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How to get through wedding planning without killing your family and your fiancé

As someone who’s getting married in six months, you’d think I’d be filled with joy and excitement at the thought of the “best day of my life” rapidly approaching. Yeah, maybe that’s what I’d say if I were auditioning to be on Say Yes to the Dress. However, in real life, I’m constantly filled with anxiety, tension, fear and frustration surrounding my impending nuptials, and I know I’m not the only one. Wedding planning is testing all of my most precious relationships, perhaps even more so than my impending marriage will.

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Everything started out fine — we had pleasant family dinners where we’d discuss logistics. We began looking for locations in one of my favorite places — Cape Cod. I started to think, “Wow, I have no idea why everyone gets so bent out of shape during wedding planning. This is a breeze!” That was the moment I jinxed myself.

When we decided on a place, suddenly the number of guests became a serious issue. My family is on the smaller side, so we thought it wouldn’t be a problem to keep the guest list at 150 or under. However, once my fiancé’s family came into the mix, it was a whole different ballgame. He has three times as many relatives who all needed an invite, according to his mother, which leads me to the other big issue. He and his family are all extroverts, and me and mine are all introverts.

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So how do you make it through a year of intense planning with people who have a vastly different way of thinking without it all ending in a grisly murder? Honestly, I don’t know — I’ll tell you when I reach the finish line, aka the aisle. However, I can give you some pointers that have helped diffuse several potentially explosive situations.

1. Remember why you’re marrying who you’re marrying

This sounds pretty simple, I know, but you’d be surprised how easily it slips away in arguments over linen or cotton napkins for the table settings. We’ve found it’s helpful to step away from the conversation about relatively unimportant wedding accessories to remind each other why we’re going through this — so that we can celebrate our future life together. If you get to a point where you can’t remember why that’s important, it might be time to have a serious conversation about your relationship.

2. Count to 10 when you feel things getting heated

One of my biggest personal issues (that I’m working on, I swear) is when tensions get high, I tend to snap defensively without thinking. This of course can easily turn a simple discussion about signature cocktails into a full-blown argument complete with crying and screaming. One thing that has really helped me expel all that unnecessary hot air is just taking 10 seconds of breathing in and out evenly. My fiancé knows this is what I do when I feel my top about to blow, so he backs off until I look ready to return to the conversation.

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3. Designate days when you can talk about the wedding and when you can’t

Recently, wedding talk has seeped into our conversations at least once a day, which has not been so great for our relationship. Tensions are incredibly high right now (due to the guest number discrepancy I mentioned earlier), but it really helps to table all things wedding at least every other day so you can have some breathing room as a couple. Remember, at the end of it all, it is just one day you’re planning for here.

4. Don’t become the designated middle man between your respective parents

This is something that’s gotten us in a lot of hot water. When you’re the go between (aka the one relaying information between your parents and your spouse-to-be), you end up playing a dangerous game of telephone during which things always get misconstrued. Those little hiccups can turn into giant mountains if they’re not talked through, and then people start to secretly resent members of the other’s family. Do yourself, and everyone else, a favor — schedule monthly check-ins with all the important players, so that everyone can get on the same page.

Wedding planning is hard, but it doesn’t have to be so hard that it makes you want to bitch slap all the parties involved. Constant communication is key, and remember, at the end of the day, it is just a big party, not the rest of your life.

More: The secret to happy marriage, told by couples married a combined 609 years

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