In a world where everybody thinks they get their say-so in other peoples’ weddings, the culture builds up this single day as the most important in a woman’s life and then shames women for caring about it, puts pretty much all the onus on a single woman’s shoulders and then merrily tells her she’s too incompetent to handle the pressure, it’s a wonder more brides don’t wind up feeling like this on their wedding days:
Certainly shows like Bridezillas make their money off of the idea that all brides are insane, and so they show you a lot of examples of that. And who among us hasn’t known a woman who spent much of her wedding day in a fog of tears and stress?
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Take a couple tips from me, and you can walk that aisle with all the aplomb and zen of a Jedi Master… only prettier than Yoda.
Get plenty of rest in the weeks leading up to your wedding. Yes, I know there’s a lot to do and everyone wants to spend time with you, but nothing makes you stressed out faster than being dog tired. Do your best to get your eight hours every night. Take naps when you can, if need be.
Eat proper square meals on a regular basis. One of the most common mistakes that women make when they are getting married is to start a diet so they’ll fit in their wedding gowns. This is not going to help you have rosy cheeks and a radiant confidence. It’s going to make you cranky, short-tempered, and generally not much fun to be around. Always remember: it’s the job of the dress to fit your body, not the job of your body to fit the dress. So find something a little forgiving if you tend toward weight fluctuations, get proper meals with plenty of nutritional value, and let your waist do what it will do. After all, your intended proposed to you knowing what you look like. Let yourself look like you in your wedding photos.
Move your body. Finding a fun, appropriate form of exercise for you not only helps your muscle tone and heart health, it can help stabilize your moods, too. Just make sure you find something that makes you feel good, so you’ll want to keep doing it. Whether you find that swimming laps, belly dancing, playing baseball, or taking long walks is your thing, make time for it in your life.
Know what relaxes and what stresses you. This may seem like a no-brainer, but every one of us has different emotional needs, and what relaxes one person may cause another to tear her hair out by the roots and howl at the moon. Some brides need to control every aspect of the wedding to be calm and certain they’re taken care of. Another may need to put all the details in someone else’s hands to avoid complete emotional breakdown. Most of us fall somewhere in between. Figure out where your lines are, draw them firmly in the sand, and don’t let anyone else tell you what they ought to be. Thank them for their concern and tell them you’ve got it worked out to your satisfaction. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Know which hills you will die on, and which you won’t. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a major crisis. Every choice doesn’t have to matter that much to you. If your soon-to-be mother-in-law feels more strongly about the flavor of the cake, consider letting her have her way, or at least reaching a compromise you can both live with. If it is vitally important to you to have a particular tune played for your processional, let the person who will object most strenuously have their way about something else… like the font on the programs or the exact shade of the napkins.
If you feel yourself losing your temper, excuse yourself and find a way to let off some steam. It happens. We all lose our tempers sometimes, and we all have the urge once in a while to kick some shins. When things start getting to that point, it’s time for everyone to get out of the sandbox, retire to their respective corners, and find a little perspective. Come back to the discussion when everyone is calmer.
Remember to socialize around things that aren’t the wedding. In the grand scheme of things, while your wedding is certainly important, it’s one day. When it’s over, you still have a life to live and family and friends who love you. Make time for holidays and graduations and birthday parties and pizza night and books and movies that don’t have a wedding theme. Not only will it help keep things in perspective, it also means you probably won’t wind up with that feeling some brides talk about of having fallen off the face of the earth when the wedding is over.
Have a clearly designated person in charge of crises on your wedding day. Whether it’s your mother, your MOH, the best man, a good friend, or a day-of co-ordinator, make sure everyone in the wedding party knows who is to be consulted in case of disaster. Unless you’re a complete control freak or a glutton for punishment, make it someone other than you. Your job, once you get to the site, is to relax and concentrate on getting to and through the ceremony. Even if you were putting together favor boxes and double-checking bouquets right before you headed out the door to your ceremony site, it’s time for someone else to deal with the little details. Sometimes it’s better not to know what might have gone wrong – or even what did – until it’s over.
Look, I won’t lie. Nearly every bride feels pretty stressed out at some point in the proceedings. It happens. There are a lot of strong emotions around a wedding, and a lot of people who get strongly invested in the oddest aspects of it. But if you remember to take care of yourself, prioritize, compromise gracefully in the aspects that don’t matter as much to you, and remember there’s a big old world out there beyond the wedding just waiting for you… you can be as calm as this lovely lady was on her wedding day:
(image via Mark Eric Photo Journal)