Wedding photographers, of all the people that spend a lot of time interacting with couples leading up to and on their wedding day, can have a unique perspective on the relationship dynamic between the soon-to-be (or newly) married couple. They speak to them before the wedding to get to know a little bit more about the couple and what they're interested in, can spend time with them shooting engagement photos, and, of course, spend a ton of time with them on the day of the wedding, so they see a lot. These red flags your marriage won't last, according to wedding photographers, do not, of course, mean that your marriage is doomed to fail — you and your partner are likely the only ones who really knows the state of your relationship — they're just things that some wedding photographers have picked up on over the course of their careers.
"Wedding planning can be a very stressful time for any couple, regardless of how stable their relationship is," Keith Phillips, of Classic Photographers, tells Romper by email. "It should be taken into consideration that it’s not uncommon to combine this milestone with another, such as buying a house. Stress levels are higher than usual and very few get out of planning without a disagreement or two."
Not only that, but there are only so many conclusions that you can draw just by observing the way they interact a couple of times, so though some of these red flags might seem like dead giveaways, others are far more subtle and don't necessarily mean anything at all, at the end of the day.
"As much as red flags can be obvious from the outside looking in, I have definitely had couples who seemed rock solid, yet ended in divorce only a few short years later," Elle Baez, a wedding photographer and owner of Captured By Elle, tells Romper in an email exchange. "While I've also seen couples who literally walked down the aisle mad at each other from an earlier fight who are still married several years later. It is never my place to judge whether the marriage will last or not because at the end of the day you never really know the inner workings of a couple's relationship."
But, honestly, whether these red flags could potentially be a sign that your relationship ultimately won't work out or not, they're probably still worth thinking a little bit about.
1. You Don't Seem Super Respectful Of Each Other On Your Wedding Day
Weddings are stressful and can be for just about everyone involved, and sometimes that stress can get the best of you, but if you're not able to treat your partner with kindness on your wedding day, that's probably not a super-great sign. "[O]ver my 12 years of doing weddings, I feel like the one thing I can boil it down to on the day of is just how they respect each other," Clane Gessel, a wedding photographer and owner of Clane Gessel International Wedding Studio, tells me. "I feel like on the actual wedding day, more so than on any other day, their true character can come out because of all of the stress and the pressure and all the things going on."
2. You Don't Respond Well To Conflict While Planning & Organizing
"It’s less about if a couple argues during a planning meeting, and more about how the couple voices their opinions when a conflict arises," Phillips says. "Certain body language and negative behavior during on-site visits can be red flags and a potential indication of the relationship dynamic."
Tensions can run high during the wedding planning process and you might not always agree on absolutely everything. That being said, the way you respond could be telling.
3. The Mother Of A Bride (Or Groom) Is The One In Charge
Many couples include family and close friends in the wedding planning process, so it's not unexpected that your mom might be along for the ride or interacting with vendors at some point. But if she seems to be the one in charge and making decisions, with her opinion more important than yours or your partner's, that can be a sign that something could be amiss.
"It’s OK if a mom is doing a little research to help a busy engaged couple, however, if the mom is running the show then the wedding is about Mom and not about the couple," Heather McKay, a wedding photographer and owner of McKay's Photography, tells Romper in an email exchange. You want your wedding to be about your relationship.
4. You Make Unilateral Decisions
"Some potential red flags that I have seen from time to time are couples that are not communicating well during the planning process," Baez says. "For example, when the bride is making big decisions about the wedding without consulting her fiancé I'm usually cringing a little inside."
Yes, there could be a lot more to the story that isn't apparent to observers, but if one partner is unilaterally making major wedding-related decisions instead of working to make them with their partner, that might not be a great sign.
5. You Can't Compromise While Planning
"It’s also interesting to see how (and if!) a couple compromises," Phillips says. "That in itself can be very telling of how they solve arguments in general, and how respectful they are of one another’s opinions." Marriages, and relationships of all kinds, require compromise, so if you're unwilling to compromise during the wedding planning process, it could be a sign that there might be issues with compromises in the future as well.
