You’re making a major life change and throwing what will mostly likely be the biggest, most elaborate party of your life, and doing both while navigating huge, conflicting expectations from the most important people in your life.
No wonder a lot of brides have meltdowns and so many grooms shy away from doing more than saying ‘yes, dear’ in the planning stages!
Nevertheless, it is actually possible to reduce the stress involved and even have a really good time planning and attending your own wedding. And as it would happen, I have a few suggestions.
1: Know your planning style. I’m not talking about colors or level of formality here, but how you best handle making plans. Are you a hands-on or a hands-off kind of person? What about your intended? If one of you wants a finger in every pie and the other wants to be told where to show up and when, then go with that, even if the roles chosen are not gender-traditional.
If you both want to have your hands all over it, choose who takes lead in each area and offer one another options you’ve winnowed down in advance.
If neither of you wants to handle the big stuff, hire someone to do it for you. They’re called wedding planners, and they can take care of stuff for you if you aren’t well organized or if you honestly don’t care very much about the details, or even if you know what you want but don’t know how to go about getting it.
There’s no right or wrong here. There is only what works for you as a couple. Don’t fight your essential nature, but use it.
2: Don’t hire any vendor you don’t trust. It doesn’t matter if the florist you’re looking at fits your budget and has a long list of glowing reviews on Yelp. You took one look and didn’t trust her to come through. At that point, it doesn’t matter whether your gut is right or wrong. You still won’t feel comfortable working with this person and that means you won’t be able to relax about the bouquets and centerpieces. That adds unnecessary stress. Find someone else to do the job.
3: If someone offers money, find out what the strings attached are before you say yes. It’s awfully rare for someone to give you a large sum of cash without expecting something in return for it… or at least a very large say in how it’s spent. Know what their expectations are before you accept the offer. After all, it’s sweet of your future in-laws to offer to pay for the catering, but they may then believe they have the final say in the menu. That may be fine with you, and if so, go for it! On the other hand, if their menu choices mean you won’t be able to eat the food at your own wedding, thank them for their generosity and then let them know you’ve made other arrangements… then make those arrangements as quickly as you can!
4: Take breaks from wedding planning. Whether your timeline is a year or a week, make sure you don’t spend every moment breathing wedding plans. Spend time doing things that aren’t wedding-related, follow other interests, remember that there’s a whole world of things that have nothing to do with orders of service, stationery, or threatening the DJ with a hideous death should he dare to play the Electric Slide.
A lot of women have talked about feeling like they fell off the edge of a cliff after their weddings. This feeling is a lot less prevalent in brides (and grooms) who don’t fixate too intensely on wedding planning.
So take in a movie, go for a run, read about a topic that interests you, angle for that promotion at work, take a class or take some time to indulge in your favorite hobby. Not only will it help keep the wedding in perspective, your friends will enjoy your company more if you have something other than tulle and flower girls to talk about.
5: Know that something will go wrong. Trust me, something always does. It isn’t always a big thing, by any means, but it will happen. Whether it’s noisy latecomers, a lost bouquet, a sudden failure of the sound system, a slightly tipsy guest making an embarrassing speech, or the delivery of the wrong cake, it’s only a disaster if you make it one. Accepting that something will be imperfect makes it a lot easier to deal with and make the best of that imperfection.
By the way, every single one of these things happened to someone whose wedding I attended. The only one that turned into a disaster was the lost throwing bouquet. The bride in that case held up the entire reception for an hour while the bouquet was sought out and brought to her. Seriously. And she threw tantrums while we all waited for the reception to begin.
The lady who received the wrong cake? She took it in stride. She decided that since it would feed all her guests, fit into her color scheme that included gold, and was originally meant for someone else’s fiftieth wedding anniversary, she would take it as a good omen for her marriage.
Nobody noticed anything wasn’t as it was intended to be.
Oh, and those noisy late arrivals at my wedding? No biggie. We all had a good laugh and went on with the ceremony. My guess is that most of the guests have long forgotten that incident. What they remember is a fun party with plenty of food and drink to go around in a pretty place. And even if they do remember that sudden cry of ‘we heard there was a wedding somewhere around here’ they probably still giggle a little as it… as do I.
6: Take care of your physical health in the weeks leading up to your wedding. Sure, getting married can take a lot of work. And there are always going to be some jitters involved when making such a huge, life-changing step. All the same, you can make it easier on your nerves and your immune system if you do your best to take care of your body.
So do your best to get enough to eat and focus on nutritionally dense foods. Take moderate exercise of a sort that’s appropriate to your ability level and feels good mentally, too. Aim for eight hours of sleep each night. Not only will you relax more, you’ll glow in your wedding photos!
7: Think about your guest’s comfort. Take the focus off yourself here and there and really consider what will keep your guests happy. Take the time to decide whether the chairs feel good to sit in, whether there are enough bathroom facilities, and what you can do to provide shade and air circulation on a very hot day.
When you spend time considering the needs and comfort of others, funnily enough, you take a lot of stress off yourself… and those little things you do to take care of other peoples’ comfort also help you have a comfortable time.