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Calm in the Midst of Chaos- Stay Sane While Planning Your Big Day!

Leila Kalmbach


It’s not easy preparing for all the aspects of an event that you want to be flawless, so it’s no wonder so many brides seem harried and stressed out. Once you get started, there are so many aspects to the wedding that had never even occurred to you before, and it feels like the to-do lists do nothing but grow. Don’t worry. With a little bit of foresight, a few good people and a dash of humor, you can get through this. It is possible to plan a wedding and still stay sane.

Here are some tips to keep your stress levels down.

Prevent unnecessary stressors Many brides accidentally walk right into some of the most stressful situations they encounter during wedding planning. Don’t dig yourself into a ditch – do some thinking and planning before things get stressful, and later you’ll be grateful you did.

• Start early. It’s all too easy to relax when you’ve got months to go before your wedding. However, you likely already know the stress that procrastination can bring, and planning a wedding is a huge undertaking. Assume from the start that everything will take twice as long as you expect. If it does, you’ll be prepared. If it doesn’t, you can later relax at a point when most brides are on the verge of pulling their hair out.

• Get help from the professionals. For you, weddings are not an everyday occurrence. For some people, they are. It can be invaluable to get advice from people who know what they’re doing and have done it many times before. These people can also be objective in many ways that you and your family and friends cannot. And because so many aspects of your wedding preparations have to be done at the last minute, it takes huge amounts of stress off of you not to be doing everything yourself.

• Stay within your budget. Going over budget for a wedding is a huge source of stress for engaged couples. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself on track, whether it’s consulting a professional, keeping a detailed spreadsheet on the computer or just forcing yourself to go without in certain aspects of the event, no matter how nice the extras would be.

• Get organized – and stay that way. There are a lot of tools out there to help you keep track of the many different things you need to do. Make a binder and put in plenty of blank notebook paper, folders or see-through plastic pages, and tabs. You can find lists online or in wedding planning books of everything you’ll need to arrange. Be sure also to include a calendar with plenty of space to write down appointments and meetings. Put all of your information about the wedding in this binder – to-do lists, samples, notes, quotes from vendors, contracts, brochures, ideas and more. And always put the binder back in the same spot so you don’t lose it!

• Prioritize. Decide which elements are the most important to you, and tackle them first. If your top priority is to have the perfect wedding dress but the cake falls low on the list, start looking for wedding dresses before you visit bakeries. If you run low on time in the end, as often happens, at least you’ll be happy with the aspects of your wedding that you care most about. Preventing and handling people problems The people make the wedding, but sometimes they bring in stressors all their own. Don’t let lazy or overzealous friends and relatives control what matters to you about your wedding.

• Ask for help from people you know you can rely on. Choose people who understand the vision you have for your wedding and who have similar taste to your own. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress if you know right from the start whom you want to help you out … and whom you don’t. Although it can be hard telling your future mother-in-law that you don’t share her ideas about how your wedding should look, it’s a lot easier to tell her at the start than once she’s put in months of effort.

• Blame it on the professionals. Getting advice is not the only benefit of consulting a wedding professional. You can also use professional opinions to back yourself up when a family member tries to arrange things in a way you don’t like. It’s a lot easier to say, “Mom, the florist recommended against having a different type of flower on each table,” than to tell her that you’re the one who dislikes the idea.

• Be compassionate, not confrontational. If your maid of honor or another important player is slacking in her role, try not to get angry. Start by putting yourself in her place. Is she stressed out at work or at home? Remember that even though the wedding is all-encompassing for you right now, she’s got other things going on in her life. Then talk to her about your feelings in a sympathetic way, and really listen to what she says. You chose her to be involved in your wedding for a reason, so let her know that you trust her, value her opinion and effort, and need her help right now. If she can’t handle all of her responsibilities, find a way to shift some of them to another bridesmaid, trusted family member or friend. However, if after a few tries things aren’t getting better, keep reading.

• If you need to replace someone, do it. It’s never fun to have to tell someone you no longer want her to be in your wedding, but the bridal party bears certain responsibilities. If someone isn’t up to the challenge, tell her kindly and gently that you need to relieve her of the responsibility but that she is still invited to the wedding. Calm down when stress arrives No matter how much you prepare, you’re going to get stressed out while you’re planning your wedding. Knowing how to handle that stress when it arrives will be what keeps you from getting worn down.

• Make time for things you love and that you know calm you down. If you typically spend a lot of your time reading, go for a regular massage or have a weekly movie night with friends, don’t give these things up just because you’re busy with wedding planning. Keeping up with your regular activities can be just the break you need to get your mind off the wedding and realize that it won’t be the end of the world if you’re unable to book your first-choice venue.

• Be nice to your body. Remember to eat, sleep and exercise. As basic as it sounds, many people compound their stress by not treating their body right during times of stress. Yoga, in particular, has been shown to relieve stress by raising the brain’s levels of the neurotransmitter GABA. • Breathe! Stop, close your eyes and take several slow, deep breaths. No matter how busy you are, you can take out 30 seconds to breathe. If you have more time, consider lying down on your bed and doing some longer breathing exercises. Picture your breath as it enters your body, and imagine it traveling downward until it fills up the upper part of your lungs. With every breath, imagine the air extending further into your body, until it’s entering even your fingers and toes.

• Go on dates. Spend time with your fiancé without talking about the wedding. Take this time to remember what you love about each other and why you want to get married in the first place.

• Leave some stones unturned. Depending on where your wedding is taking place, you may have almost unlimited options for wedding vendors, venues and bands. Don’t get paralyzed by choice. Narrow your options down to just a few choices by asking for advice from friends and family or wedding professionals, who often know which vendors are easy to work with and which to avoid. Then interview only those select few.

Remember that in the end, your wedding is just one day in a long life of happiness together. Everyone wants a perfect wedding day, but in life, nothing is ever exactly as you imagine it. You are only human, as is everyone else involved in your wedding. Make sure that you’ve taken care of the big things, but don’t try to micromanage every detail of the day. You’ll go crazy trying, and you’ll set yourself up for disappointment at the drop of a hat. After all, for as much effort as you’ve put into planning your wedding, you owe it to yourself to be loving every minute of it, not thinking about how the music came on a couple of seconds too late at the end of the ceremony. You’ve earned this; enjoy it.  

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