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Marriage. It is truly THE BEST.

I want to share with you 10 (even though there are probably 1,000) things I learned while being engaged. I hope that this will inspire all you single ladies out there and encourage all of my married friends reading this.

I want to preface this by telling you a little bit about my journey to marriage. I got engaged on November 10, 2014. That day was one of my favorite days of my life: I had the guy I was in love with, my dream ring, and I had a blast celebrating with friends and family. That day started our journey to planning the rest of our lives together. That is when the fun started… venue shopping, dress shopping, making lists, making invites, buying things, apartment shopping, marriage counseling, engagement photos, buying more things, picking out flowers, registering for gifts, and the list goes on and on. I honestly had A LOT of fun planning our wedding and it wasn’t as stressful as some people make it out to be. It really was an event that helped our two families work together and get to know each other better. Engagement was a season of life that was so exciting, joyful, and full of love.

Here are 10 things I learned from being engaged:

1. A wedding is just one day of your life, but marriage is forever.
Seriously, I’ve heard this saying before I was even dating…but it never sank in until I was engaged. It was the moment I realized we didn’t have to say goodbye after a date to drive 45 minutes across town anymore. It was when we started moving our stuff into our Nashville condo and had to figure out where to put all the things that wouldn’t fit. It was picking out wedding bands and buying a washer and dryer together. It was writing our vows and thinking “Oh my goodness, these are OUR vows!” There were so many moments that made it sink in that this man was going to become my life-long partner I’d do everything with. Thinking about how God orchestrates life to just all of a sudden make sense definitely makes all the little “to-dos” for wedding planning not seem as important. What really matters is the marriage. The Bible maps out how that should look and gives us guidelines and boundaries to live out a holy marriage to bring glory to God….so work just as hard or more towards that kind of marriage as you do on planning a wedding! There is truly no wedding that could ever compete with the joy that comes from knowing that God’s blessing is on your marriage.

2. Design a wedding that reflects your two personalities…not just to match Pinterest!
Matt and I saw a lot of amazing pictures of weddings and I tried on dresses that were almost disgustingly over budget, and we just decided that we wanted this wedding to be within our means and a reflection of our two personalities. There are SO many times in wedding planning to spend money on things that really don’t matter or to get lost in the “dream wedding” world that makes you feel like you need all kinds of stuff because everyone else had it at their wedding. The wedding industry is BOOMING and making millions of dollars by marketing things that are a “must-have” or a “necessity” for a wedding, but here’s the truth: you actually only need a bride, groom, pastor, and possibly some friends and family to make a wedding. Anything on top of that is really just for fun and extra. So, think about what YALL find important and go with it!

3. Be organized and expect that something WILL go wrong.
Simple enough. Plan ahead so that you can try to have everything done before the week of your wedding (the week of our wedding we literally had nothing to do except for to spend time with family and pack everything in the car and it was amazing…so worth planning ahead). My advice is to not rush your engagement, but to enjoy it for what it is. Also, things will go wrong at the wedding so prepare your mind to just shake it off with a laugh when it happens. This saved me tons of stress and I think it made it more enjoyable for everyone around me.

4. Laugh and learn about what you disagree about.
Speaking of laughing, this was something that I’m pretty sure Matt and I will be learning for the rest of our lives. During engagement, EVERTHING and I repeat EVERYTHING comes to the surface that you disagree about. For example, we were registering at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and picked out everything from towels and dishes to spatulas and plungers. We were just getting started and decided to go look at something really simple to knock off our list: trash cans. I wanted to register for the really nice, Simplehuman stainless steel trash can that closed slowly and had an automatic sensor. It was like the Queen Elisabeth of trash cans. Matt, however, wanted to register for a more simple, plastic, $15 trash can that he said could fit right under the kitchen sink and would be way more practical. WE ARGUED OVER TRASH CANS FOR LIKE 25 MINUTES. No lie. We laugh so hard at this story now because it was so silly of us to disagree that bad over something like trash cans. We are continuously learning how to meet in the middle when we disagree about things. We’ve had to learn to be good listeners and hear out what the other person is saying before we jump to why our way best. I believe disagreements are why God gave us two ears and one mouth!!

