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Wedding Week: Relationships

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Dr. Andrea Bonior
"Baggage Check" Columnist
Thursday, June 8, 2006; 1:00 PM

Express columnist Dr. Andrea Bonior ("Baggage Check") was online Thursday, June 8, at 1 p.m. ET to help you deal emotionally and mentally with wedding-related stress and relationship issues.

A transcript follows.

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Dr. Andrea Bonior: Welcome to the Wedding Week: Relationships chat! I look forward to taking your questions. Of course, it's easy for me to say that what will matter far more than the wedding is the marriage. But not only would that make for the quickest chat in history, I think it would ignore the fact that the day itself IS very special- from the recitation of the vows, to having virtually all your collective loved ones in one room, to finally finding out some of those long-misheard lyrics of "Brick House." Seriously, planning such a symbolic day- and usually a logistically nightmarish party on top of that- naturally can cause some stress. That being said, when you hear yourself utter "Bridesmaids, here are your color-coordinated contact lenses"-- then you may have gone overboard.

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Alexandria, Va.: Dr. B,

I just got engaged, almost a week ago, and my fiance expressed to me last night that he was scared with regards to planning a wedding. He said he had no questions about wanting to marry me, but that he gets scared whenever he thinks about the wedding specifics. I haven't pushed wedding plans on him; the only thing we have discussed is a possible date in early May of next year. Is this normal or something I should be concerned about and what can I do ease his apprehensions? I want this to be a joyous occasion for both of us.

Thank you in advance!

Soon to be Mrs. A.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yup, many a man wakes up in a cold sweat with just the mention of "fondant."

Seriously, if it's really, truly, absolutely just the idea of planning the shindig itself (which sometimes can be understandable-- all of a sudden somebody who's never so much as had someone over for anything but beer is supposed to feed, water, and entertain 200 people wearing prom outfits) then you might consider hiring a planner. If you hire one early, they can actually pay for themselves by negotiating deals with various vendors to bring your costs down. And the bonus is that your boyfriend won't ever have to sit through two hours of "Beef versus chicken scallopini? Chicken scallopini versus beef?" if he doesn't want to. (I swear I'm not moonlighting as a wedding planner!)

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Washington, D.C.: Dr. Bonior: My fiance had his bachelor party this past weekend. I am curious by nature and asked if they had any ladies present. The best man arranged for a stripper to come to the house. I feel gross just thinking about this, especially since my fiance drunk dialed me that night to tell me he loved me blah blah, and doesn't remember the conversation. I just feel sketched out by the whole thing. I have a feeling this happens more often than I think, but how do I get rid of feeling jittery about this, and thinking that maybe things happened that I should be worried about?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Ah-- bachelor parties. I don't know why there's not yet an entire academic journal devoted to these. And I must say, the issue is very polarizing-- women can get pretty hard-core (a clinical term!) about their stances, from the "My fiancee shouldn't have to hang out with his buddies to celebrate his marriage to ME! I don't care if he's just going bass fishing! This wedding's about ME! And our love! And his love for ME!" to the "Of course he should party with Charlie Sheen all night. I'm secure and laid back and okay with that I AM I AM I AM! Did I tell you I'm secure and laid-back?" So yes, you're not the first one to have some inner conflict. Unfortunately, the soundest advice would have been to discuss this beforehand-- expectations, boundaries, and levels of detail disclosed. But even so, the mystique of these parties is enough to send even the securest of women shopping for Kaopectate.

The way to banish the jitters now is simple but probably anything-but-easy: be open about your feelings and discuss them. Consider it a crucial pre-test of your communication skills as husband and wife. Learning to bring up the tough, awkward, "I hate how I sound when saying this" stuff is what will get you through the stormiest of times in a marriage. And remember, though he might act like a high-schooler, a good man is not going to become a different person on his bachelor party night. And if he did, or he lies about it, or he refuses to discuss it even though he knows it's upsetting you, then that's a problem that's bigger than simply a gathering of drunken guys carrying a blow-up doll.

