Relationship relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr gives top tips for making it a success.
Everyone's thrilled that Wills and Kate committed are to each other. The engagement phase is an exciting time for any couple who have shown the rest of their world that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. But the phase can be a minefield plagued by many hurdles, some of which are unexpected.
So here are my 'eight essential rules of engagement' for ensuring a happy ending.
Rule No 1: first and foremost
Agree right now that your engagement phase is about setting the groundwork for your wedding day and beyond. Start as you mean to go on by listening to each other's ideas, discussing amicably differences, and most importantly never losing sight that this is about a celebration of your love and commitment. Something many couples forget when the planning starts!
Rule No 2: the big conversation
This should be the happiest time of your life but many couples develop a power struggle over their wedding plans. Sit down now for a good long chat about forthcoming plans. Definitely keep it chilled out and relaxed. You can make this big conversation into a full-scale sounding out of each other's expectations but in a loving way.
Rule No 3: reality check
Now you've got an idea of what the other expects from the engagement party if you're planning one, and the run-up to the big day. It's time for some honesty you need to find out how far you two are apart from each other. Is she dreaming of an OTT fairytale wedding while he wants something low-key? Does he want to wear a loud, trendy suit while she wants him in a fully-fledged dinner-jacket affair? All these things can be negotiated calmly!
Rule No 4: look for the middle ground
Down to business, can you two find a middle ground between your two sets of perhaps vastly different ideas and expectations? For instance, could he wear a trendy rather than a classic dinner jacket? Or could the day find some middle ground between a big white, fantasy wedding and a pub knees up? Work out where you can try to meet half way.
Rule No 5: time for the trade-offs
OK, so far so good, except you simply can't find middle ground on some of your expectations. Get out your bargaining skills as it's time to make trade-offs. There are always trade-offs that can be made, for instance they might agree to let her have the outfits she wants but let him have final say on the venue, etc.
Rule No 6: beware of interference
It might be your day but only a foolish couple would assume no one wants to interfere. From your parents to your maid of honour, to the best man, plus random assorted people, everyone will have an opinion. How to handle it? Agree on a basic tact to take with these busybodies you could both take a basic tack like, "that's an interesting suggestion, I'll take that on board," while trying to stop yourself rolling your eyes skywards.
Rule No 7: out of control plans
Give each other permission that if either of you feel the plans are swamping you, that you should feel comfortable being honest about it. This is after all an important phase in learning how to deepen communication and the way you relate to each other. Don't let that slip through your fingertips.
Rule No 8: take a breather
Don't forget that the rest of your life should be moving forward too. It's crucial to your relationship 'health' that every conversation doesn't revolve around the wedding plans. Nurturing the rest of your lives is key to keeping balance. Learn to recognise when you both need to take a breather from talking about engagements, weddings, gifts and more.
Good luck and happy engagement phase this is the beginning of the rest of your lives together.
For more advice visit www.drpam.co.uk.