It’s something you dream about your whole life. In your mind, everything is perfect. You are the princess, he is the prince. You are stunning in a shimmering white gown, hair tucked behind a flowing veil. He is handsome and charming, and beams as he awaits you to join him in marriage.

No one goes to the chuppah (wedding canopy) without a doubt

And then you wake up.

You are engaged. Your wedding day is fast approaching. You are excited, but you're also worried, anxious and scared. You are definitely glowing, though you're not sure if it is from joy or sweat.

Where is the fairytale that you pictured for so many years? What is wrong with you?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often say that no one goes to the chuppah (wedding canopy) without a doubt. There is nothing wrong, unusual or problematic with the fact that you are doubting. The only question you need to ask yourself is: what is it that I am doubting?

Are you doubting if your friends will think he is funny or good looking? Are you doubting if he will end up overweight like his father? Or are you doubting if his goals and aspirations in life point in a different direction than yours?

It is impossible to know at the age of 20 or 30 or 40 how you will feel in 20 or 30 or 40 more years. Therefore, when you make the commitment to be with that same person for the rest of your life, it is scary. It is hard to know yourself so well, let alone how you will relate to another as time goes.

As the magical wedding celebration ends, it is only beginning for the couple

Yet, if you trust that you are with someone you can speak with, someone who understands you, respects you, and shares the same vision with you, then, as scary as it is, you are doing it together. And knowing that you are not alone in this life-changing move, should be comforting and reassuring, though certainly won’t take away all the fear.

It is Hallmark, the photographers, the band, caterers and wedding hall that make us feel that the biggest part of marriage is the wedding itself. Somehow, that one day is made to be the focus and climax of all that is to come.

And because so many people are coming to celebrate with you, and these very same people have bought you expensive presents, it seems that for their sake everything is expected to be perfect. Needless to say, perfection is a pretty huge responsibility to be placed on two people that are about to make the biggest decision and commitment of their lives. But as the magical wedding celebration draws to a close, while it is the end for the guests, it is only the beginning for the couple.

In Chassidic weddings, when the groom is first led to his bride, there is a very slow and intense melody that is sung. It is not joyous, it is not upbeat, rather it is serious and extremely focused. There is no talking, no dancing, no celebrating... yet. At this point, until the wedding ceremony is completed, the point is to focus on the intensity of the moment. The bride’s face is covered with an opaque veil so that she can concentrate completely without the need to smile at her guests and without having others staring at her.

We must ensure that we are focusing on our spiritual development, not just our pre-wedding parties, hair or clothes fittings

This mood prevails until the end of the marriage ceremony, after which incredible rejoicing breaks out with the couple celebrating with crowds of people that have come to join them. This shows us that as much as there is a time for celebration, there is also a time for thought and prayer.

The engagement period is a time of excitement. But more importantly, it is a time for preparation. And I don’t mean the preparations required to make the wedding. If anything, all these technical preparations can distract from the real work that needs to be done during this time. The engagement should be a time for self reflection, self-refinement and honesty, so that both bride and groom strive to become the best partner that they can be.

And though in our fairytale wedding story no one wants to face the reality, in truth it is a very difficult period, a pretty unsettling time filled with stress, responsibilities, and doubt. We are creatures of habit, not creatures of change, so it is only natural that something of this magnitude will be scary. Yet, when we ensure that we are thinking not only with our heart but also with our head, when we know that we are committing to a relationship with someone who shares the qualities, morals and direction that is important to us, then our fears are the normal fears that come with any new step in life.

So we must make sure that as we prepare for our wedding we take the time we need for ourselves. We must ensure that we are focusing on our personal learning, growth and development, not just taking the time for our pre-wedding parties, hair or clothes fittings. If we focus as much on our spiritual preparations as we do on the physical preparations, then we are laying the foundation for an enduring marriage, for a life of love, achievement and fulfillment—together.