There's a new piece of furniture in your bedroom: a stack of magazines, books, and articles that could double as a side-table. It's your fiancée's "wedding porn." And unlike actual porn, this isn't harmless. It's putting ideas in her head. Poisonous ideas. Thoughts about how you, as a groom, should be "behaving." This is where it gets dangerous. As one wedding website puts it: "Sometimes a seating plan is not just a seating plan..."
Consider this your counter-intelligence—and you need it. According to the queen of wedding sites, The Knot, your fiancée will draw conclusions about your future life based on how you behave during the wedding planning period:
"Planning the wedding is a trial run for your future marriage. The things you battle about now are clues to where you're going to have trouble in the future...."
Remember Shakespeare's Othello? The general has an old advisor, Iago, who he leans on for counsel and support. Othello trusts Iago. He confides in him. There's only one tiny problem: Iago whispers lies into his ear, sows the seeds of doubt, and convinces him that his wife, Desdemona, is boning another soldier. Consumed by jealousy and vengeance, Othello smothers Desdemona with a pillow, murders her, then commits suicide. (Turns out she was innocent. Oops!)
The parallel isn't exactly 100% identical, but your bride is Othello, you're Desdemona, and the wedding porn is Iago. These magazines are whispering in her ear. They're changing her. They're fanning the flames of psychological warfare. Will they convince her to kill you and then kill herself? Not always. Are they malevolent in a dark, sinister, Iago sort of way? Not intentionally. But they exist and they have power; understanding this whisper will help you understand your bride. Understand what your bride is reading...so you can prepare yourself for what's to come.
What wedding porn is saying about:
The balance of powerAs a bride, it's pretty much your inalienable right to micromanage every aspect of the wedding if you choose to.
Decoded: And you wonder where she gets these ideas? Micromanaging a wedding is an "inalienable right," sandwiched between Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. After neglecting this inalienable right, we suspect, Thomas Jefferson is on The Knot's shit-list.
YOUR ROLE IN THE WEDDING
"He doesn't even seem to care about the color of the table linens -- what is he, insane?"... He's a man. Most men are clueless when it comes to design and decor. This doesn't mean that you should give up on including him, however. Find out what he is interested in and encourage him to participate in that part.
Decoded: At first glance? Nothing mean-spirited. It even gives you a pass. Look closer. The Knot urges your fiancée to keep including you, encouraging you, cajoling you. So even when you've made it abundantly clear that you're delighted with either the magenta or periwinkle, she might still badger you for input in other areas... because she's told to by Iago. The good news is that she'll (hopefully) understand if you say that you trust her keen eye on the colors, and you'd rather focus on the reception music.
your friends[A reader writes]: For his best man, he picked his jerk of a college roommate, who's just intent on getting my fiancé drunk at our wedding."...He and his former roommate may have a strong bond -- just make sure there are some more reasonable men around them to keep a lid on things. Arrange with your brother or a male friend to befriend your fiancé and help him resist the ploys of the best man.
what wedding porn is saying about:
Free timeMoving forward, save his sanity (and yours) by designating one night a week as wedding-free. Talk about the weather, your friends, the dog -- whatever you want. He'll be psyched to see that the girl he fell in love with still lives there, and you'll appreciate the breather yourself. And who knows? Left to his own devices, your fiance just might surprise you with a great idea for your cocktail hour or the perfect solution to a guest-list dilemma.
Decoded: Wow! That's so generous. For one night a week, you get the pleasure of talking about the freaking weather! Hot damn! To be fair, we agree that designated "wedding free" zones are a fine idea, but it's telling that from The Knot's perspective, the other six days should be so consumed with the wedding planning, so overwhelmed with stress, that you don't even have time to talk about "the weather" or "the dog."
being bridezillaTwo weeks before the big bash, you find that you're panicked -- you're sweating, shaking, losing sleep, and not eating. While this is not healthy, it is normal... Your nerves will eventually return to a normal state.
More counterintelligence on the next page...
why your bride is freaking outAre you losing sleep from wedding-induced anxiety? Calming your senses may be the solution for helping you get the rest you need. Pick a relaxing scented oil, such as expert-approved vanilla or lavender, and rub it on your pressure points -- wrists, behind your ears -- before bedtime. Studies have shown that familiar scents inhaled during REM sleep (the most useful sleep time) relax the muscles, alleviating stress during dream cycles.
