Zen and the Art of Getting Married

It strikes me that it’s been a while since we’ve really talked about stress relief/avoidance during the wedding process. Stress is sort of to be expected to a certain extent when planning something as big as a wedding. Even a simple one requires coordination of a number of elements most of us don’t deal with on a day-to-day basis. Add in the fact that this is in honor of a huge, life-changing event, and it’s the rare bride who doesn’t get a bit jittery about some aspect of the process.

The good news is that a great deal of stress can be just plain avoided by a little thought and honesty with yourself about how you will best deal with stressful situations.

Know whether you need control or help more. When you’ve got a huge project to get done, do you prefer to control every aspect, or to delegate most of the work and trust others with it? Are you better with handing off some aspects while holding onto others? There is no right or wrong to any of these approaches. It’s all a matter of what makes you most comfortable.

If you’re a control freak like I am, have fun being a DIY diva. Don’t delegate anything you can do yourself. I did it all and was completely relaxed when the day finally arrived because I knew that everything was done precisely the way I wanted it done. Along the way, be sure to let others know anything expected of them. They aren’t mind readers, you know.

If lists of things to do paralyze you, hire professionals or draft friends and family to help you out. Get a wedding planner or let your intended know that you just want to be told when and where to show up. Just as there’s no insanity in being a very hands-on bride, there’s no shame in being a hands-off one. Just be sure to double check at some point that everything is coming together the way you want it to.

Once you choose your path, don’t allow others to guilt you out of it. Thank them for their concern and let them know you have it under control in precisely the way you prefer to exercise control. If you want to do everything yourself, tell your mother that it will be a waste of time and money if she hires a wedding planner. If you decide you want a planner, don’t let anyone tell you you’re making a hideous mistake. You’re the one getting married. You get to decide this stuff.

Remember that people who have money involved will feel more inclined to think they have a say in how it’s spent. Learn to live with the strings or without the money. Some strings are easy to live with (mom and dad feel that since they’re paying for the whole shindig they’d like a traditional family or ethnic dish served at the reception), some are not (your MIL-to-be wants to pay for your wedding gown…and she wants to be the one to pick it, too). Know when the money just isn’t worth it.

The wedding is a big deal in your life. It is not a matter of life and death. Just keeping the day in perspective will reduce the stress by bucketloads. This is one day you’re planning. Yes, it should be a nice day, but it doesn’t have to be the most amazing day anyone has ever had in their life. You will have other days just as important, chances are some of them will even be nicer. Aim for lovely or aim for special. Don’t aim for One Perfect Day. You won’t get that, and you’ll enjoy what you do get more if you aren’t busy stressing over unattainable cultural expectations.

The wedding is a big deal in your life. It might not be quite as big a deal to someone else. Talk to your friends and family, and even your intended about things other than the wedding. That way you’ll do better at keeping perspective, and everyone else will be happier to see you, thus making any requests you make of them for the wedding more likely to be greeted with enthusiasm. It also makes it easier to ease back into normal life once the wedding is over.

Take time for you between wedding tasks. Don’t forget to live your life while you’re planning. See movies, read books, go out for coffee with friends and don’t turn it into a wedding planning session, take bubble baths and computer classes and long walks. Pursue your interests. You know, the ones that you love beyond those the bride needs or wants.

Eat well and get plenty of sleep. A balanced diet, moderate regular exercise appropriate for your level of physical ability, and regular sleep are good for you not just physically, but emotionally as well. Resist the urge to go on a crash diet to fit into your wedding gown. Remember, it’s the gown’s job to fit you, not yours to fit the gown. When you’re taking good care of yourself, it’s easier not to lose it over the details.

Accept that things go wrong, even on wedding days. It’s true. Something will go awry at your wedding. With a bit of luck and fair winds, it will be something small. I honestly hope that’s how it goes for you. Still, if you understand that perfect doesn’t happen, you can be prepared to deal with a bit more equanimity when things go pear-shaped.

A sense of humor is a bride’s best friend. At some point, you’re going to have to decide whether to laugh or cry about something. I highly recommend laughing if you can find it in yourself to do so. If you need to have a good cry over something, go ahead and do it with as much grace as you can muster. All the same, the more you can laugh about, the easier you make it for you and everyone around you. Besides, my sister in law got an A on a college paper she wrote about things that went wrong while planning her wedding. It was entitled (I kid you not, and it actually did happen) And Then the Rabbi Died.

Focus more on having a good time at your wedding than on impressing others. If you please yourself, please your intended, and treat your guests well, chances are everyone will have a great time at your wedding, including you. Don’t worry about whether your tastes are expected or somehow ‘good enough.’ Just make sure the day reflects you as a couple and that guests needs are adequately met. Anyone who has a problem with how you did things at that point…well, just remember you can’t please everyone. Do your best and let the chips fall where they may.

Oh, and relax.

2 Responses to “Zen and the Art of Getting Married”

  1. La BellaDonna says:

    Aaaaieee! And also? I desperately want to read your SIL’s paper.

  2. Twistie says:

    I hasten to point out that the Rabbi did not die *at* the wedding. It’s just nobody thought to call my brother and his lady when the Rabbi sadly shuffled off this mortal coil a couple months before the wedding, and they really had to scramble for an officiant when they did get the news a few days before the wedding.

    A very nice lady from the County Clerk’s office did the honors very nicely.

    Still, there was definitely a bit of panic.