By Nadine Bells
Your wedding day should be one of the happiest days of your life. Unfortunately, the planning of the day (and sometimes even the actual event) is closely associated with the infamous “bridezilla.” Stress and weddings are so often connected that a stress-free wedding sounds like an oxymoron − with the exception of an elopement, that is. And while you won’t be able to avoid all the stress and chaos that come with planning your beautiful affair, there are certainly ways to lessen the load and make the planning, organizing and big day itself memorable and cherish-worthy experiences.
Know Your Vision
Before you start planning your day, scurrying about to vendors and listening to the endless streams of advice from family and friends, sit down and figure out what you want. The clearer your vision for your day, the less overwhelming decision-making will be later on. If you want a winter wedding in a rustic cabin, you’ve just eliminated summery details and nightclub venues. Get your vision on paper (or on file) and be specific. You want to be able to articulate your vision to everyone involved.
Money is one of the major sources of nuptial stress. Early on, sit down and figure out a budget. Do a little research first so you won’t be overwhelmed or shocked by vendor estimates. Being realistic is important if you want to survive your wedding experience without disappointment. Make sure that you and your fiancé are in constant communication about the budget, as neither of you wants secret credit card debt to show up after the honeymoon. Resist the bridal industry’s pressure to spend a fortune on your dream day. And if parents are contributing to the wedding, try to remain in open communication with them about finances. Don’t assume that both you and your mother think that all wedding gowns cost the same. And keep careful records, receipts and contracts. This way you’ll always know the details of your financial situation and have easy access to paperwork in case of cancellations or rescheduling. Being organized may take a little extra effort, but it beats rummaging through scraps of paper at the last minute. An important note about the budget: stick to it. Another important note: prepare to go over.
Plan ahead. Last-minute planning can be an exercise in frustration, as vendors often require booking months ahead, dresses need to be ordered and altered, and some churches require premarital counseling before you can use their facilities. Don’t try to keep track of everything in your head; use a notebook, box, folder or binder to organize thoughts on your vision, checklists, appointments and bookings, contact information, and fabric swatches. If you determine to be organized from the very beginning, it will be easier to remain so throughout the planning process. Software is now part of the wedding scene, so there are numerous wedding-planning options available.
Recruit, Share and Delegate
If you like stress, plan your wedding all by yourself. Otherwise, recruit friends and family who would love to contribute to making your day spectacular. Your wedding should not be a burden, so share some of the responsibility with those you trust. If you hire a wedding planner, use him/her. They’re your professional support team. Take advantage of them the best you can. Many things you can delegate to your support system. Take a look at your to-do list and delegate the items that don’t require you making any crucial creative decisions. For the things you still want a hand in, make them a team effort. In fact, make it fun. Look at this as an opportunity to create memories with your family and girlfriends. Have a girls’ night in and make centerpieces together. Take your mother out for lunch as you run wedding-related errands together.
Put Your Mind at Ease
If you’re prone to worry, then worry. Don’t suppress the anguish. Write down your major concerns and think through the validity of them. Do some problem-solving brainstorming and take action. Always know what you’re getting into before signing contracts with vendors. Taste the menu, hear the DJ play and look at a photographer’s portfolio. Seek out references and shop around; don’t feel pressure to commit to the first caterer you meet with. And as part of your planning, create a contingency plan. Your mind will be at ease knowing that you have back-up vendors and a plan B if, in fact, your fears do actualize.
Opulence and overindulgence do not necessarily equate with beauty. Nor does a reception hall packed with distant acquaintances confirm that you’ll have the party of the century. Keep things simple. Look at your vision and prioritize. Quality is always more important than quantity. Simplicity also ensures that your wedding photos will stand the test of time. The fewer the bells and whistles, the more classic and couple-centered the day will appear. By streamlining your wish list, you can give the details attention and won’t risk overspending or overexertion. And no one will miss what wasn’t there in the first place. Have you ever thought to yourself about another’s wedding, “I wonder if this hall was originally going to have an ice sculpture by the dessert table”?
Take Care of Yourself (and Your Relationship)
The stressful bride is also often a malnourished, sleep-deprived one. Yes, your wedding is important, but you are more important, as is your fiancé and the relationship you’re both committing to. Take time for yourself and for one another, apart from the wedding busyness. Exercise is a great stress-reliever. Before yelling at your future mother-in-law over the shade of the napkins, go for a walk. And don’t crash-diet. If you can set a reasonable weight-loss goal, do so. Otherwise, find a flattering dress and eat healthily. Don’t depend on caffeine and sugar for your energy. A rested, healthy bride is one that people want to be around.
Aim for Wonderful, Not Perfect
Your day will not be perfect. You are not perfect, nor is your Prince Charming. So to expect a perfect day is setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, be prepared for little glitches and surprises, and plan for a beautiful day with special details surrounded by important people. While you dream up your big day, be sure to remain realistic. It’s okay for your vision to change if certain plans just won’t fall into place. Just file those details away for the party celebrating your tenth anniversary.
It’s about the “I do,” not the “to do.” You’re marrying the love of your life. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy your big day.