Your wedding day will be one of the happiest days of your life -- but there might be days leading up to the big day that feel like some of the worst. I have identified nine different originating points for wedding stress and asked relationship experts, marriage ceremony officiants, wellness gurus, and our cool-as-a-cucumber wedding advisers at Pink Cloud 9 to provide some Big Day Stress Buster Tips that will help you get down the aisle without pulling your (or someone else's!) hair out.
1. "It's not us, it's THEM!"
The most common point of stress relates to your role as the peacekeeper and host for a day with a family that has complex relationship dynamics -- multiple divorces, cultural or religious differences, and the general anxiety about introducing your extended families to each other for the first time. Relationship expert Dr. Saum emphasizes that since weddings are a highly emotional occasion, the stress associated with the wedding is to be expected. "One can go about approaching it in two ways: You can either ignore it and let things escalate on their own (not something that is recommended) or you can embrace the stress and incorporate it with the planning (recommended)."
2. "Wow. This is a full-time job."
"I felt like I was the CEO of a company because nearly everything was run by me to get my stamp of approval for this gigantic production that we were creating," said recently married yoga instructor Molly Nourmand. With only 24 hours in a day, it's incredibly difficult to balance the demands of work, life and a wedding. Molly encourages meditation for five minutes a day before your big day: "You will feel like you don't have time to meditate, but paradoxically meditation will relax you, making you feel like you have more time. And you don't have to know any fancy techniques -- just set a timer on your phone, put on some soothing music (try the Pandora radio station "Deuter") or sit in silence, and focus on taking long, slow, deep breaths. This will help keep things in perspective (i.e. you'll remember that your connection to your partner is what's important and suddenly your toe nail polish color won't feel like a major decision anymore)."
3. "What to do with 100 shades of BLUE?!"
Ah, the paradox of choice. Picking the perfect color blue, the right cake flavor pairing or making sense of all the ideas you see on the wedding blogs can be a bit daunting when you're not sure about how it will all come together. "The key to sifting through all your wedding design ideas is to organize your ideas by categories like colors, dresses, decor, cakes, etc. and file them away to look at them the next day with fresh eyes," says Pink Cloud 9's design expert Kate Stewart. You can also seek the advice of experts and people you know with great taste and opinions that you trust. Being able to vocalize your ideas and hearing others' perspectives helps build your confidence to make a solid choice.
4. "Everything. must. be. perfect."
You've been dreaming about this day over and over, and your ideas aren't coming together the way you expected. As cheesy as this might sound, the only thing that needs to be perfect is your love for each other, and that shouldn't be forced. Hire a good wedding day coordinator to be in charge of executing your details and deftly handle the emergencies when Murphy's Law calls for a Plan B.
5. "My fiance(e) doesn't get it."
Your partner doesn't seem to care about the wedding details as much as you do, and you're starting to feel like you're planning this wedding alone. Marriage ceremony officiant Maureen Thompson says, "Ask yourself why you want your fiance more involved. Is it because you feel it demonstrates how much he/she loves you, or simply because the task at hand overwhelms you and you need help? The answer to this question will determine how you approach involving your fiance." If it's the former, then a heart-to-heart is in order. If it's the latter, then consider handing over some easy tasks for your fiance to handle so that you can tackle the bigger ones.
6. "Too many cooks in the kitchen!"
Conversely, you might have a lot of people giving you their unsolicited "advice" about how your wedding day should go. The right approach to handling this situation depends on the person you're dealing with. If your vendors are causing you stress, then ask them to focus on the job you hired them for or consider revoking your agreement. If it's your family, use a little honey to have them spend their energy on an area of the wedding planning that they can actually support you. If it's your friends that are getting pesky, then a sincere conversation about how important it is to you that they support your decisions is in order.
7. "How are we going to afford all this?"
With the average wedding going for $30,000 and the average U.S. household income being around $50,000, the financial planning for a wedding is a significant stress inducer. Smart budgeting equals careful expectation setting (maybe you don't need to get married in that castle?), finding realistic payment plan options (spacing out your vendor payments so that they don't hit you all at once), and some good old fashioned belt tightening (make some gorgeous meals at home instead of going out to eat!).
8. "My florist just dumped me."
Oh no. Shame on them! Well, the good thing is that it is not as hard to find a good vendor as it is to find a husband or wife -- I can guarantee that. The best way to handle this stress is to move on as quickly as possible. Demand your deposit back immediately. Look back at the other vendors you researched and see if any of them are still looking good. Visit the directories of your favorite blogs and directories or chat us up at Pink Cloud 9 to find a new match for your needs. Approach your vendors with a firm number on the amount that you can spend, and close the deal.
9. "Is he really THE ONE???"
Having the last-minute jitters is normal and understandable. However, as with any other fear, understanding its roots will help you outline a solution, says Dr. Saum. A five-step process will help you get there. First, examine the fear and determine what you're really scared of. Then, address your fears and understand why they're hurting you. Next, put your fears out into the open by sharing them with your trusted friends and partner. It's likely you'll be able to normalize this fear at this difficult stage. From there it's time to be very realistic about the challenges that you're going to face in your marriage. At last, be honest with yourself. Before acting out irrationally or living in denial, take a moment to clear your thoughts and be introspective. Getting professional advice through premarital counseling can bring insight and skills on how to move the marriage forward happily together.
The key to handling any stress is to breathe in -- think introspectively about what's causing you anxiety -- and then to breathe out, vocalize your concerns and create shared solutions for problems.
If you'd like to chat with me or a wedding professional to help you get through the wedding crazies, please visit us at pinkcloud9.com and order TalkTime for expert advice.