Say Yes To The Mess: Should You Spend More Time Planning Your Wedding Or Your Marriage?

Since announcing her divorce this week, Kim Kardashian has become America’s most notable example of how not to plan a marriage. There are celebrities who have had shorter nuptials, but Kim spent $10 million on her wedding, filmed the entire thing and made it a national event — only to have the marriage last 72 days. That’s kind of embarrassing — even by reality TV standards.

According to Kim, she got caught up in the “hoopla” of wedding planning. And while most of us don’t have a television network – or Kris Jenner – to answer to, that particular aspect of wedding planning can happen to anyone.

Inevitably, when you are planning a wedding (and complaining about said planning) someone will pop up in the midst of your story to inform you that your priorities are lopsided. More than once, I was told not to spend more time planning my wedding than my marriage. The wedding is one day, the marriage is forever.
As one commenter of this column put it:

“I hope you are putting the same amount of energy, money and planning into your actual marriage planning.”

Here’s the thing, if you’re having a big wedding, it’s nearly impossible to spend the same amount of time planning your marriage as planning your wedding. The wedding industry works very hard to make your wedding a commercial event that places a large price tag on happiness. But there are many fewer products to sell you for the continued success of an actual marriage.

In Kim Kardashian’s case, that problem was turned up to 11. In addition to all of her friends and family caring about her pending nuptials, it was a national event – and a large part of her reality empire.

It’s a bit difficult to empathize with a woman who earned millions for selling the film rights for her wedding to E! and “exclusive” photos to People magazine. Especially when the Kardashian family tries to make their profits and spending seem vaguely reasonable. This week, Kris Jenner felt the need to inform the world that Kim’s engagement ring didn’t cost the $2 million everyone’s been claiming. It cost “half that!” Oh, only $1 million? That’s practically thrifty.

In the case of her wedding event, it appears it was a success. Despite her three dresses and lavish registry items, commentators discussed how classic the style was and wedding sites suggested ideas that women could steal from Kim’s wedding.

But there’s now tons of things that women won’t want to steal from that extravagant wedding. And as the E! network is nothing but topical, I finally had a chance to catch (the first hour of) “Kim’s Fairytale Wedding” earlier this week.

I guess it’s not surprising that there was a lot not going right for that wedding. The week leading up to a wedding provides a lot of stress for any couple. But in E!’s special we learned that not only was Kim not willing to change her name for her new husband, she wasn’t even willing to change her monogram. Rather than watching “Kim and Kris’ Fairytale,” the world saw the day that Kim wanted. And the KK monogram plastered all over the event could just have easily been short for Kim Kardashian rather than Kim and Kris.

In this case, the world may not have needed hindsight to realize this marriage wasn’t meant for the ages. It’s pretty easy to see how weak Kim and Kris’ bond was now that they’ve broken up.

But in reality, most marriage bonds are pretty easy to break. When you look at the divorce rates, it’s easy to see why people will chide you about spending time working on your marriage when you’re planning a wedding.

And as irritating as it can be to get reprimanded while planning such an exciting event, it’s actually a piece of advice that everyone should take to heart.

When planning a wedding, there are a nearly infinite number of decisions to be made that you (likely) never thought of before getting engaged. But once you’ve made the decision to marry someone, it’s easy to let that topic lie instead of spending effort strengthening the bond you’ve created together.

Many people getting married don’t think about all the opportunities there are to ruin the thing they’re trying to build together. But there are ways to work on your relationship during the engagement process. Most churches provide pre-marital counseling to couples. Mark and I found that time incredibly helpful. Simply talking through plans and decisions you want to make in the future – in a neutral setting – is amazingly constructive.

And while you’re falling in love with someone and deciding to spend your life together, there are a surprising number of issues that may not come up until after you’re married. If you can touch on them beforehand, you should.

The thing you’re creating is fragile. And even those of us who are more deliberate in our choices than Kim Kardashian – and who have fewer social and monetary pressures depending on our matrimonial bliss – it’s surprisingly easy to ruin a good thing. So definitely spend some time talking to a third party that you trust – whether it’s a therapist or a priest or a great friend – about your plans in life and concerns you have.

It could save you a lot of heartache later on.

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    • Rachel

      The pastor that married my husband and I was a good friend of my mother (she is also an ordained minister). Neither of us are very religious, but the pastor wanted us to do some sort of per-marital counseling, so he suggested a weekend-long program that is run through the Anglican Church.
      I have recommend the program to EVERY couple I know getting married. None of them have taken the suggestion. My husband and I were together for over 4 years before we did our per-marital weekend. There were about 10 other couples and it was so rewarding (and not religious at all).
      We knew each other very well before the weekend, but we saw many other couples (some that had recently married and were already facing trouble) that were in the midst of planning a wedding and were just starting to scratch the surface of what you should know before you marry someone.
      We used the weekend as an opportunity to deeply discuss things that many couples find just hard to talk about at all. Again, SO REWARDING. And now that more and more of my friends are getting married, their weddings are beautiful and filled with memories, but I am shocked at how little regard they give to working on the relationship those events are celebrating.

    • I Mean What

      The drama between Kim Kardashian Humphries, née Kardashian & Kris Humphries Kardashian, née Humphries is simply the kick-off to what will be the biggest soap opera saga to hit the airwaves since Luke & Laura from General Hospital. Eat that Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event in two parts. One part scam and the other part nonsense. Let’s just say that reality television will never play as well as scripted. Hence, I give you… The Days Of Kim’s Lives: All Nine Of Them http://bit.ly/uun9L7

    • Eve

      The idea that they hadn’t discussed where they would live before the wedding– which seems to have been the biggest issue with them– is baffling. If nothing else, you should at least know a) whether you both want kids or not and b) where you are going to live.
      I do take issue a little bit with “Not only was she not willing to change her name…” as though that was part of her being selfish and horrible. Being willing to make compromises is important; being willing to make a huge change in your legal identity should not be a requirement.

      • Meghan Keane

        Sorry Eve, I guess that part was a little unclear. What I meant was that it’s one thing to not change your name. It’s another when you don’t even change your monogram to include your husband. KK was plastered all over that wedding and it looked a lot more like it stood for Kim Kardashian than Kim and her husband.

    • Sue

      So sad to see a marriage end without her making any attempts to save it. From the glimpses of the wedding photos back in August, I already saw red flags from the monograms and especially from Kim’s face… she didn’t look like she was in love with him, my honest impression was that she was playing the role of an actress on her wedding day.

      A striking difference from Kate Middleton’s face when she married, anyone could see the love in her eyes for Prince William and nothing else. Couples should really take their time in getting to know each other well before any wedding bells. Kim barely knew him, they hadn’t even dated for more than a year and a year is only scrating the surface of knowing someone. So sad.

      http://www.beautifulweddingideas.com/