Almost every single one of my girlfriends spent their childhoods talking about their dream wedding -- most had rotating maids of honor and sketches of wedding dresses drawn and redrawn and adorning their walls.
But marriage is more than poufy dresses and making your best friends wear hideous outfits. Marriage is about the merger of lives, the happily ever after often as exciting as "who gets to pay the electric bill this month."
In that vein, here are 15 things you should talk about before waltzing down that aisle.
1) Money: While nothing is as un-sexy as talking about a budget, money is one of the biggest sources of contention in a partnership. So bring it up. Talk about it often. This matters.
2) The "C" Word -- Children: Do you want them? Does he? How many? When do you want to try to have them? All very important questions as kids are more than a fashion accessory.
3) Dreams: What do you want out of life? What does your partner want? It's important to talk about the things you both want out of life as well as how you can work together to make sure you EACH are able to meet those goals.
4) Living: Where are you going to live? His place? Yours? Somewhere else? And why do you want to live there? Is it best for both of you?
5) Family Ties: It's important to be able to set up some emotional boundaries when it comes to extended family -- yours and his. You don't have to talk badly about your in-laws to figure out who goes where for what holiday.
6) Culture Clash: If religion is a big thing for either of you (or both of you), will you go to church? Will one of you change religions? Is it okay with you both if you're not the same religion? What about how you'll raise your kids?
7) Old Flames: Are you in contact with your old boyfriends? Is he? Does that matter?
8) Past Problems: It's likely that you broke it off with other partners for a reason. Why? What did you learn about those relationships and yourself? What about him?
9) Losing Secrets: In a marriage, there are no secrets. You'll be seeing it all. So may as well confess your dirty laundry and get accustomed to keeping the lines of communication open.
10) Communication: It's important to talk about how to have a proper discussion with your partner. Communication is a vital part of relationships, so discuss how you each handle conflicts before you're in the middle of one.
11) Values: What are your values? Which way does your moral compass face? What about his? What's okay in his mind may not be okay in yours, so it's vital to discuss this before you get in too deeply.
12) Sexuality: There's an old myth about not having sex after you're married, so it's a good thing to consider and discuss. You may have everything it takes to make a great couple work ... except chemistry. Important to discuss how to make THAT work for you both.
13) Love: How you each show your love matters after awhile. Are you one of those people who "fixes" things to show love or do you simply hug and cuddle that love? What about him? If you don't make it clear how you show love, it can take a toll on a marriage.
14) Cleaning House: Who does what around the house? Will you have a "Honey Do" list for your husband? Will you be responsible for certain aspects while your partner does others? Which ones? How?
15) Date Night: Be sure you discuss the ways in which you and your partner will continue to spark the romance once the wedding vows are taken. Date night? Nights in front of the TV without any distractions? Doesn't matter, but it needs to happen.