THE BLOG
04/03/2013 03:00 pm ET | Updated Jun 03, 2013

Turning Volunteering Into Wedding Planning Peace

Volunteerism is win-win. It always has been, and it always will be. But for brides and grooms preparing for their upcoming nuptials, volunteering can also be a welcome source of much-needed peace during wedding preparations.

Never is there a better time to breathe, reflect, and re-prioritize than during the wedding planning phase of life. It's all too easy to become consumed with the minutia of wedding planning, often to the detriment of all else, but volunteering is a wake-up call to how important, or not, things really are. Just how life-changing will that mistake on the ribbon color truly be when compared to the trials of life that someone far less fortunate is experiencing? Volunteering has a way of helping you smile through all those inevitable wedding planning snafus by subconsciously putting them in perspective. Studies show that negative emotions like anxiety are positively impacted by the act of volunteering. But scientific study isn't really necessary when something is so obvious. One only has to dip a toe into the volunteering pool to discover the truth. A volunteer reaps rewards from the act of volunteering, while those on the receiving end of a volunteer's selfless contribution gains even more. It's the very definition of win-win.

Whatever your enthusiasms in life may be, you'll find someone who will benefit from the sharing of those passions. Volunteering is often seen through tunnel-vision glasses, with images of soup kitchens popping to mind. But the truth is that while volunteering at a soup kitchen is honorable and worthwhile, there are countless other ways to volunteer. Whether your interest is in helping children, seniors, animals, the planet, or just about any other cause, there is a void that needs filling. From spending time as a music, swimming or horseback-riding coach, to acting as a museum tour guide or a literacy mentor, to utilizing your construction, crafts or crocheting talents, there is something guaranteed to feed your passion while allowing you to give back to the community. And if getting out into the community isn't for you, virtual volunteering allows volunteers to work at home doing everything from stuffing envelopes to assembling products to writing newsletters or blog posts for nonprofit organizations.

Volunteermatch.org, serve.gov, or thevolunteerfamily.org are just three examples of web sites that bring needs and volunteers together. With just the entry of a zip code and an area of interest, scores of opportunities materialize. And if many of them look similar, or not to your particular liking, keep looking. The perfect match is out there.

The perception is that there aren't enough hours in the day during wedding preparations, or that taking focus away from the wedding-related tasks at hand would take the joy out of the planning experience. Neither has to be true, and time management may actually become easier with volunteering. As with just about everything in life, taking a break from a project ultimately leads us back to that project with renewed vigor and a fresh mental outlook, much the way exercise provides a turbo boost of energy and improved health for the body. There is always a way to make time if the desire is there. And who knows what other surprising benefits might occur? You may meet someone during volunteer activities who touches your heart, and because you are planning something as beautiful as a wedding, you have a unique way to touch a heart right back.

There are countless disadvantaged children and young adults who have never experienced something as extraordinary as a wedding. Elderly grandmothers or grandfathers who embrace life but who have outlived their family may believe that they'll never enjoy another wedding in their lifetime. If you volunteer, you may get to know someone special, ultimately inviting that person to join the festivities as a guest, or perhaps even as a participant. In extending such an invitation, you give yourself an awesome wedding present -- the knowledge that you gave someone a lifetime memory. Life is just plain better when filled with love and beauty, and what is more loving and beautiful than a wedding?

Volunteering can turn wedding stress into joy. If the heart leads the way, meaningful wedding memories seem even more abundant. It's undeniable. Wedding planning is busy and often stressful work, but that's all the more reason to take the time to think of others. It rejuvenates the spirit, and it may be a surprise to discover just how much the act of volunteering subtly, beautifully, enhances the wedding planning experience. Knowing that you helped to maintain the very park where your wedding will take place, showering love upon a lost animal, or making a lifelong connection to someone special that you may have otherwise never had the pleasure of knowing, are life rewards that can't be bought. But they can be acquired, even during the wedding planning process.

Volunteering is as much of a gift to the volunteer as it is to the person receiving the gift of a volunteer's time, and for brides and grooms, the selfless act of becoming a volunteer just may be the perfect antidote for wedding planning overload.

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