Last week I discussed the question of wedding stress in general terms. All very well and good, but it didn’t contain much practical advice on how to cope when it starts seeming like too much. Well, that’s why I’m revisiting the topic today.
The sad fact is that there is no one-size-fits-all advice for this question because there are so many different potential stressors and so many different ways of coping with them. Still, there are some general notes that can be helpful in a wide variety of situations.
1: Know how you deal best with stressors. Some people deal better by taking more control; some by relinquishing it to others. Some need to confront it head on, while others do better by using avoidance techniques in certain situations. It seems counter-intuitive, but I honestly think a large part of why I was so calm on my wedding day was the fact that I’d had complete control over nearly every detail every step of the way. It allowed me to relax in the certain knowledge that everything had been dealt with and in a way that made me content. For another bride, the best way of keeping calm could easily be handing all the responsibilities to someone else she trusts and not being bothered with the little decisions. Knowing what to not delegate is just as important as knowing what to delegate and to whom.
2: Remember who’s in charge. That would be you and your intended. Yes, it’s important to take other peoples’ feelings and basic practicalities into consideration in making your plans, but the fact that someone else wants things a certain way doesn’t obligate you to make that choice.
3: Keep your plans within your price range. Trying to do more than your money will cover is one of the biggest stresses you can put on your own shoulders in planning a wedding. You can get married for less than a hundred dollars in a lot of places, but it won’t look the same as a wedding that cost a hundred thousand dollars. That’s okay.
4: Compromise and flexibility are your friends…so long as you know where to draw the line. Decide with your intended on a couple points each where you won’t compromise. Everything else, then, is on the table if negotiations are required or your original plan turns out not to be practical for some reason. Don’t budge on the things that matter most to you. After all, these are the things that will make your wedding about you rather than about any other random couple on the face of the planet. It’s just a lot easier to bring grandmother around to your choice of a bright pink wedding gown if you agree to invite her bridge club.
5: If you choose to hire a professional, choose someone you are comfortable being around. I cannot emphasize this enough. Choose someone you know will follow through in a way you can live with. Personalities are just as important as general competance. If the photographer makes you nervous or the caterer has a personality you find grating, that’s only going to add to any stress you’re already experiencing. That can lead to bridal meltdown.
6: Acquaint yourself thoroughly with all contracts. Knowledge is power. It can also be peace. Be sure you understand all terms in every contract you sign. This will prevent misunderstandings, which means you can relax a bit more. You know your rights, your responsibilities, and what precisely you’ve contracted for. You also will know your rights in case something goes wrong.
7: Keep the day in perspective. Of course your wedding is important. You’re pledging your life to one other person. It’s a huge step to take. But in the longrun, the wedding is one day. The marriage is going to last a whole lot longer. Concentrate on making your relationship strong. That’s a lot more important than whether all the shades of blue match or not or what flavor cake you serve.
8: Give yourself a break. Take time out from planning. Make sure you eat well and get regular exercise. Talk about something other than the wedding. Go see a movie, take a bubble bath, or spend an evening bowling with your friends. You have a life beyond the wedding, and it’s important to keep that up while you plan.
9: Blow off some steam. If the pressure starts to build anyway, then do something to let it out without blowing up at your family and friends. Go somewhere and yell. Play a violent video game. Take a long run. Do whatever it takes to get your emotions back on track so you can be reasonable when you talk to whoever is upsetting you.
10: Don’t forget your sense of humor. Laughter is the best medicine for stress. Find the funny and enjoy the absurdity of the process. As long as you can laugh, chances are you won’t tear your hair out, and goodness knows you need your hair for your updo!