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Rockville, Md.: Hello, and thanks for doing this chat. My fiance and I are doing well together with planning the wedding and discussing marriage as well as keeping the normalcy in our relationship with dinner dates and good quality time that isn't just planning the wedding. What I am having trouble with sometimes is my mom. I know she means well and is doing a lot to help us plan, and is helping to pay for the bulk of the wedding, but it's still hard to remember that when she gets worked up about things. Any tips to help me keep calm and remember this as we go through this process together?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Sounds like as a couple you're doing great things to keep the stressors at bay. You might have to be willing to let go of some of the things that your Mom gets worked up about-- if she's footing the bill but demanding that you have a receiving line, maybe it will buy you some serenity to have a receiving line. For things that are more dealbreakers, it might help to say, "Mom, I know you mean well and that this is important to you just like it is to me. But I'd really rather do xyz for abc reason, and I'm finding that the stress of us disagreeing about it is bearing down on me." When you talk to her, focus on 1)that you want to enjoy this special time with her, and how that's hard to do when you're arguing over the length of your veil, 2) making her feel special, appreciated, and a real part of the process-- if she feels disregarded or no longer "needed," that will only make her act up more, and 3) remembering (as above!) that some wedding details are simply not worth drama.

It might help to spend some non-wedding-planningish time with your Mom, too, just like you're doing with your fiance.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm a penny-pincher by nature, so I'm having a lot of trouble justifying to myself spending almost $20K on a wedding when that money could be saved for a down payment on a house, etc.

That said, it seems like that's just the going price for weddings these days, and we want to do it right (particularly since about 75 percent of our guest list will be traveling to spend this important day with us).

Not sure what my question is -- any words of comfort for a bride who is worried that spending money on a wedding is frivolous?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: You certainly don't have to spend a dime you don't want to (one happy way that weddings are unlike buying a house-- there's no such thing as "closing costs!") But of course it's unrealistic to think that you're going to feed and entertain 100 or more loved ones for the price of a can of beets. What you can do, though, to keep the frivolity down (and alleviate regret down the road) is spend money only where it really MATTERS to you. Maybe that means a great band, an open bar, a great photographer, while cheaping out on flowers, hors d'eouvres, your dress (GASP!), etc. What nobody tells you is that the wedding industry assumes that brides want the best of EVERYTHING. In other words, yes, you can find someone out there to charge you 20 dollars a program-- but Microsoft Word and some creativity will do many brides just fine. If you prioritize what you really want, and what you'll remember for years to come, you can seriously knock down costs in other areas, and not wake up one morning ten years from now realizing you're still living in a studio apartment because you just had to have Capitol-shaped chocolates as favors.

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Omaha, Neb.: Fiance and I live in Nebraska close to his parents. My family lives in Virginia. His extended family live in Pennsylvania. My extended family live in Ohio. I want to keep things simple and inclusive as possible, but the location logistics are making my eyes cross/tear up. Any suggestions on how to make this difficult decision? Thanks!

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yes. Remind yourself that at least no one lives in Namibia!

Honestly, it's not too much to ask that your loved ones travel domestically-- you're not even talking Coast to Coast-- to a place that is meaningful to you. Asking 200 people to congregate atop a glacier somewhere is one thing, but having your closest friends and family commit to gathering somewhere between Nebraska and Pennsylvania is not a gargantuan request. Choose where you want to start your life together, and don't overthink everyone else's frequent flier miles.

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Washington, D.C.: My best friend just got married and while there were a few hiccups over the course of the weekend that led her to be in hysterical tears, nothing really major happened (i.e., serving the wrong kind of wine at the cocktail hour; failing to deliver champagne to the bridal suite after the reception ended). Even though she's back from her honeymoon, she is still obsessing about these minor glitches and thinks the hotel owes her something. Do you have any suggestions for how to get her to let go? She had a lovely, wonderful wedding and I just don't see the point in continuing to focus on the few negatives.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Whoa-- my suggestion is for YOU. Back away-- far, far away during this particularly unpleasant de-briding process! She sounds like she has an axe to grind, and maybe the pressures she put on herself were way too steep. It makes me sad to hear stories like this. Give her some time and space. She won't get over it until she chooses to-- and we can all hope that she'll do this when she gains a little perspective, looks at her new husband, and realizes that no one but her knew what in Sam Hill kind of wine they were supposed to be serving in the first place.

