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Happy Endings

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Agreeing to marry may be the easy part, but as you and your loved one plan a wedding, it’s inevitable that you’re going to disagree about some aspects of the wedding festivities.

Maybe you can’t understand why your spouse-to-be doesn’t take a stand on the menu, or maybe the love of your life is obsessing on the choice of dance songs, to your irritation.

If you’ve never had to negotiate budgets, defer to each other’s family or vacationed together, you may find it challenging when you have to make wedding decisions together.

For some couples, planning becomes so fraught it threatens to derail the wedding.

Fees that can range from $2 to $4, and even more to cut the wedding cake, were one of the issues that Jennifer Jeanne Patterson faced.

“My husband and I paid for the wedding, and this was the first time I had to turn to him and ask for money,” says Patterson, a Minneapolis resident who’s been married to Matt Samuel for three years.

Eventually she and Samuel worked out a solution to the cake problem and other wedding expenses, but as someone who’d always paid her own way, the shared budget took getting used to, Patterson admits.

You’ll want to develop strategies to get through the stress of wedding planning so you don’t harm your relationship with someone you love, says Susanne M. Alexander, a marriage educator and president of Marriage Transformation Project in Cleveland, Ohio.

Here are some tips:

• Money is a big area of contention, so talk over finances before you make any arrangements.

“The culture is saying spend $20,000 to $30,000 on the wedding. But if you’re going into debt or if it becomes a source of family disunity, then don’t spend such a large amount of money,” says Alexander.

• Although it’s easier said than done, you’ll be happier if you avoid wedding mania. Don’t get in a snit if your flowers don’t match the linens, for example. Most newlyweds will tell you fretting the details wasn’t worth it.

“I had a perfect marriage in mind and was trying to do everything at once. It may have been too stressful,” says Patterson, author of “52 Fights” (Berkley Books, 2005), a guide to the first year of marriage.

• Negotiate wedding responsibilities. If you intend to have equality in your marriage, what better way to start than by planning the wedding together, says Alexander, author of “Pure Gold: Encouraging Character Qualities in Marriage” (Marriage Transformation, 2005).

• Take stock of your emotional health as a couple. If you’re feeling resentful and overwhelmed, it can be a signal that your relationship is in trouble. You may want to consult with a counselor who specializes in couples who are engaged.

If you simply find you’re bickering too often, take a break. Go to a movie with your friends or on a date with your fiancé, when the “W” word is forbidden.

Bev Bennett Bev Bennett, a veteran food writer and editor, is the author of "Dinner for Two: A Cookbook for Couples" and "30-Minute Meals for Dummies"

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