With the news that Britney Spears is set to tie the knot again, Claire Musters gives advice to those heading down the aisle this year
When Britney Spears’ Instagram account suddenly became unavailable, fans were worried it had been deactivated. She reassured them that she had deleted it herself, wanting a social media break to celebrate her engagement.
It’s at those milestone moments in life that we can be tempted to ensure we are ‘Instagram-ready’, snapping away the highlights of our celebrations rather than being fully in the moment. So it was refreshing to read about her decision to switch off from social media in order to focus on celebrating in-person.
That got me thinking about some other top tips I would give to those recently engaged:
1. Keep communicating
There is always so much to do to organise a wedding that it can too easily end up with your only conversations being about table plans or what colour flowers you are going to have. Take time out to simply ask how your partner’s day was and tell them what your highs and lows were too. And, most vital of all, pray together.
2. Keep the main thing the main thing
There can be real pressure to make your wedding the biggest and best. However, as the Marriage Foundation and National Marriage Week pointed out during lockdown, it is important to think about what you really value most, and to plan your wedding accordingly. For my sister and her fiancé, being able to invite a larger group of people was important enough that their wedding was postponed three times due to the pandemic. For Woman Alive’s acting editor, Jemimah Wright, who is getting married next month, keeping things simple has been her approach: “I knew I didn’t want to spend thousands on a wedding dress…I was so happy to find a lovely dress in a charity shop. We got a local dressmaker to alter it a bit and it now fits me like a glove. I prayed about the dress, and I feel like God kept this one for me – it only cost £95!”
3. Work on the things you don’t want to take into your marriage
Hopefully you will have talked about expectations. If there is anything you feel the Holy Spirit is nudging you to work on as a result, take the time to repent and ask for help to turn it around before the wedding day. There may be wounds from past relationships too that could affect your marriage in an unhealthy way. If you recognise this is the case, speak to someone you trust for prayer, counselling, accountability etc.
4. Don’t stop investing once the wedding day is over
Once the excitement of the celebrations die down, it can be all too easy to become complacent about your relationship as you each get caught up in the busyness of everyday life. If you don’t continue to prioritise one another it is easy to feel uncherished. Keep (or start) the date night tradition of setting aside a night a week just for you to enjoy one another’s company and make use of all the great resources there are out there to help you keep your marriage a top priority (such as the Marriage Course, the Marriage Foundation). My husband Steve and I have also recently written a book, Grace-Filled Marriage, in which we share our struggles but also what we have learned in almost 30 years of marriage.
5. Be open to others speaking into your relationship
If you can, find those who have been married a little longer than you who can offer you support. Jonathan and Judith Le Tocq explain: “We asked a couple who were around a decade ahead of us to ‘speak into our lives’ as we started out. They gave us permission to ask them questions and we gave them permission to challenge us to check we were working out our own solutions. This has proven invaluable.” It is a good idea to try and find peer couples that you feel able to mutually support too. That is the idea behind the videos Steve and I created for the Big Church Read – giving some content to watch, but also questions to discuss with other couples.
Above all, take time to really celebrate one another, and your relationship!