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Washington, D.C.: I was about to get engaged to my long-term boyfriend and found he had been lying to me about some of his Internet activities from the past including dating Web sites, gambling etc. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this new truth and how our relationship should proceed?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yes. Put down the bridal magazines and pick up the phone. Counseling could really do the two of you some good to decide if and how to proceed. If the Internet "dating" sites aren't bad enough, the lying is the coup de gras-- and don't even tell me you found out without him telling you! I'm cringing here. I'm really sorry for what's happened.... but please don't ignore warning signs.

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Washington, D.C.: I just engaged last Saturday and I haven't been able to sleep or eat. I'm am extremely excited but the thought of planning a wedding is freaking me out a bit. People keep asking when the date is and my future mother-in-law has already began asking about my colors, the date, etc. Any advice?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yup. Fifteen words. "Oh, we're just taking some time to enjoy being engaged before we start becoming event coordinators!" (Okay, sixteen words...) Followed by a bright smile, and a kiss on your fiance's cheek. Anyone who doesn't get the hint-- though they're probably just excited-- should not be indulged in stressing you out. And then follow your own rule! Logistics can wait as long as you need.

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Arlington, Va.: I'll be preparing for a family-style wedding (church, reception) all while going through the toughest part of my Ph.D. program, and working full-time. Any tips to stay sane? It's hard enough to work and go to school, and to add to that planning the biggest day of our lives makes me feel completely overwhelmed! Thanks!

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Whoa- nothing like a little deja vu!

The short answer: break big stressors down into small tasks, don't be afraid to delegate to the fondant-aficionados among your friends and family, compromise early and often, consider hiring an over-arching person (they can be cheaper than you think) to manage the minutiae and (channeling Susan Powter here) stop the insanity.

And the long one: The "biggest day of our lives" is a judgment that will be made in retrospect. Sure, it may end up being your wedding, but it also may be the day you welcome a child, or you conquer an illness, or you finally uncover that long-lost remote control. My point? It sounds like you're putting a little too much pressure on yourself for things to be "perfect." Truth is, providing that you two and the officiant show up relatively sober, your wedding will be perfect, because, by definition, it will be the joining of you and the love of your life. Isn't that the whole point? Weddings are emotional events that unfold with all the joys- and foibles-- that being human and having a heart (and perhaps uber-slippery shoes) entails. They are not robotic photo opps that can (or should!) be overly staged to the nanosecond.

So, if I could tell you one thing (which I've already surpassed- sorry!), it would be this: it may seem important now to squeeze in six hours to decide on your pew bows or whether the programs will be Ivory 13 or Cream 24, but what will truly make your wedding perfect involves no planning. And it's going to be a moment so special that you can't yet know it's going to happen, and no amount of items on your "to do" list, or stress-inducing time away from the necessities of your job and studies, will create it. (Says the bride whose veil flew off during her first dance- and yes, the dip was more than worth it!)

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Charlotte, N.C.: Why do brides make such a huge deal about weddings? Most seem to want a 3-ring circus and Broadway show combine costing thousands. Please fill in a confused male.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Really? I was thinking more "blockbuster film" and "jello-wrestling convention."

Many brides make a big deal about weddings because they grew up thinking about their weddings. American society indoctrinates its little girls pretty early, which one could argue is a larger problem: ("Jenny, someday you'll wear a big white dress!" "Johnny, someday you'll be an astronaut!") And sadly, there is MAJOR money to be made, so the marketing never stops. It all adds up to some women feeling embarrassed if they just want to eat, drink, dance, and be wed to the love of their lives in front of their friends and family; everyone they meet (see above!) wants to talk about the color of their table linens.

