Signs of Good & Bad Couples

As a wedding planner Robyn Bruns of Red Letter Event Planning  helps create the perfect day for Chicago couples. In doing so, she learns a quite a bit about the bride, the groom,  and their tastes in flowers, venues and entrees. Sometimes, however, she learns things about couples and their future marriage that perhaps they do not even know (or admit) themselves.

Here is a bit of her story.

What, to you, do good couples look like?

One of my favorite couples had this easy rapport with each other, where it wasn’t, one of them doing all the talking and the other one just sitting there; or one of them continually saying, No, that’s not what we want, or, No, that’s wrong, or What are you talking about? They were always at ease with each other. They were always happy to be around each other. They were very excited about everything about the wedding. They wanted to pursue extra pre-marital counseling. They did a compatibility profile. I don’t think that it was that they were having any problems in their relationship. I think they just wanted to make sure that, that base was there, for the future.

And the bad couples? What do they look like?

I would say my worst couple — and really the one that I should have walked away from, because they weren’t even healthy for me to be around — they actually ended up calling the wedding off, twice, and then still ended up getting married.

Oh, boy.

And they weren’t at ease with each other. They were constantly bickering. There were times when I just got the feeling they just wanted it all over with: Let’s just get this all over with. Then we’ll be married, and we can be miserable married, just like we’re miserable now.

What is the thought behind that? I’m miserable, you’re miserable, we’re miserable, everyone around us is miserable. I know what we’ll do. Let’s get married.

I really don’t know. Is this my last chance? Some women do feel that way, still, that I need to be married to be an accepted member of society. People will think it’s odd that I’m not married.

What do you see as the difference between couples who are having a wedding to be married and those who are having a wedding simply to have a big party?

It is not always the case, obviously — but a lot of the time, I feel when the groom isn’t involved in the planning it is about the party. If I might meet the groom twice in that year — I always get the feeling that they’re not really interested in the wedding. So when I do meet them, I’m always interested in seeing who they are. More often than not, I just don’t see how these two people are matched.

Is it an opposites attract kind of thing?

My client base is a little bit older. Sometimes I feel, maybe they think, This might be my last chance. I really do get that feeling, sometimes, unfortunately.


That baffles me. Last chance for what?


I think some of them think, This is the last chance for me to get married and have kids. I really do.


I have a specific client in mind. She was a very independent. I didn’t meet her groom until, about, six months into planning the wedding. He was a guy she knew from high school. She met him again at a bar, and six months later, they were engaged. I think she thought, I should be married. This is my chance. That wedding was kind of a disaster. They weren’t speaking by the end of the reception.

What happened?

He was late to the ceremony. He got very intoxicated after the ceremony. He dirty-danced with some bridesmaid on the dance floor. She spent a majority of the time, I would say, either very upset with him or crying in the brides room.

How much do you think wedding planning causes further problems in the actual marriage?

I think sometimes weddings can bring to the forefront issues people either weren’t dealing with, or were ignoring.

You take these people, couples that are traditionally normal, families that are traditionally normal, you put a wedding in the mix and it brings out the cuckoos.

I don’t think there’s actually any traditional, normal. I think this is a time are a time where there are a lot of stresses; there is a lot of family involvement, more so than anything, really.

What do you think it is about people who fixate on the napkins, or the matchbooks, or the first songs? I mean, is it really about the napkins, the matchbooks, and the first songs; or is it about something else?

A lot of the time, I think it’s more that they’re trying to please somebody else. This is what you’re supposed to do. Maybe it is a little upmanship. I hear, My friend had XYZ at their wedding, and I want to do ABC, but I want it with a twist.

How does wedding planning look different if it is a second marriage?

I find in second weddings, there’s a lot more emphasis on, This is our marriage, and what does it mean, and who are we as a couple?

Where do most couples put the most and least emphasis?

I don’t know how many people really sit down and read every reading [the church provides them to select from], and try to figure out, “What does it say about us as a couple,” whereas, people who are planning their reception, will sit down and be like, Now what exactly is in this appetizer, and can we have a tasting, so we can see what it tastes like?

Why do you think that is?

I think because that’s where the marketplace has put the emphasis. There are a lot of people who will say to me, I want to make sure I have XY and Z that’s in this magazine. Well, there aren’t a lot of pictures of ceremonies in magazines.

I hadn’t thought about that.

There’s something in an Indian ceremony where they walk around a fire, seven times. It is called the seven promises or something like that. Anybody could have that in their ceremony. But no one’s going out and researching it. But if somebody wants a martini luge at their reception, wow, you can research that.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about marriage?

That it will make your relationship better or solve a problem in your relationship.

Is there anything you feel that I haven’t asked you, that’s important to share about the wedding planning process, or your role in it, or marriage?

I would just say for people who are planning a wedding, it would be my hope that they don’t get caught up in all the details. That they work on their relationship during that year, year-and-a-half, as well, because you’re going to work on your relationship the rest of your life. You don’t put it on hold to plan your wedding.


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