If you don’t already know, April is Stress Awareness Month. Apparently it’s been happening every year since 1992, when I was a cute four year old with pigtails, a chunky fringe and a collection of pretty collared dresses that I wish I had now in adult size.
Stress is something I’m very interested in, and I’ve spent years learning ways I can manage it. So, I thought to mark the occasion I would write a new post each week centred around stress, and how we can reduce and prevent it. Unless of course you enjoy heart palpitations, knotty stomachs, a racing mind and a propensity to curl up in a ball and cry. In which case, feel free to skip this post and there’ll be something else for you to read later this week.
Since the beginning of April also marks my wedding anniversary, I thought I’d kick off proceedings with a post all about stress-free wedding planning.
If I may be so bold, I was a very chilled out Bride-to-be. I even surprised myself with my levels of nonchalance. As well as my own tips and tricks, I gathered a few pearls of wisdom from some friends and family members who have also planned a wedding, to give YOU the best chance of not being a bridal train wreck.
So without further ado, here are 11 tips for stress-free wedding planning…
1. Remember what the day is about
Is it about the seat covers? No. Is it about coming up with cool and original favours? No. Is it about whether your shoulders look broad in your dress and there’s only two weeks to go and how are you going to fix them in time?! Oh heck no. As long as you’re able to marry your fiancé, nothing else matters. I promise. I kept this in mind whilst we were planning, and it really helped to keep the stress tears at bay.
2. Stay healthy
Not in a ‘I need to run 5 miles every day and eat my weight in salad’ kind of way, because that doesn’t sound fun at all. But eat good, wholesome food, exercise regularly, make sure you’re getting your eight hours of sleep, breathe and stretch out out the tension from your muscles, read for pleasure, and go for a walk in nature. All of these will help keep your stress levels down, giving you the calm mental energy you need to plan your wedding.
3. Decide what is important to you as a couple
If you’re newly engaged, it can be a bit overwhelming knowing where to begin. A good tip is to decide your priorities together, and this will make everything run a bit smoother. Is it important that you get married on a particular weekend? Is the venue the most important part? Do you have a theme in mind that will dictate other parts of your wedding? For us, we wanted a spring wedding, but Luke’s a teacher, so that limited the dates we had available. We chose the date, and then fitted everything else around that.
4. It’s YOUR day. Do what YOU want.
I used to spend far too much time people-pleasing and worrying over what other people thought. When it came to our wedding, we decided to do what we wanted. It’s YOUR day. Do you YOU want. We had a completely vegetarian wedding, and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few grumbles from people who don’t believe if it counts as a meal if it doesn’t contain meat. You’re never going to please everybody, so just do what you want.
P.S If you’re interested, a hefty chunk of our wedding feedback was around how incredible the food was. Just sayin’.
5. Have a budget contingency
I’m going to say something now that might shock you. Are you ready? WEDDINGS DON’T HAVE TO COST YOU A SMALL FORTUNE. Everyone talks about how expensive weddings are, and yes, there are certain elements that are over-priced, and you could easily end up spending what could otherwise be a deposit for a four-bed detached in Kensington. But you don’t have to. Be a savvy shopper, book in advance, round up the wedding party and put your DIY hats on. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make, is whatever your budget, make sure you have a contingency pot. You’ll feel much better dipping into that than your sad-looking overdraft.
PRO TIP: Weekdays can be considerably cheaper – particularly in off-season months like February and November.
6. Culling the dreaded guest list
Susan is insisting that your uncle’s second cousin that you last saw when you were wearing a nappy and who now lives in America, should have a place at your big day. You’re trying to keep costs down and not have 478 people at your wedding. A trick we used was to ask yourselves the following: “Would we ever invite Neil/Lisa/Bernadette/John round for dinner?” If the answer is no, either don’t invite them, or only invite them to the night do. The other thing we said was that we don’t want to be introduced to anyone at our wedding. If I could look out at the congregation during my wedding and think ‘Who on Earth is that?’, they ain’t coming.
7. Make decisions together
I’m not sure where this assumption has come from, but a lot of brides seem to think they need to plan the entire thing by themselves with no help from the groom. You absolutely do not. Make decisions together. It lightens the load. Plus, if there’s some monumental disaster, you can work out how to fix it as a team.
8. Do not, I repeat DO NOT go on a diet
When I got engaged, one of my colleagues said to me, “I suppose you’ll be going on a diet now then?” He didn’t ask because I needed to go on a diet, but because he assumed I would be, because it’s ‘what all women do’. It honestly didn’t even cross my mind. Please, don’t give yourself an extra dollop of unnecessary stress by trying to shed a stone/lose your bingo wings/fit into a dress that’s a size too small. The version of you that your fiancé proposed to is the version of you he/she wants to marry. You will be a RADIANT GODDESS on your wedding day, regardless of your size.
9. Get your friends and family involved
People LOVE to get involved in your big day, and it makes life easier for you, too. Winner winner tofu dinner. Here are a few ways we got other people involved:
• We asked some close friends and family members to bake something for our dessert table.
• I invited my Bridesmaids for a sleepover and we spent the evening watching girly films, eating food, and making wedding invitations. Extra piece of advice for you if you do this: BE CAREFUL IF YOU’RE DRINKING WINE AT THE SAME TIME. If you’re clumsy like me, you’ll 100% soak an invitation or two…
• Luke’s Best Man was assigned the job of rounding up the relevant troupes for the photography outside the wedding venue.
PRO TIP: It’s also a good idea to have a plan that you share with your photographer in advance, or it’ll be even more time consuming than it needs to be on the day.
10. Block out some time in your diaries to relax together in the days and weeks leading up to the wedding.
Things can get chaotic when you get close to the wedding, between sorting things that have gone wrong, getting all the last-minute things done, and trying to stay sane. To avoid being a frazzled shell of your former self, make sure you both book some time to relax. It doesn’t need to be a lot, I’m not saying you should book a 5* spa break or anything. I kept the two weekends before the wedding free, and it meant we entered the wedding period feeling cool, calm and collected.
11. On the day…
There is nothing more you can do. You’ve done all the hard work, and if something goes wrong, I can guarantee the likelihood is nobody will even notice. Take a deep breath, soak it all in, and enjoy this day that you’ve spent so long looking to. You deserve it.
Images © Will Fuller Photography