Since getting engaged, I've spent a bit of time on a wedding chat forum, picking up a few ideas and reading about other people's wedding plans. It's amazing to read about the sort of problems people are having as they make their plans:
"Both sets of parents are divorced and remarried, and all four sets are contributing to the cost of the wedding. How do we phrase the invitation?"
"I haven't spoken to my father for several years and now he wants to come to my wedding. How do I tell him I've asked my stepfather to walk me down the aisle?"
"We don't want children at the wedding - except for our own. How do we tell people without causing offence?"
It makes me realise how lucky New Man and I are. We're both Catholic, both getting married for the first time, both believe that marriage is for life, both have parents who have been married to each other for over 40 years, both get on well with all our families, and both have some fantastic friends who are delighted to share our excitement at planning a wedding and a life together.
I know there will be some hiccups along the way - in fact, there already have been a couple of misunderstandings involving other members of the family (all now resolved). With two Irish Catholic extended families to contend with and the need to book a venue for the reception as soon as possible, we're having a bit of a headache over the guest list.
But whatever problems we have in planning the wedding, and however fed up we might get with the wedding plans, two things stand out in our minds.
The first is that both of us recognise the nuptial Mass as the most important part of the day. Some of our friends will be invited to the Mass and not the reception, and we look forward to declaring our love and commitment to each other and making our solemn vows in front of God, with all the people we're closest to as witnesses.
Secondly, we know that all the detail we're worrying about is just that - the detail of a single day. And how can any couple get upset at having too many people in their lives who love them and would like to share their special day?
There may be times when we get fed up with juggling our guest list to try to keep people happy, or delicately explaining to offended mothers of small girls that there's a limit to the number of bridesmaids any one bride can have.* But hopefully we'll never forget to look forward with joyful anticipation to the years of marriage that (God willing) will follow that one day.
*Note for US readers - here in the UK, it's traditional to have small children as bridesmaids, often with only one adult as maid of honour (if she's unmarried) or matron of honour (if she's married). Apart from my matron of honour, all my bridesmaids will be aged 8 or under.