A week before my wedding, one of my bridesmaids asked me if I was stressed. On that day, I was quitting my corporate job to pursue my dream career. I had the whole week off before my wedding. I replied, “What is there to be stressed about? I have plenty of time to get everything done before the big day.”
Or so I thought.
When my friend asked that, I thought it was funny and sort of sad that we automatically assume brides are always stressed out. For months, I had been looking forward to Wedding Week just as much as the actual Wedding Day. I was excited for our friends and family to all be together in our home city for several days.
I had no idea how crazy and yes, I’ll admit, stressful, that week was going to be when it came.
Monday through Friday was a rat race of endless questions, each seeming to require three more phone calls. Last-minute changes, forgotten details, seating arrangements–all of these unexpected things kept piling up.
Kyle and I both waited until Wedding Week to write our vows, which took surprisingly more time than I expected. We hosted friends and family most of the nights, which called for lots of cooking and cleaning and more cooking and cleaning. Of course, we wanted all of these things and I wouldn’t have done it any differently, but I wasn’t prepared for all of the unexpected busyness of the week.
Much like anything in life, the journey toward something you strongly desire will always be tough and ask for the best of you.
Some people have stressful points throughout their engagement and are blessed with a calm Wedding Week. For me, I had an easygoing 19-month engagement followed by an intensely hard Wedding Week. I learned that if you go into the challenging times with the mindset of powering through–confident that everything will work out–you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your day when it comes around.
I won’t deny that I had plenty of mental freakouts and maybe one or two complete meltdowns the week of, but on our wedding day, I was completely happy and relaxed.
Many people, including my hair stylist and photographer, noted how calm I seemed. I could hardly believe them given the anxiety of the previous days, but I was grateful that I both appeared and felt relaxed. You only get this day once; you don’t want to lose a single moment to stress or negativity.
How do you power through stressful wedding-planning moments to be a relaxed, happy bride on your wedding day? The following tricks worked well for me, even when things were beyond chaotic. If you’re getting married soon or approaching a big day of any kind, I hope you’ll give these tips a try:
1. Admit when you’re stressed and ask for help.
As someone who promotes stress management, it is hard for me to admit when anything does cause me stress. Luckily, my groom knows me better than I know myself. At one point, he told me to sit down and relax while he cooked dinner. Bless his heart.
If someone else suggests you might be stressed and tells you to go relax, that person is probably right and you haven’t admitted it yet. But you can’t always count on other people to know how you’re feeling.
One thing you’ll notice around your wedding is that people genuinely want to help you. All of my bridesmaids, my groom, friends and family constantly asked what they could do.
Suck up your stress, and ask for help! As the bride, you might want to do everything yourself because only you have the vision for how you want everything to be. You might not want to let that go, but what might you need that can make life a little easier in the moment? Can someone get you a glass of ice water or a hot coffee? A margarita? Some relaxing music? Ask for it! But always remember to…
2. Be grateful.
No one wants to help a bride who is issuing out orders and demanding foot rubs. Be kind and respectful when asking others for help, and always be thankful for every little way a person pitches in.
When things get stressful, breathe for a moment and express gratitude for what is actually happening. In my case, I thought about how lucky I was that so many people were making the effort to come to our wedding, that I had someone who loved me and wanted to marry me, and that we were fortunate enough to have the support from our families and have such a beautiful wedding.
These important things are the real meaning behind coordinating the flowers and deciding who will get along at each table. It may be stressful to plan everything involved, but the underlying meaning makes all the hard work worth it.
Remember what you’re grateful for and don’t be afraid to express it. Doing so will instantly lift some stress off your shoulders.
3. Live in each moment.
This tip comes from my prolific groom. As things were beginning to get hectic, he pulled me aside and advised me not to think about how busy everything was going to get or about the things I still had to do. He reminded me to live in each moment and be present with the task at hand.
Being present isn’t easy to do. It takes time and practice, but let me tell you, it pays off on Wedding Day. So many people told me the day would fly by, but being present and aware of each moment as it happened, it didn’t feel that way. When you feel like you’ve experienced each moment, no matter how fast-paced it is, you are satisfied.
4. Find little moments in each day to enjoy alone with your groom.
Seizing moments alone with your groom is a fun challenge during Wedding Week. You’re constantly busy and surrounded by family and friends, providing quite the twist to your normal routine with your man. But when you think about what everyone is here for and what all the chaos is about, it’s you and him. Make sure you’re still finding time to acknowledge him in midst of all your company.
