Your wedding day will come with excitement, nerves, emotions, joy, and loads of expectations (yours and others’). What I didn’t realize when I began planning our “small and simple” wedding was how much stress would be present.
This post is definitely outside of my normal content—so please forgive me if you don’t find it relevant—but it’s a topic I really need to write about at the moment. I’m getting married in less than a month (as I write this), and to be candid—planning has been stressful. This may not come as a surprise to pretty much anyone who has had a wedding, but it is surprising to me. I am usually quite competent at managing many things at once and coping with stress, and this wedding has me questioning my abilities.
Of course I had heard about wedding stress and seen the byproducts of it in some of my friends over the years, which added to my list of reasons why I didn’t want to have one. When we first got engaged, my big plan was to elope somewhere beautiful to avoid all of that. But my fiancé had a different idea and has a big family, so we agreed to host a small-ish wedding—less than 60 people on top of a mountain. The thinking here was that small meant simple, which I now know isn’t true.
I’ve spent the past week contemplating all of the things that have gone wrong, could go awry, and all of the potentially stressful emotions that may surface. In an effort to stay calm on the day of the wedding, I thought I would hypothesize all of those potentially irritating, dramatic, and stressful situations ahead of time, so I can come up with a plan on how to mindfully handle them. If you have a plan, even unexpected stressors don’t have to get in the way of your presence, right?
So here they are—guidelines to stay in the moment, calm and cool on the day of your wedding. I’ll have to let you know how this plan works for me.
Start the Day with Pranayama and Meditation
Just like any other day, the first thing you do when you wake up will set the tone for the entire day. I plan to spend 20 minutes the morning of my wedding sitting quietly, meditating, and breathing. This is the 10-minute breathing sequence I practice each morning that will start my wedding day.
Why? To ground, center, calm and energize—and to set a mindful tone to the important day.
Take a Yoga Class
I asked my good friend Lena (who also co-leads retreats with me,) to teach an energetic yoga class for me and any guests wants to join on the morning of the wedding. I’m hoping that will not only put me in a present place, but hopefully anyone who comes will feel calm and connected to one another, too.
Why? Gets your (and everyone who shows up) heart rate up and endorphins going on the big day. Also helps you connect with guests before the ceremony.
Enjoy a Healthy Breakfast with My Best Woman (Maid of Honor)
She’s been my rock for more than 20 years and embodies positivity and strength. I’d like to have some QT with her the morning I marry—even if it’s just 15 minutes. Her positivity always rubs off on me and in case of any snafus, we already have that time planned to troubleshoot and adopt a positive outlook.
Why? To make sure you don’t go hungry and feel energized and nourished for the big day.
Put Someone Else in Charge
I’ve been project managing this wedding for months, and my role as captain will end before the wedding day. I plan to distribute clear schedules and info the week leading up to the wedding with the intent of people having an idea of the goings-on, and with the hope not to have to answer a million questions on the day of the wedding.
For all lingering questions and needs, I designated a good friend. I’ll give her and my bridal party a complete brain dump on what should go where and who needs to be at the Venue when, prior to the wedding weekend. I’m hoping they can answer questions and deal with potential issues on the wedding day.
Why? Because I’ll be busy reciting my vows, chatting with people who have come from far away to celebrate, and enjoying the day—I won’t have time to manage the setup and deal with slipups.
Let Go of Perfectionism
This is not just a wedding to-do, but something I’m working on in life at the moment. If you’re also a recovering perfectionist, you may enjoy a recent post I wrote about overcoming perfectionism.
Bottom line, the wedding isn’t going to be perfect. (We don’t even have a wedding coordinator, so expecting perfect is silly.) When you expect perfect, you wind up disappointed. On the other hand, when you strive for excellence but are able to let go of the snafus along the way, you’ll end up enjoying the ride a whole lot more. Unless your significant other doesn’t show up to the alter, you’re still going to end up married on your wedding day. So what is the real impact when the cake doesn’t show up or the flower girl throws a tantrum on the dance floor?
Why? If you focus on everything being perfect on your wedding day, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Let it go and enjoy the day!
Pretend You Are Protected
What’s your action plan for when Aunt Hilda criticizes your venue or your mom complains it’s too cold? What about when you hear your fiancé’s cousin causing drama or you find out the caterer will be two hours late?
When you feel triggered, imagine you have a protective bubble around you, shielding you from the stressful and dramatic elements of the day. Close your eyes for a moment and picture this protective shield absorbing any potential drama so it can’t reach you.
You may be the person who usually listens to the complaints and woes of every family member and friend, but that is not your role on wedding day. You can deal with the drama later if you have to. But for today, you can’t worry about the needs and complaints and gossip of every single guest so detach from the negativity and focus on getting yourself married. If something or someone really needs attention, you have someone in charge to help. They would rather step in than stress you out.
Why? Because it’s easy to let judgments and triggers get in the way of enjoying your day. Acknowledge that wedding day isn’t the time to deal with petty issues.
You’ll need cash for gratuity and unexpected last-minute items. Wouldn’t it be great if you can just give someone cash to deal with anything that may come up so you don’t have to?
Why? So you don’t have to strategize about how to pay for things that arise unexpectedly.
Detach from the Details
See above. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been staring at wedding to-do lists for months. But if it’s not done by the day before the wedding, just let it go. The important thing is starting a life with your fiancé. Whether or not the rosemary sprigs made it to the napkin rolls doesn’t really matter. And if the musicians don’t show up, there’s not much you can do to fix it at this point except accept. The wedding will go on and you will still end the day as a Mrs.
Try to take things in stride and stay connected to why you’re there.
Why? Because the music, the cake, the flowers, and the details are not the reason you are getting married. If you focus on the details or on what is missing, you’ll miss the celebration.
Stand By Your Spouse’s Side
This was advice given to me by my best friend and I know I’ll take it. She said to spend the entire reception with my new husband. “Your wedding day is not the night to prove your independence, like you normally do at other parties,” is how she put it. As an independent woman with lots of time and activities separate from my fiancé, it may be natural to steal away for a dance or conversation with friends. She warned me that the night will fly by and it is a celebration of us—so spend it celebrating together. Plus, we would be making it difficult for the photographer to get photos of us together if we weren’t—together.
Why? So you don’t let the day’s events and players accidentally take you away from celebrating with your significant other.
Attune to Your Heart and Practice Gratitude
Remember why you’re getting married…
…you found your soul mate
…you are starting a family
…you can’t imagine your life without your bride or groom
…your significant other makes you happy
Your reason is probably some combination of all of these things—don’t forget what the celebration is all about in the midst of the details. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or stressed, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and appreciate the love and connection between you and your partner. Everyone will be coming together to celebrate the love you share. Keep this sentiment close to your heart and at the center of your mind throughout the entire day, and the insignificant details will seem even smaller.
Why? Because gratitude creates joy, and joy is a beautiful antidote to stress.