Planning a wedding can be stressful.
Most couples have an image in their minds of their “perfect” day, what that should look like, and how everything should go. I’ve never been to a single wedding, including my own, where the big day went off exactly as expected.
Any time a large group of people get together, there’s bound to be some friction. Add to that—budget concerns, elaborate travel and lodging arrangements, fickle weather patterns, testy vendors, and the high emotions that a life decision as major as a marriage brings—and the whole thing can be a recipe for potential disaster. Or at least, total exhaustion when it’s over.
Of course, a wedding doesn’t have to be filled with anxiety, and the secret lies in the couple’s attitude and ability to relax and go along with whatever happens. Incidentally, that type of outlook probably contributes to a happier marriage too.
Easing the stress of a wedding is all about positively reframing any perceived setbacks, and controlling our reactions when things don’t go as planned and people don’t always behave as we’d like.
Here are 10 tips for a simpler, stress-free wedding:
>> This is a party—nothing more. A wedding is a celebration. It’s filled with meaning, of course, but a mistake that people make, is equating the wedding with the actual marriage. It’s a party. It’s one day, whereas we hope the marriage will last a lifetime. Shake off concerns about the wedding and focus more on planning a happy, healthy marriage.
>> One of your guests is likely to act the fool—maybe more than one. Remember, we cannot control other people. We can only control how we react to them. When our friends and family members behave inappropriately, or weirdly, or in any less-than-desirable way, remember that this is not a reflection on us. Don’t engage in any drama before, during, or after the wedding. It’s not worth it.
>> Laugh everything off. Something is bound to go wrong. It could be something as minor as the wrong flavor of cake, or it could be that your oceanfront ceremony has to be canceled because of a hurricane. Maybe the florist delivered the wrong flowers.
I once went to a wedding where the bride was supposed to walk down the aisle to bagpipes, but the bagpiper missed his cue and the confused bride walked to her beloved in eerie silence. At my wedding, someone decided to stick a whole green apple square into the side of my cake. I have no idea why, but I got a huge laugh out of it, rather than weeping over my ruined showpiece dessert. I mean, really. The cake still tasted great, so who cares? Whenever something goes awry think of what a funny story you’ll be able to tell someday.
>> Your weight doesn’t matter. You are already beautiful. Too often I see brides and grooms going to great lengths and torturing themselves to lose weight or to look a certain way by their wedding date—why? Everyone attending your wedding already knows what you look like. They love you and are happy for you no matter what, and no one has ever gone to a wedding and said, “Wow, nice wedding, but I would have had a better time if the bride was skinnier.” Seriously. Never.
>> Consider comfort. The ultimate goal of a wedding is to have fun with the people we most love. It’s not to lace ourselves into painful 19th century corsets and take gorgeous pictures in sunlit meadows while we sweat and get eaten alive by mosquitoes. When we focus on the optics of our weddings instead of what it takes for ourselves, the wedding party, and our guests to feel good and be at ease, we’re setting the situation up for misery.
Let your bridesmaids ditch the stilettos in favor of flip flops if they want. It’s okay if you feel better with your hair down instead of piled into an elaborately sprayed and pinned updo. Don’t make your groomsmen boil in heavy tuxedos on a hot afternoon. Give your guests water and snacks ahead of time if they have to sit through a long ceremony. Create an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion where cherished memories can be made, rather than seeking an event that only looks great on Instagram.
>> Express constant gratitude. Thank everyone involved with the wedding abundantly throughout the day. No matter how stressed out you are, take the time to be thankful for this day, for your friends, your family, your vendors, and especially—your true love. Weddings are celebrations of love, so spread the joy to everyone around you.
>> Don’t drink. Trust me on this. Alcohol is easily the number one ruiner of weddings. Skip it, and if you truly love to get drunk, wait until your honeymoon.
>> Make your wedding your own regardless of what anyone else says. There will always be someone who disapproves of your choices, and to hell with them. What they say or think doesn’t matter, and how dare they pass judgment on your relationship or the way you and your spouse choose to make your commitment to one another?
Never waste a breath trying to defend your choices. It will only cause arguments and strife. So what if your wedding was a backyard bbq instead of the grand, formal affair your mother hoped for? It’s no one’s business if you decide to blend traditions from many religions into a hybrid ceremony. This is your wedding—not your grandma’s, your mother-in-law’s, or your stepdad’s.
>> Be present. I took this advice at my own wedding and I’m so glad I did. Because of that, I have wonderful memories to look back on, rather than the blur of chaos that many brides and grooms describe. Slow down. Stop and enjoy the festivities. Eat and really taste all that delicious food you planned and paid for. Take the time to dance if you love dancing. Admire the beautiful decorations you picked out.
>> Save the money for the honeymoon or a new home. The amount of money that families spend on weddings nowadays is mind blowing. Again, this is a party that only last a few hours, and weddings are wonderful milestones, but they aren’t worth wasting money and going into debt over. Keep the ceremony and reception low-key if possible. If you have money to spend, use it to establish your life together as a married couple, or put that cash toward an amazing honeymoon (because money spent on travel is never in vain).
If you’re getting married soon, congratulations! Your wedding will be just fine if you relax, stay comfortable, refuse to engage in drama, and release expectations. When something goes wrong, let it go and laugh it off. Those who can do that not only have happier weddings, but happier marriages.
Author: Victoria Fedden
Editor: Lieselle Davidson