Kyle and I decided early in the week that we’d make small moments for us each day. A couple of the days we woke up early before anyone else and took our fur child to the park. After our especially stressful rehearsal, (perhaps only stressful to me), Kyle pulled me aside before the dinner and we just talked for a few minutes as though no one else was around. These little moments gave us both a chance to regroup and check in with each other, a peaceful reminder of the beautiful day we were heading toward.
5. Let out your stress in a healthy way.
The best place to let your Bridezilla out is in the gym! When something pisses you off or stresses you out, turn up the music, go for a run or do your favorite workout. You are filled with so much adrenaline, especially during Wedding Week, that you need a healthy place to let it out.
Try not to take your stress out with too much alcohol. I’ll admit I needed a drink at the end of each day of Wedding Week, but be sure to stop at one! You don’t want to start your next day off with a hangover. You need all the energy you can get this week.
I made the mistake of gulping down a sugary margarita after my wedding rehearsal meltdown, which resulted in a headache that lasted through getting my hair done on Wedding Day. Resist the urge! Go for a cold water instead. I know that doesn’t sound anything like what you’ll likely want in the moment, but remember to think of the big picture.
6. Resemble the mood you want to see in others.
One of the many things I loved about my wedding day was that everyone–my bridesmaids, my family, my hair and makeup people–all seemed to be having a blast. Our whole wedding party was having fun and getting along. Everyone was relaxed and enjoying themselves.
Like I said, things got crazy during the week. Kyle and I did our best to be relaxed and focus on the joy of everything happening around us. It was chaos managing so many friends and family members, but it was awesome to have so many friends and family members there who wanted to be with us. So we relaxed and enjoyed it, knowing that we would likely not be able to get all of our group here to our city at the same time ever again.
Our joy for the event spread to everyone else. And while it’s hard to have individual moments with all of your people during that busy time, it’s satisfying to see everyone having a good time together.
7. Approach everything in a relaxed state.
In his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale expresses to do things easily with minimum effort to release maximum power.
“In any situation be relaxed, keep calm, take a friendly attitude, have faith, do your best. Do this and usually you can make things come out alright.”
You certainly can’t control everything that comes up the week of your wedding, but you can control how you respond. Don’t waste your energy by freaking out. Try venting to your mom for one minute, then drop any negativity around the situation and attempt to solve it in a relaxed state. The problem will be there either way–you might as well not lose steam by expending all your energy getting worked up about it.
8. Admit when you don’t have the answer.
You are the bride and likely did the majority of the planning. Everyone will have questions for you, and you may not have all the answers.
Remember, it is not always your job to answer them. Some things only you can take care of, and you want your guests to have a good experience, so do your best to get them what they need. In other cases, don’t get stressed out if you don’t know the answer. Direct them to your wedding planner, to your mom or maid of honor, to your vendors, anyone who may be able to help when you’re already buried in other details.
9. Visualize your wedding day.
This tip came to me from one of my favorite books in wedding planning, Radiant Bride: The Beauty, Diet, Fitness, and Fashion Plan for Your Big Day. The book suggests that when Wedding Day comes and you want to jump out of bed and start the big day, lay there for a few moments longer. Visualize the day ahead.
How do you see yourself? How do you want to feel? How do you want your groom to see you? How are you going to greet your guests? How are you going to treat the people working so hard to make your day perfect? Think about these things and visualize them. Set the right mindset for the day, and go live out that mindset!
Keep this trick in mind for the days leading up as well. When times get busy and stressful, sit down and close your eyes for a moment. Visualize yourself dancing with your new husband at your reception. Visualize stuffing each other’s faces with cake. Visualize your big smooch when they announce you husband and wife. Then smile.
10. Trust others on the big day.
When the day comes, there is nothing left for you to do but be pampered, have fun and take it all in. If there was a problem at the rehearsal, trust that someone will make sure it is taken care of. If you were unsure about a seating arrangement, trust that it will work out.
You can’t change or fix anything at this point, so relax. If people had questions before, this is when they work together to make it stress-free for you. Everyone wants you to be nothing but happy on your wedding day, and if they love you, they will do everything they need to do to make sure your wedding goes off without a hitch.
Much like any big dream you have in life, the journey to accomplishment will always be tough and test your desire for it. When you truly want something, be it a marriage, a graduation, a baby, a job, you have to give your all to make it happen. These things don’t come easily.
Your wedding day is indeed an accomplishment and a thing to be celebrated. You’ve found someone to share life’s experiences and grow with. But the planning can be stressful, and that is okay to admit. Embrace the journey, overcome the stressful moments, relax and enjoy the day you’ve been dreaming about.
Brides, what has helped you get through stressful wedding-planning moments? Share your advice by leaving a comment!
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Books mentioned in this post:
Photo credit: Lucy Elayne Photography (first two pictures)