Kristin Offiler, Guest Author
Whether you’re the bride or groom, it’s likely that you will feel stressed out at some point while planning your wedding. It’s understandable; weddings typically take around a year to plan, and during that time, there are countless decisions that need to be made and checks that have to be written—talk about stress-inducing! And on top of that, you still have your everyday life to live, too.
Before my husband and I got married in August of 2010, we had so many things on our proverbial plate that stress became inevitable for us. I began working on my thesis for graduate school earlier that summer, just after we made an offer on a house and began the closing process. The last three months before our wedding were pure chaos. Our closing date kept getting pushed back until finally we moved into all our things into our new home a scant three days before our wedding.
Plus, during it all, we had work, school, and about a thousand meetings regarding the wedding. It would have been easy to lose our cool, but we tried to manage the stress with a few different techniques you and your partner can try too.
• Keep reminding yourselves why you’re doing all this in the first place. There were many times I wanted to just run off and elope before our wedding, but it was just a matter of remembering what’s important and why the stress was worth it that kept me going. My husband is great at helping me gain perspective when life gets crazy (he was born with a naturally cool head and calm demeanor). If you’re not inclined to stay relaxed under pressure, try reciting your reasons for having a wedding in the first place. That might be all you need to refocus your attention and squash stress.
• Be grateful. It’s so easy to get so caught up in the to-do list, the guest list, the budget, the dress, etc. that you lose sight of how fortunate you are. While some things might seem like annoyances during the wedding planning process, there’s a good chance you can flip it around and be thankful for it. Out of control guest list? I can sympathize. Ours was a source of stress… until I realized we’re lucky that so many people wanted to celebrate with us! Reframe your stress and see it as a blessing instead of a frustration.
• Get away together often. It may be impossible to take a trip with your soon-to-be-spouse before the wedding, but you should still get away together as often as possible. What do I mean by “get away?” Take a walk together, grab lunch together, or do other non-wedding activities just the two of you. While we were waiting for our closing to happen, we would head down to our future neighborhood in the evenings and take walks. We explored the nearby beach and enjoyed the park that’s down the road. It helped us unwind and focus on each other, not the stress all around us.
• Visualize the big day and life after it. If you’re laser focused on the wedding day and the color of every napkin, ribbon and flower, you’ll wear yourself out. Instead, think about not only how pretty your wedding day will be, but how special it will feel to have loved ones all around you. Think about life after you say “I do.” Think about the honeymoon (this helped me quite a bit! I kept myself focused on being out of town and unavailable to e-mail and phone calls, and it helped me power through my stress). Use your mind to project into the future—it will make all the planning worth it and will even help you find some peace.
• Stay in the moment. Even though I suggest visualizing the future, I think it’s just as important to live in the moment. The engagement period and the wedding all happen fast. Every so often throughout your busy days, even when you’re stressing, take a few deep breaths and try to commit snippets of the process to memory. Imprint in your memory the feeling of picking up your wedding bands, signing the contract with the perfect photographer, or seeing yourself in full wedding dress. You’ll have pictures to look back on, yes, but your own memories are precious and if you force yourself to be in the present more often, you’ll have a harder time feeling stressed out.
• Accept the stress and anxiety, but don’t feed into it. It’s going to happen—things will go wrong, people will make rude comments, someone will turn up a nose at your brilliant cake idea; what you do with those moments is what matters. Let yourself feel stressed out, anxious, nervous. Those are normal feelings and it’s fine to feel them. But don’t feed into them. Don’t give them more power than they deserve. Instead, accept them as part of the process, but acknowledge your control over your feelings. You’re more powerful than stress. Remind your partner of this, too, if he or she is letting stress run the show.
There are plenty of ways to let wedding stress suck you in and make you miserable, but there are even more ways to beat it. The best way is to get on the same page with your future husband or wife. Make sure he or she knows how you’re feeling and, whenever you can, combat wedding stress together. I firmly believe that the way you handle pre-wedding stress as a couple speaks volumes about how you’ll handle life’s obstacles once you’re wed!
Larry’s Note: Begin planning your wedding as far in advance as possible. A year to 1 1/2 years in advance is not to early. Also give yourself some “down” time – a special spa treatment the day before the wedding, etc. Have your rehearsal 2 days before the wedding to avoid having to deal with 2 stressful days in a row.
BONUS Article: Do’s and Don’ts for a Stress-Free Wedding
Copyright © 2011 – Kristin Offiler. Kristin Offiler is a freelance writer in Rhode Island who writes for a site that helps students find the right psychology degree.
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