6. You Spend The Entire Reception With Your Friends
Part of the fun of weddings is to spend the time celebrating with your family and friends, but you shouldn't be spending so much time with them at the reception that you hardly see your new spouse.
"A couple who is solid will usually be spending the reception together as they greet guests and dance all night," McKay says. "When one of them is too busy hanging out with their friends all night, that’s a red flag."
7. One Of You Doesn't Care About The Plans Or Doesn't Want To Be Involved
You might not both feel passionate about every little detail that's involved in planning a wedding and that's OK, but if one of you isn't interested in being involved in the planning process at all, that could be a red flag. "If the partner isn’t interested in the planning or the event itself it could be a sign that they won’t be invested in the marriage either," Lisa Mark and Rebecca Lozer, wedding photographers and co-hosts of The Secret Life of Weddings Podcast, tell Romper by email. "This isn’t always mutually-exclusive but can be a warning sign."
8. You're Way Over-Spending
You might not think that how much you spend on your wedding has any implications for the future of your relationship, but spending beyond your budget might actually be a potential warning. "Social media has put tremendous pressure on brides to plan a perfect wedding," Jimmy Chan, wedding photographer at Pixelicious, tells Romper by email. "Perfection has a cost and unfortunately, this amount is too costly for the average bride. Whatever financial problems the client had to endure, the wedding planning will amplify them. Needing to borrow money in order to cover wedding-related expenses is sure to backfire in the future."
Bickering or fighting about money is sure to put pressure on your brand-new marriage.
9. You Think One Detail Will Ruin The Day
"Another huge red flag is a bride that says at any point during the process or on the big day that her day is going to be 'ruined' by any one thing," Baez says. "A bride that says if she gets a stain on her dress or if it's raining outside that her day will be 'ruined' is always a bad sign." It's understandable to feel disappointed if something happens that puts a bit of a damper on your day or wasn't something that you were prepared to handle, but these minor things shouldn't ruin your wedding day.
10. Your Families Are Way Too Involved In Your Relationship
Again, it's totally normal for some couples to involve their family in the wedding planning process and, of course, in their lives in general, but the more opinions you bring into the wedding planning process or the relationship itself, the more complicated things can often get.
"Choosing between your parents and your spouse puts you in a tough spot," Chan says. "There are many reasons why a person can't blend into someone else's family: language barriers, religion, social status and earning power. Couples tie the knot believing that things will work out, but the daily grind with the family eventually tires you out, forcing you to call it quits."
11. Your Partner Has Ended A Lot Of Relationships
"Evaluate the other person based on [their] actions, not just words," Chan says. "Marriage requires commitment so why take the risk if your partner obviously has a long history of breakups and bad relationships? Perhaps it's worth to dig deeper before saying 'Yes.'"
Of course, it can take time to find the person you think you're meant to be with, but if your partner had ended a lot of relationships or shown a reluctance to commit to someone, it could potentially be more than that they were just waiting to find you. It doesn't mean that your relationship will also end badly, but if they're scared to commit, that might be worth exploring.
12. Only One Of You Interacts With The Photographer
Sure, you might have divvied up tasks or have a more flexible schedule than your partner, but, ideally, you should both interact with your vendors. McKay says that she emphasizes to couples that because the day is about both of them, they both need to interact with her throughout the planning process.
"Photographers spend all day with the couple on the wedding day," she says. "We have unlimited access to the bride and groom (or two grooms or two brides) during the wedding day. It is imperative that I have a good rapport with both people getting married in order to capture the most memorable and intimate images."
13. One Partner Thinks The Day Is All About Them
"I know the term 'bridezilla' has always been a bit comical, but brides that seem to truly feel that the day is only about them usually show signs of being self-centered or unwilling to compromise, both of which are key in a successful marriage," Baez says. "Any bride that feels her day would be ruined by superficial things like wilted flowers or bad weather is clearly not seeing the big picture that the marriage is what is most important. This may signify that the couple's priorities are not in order."
Your wedding day is your day, but it's not only your day. And if you can't be bothered with anyone but yourself on your wedding day, well, that might not be a good sign that things will work out.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.