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Money | A Hot Issue


We have an entire wedding budget area to talk about the complexity of money. No matter what your money views, there is no "right or wrong." This very simple award-winning game is worth the emotional awareness you'll gain. A few big "a-ha" moments may greatly help in wedding planning. Learn more

We're Going to Be One Happy Family...Or Else!


A very unique book written by a nationally respected marriage and family therapist who has worked with couples and families for over 30 years. Learn why a mother bought 25 copies for EVERYONE in her family to get everyone on the same page during the most intense, public, family event. Learn more

Wedding Discounts for Marriage Prep


Engaged couples are by their nature extremely happy. But as you know, after the honeymoon, marriage is hard work. We offer many options for marriage prep at many price-points(and wedding discounts from vendors who want to help!) Encourage your adult child to visit our website.Learn more


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The Hour of Engagement Bliss


You’ve dreamed of this day.  You’ve finally met your prince and are ready to tie the knot.  Before the engagement becomes official you start to notice things more.  Wedding magazines are everywhere.  Engagement rings on the fingers of everyone from the cashier at the grocery store to the display rings at the local jeweler scream out to you, “Soon I could be yours.”  Everyone you know is engaged, just married or getting serious with a potential mate.  Marriage is in the air and weddings are on your brain.

Then it happens.

He pops the question.

OH MY GOD—you are ENGAGED!  It’s real and your hands are shaking to prove it.  You have the ring.  Your heart is soaring, your mind is on overdrive and you’ve never felt more alive.  It is official.  You are on the path to becoming a married woman.

Depending on where the proposal happens, it could be an hour or the next day when you start to share the exciting news.  Once the “I can’t believe we’re engaged!” emotion wears off a tiny bit, you look at each other and try to figure out who to tell, and in what order—first, second, third, and so on.

With this sharing, the “Hour of Bliss” comes to an end.  Sharing the news means you’re now inviting others into what was a private dating relationship.  Sharing means you’ve just made in-laws out of your parents and siblings.  The roller coaster ride of getting married now commences.

Nobody really prepares you for this part of the proposal, but here is where the first test of your marriage begins.  We believe that the moment you get engaged, your marriage starts. 


You now have a monumental tasks ahead of you, should you chose to accept it: bringing together the main people in your life based on your values around marriage, family, friendships, and community, to a wedding day that you will spend roughly a year planning.  You will make hundreds, perhaps thousands, of decisions to create the day when you cross the legal threshold from single to married.


It’s no longer about you and your boyfriend hanging out and having fun.  The hour of blissful engagement has ended and the real tasks of married life begin as you navigate who you are, what you want, who are your supporting cast members, and how you can work as a team to accomplish one of the most, if not THE most interpersonally complex events of your life.




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Elizabeth Doherty Thomas, is a co-founder of The First Dance, along with Marriage and Family therapist father Bill Doherty. The First Dance is a 2007 Modern Bride Trendsetter award winner for taking on the complex family dynamics of wedding planning. See what engaged couples and wedding professionals are saying about our book Take Back Your wedding. Our entire website is dedicated to offering advice on working through the people stresses of wedding planning as a couple, with your families, and how to strengthen your upcoming marriage through this enormous first task of married life.