The Most Important (And Most Overlooked) Item Missing From Your Wedding Planning Checklist

by Jan 9, 2019

How Could Wedding Industry Giants Like The Knot and Wedding Wire Overlook This Crucial Part of Getting Married?

What are some of the first things that you think of when creating your Wedding Planning Checklist?

  • Budget
  • Guest List
  • Venue
  • Photographer
  • DJ or Live Band

Your Wedding Planning Checklist is usually structured with what you need to get accomplished by a certain timeline. Of the top 3 most popular wedding planning sites I visited, only included this item as a must have for your to-do list. At 5 months out, right underneath of buying or renting the groom’s tuxedo is, drum roll please … Begin Premarital Counseling. To be fair, The Knot and Wedding Wire both have pages devoted to this topic, it just didn’t make their wedding planning checklists.

What is the Main Purpose of Beginning Premarital Counseling?

Often times committed couples who have decided to get married discuss the implications of this union in the family life cycle. The premarital counselor talks with the couple about whether or not they are going to have kids together (or if there are already kids in the picture, how to effectively blend their families), how to navigate boundaries with in-laws, how to manage money as a family rather than as two individuals, and many more topics. has a list of the 7 Questions Premarital Counselors Always Ask, but they actually missed 3 important questions on their list!

Why is premarital counseling important?

Meeting with a premarital counselor provides the couple with extra (non-family related) support through this hectic time of wedding stressors. And more importantly, premarital counselors provide a neutral space for the couple to learn the skills required to build a strong foundation for the rest of their lives together. Even couples who have great communication and conflict resolution skills still benefit from exploring important areas in married life that many married couples struggle with.

How does premarital counseling work?

Think of what a home inspector does before a family decides to buy a new home. They go through and make sure the most important parts of the home are safe, sound, and secure. On your first session, your counselor will go over a 10-point assessment on the major topics that couples should explore based on the most well researched premarital and marriage assessment in the world, PREPARE-ENRICH.

Who goes to premarital counseling?

Committed couples who value the strength of their lifelong relationship, and who have the time and resources to dedicate to the endeavor usually find themselves in the office of a premarital counselor. Your wedding planning checklist is focused on the big day, but couples who bring their relationship to premarital counseling benefit in big ways beyond the day they get hitched.

Where do I find a premarital counselor?

You trust the Mayo Clinic right? I expect nothing less from such a well trusted authority to accurately identify LMFTs (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists) as the most qualified and appropriately trained professionals to help facilitate premarital counseling sessions. A quick google search with the term “premarital counseling” followed by “your city” will be a great start to finding a qualified counselor. Next you’ll want to locate those professionals who are credentialed by the AAMFT.

When is the right time to take your relationship to premarital counseling?

The short answer is, as soon as you can; However, the “right time” for one couple may be a sub-optimal time for another. Be thoughtful and skeptical with what you read on the web (including the content this article). These sessions will take time, energy, and money, which can often discourage many couples from taking that first crucial step, scheduling a phone consult.

Planning a wedding involves a lot of coordination and can often be stressful. Developing your communication and conflict resolution skills are so important in helping you two journey through this exciting yet challenging time in your lives. Getting married without properly addressing important relationship issues ahead of time can be quite costly, and I don’t just mean in the financial sense. As with so many other moments in your life, it’s worth asking yourself the question, “What’s the cost of taking action? What’s the cost of not taking action?” 

Robin S. Smith

Robin S. Smith

Robin S. Smith, MS, LCMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in clinical practice in Bethesda MD. As an MFT, he specializes in relationship issues for couples, families, and individuals, for improved quality of life. His areas of expertise include: transition to parenthood for new and expecting parents, infidelity, sex and intimacy issues, premarital counseling, and trauma. Robin has given talks to various groups including hospital administrators, graduate students, fellow psychotherapists, and child birth educators. He is the primary contributor to The Couple and Family Clinic Blog.

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