My fiancée and I were perfect for each other until we started planning our wedding. She wants a church wedding with 300 guests (even though we are both agnostics). I want a small destination wedding on a beach with 25 people, tops. She wants to register for china and crock pots (even though we are both in our 30s, have been living together for years and have a lovely household full of modern supplies). I want to skip the gifts. She wants an $8,000 wedding dress and me in a tux. I want casual. Finally, she wants to honeymoon in Paris, a place we've already been twice, and I want to go someplace entirely new and exotic such as Bali or Africa. Who is this woman I thought I knew? Will this traditional, materialistic and rather boring side of her pass once we're married? Is this just her "Bridezilla" coming out?
He Said: Marriage has a way of turning even the most socially progressive into traditionalists. It is so ingrained in our social psyche that we ignore the fact that, in reality, marriage is nothing more than a government license, 50 percent of which will eventually be invalidated. Even gay men and lesbians, often the least sentimental about convention, race to the altar in a traditional church the moment they find the freedom to do so.
Despite your fiancée's temporary insanity, she has ever right to enjoy her big day. (My only caveat is that you tie the knot in a state that boasts marriage equality, which would not include California at the moment. There's something untoward about taking advantage of a cherished institution that is denied to some.) Otherwise, the answer to your question is to not sweat your differences. Encourage her take the parts of the marriage she cares most about--perhaps the church ceremony—while you get to dictate the honeymoon. Unless you are super rich, draw the line at the $8,000 dress, which will simply take up space in your closet. It will pay for your trip to Bali, and so much more. Good luck!
She Said: In short, yes, it’s probably just her inner bride coming out. I’ve known a lot of reasonable, moderate, modern women—myself included—who, during the wedding planning phase, suddenly morphed into some bastard feminine hybrid of Cinderella, Princess Di, and Kim Kardashian. The symptoms are all as you describe: a pining for tradition, even though the woman hasn’t seen the inside of a church or synagogue since middle school; a blind eye to budgets and expenses; a nesting urge that can only be fulfilled at Sur la Table; a penchant for lace and tiaras and, in extreme (and tragic) cases, even sequins; and finally, an insistence that the week following her wedding be the most postcard-perfect version of “romance” imaginable, even though both of you will be (a) broke and (b) exhausted come your honeymoon. I honestly don’t think this is reason to doubt your choice of wife. Rather, it’s great practice for the daily compromise and negotiation that your new married life will require. Yes, it’s a bag of fun, I assure you.
Sit your fiancée down and tell her this is your wedding too. Make a list with both your names at the top. Under her name write all her desires: large guest list, expensive gown, Paris, etc. Under your name, write yours. Tell her since you want a 50-50 marriage, you will each get half of what you want, and since you are a gentleman and she is, after all, the bride, she can go first in choosing the three or four items that are most important to her. The rest will default to your wishes. So you might end up with a big guest list but on a beach; or a less expensive dress but 10 days in Paris. You know, 50-50, more or less. Just like marriage.
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