In Anglo-Saxon times, marriage was sometimes little more than a kidnap, with a man carrying off his chosen bride, whether she was willing or not. In the Middle Ages, girls were seen as their father’s
property and prospective husbands had to prove themselves by offering gifts or working for the girl’s hand in marriage. An extreme example of this can be seen in the betrothal of Mary Queen of Scots
to Francis the Dauphin of France. Their marriage was agreed by the Scottish Parliament in 1548 on condition that the King of France defend Scotland as if it were his own kingdom while still respecting
Scotland’s independence. At the time Mary was six years old and the young Dauphin only four.
The tradition of brides standing on the left during the marriage vows also dates from more violent days gone by. This meant the bridegroom could hold his new wife with his left hand, leaving his
sword hand free to fight any rivals.

The practice of the bride’s parents paying for the wedding dates from around three centuries ago, when wealthy families would pay an eligible suitor a dowry. This was also seen as an insurance against divorce, as the man could keep the dowry, whether property or money, only if the couple remained married.


Couples have been getting married for thousands of years, and many traditions associated with the ceremony began as ancient rituals to bless the marriage with fortune and children and to guard against evil. In the Middle Ages, marriage was regarded as so sacred and life-affirming that weddings were sometimes held in graveyards because it was believed that the ceremony could guard even against plagues.

Nowadays there tend to be far more practical, imaginative or simply romantic reasons for choosing a certain time, place or style of ceremony. The inevitable pressures of modern-day living and the expectations of family and friends also play their part in influencing the way the happy couple plan their wedding.

Taking a look at ancient traditions and superstitions, however, helps to explain some of today’s accepted practices, and when it comes to thinking of what style your wedding might take,
looking to the past might even provide some inspiration to let your imagination run free.


The choice of date for a wedding was very important. In ancient Rome May was thought unlucky because this was the month for remembering the dead and for the festival of the goddess of
chastity, while June was said to guarantee happiness because the month was named after Juno, the goddess of love and marriage.


1.     MONEY

Money is a tough topic in any setting, but in an engagement, things can heat up pretty quickly. While he may want to go all-out on the DJ or the open bar, you may want to bend the budget for the dress and flowers. Or, it could be that one person feels their family is contributing more than the other, so their opinion should trump any opposition.
Whatever the sticky situation may be, the important thing to keep in mind is that you are a team. Make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to how you want to spend “your” money as a couple. This means you’ll have to talk about it in a respectful, humble, loving way — as adults.
While you’re at it, get all your financial skeletons out of the closet. Are you a big spender or a diligent saver? Do you have any debts, whether for credit cards, school loans, etc.? Do you want a joint bank account after you’re married? The more you straighten out now, the better.


Maybe your future mother-in-law has 16 third cousins that just have to be invited to the wedding, or maybe you and your fiancé disagree on the size of the wedding in general. The best way to approach this issue is to step into the wedding planning prepared. Have an open conversation with your fiancé where each of you share your dreams of what you want the wedding to be like. It will be much easier to move forward if both of you are on the same page, with the same expectations.
Draw up a guest list together and then send it to each set of parents, allowing them a certain number of people they can add to the list. This number and procedure will be up to your judgment though. No one’s families are exactly the same size. If one of you has a significantly larger family than the other, take that into consideration. Understand that in that situation, the numbers each of you invite are bound to be greatly different to begin with. Be considerate of each other’s feelings (and that of the parents and in-laws), and keep in mind that the wedding is for both of you.

3.     THE EX

If one of you still maintains a friendly relationship with an ex and wants to invite them to the wedding, there’s no doubt that it will cause a rift. [Cue the bouts of insecurity and jealousy now.] While this particular guest suggestion may not be your cup of tea, it’s important to hear each other out. What used to be a fling may truly be just a friendship now. Take time to talk together and evaluate what the relationship with the ex really means to each of you. The key is to remember that at the end of it all, your fiancé chose you to do life with them!


This topic can make even the sweetest brides-to-be deploy the big guns. While you may swear up and down that you have complete trust in your fiancé, when it comes time to plan the bachelor party, chances are you’re a worried hot mess.  The truth is, a lot of guys nowadays are choosing more outside-of-the-box type bachelor parties. That may mean camping, laser tag or even tickets to the big game with their favorite guys.
If you’re not sure what the best man has in store for your fiancé, rather than approach him with a list of do’s and don’ts, just make sure you and your fiancé are in agreement. If the two of you have similar moral values and character, rest assured that you can trust your guy’s judgment.
It’s also important to clearly communicate your concerns before the bachelor party planning begins. While you two are on the topic, go ahead and discuss both the bachelor party and the bachelorette party. It’s healthier to come to an agreement about each of them as a team, because you’ll be setting limits within your relationship and not on each other.


As a bride-to-be, it’s easy to absorb yourself in the bliss and busy-ness of wedding planning. Being excited and indulging in everything wedding-related is perfectly fine, up to a point. Just be careful not to become focused solely on the wedding, or you’ll run the risk of becoming Bridezilla. You may also find that the more you concentrate on wedding things, the more frustrated your fiancé will get.
Everyone has emotional needs, and this includes your fiancé. Chances are that he misses getting to spend time with you (and more importantly, without your wedding agenda). To diffuse this explosive topic, be proactive by setting aside time for just the two of you. Leave the wedding planning alone for a bit, and focus on the one you love.

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Ah, engaged life. Fancy parties in your honor, a legitimate excuse to plunk down thousands for one dress. You never expected the downside: hissing at each other in bridal registry departments, screaming matches over the wedding guest list. The engagement period can be a minefield of hot topics that can trigger huge blowouts -- sometimes a seating plan is not just a seating plan.

"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," says Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist and author of True Partners: A Workbook for Building a Lasting Intimate Relationship. Here's what lies behind the most common prewedding blowouts -- and how to resolve them.

"His family's guest list is getting longer and longer every day, and they're not even chipping in for the wedding."
Tessina warns that this particular argument is "a prototype for future financial dealings." Her advice: Be businesslike. Say to your beloved groom, "This is what your family's guest list will cost, this is what my family's guest list will cost. What can we do to limit the cost? Will your family chip in?"

Dr. Patrick Gannon is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the co-creator (along with his wife, Dr. Michelle Gannon, also a licensed psychologist) of Marriage Prep 101, a course designed for engaged couples. He suggests that there may be more here than meets the eye. "Always be on the lookout for conflicts like these to be about 'hidden issues.' Are either of you sensitive about issues of fairness or balance? Does one of you have a greater sense of obligation to your parents that the wedding be a certain way?"