It happens to the best of them. Even the most composed, calm-as-can-be, prepared brides have a meltdown or two about the reception lighting being a notch on the pink side, table eight and table 13 being too close together, or the DJ's awful printed tie (valid complaint if you hired the same DJ as my girlfriend -- the ducks on your tie are not funny, nor cute). You can prepare all you want for the big day, but unfortunately the nerves are bound to creep up on you at some point.
If you resign yourself to the inevitable, you can think about what to do when you start feeling tense. Here are my top eight tips for avoiding a "stresspisode", and savoring each and every moment of your wedding.
1. Have your final dress alterations done a week before the wedding, if possible. Your body won't be changing too much this close to the big day, so you can rest assured your dress will fit like a glove. Pack a "bridal stylist" kit beforehand with all the emergency essentials: double stick tape, band-aids, safety pins, Tide stain wipes, etc. Nobody wants to worry about wardrobe mishaps!
2. Get over the minuscule details. If you have a wedding planner for the day, trust that they know what they're doing and will handle the details. No wedding planner? No problem! Enlist a couple of friends to pay attention to specific important details to help you out. Direct and forget! Don't obsess over each little thing. Think about the big picture.
3. Speaking of enrolling people to help, they will LOVE it. Everyone wants to be a part of the celebration and help you out. Let them. It will take some stress off of the bridesmaids, too! Have your aunt keep an eye on your updo, your college roommate remind you when it's time to cut the cake, and your sister hold your heels after you put on your dancin' shoes.
4. Remember this day is not "YOUR day." It is also your groom's day. It is also your parent's day. It is also you grandmother's day. You have invited certain guests to a celebration of love because of the role they have played in your life. This day means a lot to them, too, so share the day. Keeping this in mind will not only put things into perspective, but also take some tension off your shoulders.
5. Don't like to be the center of attention? Skip over some of the inessential wedding traditions that force you to "perform", like the bouquet toss. You can still wear a garter (it's a piece of lingerie, not a party favor!) and keep it as a memento without doing the garter toss.
6. Some people are just naturals at giving speeches. Most are not. If you're one of the lucky few, congratulations! If you dread giving speeches, then don't feel like you have to. You will probably have many sentimental things to say to important people in your life on the big day, so why not write them down in a heartfelt note? They will love the fact that it is a keepsake and can be reread whenever they want. And it keeps you safe from the mic!
If you do want to say something to all of your wedding guests, but dread speeches, keep in mind that it doesn't have to be the most clever, engrossing story with a great punchline. Keep it short and heartfelt. Even a couple of sentences expressing your gratitude and love will be appreciated and generate some "awww!"s.
7. Take a step back whenever you can to take it all in. Remind yourself to stay present. With all the action and attention going on, it's easy to get caught up and feel stressed. So prepare yourself and practice being in the moment. This is one of the most important, everyday life habits to practice, too!
Come up with a keyword or phrase that your bridesmaids can say to you during the reception to remind you to calm down and be present. Make it a nonsensical phrase, or random words that don't mean anything... something to make you laugh. I know this sounds weird, but when you're stressing out about the wrong color flower in Table 12's centerpiece and your maid of honor approaches you and says, "Ducks wear two left shoes", you'll laugh, take a deep breath, and remember it's the unbelievable amount of love in the day that will make it special, not Pantone-perfect hued Dahlias.
8. Last but not least, remember that it's the imperfections that will help make your wedding day memorable! Twenty years from now, you may not remember how perfectly the ribbon was wrapped around your bouquet. You may, however, remember falling during the limbo, and continue to laugh about it for the next 20 years. Consider the things that "weren't supposed to happen like that" gifts! These gifts will give you stories galore and chuckles for decades to come.
Front page photo by Flickr user JustWedding.net