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Fairfax, Va.: My significant other is wonderful to me and is amazing. We have a great time together (past three years) but I have a constant worry about his outlook on life -- which is he feels like it's something to be dealt with. That it sucks 90 percent of time and the other ten percent is when he's with me. It's sad cause I worry about creating a future with someone who sometimes seems ambivalent about all the good things life has to offer. He see's a lot of the negative in life -- and not as much of the positive. But I think he hides that from me. I'm just confused -- I bring it up but don't know if this is a deal-breaker.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: This sounds really tough.

The fact that it already is affecting you-- and that you two have very different perspectives on life-- means it's absolutely something that would need to be dealt with before you get married. Does he really want to change? Has he been like this for so long that he can't imagine feeling any other way, and thus wouldn't believe he can feel better? Do you think he would ever consider counseling? If he really did want to change his perspective, a good place to get his feed wet in private would be to read "Learned Optimism," by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. (You could check it out too, to perhaps understand more about how he thinks.) But he really has to want to feel better in order for him to start doing so. He might like the sort of "man versus the world" persona he's cultivated, in which case you have to make some decisions. It sounds sweet and wonderfully romantic to be with someone who thinks "Life stinks unless I'm with you," but I think you and I both realize that that could be a much deeper problem when thinking about all the ups and downs you would face through life as a married couple.

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Arlington, Va.: Thanks so much for doing this chat, Dr. Bonior! I am a reader of your column and was so happy to see your name on the chat list ...

This is kind of a general question. Do you think it's worth the time and money involved for all couples to undergo premarital counseling of some sort ... even those of us who feel(as hopefully all going into marriage do?) that we have fantastic lines of communication and great respect for each other?

If the answer is "no" could you say which of us are home-free, and if the answer is "yes," give resources for finding a counselor? Thanks!

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Thanks!

I think pre-marital counseling, in many forms, could do some good for every couple, yes. But I'm realistic in that the cost-benefit analysis might not always come out ahead. Those that have the best odds (home-free sounds so absolute!) are the ones who have tackled the nitty-gritty, non-romantic discussions about differences head-on, as openly as possible. Sex, money, religion, children, recreation time, time spent together versus time spent apart, in-laws, openness, thermostat at 80 versus thermostat at 60, etc. There are some great books out there about "questions to ask" before getting married. I doubt any are exhaustive, but they will help spark some discussion, and if things feel too tense, scary, or confusing, that's when pre-marital counseling (search for qualified couples counselors, like through apahelpcenter.org, and see if any specialize in pre-marital stuff) would definitely be indicated.

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RE: Bachelor Parties: Personally I would be worried if a bachelor party was held at someone's home with a stripper, versus going to a strip club. I might be wrong, but I think "access" to a stripper is far more limited and controlled in a club. In the privacy of someone's home, too many things can happen. Of course, the bigger picture is the trust in your fiance and the knowledge that he would never do anything to damage the relationship.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Good point. An in-home stripper is not exactly the stuff that pre-matrimony dreams are made of. But the bottom line is, if the fiance becomes Grover the Groper just because he's behind closed doors, that's a much bigger problem, right?

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Penny Pinching: Expense doesn't make a good wedding. Good friends around you, decent food (please nothing to cause food poisoning like one wedding I went to!) and good music are key to a good time. I spent perhaps $2000 total on everything, dress included, and we had a great time. I've been to equally good weddings that cost even less.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Words of wisdom!!

So cut expenses wherever you can, until you start seeing salmonella.

Thanks!

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Washington, D.C.: How to re-establish trust in a relationship?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Okay, a person of few words!

