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Five Tips for Staying Sane on the Road to I Do

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STRESSFUL ENGAGEMENT
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You're engaged and in a state of unending bliss. You and your beloved spend your evenings snuggling on the sofa, arms interlocked and sipping from each other's champagne flute as the details of your wedding just -- somehow, magically -- all fall into place. Life is perfect.

Or this.

Within any given day, you experience some or all of the following: breathless excitement, fury, crying jags, clutching anxiety, confusion. You are not a bridezilla. You have not been planning this wedding since you were three and Barbie and Ken were your role models for love. You want a simple, meaningful, shenanigan-free wedding and you have somehow ended up a crazy person.

If you have wise people in your circle-of-trust, they will tell you this is normal. They will suggest you read books like Sheryl Paul's The Conscious Bride and counsel you on the complexity of times of transition. These people are your rocks; hold on to them with all your might!

You may have noticed some of your nearest and dearest are under the impression that your wedding day is about them and must include x, y and z. Weddings are a tricky business; they often stir up as much emotion for families as they do for the couple getting married and the result can lead the most grounded bride or groom-to-be to a state of complete overwhelm.

So, how do you stay sane and joyful amidst the chaos of planning and the expectations of others? Five tips:

1. "Discipline" Yourself: Remember being sent to your time out corner? Send yourself (and your partner) there and declare "no wedding talk" zones. Set a weekly movie date, take long walks with the dog together, turn off your ringer and play Scrabble; whatever you two do that brings you back to you.

2. Delegate: If you haven't yet mastered the art of handing off projects, now's your moment. Even (especially!) if you're a Type A/I'll-do-it-myself kinda gal (or fellow) look over your "to do" list and find things that don't require your input and ask for/accept offers of help. Not only will this reduce your workload, it has the added benefit of letting people who love you be a bigger part of your event.

3. Self-Reflect: Take time to reflect on what getting married means to you. What made you want to spend the rest of your life with your fiancé? Create a "mission statement" that captures the bigger purpose of your wedding, and when your great-aunt Mildred demands to meet (again) to discuss the table centerpieces, say it to yourself like a mantra.

4. Set Boundaries: Get clear on which aspects of the wedding are most sacred to you and your betrothed and tactfully let any overbearing friends or relatives know that while these elements are not up for discussion, you would welcome their input in other areas of planning. Setting boundaries might not make you popular with the more challenging people in your life, but it will give you peace of mind to know you are being true to yourself and preserving what matters most.

5. Challenge "Perfect": The words "perfect" and "wedding" don't belong in the same sentence, but they've become culturally interlocked, with pressure especially sky high for brides. What achievable word best captures how you want your wedding to feel? Romantic? Sacred? Fun? Let that be your beacon (and your screen saver!) and take "perfect" out of your planning vocabulary.

Try these tips and cultivate your own. Ask married friends what helped them cope through the more trying times. Remember, any and all feelings that come up are normal. Be good to yourself and allow yourself as much room as possible to feel your feelings without judgment. It's a time like no other, for better and for worse, and it is for something wonderful. Just as pregnancy and labor lead to a precious baby, you're "birthing" a beautiful marriage that's yours and yours alone.

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