Wedding season is in full swing, but often the big event that is supposed to be filled with love and happiness is consumed with stress and guilt for the blissful couple. It doesn't and shouldn't have to be that way. You can reduce your wedding stress and create an enjoyable and memorable event if you stay focused on what makes you happy.
Much of the stress related to weddings comes from the need to conform to the current acceptable standard created by our society or our own ethnic heritage. The big white dress. The wedding hall. The multiple tiered cake. The family traditions. The religious ceremony. These are all lovely things to have at your wedding if that's what you truly want. But if you're following the traditional wedding playbook out of obligation to someone else or out of fear of choosing something different, you're sure to have a lot of inner turmoil and stress. By the time you start realizing you "should've, would've or could've", it may be too late to change directions.
Coming from a very traditional Italian family, I'm sure my parents assumed I'd have a big fat Italian wedding, which was the exact opposite of what I wanted. Since my boyfriend (we were never formally engaged so he wasn't my fiancé) and I saw no options available for a compromise, we eloped in Lake Tahoe and mailed a wedding announcement to friends and family afterwards. Yes, when I called my parents, they were angry, and my Sicilian mother didn't talk to me for three months, but they eventually accepted it. I can't say they ever "got over it", but I've never regretted my decision because I did exactly what made me happy, and knew for a fact that I avoided months of months of unnecessary stress. Life went on, and so has my marriage.
Your wedding (and planning it) should be an enjoyable experience. It's the beginning of a life with the person you love, so it's important to start that life off on a joyful note. Your only compromising should be between you and your partner, not you and every relative and friend. Before you embark on any wedding plan, sit down with your partner and discuss the picture that each of you has for your wedding. Clear up any major disagreements then, and decide how the planning responsibilities will be divided. Perhaps you choose to employ a wedding consultant to alleviate the time and energy necessary for the many decisions you'll be making, particularly if you've opted for a large, traditional wedding.
Simplicity also helps reduce wedding stress. It may mean doing things a bit differently than the traditional way, but if you're not into tradition, why not get married in a sarong on a Hawaiian beach or on the top of a ski slope! You could also have a simple ceremony and dinner for your immediate family and then throw a fun party after your honeymoon to celebrate. This significantly reduces the amount of decisions you have to make as well as giving you more party options. Even traditional weddings can be smaller with less guests and fanfare. How about wearing a beautiful evening gown that may not necessarily have the price tag of a wedding dress? Or what about having a cocktail and hors d'oeuvre party instead of a multi-course dinner? There are many ways to do things simpler, yet still be elegant.
Regardless of what kind of wedding you choose to have, be sure to stay true to your heart's desires. After all, it's all about love, isn't it?