Well, it sounds like trust was broken. Sadly, trust can't be forced or created in a vacuum. It comes only with time, and must need a reason to exist. Thus, if trust was broken, the only way it can (eventually) reappear is when the possible trustee gives the possible truster enough confidence in their behavior, character, and openness to assuage their anxieties. And "eventually" may mean next week, next month, next year. The shorthand: if someone cheats, it's not the "I'll never do it again" that wins back trust. It's the actual never doing it again-- and the clear understanding of both parties why it happened in the first place.

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Virginia: My husband and I had the most perfect, relatively low-key wedding. I stressed a lot over all the details -- fortunately, I had the world's best sister helping me -- but in the end, there was a moment that I hadn't planned, and it was the most important moment of the entire wedding. At the end of the ceremony, when my husband and I turned to walk out, the entire congregation stood and cheered. 200 people on their feet, clapping, cheering -- it was deafening, and overwhelming, and wonderful. I looked at my new husband, and at all of our friends, and was just absolutely overwhelmed by all of the love and support in that room. So don't get caught up in the script and the details -- because you can't plan what's going to be "most important."

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Amen!

My thoughts exactly.

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San Francisco, Calif.: When we got engaged six months ago, a friend of mine offered her services, and at the time I said that would be great -- the wedding seemed so far off and I didn't really think about. Now that the wedding is in three months, I mentioned it to my fiance and he is dead against using my friend's services, saying it doesn't really "fit" with our wedding and the friend has never been particularly nice to my fiance anyway, which is true. I don't want to offend my friend, but my fiance won't budge! He's been very accommodating about everything else, so I know he feels strongly about this. Any suggestions for how to proceed? It just seems like there are so many people with so many ideas about how this wedding should go and I can't keep them all happy!

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yikes. I guess how you handle this part of this depends on what the "services" are (need to clear my mind of the stripper talk of earlier!)

Bottom line, if this person hasn't been that great to your hubby-to-be, it makes sense to respect his wishes without question. Though you two should have discussed this sooner, his needs far outweigh your friend's. A heartfelt letter that apologizes and says that you've had to go a different direction, but that you still will cherish her presence on that day, should help you get out of this gracefully (and assuage some guilt.)

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Washington, D.C: I am in a wedding next week, that I'd rather not be. The bride and I had a falling out (well sort of -- she is bridezilla with very high expectations of the bridesmaids, She expects us to ALWAYS be excited about her wedding and decisions, etc., and fly to her parties/showers. I am so exhausted pretending to be SUPER excited that I'm afraid I don't have the energy to fake it in a couple of weeks.) I realize an end is in sight, but I'm afraid I might loose it before then ... How can I pretend to be excited when I don't have any energy left, and when now I'm feeling anger and bitterness? Any suggestions would be welcome.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yowzers. Attack of the Bridezillas, Part 14. This sounds a little bit more complicated than her just wanting you to be excited-- after all, I would think that would come naturally if there wasn't already buttercream-colored friction to begin with. My best advice is to just grin and bear it... you're almost there. (Is there an open bar?) Maybe use some of that duct tape you've got reserved for your strapless dress and muzzle yourself when you feel the urge to scream coming on? It also might help to vent your feelings on paper-- just be sure you don't mix them up with your notes for the toast!

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Rochester, N.Y.: I feel a bit guilty that I didn't invite a friend to my wedding. Any suggestions?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Yup.... don't subject her to the photo album!

Seriously, if it was truly just a "She was person number 161 and the church only fit 160," you've just got to let yourself realize that you can't have absolutely everyone at your wedding and you had to draw the line somewhere. If it was an omission because of some conflict between you, get the conflict resolved with honesty and openness and voila! the guilt will go with it.

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Washington, D.C.: We're fast approaching our wedding (thank goodness!) and I've been involved in many weddings. Most often I find that the relationships with the parents are "tested" -- all sorts of things come to the surface. However, we've been very fortunate and our parents have been great. What has really been "tested" are relationships with friends. I don't want to be a crazy Bridezilla but I do have to say that some of my friendships have revealed themselves to be not what I thought they were -- and I'm not being unreasonable (really!). I'm just saying that this was an aspect I was not prepared for and am still processing what's been going on. On a happier note, many friends have been wonderful and these friendships have been great. Just my two cents.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: This is something I hear frequently-- merely the presence of tulle, vellum, and an Edwardian script typefont (rejoice if you don't know what any of that means!) show some people's true colors-- brides AND other participants. There are a lot of complicated feelings that the notion of love, marriage, and life transitions-- not to mention buffet-versus-sitdown-- bring out in people.

