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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Twelve Tips for Planning a Low-Stress Wedding


A wedding is a breeding ground for stress, one reason being that there are so many details to manage. There's not much you can do about Aunt Martha and Cousin Joe not wanting to speak to each other, but you can organize and manage details so there are as few surprises as possible.

There will always be those things that pop up at the last minute, but if you have done a good job of organizing, they are usually either out of your control or are minor. The following tips will help ease your mind as your plan your wedding:

1. Start early. As soon as you know you’re getting married, start planning. My daughter and I had almost a year to plan her wedding and we used it all! Her wedding was very large and we did much of it ourselves. If you don’t think you need that much time, it never hurts to be ahead of schedule, even if your wedding is intimate and simple.

Even if you’re not engaged yet, there are several things you can start looking at: wedding dresses, bridal party attire, invitations, etc. Don’t scare off your boyfriend, though, by jumping the gun!

2. Keep the communication lines open and healthy with your fiancé and your family during the wedding-planning process. Your relationships are more important than your ceremony. Your ceremony will take place on one day ... your relationships will continue for the rest of your life. Work on finding win-win solutions to problems and be open to their ideas.

You will spend the rest of your life finding solutions to problems. To help you perfect this skill, avail yourself of pre-marriage counseling. I highly recommend the Myers-Briggs personality type inventory. And make good choices, the most important one in my opinion: don't be selfish. It's impossible for a marriage to flourish if one or both partners are self-absorbed.

3. Determine your budget and the size of your wedding. Your budget will likely determine the size of your wedding. If your parents are paying for your wedding, get a clear picture of what they are willing to spend. You can decide to stick within that budget or contribute some yourself. Or you may be footing the entire bill yourself.

Whatever the case, I suggest living within your budget. Insisting on a lavish affair is not worth the stress that debt puts on your relationship with your parents and/or your fiancé and later on your marriage.

Do your homework as you estimate the cost of the various components of your wedding. Costs add up quickly, and being realistic about them avoids last minute sticker-shock and its ensuing stress. Overestimate your costs so that if things turns out to be higher than you anticipated, you have a little padding.

4. Get a wedding organization book and live by it! This wonderful tool provides checklists, timelines, and deadlines. It also supplies you with etiquette rules and other such valuable information. Remember, though, that just because something is suggested in your wedding organization book, if it’s not you, don’t do it! This is your wedding, and it should reflect you! If you can afford a wedding planner, she will do much of this for you.

5. Secure a venue for your wedding and reception. Some locations are booked a year or more in advance, so don’t procrastinate on this one if your location is a popular one! To avoid this hassle, some couples are deciding to marry on less typical days: Friday evening or Sunday afternoon, for example. By thinking outside the box, you may discover creative solutions to this search.

6. Decide on a wedding dress and wedding party attire. This may take a while, so give yourself enough time to find what you want. The internet makes this overwhelming task much easier! Look online to find styles you like and narrow down your search this way.

Give yourself enough time for altering, re-ordering correct sizes, etc. If you are having dresses made, allow adequate time for measuring, sewing, try-ons, and alterations. We had the bridesmaids’ dresses made by a friend. To cut costs, we used a 50% off coupon at Jo-Ann’s when we purchased the material.

7. Plan your wedding ceremony with your fiancé. Don’t just include everything you’ve seen in others’ wedding – make it meaningful to you. We actually attended a wedding ceremony that seemed like it included everything ever done in a wedding ceremony – it was eternal!!

Make your ceremony reflective of you! Sit down with the minister or person who is going to perform your wedding, and express your desires. Any wedding ceremony can be adapted to fit your values and wishes.

Our daughter and son-in-law have a very strong faith. Her engagement ring was a triangle. She and her fiance were represented by the bottom two corners, and God was represented by the top corner. They wanted their relationship to become closer as they became closer to God. The triangle shape reoccurred throughout the wedding and reception.

Our daughter didn’t want a wedding cake – she wanted cheesecake instead. We found already-sliced Cheesecake Factory cheesecake at Sam’s. They chose to eliminate the cake-cutting, obviously.

A friend of ours was into the two-step, so he and his groomsmen wore cowboy boots and it was a two-step reception. Another friend got married in his Chucks, his signature footwear! Don't be afraid to be different!

8. Keep a binder or file or box containing wedding paraphernalia – contracts with those providing services, sketches, ideas, final products, etc., so you can locate colors, samples, etc. at a moment’s notice.

9. Determine what help you need – both paid and volunteer. If you have friends who are willing to help with various aspects of your wedding, accept that help if you like their work. A friend might be able to design your invitation and/or program. Or help you address wedding invitations. Ask friends for recommendation for wedding cake bakers, caterers, etc. If people offer to help, consider saying yes!

10. Hire a wedding coordinator at least for your wedding day. Then you, your mom, your family, and your wedding party can enjoy the day and revel in your celebration. She can take care of those little details and make sure that everyone is where they need to be.

11. Prepare an emergency kit for those last minute snafus: safety pins, masking tape, cellophane tape, a stapler, bobby pins, hair spray, needle and thread, extra pantyhose, extra make-up, scissors, etc. Ask a friend to be on stand-by to run errands if necessary.

12. Relax and enjoy your day! Determine not to be stressed even if everything doesn’t go exactly as you planned. Someone may faint or goof up, but the important thing is that you're getting married!! Don't let small things spoil your celebration. And ... live happily ever after!

More on relieving stress:
6 Ways to Reduce Stress by Getting Organized
Foods that Relieve Stress
Twelve Tips to Destressing Christmas