After saying yes to marrying Noah, elation flooded my heart — I had just agreed to spend a lifetime with my best friend. The dreams and possibilities for our future seemed endless. Hours after we got engaged, I realized that my yes also meant planning a wedding … and I immediately felt the weight of that burden.
What kind of wedding would we have? Would it be as glorious as the wedding I’d dreamed of for years?* How would we pay for it? When would it happen? Who would come — would they enjoy it? How in the world would we figure out the planning details on top of our jobs and preparing for our future together?
Maybe you’re an organized, planning genius and excited to plan your day. You may even have the means to hire a wedding planner to do the work. But if you’re like I was — without an event planner — and sorting out the details seems daunting, here are a few pointers that will hopefully alleviate your wedding planning stress.
Remember the why
As a future bride, of course, you want your wedding to be perfect — every table centerpiece flawless, flowers arranged in effortless beauty and technology running smoothly. However, if you give all your attention to the external features of the event, it’s easy to forget the most significant reason for the day. Keeping your eyes on the true purpose of your wedding day is critical in the planning process.
Remembering the ‘why’ of your wedding will help keep your priorities in line as you plan. The guests aren’t coming to inspect every detail; they’re coming to celebrate your marriage. The ultimate goal is not to throw a fancy party for the fun of it — the purpose is to celebrate you and your fiance uniting as one. Focusing on this will help prevent you from micro-focusing too long on small details. The wedding planning stress of choosing tableware or picking out the best side dish will fade as you keep the most important part in the center of the picture.
And when you look back on your wedding day in 30 years, the first thing that comes to mind won’t be the table decorations or flavor of cupcakes you chose — it’ll be the sweet moments and loved ones surrounding you. While the details and decor hold value to make your special day stunning, the commitment and union with the love of your life is the most beautiful part of all.
Ready to Wed
Prioritize and focus on one task at a time
In my wedding planning experience, sometimes I would open my computer, view my checklist, become overwhelmed at the size of it and check out. Because I would become stressed, procrastination was tempting. Eventually, I realized that I could only complete one thing at a time, which helped reduce the pressure.
You can easily look at your to-do list and panic at the number of tasks, but we all know that’s not the best way. Prioritize the “essential” list of actions and focus on one at a time. It’s not possible to book your food vendor and choose the kind of florals you want all at once.
Divide and schedule target dates for when you want to finish certain tasks. Challenge yourself and let the excitement of the marriage ahead motivate you.
Delegate tasks to helping hands
Your family and friends love you, and they would probably much rather help you than see you break down in wedding planning stress. For example, I gave the task of entering the RSVP list on our wedding website to my close friend, Sarah. This may have been a small task in the grand scheme of planning, but it took one of many things off my plate.
As the duties are checked off, celebrate! Each task completed is like another section of a puzzle done — the more you complete, the clearer the picture of your wedding day becomes. Rejoice at each scheduled vendor and every little decision. Perhaps a reward for each completed job will help motivate you and make the process more enjoyable.
Take breaks and care for yourself
In the middle of planning what will be perhaps the greatest event in your life, be sure to step back from the to-do list to decompress and rest. Making space and time for self-care will energize you to continue planning.
Research has shown that brief pauses from work can significantly improve the ability to focus. In this study by the University of Illinois, “brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods.”
So breathe. Journal your thoughts and feelings. What are you hoping for? What might worry you at the moment? Make your favorite hot drink. Treat yourself to the spa.
In addition, surround yourself with people who encourage you about your wedding day. Meet up with a friend at a local coffee shop. Talk to a sibling or parent about any concerns about the upcoming day. Visualize your wedding and all the joy that will come with it, and express your thoughts to them.
Listen here, future bride: Every detail will be sorted out eventually. The tasks before you can be divided, conquered and ready for the big day. Most importantly, your soon-to-be husband will be united with you as one. Just take one step at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be stepping onto the altar saying, “I do.”
* I’d like to note that if your upcoming wedding has been negatively affected due to the coronavirus pandemic, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. You have every right to feel disappointed and are allowed to grieve.