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Virginia: My biggest regret is that my wife's ex really ruined everything. Many women think it is nothing but ex, not money or sex, is bad for marriage.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Sounds like there's quite a story here.

I'm sorry to hear it.

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Glen Burnie, Md.: My parents want to contribute to my reception. Unfortunately, they have a history of not being able to pay bills. My relationship with my parents is becoming strained because we don't see eye-to-eye. I want to conserve (at all costs) and they want to give me "the kind of wedding I deserve." I would love to have the really nice things, but I'm not sure my fiance and I can afford it by ourselves. Plus I'm not sure if my parents can afford the extra either. What are your thoughts?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: This is all about compromise. It's dicey to ever spend more for a wedding than is extremely comfortable, especially when it involves people with a history of biting off more than they can chew, finance-wise. The "kind of wedding you deserve" is not quantified by money-- it is qualified by creativity, love, and meaning. I'm not sure what your threshold is for "really nice things"-- are we talking surf and turf, or just the existence of food?-- but I imagine with a little elbow-grease (not a romantic notion, but imperative for weddings) you can come up with some ways to get the sentiment you want without the pricetag.

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Raleigh, N.C.: My husband and I got married last month. His best friend surprised him at his bachelor party by bringing a stripper to the party which was held at our home. The next morning my husband noticed some of my jewelry was missing. I'm wondering why the bedroom door was left open. Now that it's been a month, husband thinks I should "be over" this by now. I'm thinking it will never blow over. Am I over-reacting?

--Confused

Dr. Andrea Bonior: It depends on what's behind your feelings. Are you mad at the carelessness of New Hubby for not properly protecting against Ms. Sticky Fingers? Or are you worried about your husband having had too sticky of fingers himself? The stripper-in-your-own-home-and-taking-your-jewelry-from-your-bedroom is a pretty loaded issue from MANY angles. If you feel bad, you feel bad. You're not overreacting-- but you've got to talk it through and find out what aspects of it are most bothersome before it festers into something worse.

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LDR in D.C.: Glad for today's chat. My husband will be moving to D.C. this month and I don't know what to expect. Any advice for couples who have been in a long distance relationships and who are about to move in together and live in same city together? I don't expect perfection but I have a lot of confidence in our ability to communicate and compromise. And even seek counseling for skills. Thoughts?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Communication and compromise-- you've got this down already! Make sure to expect a few complications as you get used to the transition, and you won't be disappointed-- you can view them as challenges to work through together rather than negative indicators. If the love and commitment are there, the "Why do your socks live on the floor?" discussion is much easier to have.

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Alexandria, Va.: I got married a week ago last year. I was fine until about two days before the big day. I woke up early and went for a run. This helped me alleviate some of my stress and allow me to focus on something else for a little while at least. My best recommendation is to make sure YOU enjoy the wedding day. My husband and I had a blast at our wedding and it made all the difference in the world.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: A great thought. It's over all too quickly to spend it worrying about whether so-and-so liked the canapes. Provided the bride and groom aren't so into their own enjoyment that they act like barbarians, I say make the day your own and don't think twice.

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North Bethesda, Md.: Do I need a wedding planner to save my sanity? I reserved the reception, church, pastor, band, have my dress and the bridesmaid dresses. However, I still have to reserve the church musician, flowers, photographer and videographer, purchase gifts plus all the little things. I am getting married in November. I am very stressed about not having this already all planned. I have done all of this planning so far from afar, while planning a career change and move. (I move to Maryland tomorrow) Do wedding planners pick up half way through for a reduced price? I wasn't interested in finding one in the beginning because they were too pricey. If I knew the area better and had recommendations I wouldn't worry but being brand new without any friends or family to help, it has gotten pretty crazy. Thanks for your advice!

