees that you are going to find something you really like at the price you want to spend. Matching different settings with different diamonds can actually be pretty interesting, and you will begin to realize that the four C’s (cut/color/clarity/carat) ratings that you read about on Blue Nile weren’t a bunch of bullshit after all.
  3. The ring you build in NYC won’t be sitting in the case at your local jewelry store either. Even if there is a particular style that your beloved has already mentioned she likes, the diamond exchange merchants will have four thousand variations of that style from which you can choose. The ring will be unique, and all her female family members and friends will notice it as such. Not to mention, she will love the fact that you went to such great lengths to customize her ring.
  4. Look around, you’re in freakin’ New York City! Picking out the engagement ring will take a total of a few hours of bargaining over the course two or three days. The remainder of the time is a “vacation with the boys” in one of the coolest cities in the world.
  5. It will be the only vacation you ever take with your male counterparts that can be flipped around and told as a romantic story to loved ones. And if you really think about it, it is actually romantic. You ventured out on a lengthy voyage to pick out the perfect engagement ring for the woman you love.

Once you have popped the question and revealed to your beloved the great journey that you embarked on in order to build the precious diamond ring she has already fallen in love with, suggest another trip to NYC. This time the two of you will take a romantic weekend getaway to the city and choose your wedding bands together. It will be fun for the both of you and the trip will double as a vacation. You already know the ropes so you’ll look like the expert. And if you’re really smart, you can even head back to the same merchant that you purchased her engagement ring from. Because you are a loyal repeat customer, they might be inclined to give out a little discount on the wedding bands.

I strongly recommend this wedding ring purchasing process to every “groom to be” that is about to embark on the journey of marriage. I know it sounds a little pricey, but just remember that even though you will be dropping extra cash on travel arrangements, you will be getting way more ring for your money. The diamond merchants will even FedEX the rings to you via insured air shipping which allows you to avoid paying sales tax on your purchase. (F.Y.I. – I found the engagement ring I liked at Allure Diamond, which is where I ended up making my purchases.) Good luck out there…

Next week I’ll continue the series by posting some more heroic wedding tasks for the groom that he will actually enjoy.

Wedding Planning Tasks the Groom Will Actually Enjoy

I’m a recently married groom and I can confidently state that our wedding was absolutely remarkable. If I could, I’d do it all over again without changing a single component in the equation. All our family and friends collectively agree that it was a truly extraordinary party. And that’s what your wedding should be, an extraordinary party… a celebration that is talked about and referenced by your guests for years to come.

With that said, it’s important to mention that prior to our wedding some of my male acquaintances (whom were recently married) tried to paint a dark picture in my mind. They attempted to warn me of the following fallacies:

  • Stay out of the way when it comes to wedding planning. You won’t get what you want, and you’ll only end up annoying “her”.
  • Just agree with whatever “she” picks. She wants to handle everything anyway.
  • The wedding is a one time waste of money. Cut costs at all costs.

weddingAll three of these false statements were voiced by men who did it the wrong way. The bottom line is that a wedding belongs to both the bride and the groom. While it is true that the bride will fuss with every last detail based on some evolving dream that surfaced in her mind sometime shortly after she was born, the groom should definitely be involved. You should want to be involved. It’s only a waste of money if you miss the fundamental point: The goal is to throw the greatest party you have ever and will ever host. And if you think about it for a second, planning a badass party should be a lot of fun.

Forget about the decorations, stay far away from the cake, and let her handle the wedding theme and locale. Let’s face it, you can’t grasp a hold of all those artsy particulars anyway. You want to support her choices in that arena, but you need to personally fulfill duties that make sense to you.

I’m going to split this article into six different parts. I’ll let this post act as an introduction to the remaining five parts. My intention is to break down a few simple wedding planning tasks that I performed. I’ll explain what I did with each task and give you insight into why I recommend the same tasks to other “grooms to be”. The topics I intend to cover are as follows:

Next week I’ll tackle bullet #1: “Be a Heroic Groom by Handling the Wedding Ring Selection”

Who do you want at your wedding?

With our “big day” just 72 hours away, the level of excitement and anticipation is rapidly building.  Family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances keep asking me how things are going, to which I reply… “Just a lot of “T” crossing and “I” dotting.”  One nagging question that seems to be on the back of a few people’s minds is: Why didn’t we invite more guests to our wedding?  I assume this question has arisen due to the fact that Angel and I capped off our wedding guest list at around 110 people and didn’t invite many of our current colleagues.  So while our wedding party is rather large (20 people deep, including the bride, groom, parents, and grandma), our guest list is rather small.  Why not invite more colleagues and acquaintances?  I guess that’s a valid question.

Most people probably think the obvious; cost must have something to do with it, right?  Sure, but while cost is always a factor, it’s not exactly a good reason to leave someone important off your wedding guest list.  We intend to get married only once, so this certainly isn’t an affair we plan to be frugal with.  Which brings me to the foundation of our reasoning:  This is an intimate affair.  The people who we invited are thought of as family, whether we are related by blood or not.  These are the people we trust, respect, and love.  These aren’t just the people that we hope would be there for us in our time of need, these are the people we will immediately rush to assist if they ever find themselves in a time of need.  In other words, we assembled our wedding guest list based on invitations sent only to our best friends and family.