As a recent newlywed, a former bridesmaid and MOH, and a wedding planner, I can tell you that there's usually one in every bunch and very rarely is it the bride. Often times during my initial consultation with couples, we chat and get to know one another. Then after they share their engagement story, excitement for their wedding, and their wedding vision and details, the conversation goes a little something like this "Now I need to tell you about ____ in our family. They have already been driving me crazy and we just got engaged."
Inevitably, you and your partner will be faced with a lot of outside opinions on how you should plan your wedding. And if you are at all like me, you like to make people happy and feel loved. There may be times when you feel overwhelmed by choices, opinions, suggestions, or in some cases, even demands from people that you love and care about dearly. Remember that this is one of the most joyful seasons of your life, and even the wedding planning process should be fun and exciting.
So how do you respectfully decline opinions from family and friends you hold so dear? How do you make people feel included while remembering this wedding is a reflection of you and your spouse-to-be? Read below for a few tips on how you or someone you know can cope with wedding planning stress.**
1) Hire a planner or day of coordinator. Part of a planner's job is to help mediate the family dynamics that come up during planning, the rehearsal, and the wedding. Your planner is an outside, objective source that can look at the situation without being emotional. She or he is there to make everything from your first encounter to your grand exit go as smoothly as possible. They can respectfully remind family and friends that this is about you and your partner celebrating your love. Further, having a professional on hand during the wedding allows your friends and family to be guests and partakers as opposed to workers.
2) Assign specific tasks to specific people. If you have an aunt on your mom's side that you are not that close with but really wants to be involved, task her with something that is not major and that you don't feel that strongly about. For example, instead of asking her to do a reading or lighting candles during the ceremony, task her with bringing sparklers and lighters to the venue (if she is reliable) or making a sign for the guest book table (if she is the creative type). Be very specific with people early on what role you would like them to play as most people just want to feel included and the chances are they mean well. When friends and family start to cross the line, remember that a loving, open conversation may be needed. Often times people are unaware of the stress they are placing on you.
3) Take time to celebrate the love you share. Plan a day trip to your favorite winery or spend a night listening to all your favorite bands from high school (and hey if 'N Sync just so happens to make a reunion it's a-okay, there's absolutely no judgment here)! You could also take a trip down memory lane by re-creating a date night honoring your decision to spend your lives together and visit the that place he/she proposed. Follow that up with dinner and a thoughtful conversation about why you can't wait to marry each other. Just remember that ultimately this wedding is about celebrating the love between the two of you.
4) Exercise and meditate. These two things are key for de-stressing and letting off steam. Remember to keep up your exercise routine, or even take this opportunity to get in shape if it's been a while. Yoga is a good way to center yourself and clear your mind. Exercise releases endorphins, which can combat the stress hormones that often rise during wedding planning. Further, practice breathing techniques and meditate on your favorite scripture or quote. Remember to be present.
5) Keep your eyes on the prize. Weddings are great, but in the end you did not decide to get married for the wedding. You are making a commitment to love and support one another for the long haul. You are saying to each other, "I choose you." The wedding is just the first day along that journey. Your marriage is a lifetime. Remind yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed that you get to marry your best friend, that marriage is the ultimate prize, and that the wedding is just a joyous celebration along the way.
Hopefully these tips will help you think through ways of dealing with wedding planning stress. And hey, if none of these things work, you can always do like I did when I felt overwhelmed during wedding planning: plan the honeymoon! Nothing calms your nerves and excites you all at the same time like planning a trip somewhere you love.
**Please note that each family is made up of different dynamics and personalities that will have to be considered so this list is by no means all inclusive. You will have to decide what method is best in your individual and unique situation.