Decoded: Huh. So the solution to reducing stress that's caused by unrealistic expectations, over-analysis, and obsessing over 54,456,390 magazines is...lavender oil? True stat: according to a 2006 study, the average bride spends three hours a day planning her wedding and reads 13.5 magazines. But according to The Knot, the cure isn't less wedding planning, the cure is a nice dash of lavender oil. That's like saying that the key to solving our global energy crisis is to wear flip-flops.
the budgetBlowing Your Budget- The problem: You came up with a number. You did some research. You revised the number. You started planning ... and now that number's not going to cut it. Budgeting for a wedding can be the stuff of nuptial nightmares -- but that doesn't mean you should elope. The solution: If you find you've underestimated some expenses, don't panic. Instead, sit down with your fiancé and try to reach a constructive solution. Maybe you can give up an item or trade one for another (for example, dahlias over Black Magic roses saves about $4 per stem). If you're coming up short overall, you may have to take on some debt. To make it as minimal as possible, consider obtaining a low-interest loan or using a low-interest credit card. And to keep it from becoming a source of tension between the two of you, make a plan to deal with the debt and a deadline for paying it off so it won't hang over your heads.
honestyWhen your aunt assumes her dog walker will be invited to the wedding, simply say, "We're very sorry, but with the cost of the wedding we just can't invite everyone." Honesty is always the best policy.
Decoded: Nope. Honesty is not always the best policy. Sometimes a white lie is preferable—when her butt looks squishy and lumpy in those jeans, you'd better not say it. Find out how to leverage lies when dealing with your wedding guest list.
the bachelor partyBachelor Parties: How to Deal With His Bash: Be open about your feelings. This doesn't mean nag him endlessly; it means tell him what makes you uncomfortable. Saying, "Thinking about you hiring a stripper makes me feel unhappy" is very different than saying, "You'll hire a stripper over my dead body." Remember, this is your fiance here -- he wants you to be happy. Letting him know your threshold for wild-and-craziness is totally acceptable, and he should appreciate that you were willing to tell him. It can also potentially open up an important dialogue about your relationship: You need to know that you can trust him, and he you.
why it's ok to be lame
thank you notesWrite thank-you notes as the gifts come in...Yes, you're busy, but you can always carve out 10 minutes from your schedule to write a thank-you note... If you wait, your note-writing list will quickly grow to a frightening length, and it'll become that much more intimidating to tackle it.
Decoded: That's some pretty solid advice...if you want to let wedding planning interrupt every minute of every hour of every day of your marriage. A better idea? Think of thank you notes like doing the laundry--dump 'em in a stinky basket, and then deal with them every week or so. Would it make sense to wash your dirty socks every single night? Stop doing laundry and start living life.
the rest of your lifeMake [your] album within one year of the wedding...Bite the bullet and order your album while the memories are fresh and you still have a little wedding planning momentum driving you forward.
Decoded: Sigh. It never ends, does it? After you run the wedding planning gauntlet, after you finally get some richly-deserved honeymoon sex in Belize, you come back home to find her still hypnotized by The Knot's creepy spell. Steel yourself. Grit your teeth and know that wedding planning doesn't end after the wedding. P.S. it truly never ends, as she graduates from The Knot to The Nest: "Q.Now that we're living together, I realize just how much time my new husband spent with his buddies before we were married." Yep. Iago is here to stay.
Is he getting on your nerves? Do you suddenly have a low threshold for that messy desk, those unwashed dishes, or that loud sneezing? It's okay. The engagement period is not always happy camping -- pre-wedding stress can make you more irritable, impatient, and easily annoyed. If, out of the blue, his or her friends start bugging you and those habits are driving you berserk, take a deep breath. Recognize that you're extra moody - and do your best to keep things in perspective.
Decoded: It's hard to argue with this. And in fact, much of the advice in The Knot (and the other 54,456,390 rags of wedding porn) does try and keep perspective. BUT. You should be aware that when she's being weird or unreasonable, this isn't her. This is Iago. So never, ever, let her come near you with a pillow.