P.S. Neither of us got the trash can we wanted. #handmedown #newlywedbudget

5. Be in constant prayer…the enemy hates marriage!
It is insane to me that during dating, the enemy likes to try to get us to act like we are married before we are married, but then when we are actually married, the enemy tries to break apart that sacred bond! Satan will try to twist and turn what marriage should really look like and try to place thoughts in our minds to keep marriage as far away from how the Bible describes how a marriage should look. STAY IN CONSTANT PRAYER. Look to God’s Word for direction. Even if you aren’t dating anyone, pray for your future husband and write him notes. Then, watch God blow your expectations.

6. Once you have a ring on your finger, it is so much harder to stay pure!
Seriously though. Talk about boundaries with your fiancé. Then keep those boundaries.  It is sooooooo worth it if you wait until your wedding night for sex. If you aren’t even dating anyone yet, go ahead and pray that you will meet a man who will find purity a priority just as much as you do.

7. Honesty is KEY.
Don’t hold things in. If you want pink flowers at your wedding, but your husband really wants red (let’s be real…most guys don’t care) just talk to him about it! Just like in #4 above, use two ears and one mouth. Hear him out and work towards an agreement. Arguing solves nothing, but love solves everything. Use your love for one another to talk to each other with respect and grace and just be honest! If you are in a serious relationship, be honest with your guy. Talk about your faith, your opinions, your taste in food, and just everything! Most guys LOVE when a woman knows what she wants. Lastly, be honest with yourself. If there are ANY red flags in your dating or engaged relationship, it is much easier to break things off at that point rather than wait until you are married. God hates divorce and wants a marriage to be a reflection of Christ and the church. Honesty is mandatory for any great relationship!

8. A husband doesn’t fix your problems.
There is a false preconception that once you are married, all your problems will either go away or won’t be as bad. NOPE! Doesn’t happen. In fact, you have to learn how to balance your own problems with your husbands problems. However, the amazing thing is that you get to work together with your husband as a team to create peace in your home and have someone to live with through life’s ups and downs. Marriage is amazing, but it doesn’t make preexisting problems go away.

9. Marriage counseling isn’t cheesy…it is vital for the engagement season.
We LOVED marriage counseling. If you are engaged: GO THROUGH MARRIAGE COUNCELING. Seek guidance. If your fiancé doesn’t want to, then maybe that’s a sign he doesn’t want to talk about certain things that make him uncomfortable. My advice: talk about everything under the sun before you get married. There will still be so many new things to learn once you are married, but talk about expectations, fears, past relationships, previous sexual encounters, family dynamics, dreams, finances, and the list goes on and on and on. My advice is to find a Christian counselor who is going to deeply challenge the two of you in becoming one. I would also highly recommend the book “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married” by Gary Chapman. Matt and I LOVED this book during our engagement season.

10. God is always first.
There isn’t one guy on this planet who can fulfill all our needs like God can! Let that sink in. Whether we are single, engaged, or married, this applies to all of us. We are all human and we will always fail each other. Once we accept this fact and rely on God alone, our marriage and relationships will be filled with immense joy!!

Other tips for a wedding day:

  • Don’t leave for the honeymoon the day after your wedding! Trust me. We left two days after and were SO thankful.
  • Plan down time on your wedding day so you can chill out.
  • Write letters to each other. I used to think this was cheesy, but I’m so happy we have them because I know we’ll cherish them forever.
  • Plan out time to eat dinner! We did this right after our ceremony before the reception while the staff was flipping the room. Most brides and grooms forget this!
  • Wear comfy, but stylish shoes. Get fancy pair for pictures, but then really comfy ones for the reception!
  • You can save a lot of money on a veil on eBay. Mine was $9.
  • Borrow decor from friends! I saved a ton of money by borrowing one of my bridesmaid’s decorations from her wedding a year prior and they were beautiful!
  • If something seems stressful, just leave it out. You probably won’t remember if you had hand-made tulle flowers or chalk board signs but you’ll remember that you danced with your grandpa on the dance floor!
  • Having the ceremony and reception in the same place makes your life a million times easier.

Hope this was a fun read and inspired some of you ladies out there!!! If you liked this post, share it on FaceBook and Twitter! Love you guys, and remember…let’s live from the inside out!