It’s Been Lovely, But I Have to Scream Now

Stress.

It happens.

It happens to brides a lot.

It makes them feel like this:

The sad thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way…or at least not to the extent it often is. So let’s take a look at a couple ways to reduce the stress and have fun with wedding planning.

A Clear Chain of Command Makes Things Smoother. Some brides want the decisions entirely in their own control. A few grooms want to run the show. A lot of parents and wedding planners think it’s up to them to make the big decisions. In some weddings, one person is in charge of one aspect, while another handles something else and yet a third person is calling the shots in yet another. None of these approaches is the only possible or the only correct one. The thing that matters most isn’t who calls which shots, but that everyone involved knows who that person is. Whether the buck stops with you, your intended, someone’s parents, a professional planner, or the MOH, make sure everyone knows it. That way everything that needs to come to you will get to you, and anything you don’t want to worry about goes to the person in charge of worrying. So sit down before you do any significant planning and determine who’s milking which frog.

Keep lines of communication open and clear. Even when everyone knows who’s in charge of what, they will still need to check in with one another now and again. If everyone knows what’s going on, then fewer people will feel the need to panic about whether something has been handled. Make sure everyone involved with the planning gets regular updates. Feel free to delegate this task if it’s going to stress you out to be the one to do it.

Know what stresses you and avoid it. This may seem like a laughably obvious piece of advice, but it can be easy to lose track of your own personality when so many people are telling you ‘brides stress about this‘ or ‘no bride should do x on her wedding day because it will be stressful.’ People mean this advice well, but they’re usually talking about what would stress them out and what would make them calm. You know you best. If you know in your heart of hearts that having a last-minute task for the wedding will make you relax a little, then by all means have one waiting. If you know that having someone else do your makeup will freak you out, then do it yourself. And if you know that being pampered and entirely without obligation in those final hours before you march down the aisle to your future will allow you to take that walk confidently, then do that.

Don’t second-guess yourself. Make a decision. Stick to it unless you have a really good reason to change. In the longrun, pretty much nobody will care as much as you do whether you carry lillies or roses, so pick the one you like better and relax about it. If you look at your budget and conclude there’s no room for favors, then blithely forget about them. The wedding police will not frog march you out of your reception. If you’re a vegetarian, then have a vegetarian reception without apology. Nobody is going to drop dead from one vegetarian meal. If you think you look like a marshmallow in white, pick a color that you know you look superfantastic in and wear it with confidence.

Pay attention to your instincts. If you’ve hired a professional and find you don’t trust that this person will get the job done, have a conference. If your concerns are not assuaged, fire that pro and seek other help. If you are not confident in your vendors, it’s nearly impossible to relax and let them do their jobs. That means loads of extra frustration for you and them. It’s in nobody’s best interests to continue a relationship that’s making everyone in it want to bang their heads against walls.

If you’re not having fun with planning your wedding, think about what doesn’t feel right. Make the change that will allow you to enjoy the process, even if that change is washing your hands of everything but the responsibility of showing up looking your best…or even if it’s firing everyone and doing it all with your own two hands.

Eat balanced meals and get plenty of sleep in the days before your wedding. Again, this seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of women forget that eating well reduces stress and adequate sleep keeps the head clear. Take the time to take care of you physically, and you’ll be in a much better mental space, too.

Remember that it’s the job of the vendors to please you and the job of the dress to fit you…not the other way around. If you’ve got a vendor who is really pushing something you don’t want because of their preferences rather than your needs, feel free to tell them no. After all, if your circle of friends and family don’t drink anything but wine and/or beer, there’s no point in an open bar just because your site or wedding planner wants to sell you one. If you’ve told the florist you want orange and yellow flowers, you should get orange and yellow flowers no matter how much more traditional white ones are or how much more fashionable purple ones are.

And for goodness’ sake, don’t order your wedding gown too small in hopes that you’ll magically lose weight. If you want to lose weight before the wedding, set a reasonable goal, pick a sensible plan and start it before you choose and order your gown. If you don’t have a specific plan for weight loss, then order your gown in your actual current size. After all, if you lose a few pounds before the wedding, the gown can be altered to fit your smaller size. If you order it too small and then fail to shrink, you may not be able to alter it to be bigger. And if you don’t feel a need to lose weight before the wedding, then don’t bother trying. The gown should fit you, the photographer should know how to shoot you at your best angle whatever your size, and no, not everyone with a large waistline is in immediate danger of dire health issues.

You are the star of your own show. Don’t make it about a vendor or a dress.

Don’t sweat the small stuff…and know what the small stuff is. If you know your priorities going in, then it’s easier to ignore things that aren’t priorities. If you don’t care what color the napkins are but your FMIL does, then let her have her way and move on. Choose your battles well, and you’ll have a lot less of them to fight. In fact, if you give on a couple little things that don’t really matter to you, then others are more inclined to accept it when you want one thing they didn’t expect.

Have a backup plan in case of disaster. In this season of Bridezillas, there was a couple who had chosen a beachside wedding. In New Jersey. In April. And they didn’t have a backup plan for rain. Of course it rained. It rained most of the week before their wedding. The bride utterly refused to have any sort of alternate arrangement made. Of course when the wedding day came, she spent half the day freaking out and trying to will a change in the weather, and then had to scramble as the guests arrived to come up with a new plan on the spot. Don’t let this happen to you. If something in your plan has that much potential for disaster, have a disaster plan set up well in advance.

Don’t get so wrapped up in the wedding that you forget to have a life. The most destructive myth of the modern wedding is that somehow if this one day isn’t precisely perfect in every way, your life might as well be over. Don’t fall for it. Things will go wrong, and you will still have a life to lead the next day. In fact, you’ll have a very full new life to lead.

A lot of brides who spend the entire process eating, sleeping and breathing wedding wake up the day after the honeymoon is over feeling as though they’ve fallen off a cliff and don’t know what to do with themselves. Brides who have kept the wedding day in perspective are far less prone to post-wedding depression and panic. Why? Because they haven’t spent months (or even years) focusing on one day.

So take care of yourself, prioritize well, know who it’s most important to please, and remember to prepare for a post-wedding life as well as the wedding. That way you can get through your engagement period with a minimum of misery, and you can look this radiant and happy on your wedding day.

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