Bride Guide: How to Handle the Stress of Planning Your Wedding | Kansas City Wedding Photographer Merry Ohler
I'm just going to give this to you straight. Planning a wedding can be stressful.
Yep, I said it. Stress-to-the-ful. Like, randomly-sob-into-your-non-fat-chai-latte-as-you-scan-registry-items-with-your-little-scanner kind of stressful.
It's kind of a crazy ride, when you think about it. You and your love are living life, totally smitten with each other and with hardly a care in the world. Then, joy of joys, on one perfect day he drops to one knee and pops THE perfect question. You manage a breathless, "YES!" And the race to the first day of your forever begins.
What everyone fails to tell you is that this stretch of time leading up to your wedding? It is likely the most chaotic and stressful period of time the two of you have weathered together up to this point. "But Merry, that sounds so silly!" I hear you say. "How on earth could place settings and reception decisions be stressful?" I'm glad you asked. There is nothing like a wedding to bring out the most heartfelt (read: noisy) opinions of your closest 300 friends and family members.
As you and your betrothed navigate this new season and begin to prepare for marriage, follow these tried and true tips if you want to keep your relationship strong and manage your stress while planning your wedding.
1. Make a Wedding Budget.
Did you know that according to a survey of 13000 couples in 2017, the average US wedding cost a cool $33,391? That being said, of all the weddings that took place in the US that year, there were couples who spent as little as under $15K, as well as couples who spent well over $100K or more. I share all of this to show you that a wedding can cost as much - or as little - as you want to spend. The point is, you need to know what you want to - and can - spend. Take steps to create a plan and a budget before you dive head first into planning and booking your dream venue and vendors.
Schedule a dinner night at home to sit down and really talk about this together. Be prepared to talk about the things on which you are each willing to compromise. Does he just have to cater the reception dinner from his favorite barbecue restaurant? Do you find that you can not fathom a marriage that doesn't begin with you in a stunning Johanna Ortiz piece of perfection? Talk through these things together, and come to an agreement that leaves you both comfortable. Budgeting is something every couple should be doing, and there's no better time to begin than the present.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
If your groom isn’t so into weighing in on which hue of lavender looks best with the succulents in your centerpieces…In the words of Elsa, let it go, sister. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about your wedding. It doesn't mean he is having second thoughts. What it does mean is that he knows good and well that on that amazing day, he will only have eyes for you - and he won't even remember what the centerpieces looked like.
If your bride-to-be is seeming less like the laid-back companion you asked to spend forever with you and more like that giant shiny-obsessed crab from Moana (umm... hello rose gold EVERYTHING!), give her some grace. She is very likely feeling a little bogged down by a hundred intricate decisions and if you aren't super into the details, she may be feeling a little overwhelmed. Surprise her with flowers or dinner at her favorite restaurant. Remind her what all this is about, and listen if she needs to vent about what her mom said about the (caterer, venue, dress, fill-in-your-blank.)
3. Think about why you are choosing your __________.
Are you choosing your dress because of the designer name on the tag? Did you choose your venue because it is the trendiest new location? Or because it feels like a good fit for the two of you as a couple? Are you choosing your caterer because they were popular with all your recently married friends?
Really take time to consider why you are making the choices you are making. There is nothing like a wedding to bring out the opinions of everyone around you, so it is important to make sure you are making choices that make you both happy. Your wedding should reflect the two of you - not everyone else. Do you really want food trucks instead of a traditional caterer? Go for it! Do you secretly want to be married on the hill at your grandparents' farm? Do it! Don't feel like you have to follow tradition if you are a non-traditional couple - you'll be much happier as a couple if you remain true to yourselves.
4. Keep dating each other!
This might seem like a silly charge to add to my list, but believe me, it needs to be here. It is so easy to get caught up in wedding planning and preparation that you forget to spend some QT with your soon-to-be spouse! Whatever your crazy schedule looks like, take turns surprising the other with a real date. (Not a have-dinner-while-you-fill-out-wedding-checklists or writing invitations date!) Go to dinner. Go dancing. Check out First Fridays or the Nelson - it doesn't matter what it is, as long as you do it with the intention of keeping your person close to your heart. You will both appreciate the effort!
5. Be present.
Set time aside every day for (at least) 30 minutes of uninterrupted conversation, but DO NOT discuss anything related to your wedding or planning for the future during this time. In the middle of wedding to-do's and all the responsibility that comes along with that, it is easy to forget that you need to be present in what's happening right now in your life.
Ask about her day and what is going on in her office. Ask him what he is looking forward to this week. Find out what each of you are feeling and how you can support each other in the days ahead. It might be tempting to check out and game or binge-watch Netflix in your down-time together, and that's fine to do sometimes - but make sure you are making it a priority to be present for each other.
6. Do something new together.
Surprise her with a romantic picnic. Take him bowling. Sign up for a dance class together. Schedule a wine tasting at the new winery outside of town. Run a 5K.
You get the idea. Pick something you wouldn't normally do and step outside your "couple box" together. You two have a lifetime of togetherness ahead of you, and trying something new together now will encourage you to keep trying new things together in the years to come. If you can find something that interests you both, choose something that encourages you to work together as a team. Who knows - maybe you'll find something that will become an ongoing activity you do together!
7. Take time to dream together.
Plan a night in and dedicate the conversation to talking about where you see yourselves in five, ten, fifteen years. Do you see yourselves in a different city? Maybe a different country? Do you see yourselves buying a perfect little cottage in the city? Or perhaps a farm house on a little piece of land? Do you envision starting and building a business together? Having a passel of kids? Or maybe adding a few furry friends to your little family?
Share your hopes, but make sure to ask what your partner envisions, too. Nothing draws a couple together like dreaming together.
8. Remember why you are choosing each other.
At the end of the day, remember that all of this planning and figuring out the little details can be fun (and overwhelming), but this is ultimately about the two of you choosing each other on your wedding day – and every day after. In five, ten, fifty years - very little of this will matter. I promise that when you sit on your front porch, sipping iced tea with the one you've been choosing for the past several decades, what you remember from your wedding will have nothing to do with the bridesmaid's dresses - and everything to do with the one still holding your hand.