Dr. Andrea Bonior: I'll take off my shrink cap and put on my former-bride one. There are a wide variety of services offered by wedding planners/coordinators out there. Some definitely offer what it sounds like you're looking for-- somebody to take the reins a month or two out (or more), and pull everything together (that you've already mostly tackled) at the end. And that shouldn't break the bank, as they're not doing much planning or negotiating, but rather managing and coordinating everything that's already mostly in place. Shop around. It could mean a lot less stress for you at the end (and on the day itself). And no, I'm not getting paid by any of them to say this. But if this isn't a mental health issue, then what is, right? ;-)

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McLean, Va.: To the nervous brides out there -- I've been happily married for about six months now, and felt all the same anxieties after we first got engaged. I didn't have the first clue about where to begin. But, it will all come naturally once you get started and I think planning a wedding is much more manageable than many people think. My advice is to START EARLY. If you know your wedding date will be a good year or more away then go ahead and book the big things like the venue first. Through the course of the year, take the time to shop around and book vendors as you go along. Attend the bridal showcases in the area and use the checklist/timeline on The Knot to make sure you're not forgetting anything. That's an invaluable resource by the way. You'll start to pick things up very quickly once you actually start. Planning my wedding was never too stressful (until the final week)! Good luck!

Dr. Andrea Bonior: A comment from someone fresh from the trenches.

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Washington, D.C.: Wedding planning has generated much stress. My fiance has played an active role in planning the wedding and now wants to postpone for six months, after decisions have been made. Is this normal for people nervous getting married? How do I address/resolve this issue?

Dr. Andrea Bonior: I'm sorry to hear this. It's normal to be a little anxious, yes, but his wanting to postpone hints at something significantly deeper. Was it really about the planning itself? If so, it might be time to step away from The Knot and give serious thought to scaling back the entire affair. But that's sort of hard to believe. Chances are, the stresses of planning merely gave a convenient cover story for some other issues to rear their ugly head. The two of you need to figure out what those issues are about, and you owe it to yourselves not to say your vows until you do. Counseling can help. Just giving it time, whether it's six months or six centuries, won't solve the issue unless there's real work- exploration, communication, and resolution-- done.

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Raleigh, N.C.: I'm mainly upset that no one seems to care that my property is missing. I trust that there was no funny business, but I'm not sure I trust that he values me or my feelings.

Dr. Andrea Bonior: An equally understandable reaction. Having jewelry stolen from one's own bedroom, especially under less than idyllic circumstances, feels like quite a violation.

You've got to let him know how much this hurts you, and your doubts about his valuing your feelings. I'm so sorry that you have to face your first challenge so quickly after the honeymoon.

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Alexandria, Va.: For Charlotte, who wants to know why "brides make such a huge deal about weddings": women are also raised to be "nice", and not say "no" when people want to celebrate with you. So even if you want to elope (like I did) there is pressure from everyone you know to have a "real wedding" (read: to invite ME and give ME cake). And then you hear "you can't expect people to travel and not serve dinner". So unless you can fit 150 people into your apartment and cook for them, you have to find a "venue" and a caterer ... you can see how things get out of control quickly. Weddings are rarely purely about what "the bride" wants (if it were, there would have been more monkeys at mine).

Dr. Andrea Bonior: Great point.

(And I, too, had longed to up the monkey representation at my wedding.)

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Dr. Andrea Bonior: Wow-- time up already? We haven't even gotten to the first dance! This has been great, guys.

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Dr. Andrea Bonior: Wow-- thank you so much for the great questions. My head is spinning! I wish I could've gotten to more. You can always write my column at baggage@readexpress.com ("Baggage Check," Tuesdays in the Fit section of Express), where I cover even more than satin and calligraphy. Take care, and here's to a happy and healthy wedding-planning process.

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