5 Tips for Maintaining Sanity During Pre-Wedding Preparations
So you’ve met someone you think can lead you in this life (and don’t mind him driving you up the wall all the time), your parents approve of him, his parents like you and soon enough, the two of you are engaged! Alhamdulillah!
You dream about your pending halal fairytale. You plan your sunnah-fied wedding to wear long robes à la ideal Arabs, invite the poor and needy, and spend the least amount of money on it since you want to carry out the hadith that states, “The most blessed nikah is the one where the least expenses are incurred.” You fantasize about praying tahajjud with your future spouse, great relations with your in-laws, your parents supporting you in all your decisions etc.
And then the drama starts. Here are 5 truths you should be cognizant of so that you won’t be caught off-guard. Sorry to spoil your plans but…
You might not be able to wear the long robe or jubah for your wedding.
If you come from a Malay family, rest assured one of your outfits have to be a songket. The Indian or Pakistani families will choose an outrageously bright, fully-beaded and bejewelled 2kg lengga for you. Your parents (or his) (or actually your aunties or his) will insist on it and if you don’t agree to it, be prepared for some tears from either party.
Your friends will make up one-twelfth (or less) of the guest list and you might not get to invite the poor & needy after all.
If you are the first in your family to be married, your parents must tell their next-door kampong neighbour that they haven’t seen or spoken to in 14 years. Family friends, long-distance relatives and acquaintances that you have never met, or your parents have never talked about will feature on the wedding guest list. If you intend to add one more name to your list of friends, you are required to back it up with evidence that your friendship with them is important. And oh, its subject to your parents’ approval.
Your wonderful spouse-to-be turns out to be human.
If he previously makes istighfar when he sees someone getting angry and out of hand, he will now not hesitate to raise his voice at your suggestion of having pale orange and pearl-white as the colour scheme for the wedding. If he previously encourages you to make istikharah when in doubt, don’t even think of suggesting that to him if he intends for the nikah venue to be elsewhere than what you had in mind.
Your mother will behave in a manner that makes you wonder if she actually hates you.
You’ve had quite a close relationship with your mother and things have always been easy-going. But suddenly, she will start finding fault over the littlest things. If you come home late for dinner, she will accuse you of not loving her anymore. If you wake up at 9am on a Sunday, she will say that you are out to embarrass her when you move in with your in-laws. It will not be uncommon to have cold wars, teary disputes and a lot of “What did I do?!”.
Everyone will have an opinion on everything and yours does not matter.
It could be the colour scheme, the amount you should spend, your honeymoon destination, your complexion, your weight, your fiancé’s weight, your ring, your gifts etc. Whatever you can think of, be prepared to hear plenty of voluntary comments. If your wedding is a year from the engagement, the halal police will say its too long and that you might just fall into zina. Smile. If your wedding is 3 months from the engagement, some nosy elder women will speculate if you are pregnant, or wonder aloud (very loudly sometimes) “What’s the rush?”. Your dowry or hantaran will be too little or too much by an equal number of protesters from either side. Smile.
If none of the above applies to you, go & pray 2 prayers of salat as-shukr (the Prayer of Thankfulness) NOW because you are amongst the rare, lucky breed. But if you, like me and many other brides-to-be, face any combination of the above situations, please take a deep breath and read on.
It is a big day for your parents as much as it is for you.While you may want the wedding to be exactly as you have dreamed it to be, you have to understand that your parents have had fantasized about the day they will marry their daughters off too. You may hate the colour of the songket, or grumble at the ridiculous weight of the lengga, but just do it. It’s just a dress. It is not a worthy battle to have with your parents. They have lots of other things to worry about such as the catering of the food, the invitations etc, so let them see you in the dress they chose. (You can get the photographers to dispose of all pictures of you in that dress later on.)
Repeat endlessly: “It’s only one day” (or two, or three.)
There will come a time when you may consider calling off the wedding altogether because of all the hogwash! Ignore the unnecessary comments. People may not agree to certain things you have decided & they may say lots of hurtful things without realising it. Know that deciding to get married was a decision you made to fulfil a sunnah of the Prophet SAW, a means to get closer to Allah and insyaAllah the cause for you to attain jannah. And that decision was for a life-long commitment, not a one-day affair. When things get too tough, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Remind yourself why you are getting married, remind yourself that the journey is a long and arduous one. So don’t fret the small things!
Your mother does not hate you.
She never will. In fact, her sudden turn in behaviour is a defence mechanism she has adopted because she loves you too much. You may be excited to be someone else’s spouse, while she laments the remaining time she has with her little daughter. You plan your new home and the furniture you will purchase, while she stays up and watches you sleep, knowing that soon, you will be moving out and sleeping elsewhere from her. Letting go is never easy. Do not get caught up with the whole excitement of getting married and moving out and not pay attention to your parents’ feelings. In this region especially, marrying your child off is an emotional affair, more so if she’s a girl. Make sure the days towards your wedding is filled with happy memories between you & your parents, not petty quarrels about dresses.
Prepare yourself for what is to come.
Do not build castles in the air. Don’t let popular shows and movies such as “Ayat-ayat Cinta” sway you into thinking that Fahri is the ideal husband type. Your fiancé may never live up to that expectations and he shouldn’t be pressured anyway. While we have the sunnah of the Prophet SAW and narrations about his relationship with his wives, we should remind ourselves that we did not marry the Prophet! We married a fellow struggler on the path. He married you thinking you will be his support and companion. Do not burden him with impossible expectations. It is enough to know and trust that both of you want to be better Muslims so help each other in that regard.
While you prepare for the big day by going for facials, body scrubs and what-have-you’s, do not neglect the spiritual and human aspect. Being a wife is a major responsibility. In these days of freedom and complete liberty, we may have grown up not having to ever answer to anyone but ourselves. But soon, you will be divinely required to obey your husband. (And we do not mean this in the Obedient Wives’ Club sense!) We mean that they have a right over us and we need to give them the respect that is due.
Attend classes, listen to lectures and try to know as much about your new role and the responsibilities that come with it. More than that, learn communication skills and the different way men & women interact. Talk to older women whom you are comfortable with and who seem to be doing a good job at being a wife. Find out what are their secrets to a happy marriage. Strive to improve yourself and take a mental note of all the things about you that might pose a problem in the future, and find a solution for it.
The difficulties are necessary.
Living with yourself can already be a challenge sometimes, what with our temperaments, nafs, anger, stubbornness etc. Now try dealing with someone else’s, and his parents and siblings! Marriage life comes with its mawaddah (love), rahmah (mercy) and sakinah (peace) but you have to make yourself eligible for it. The days amounting to your wedding day are meant to break you, put you back together and strengthen you. And it is completely necessary that you grasp the realities of marriage life and all it comes with sooner rather than later.
May Allah make smooth our journeys towards marriage, preserve us from sin, and let the whole wedding & marriage process be as fuss-free as possible, with no casualties!
Ameera is the Editor of Muzlimbuzz.sg, and has gone through most of the above in varying extremes. She has now mastered the art of smiling (while ignoring) unnecessary comments made by people who shouldn’t opine.