Over the years I've watched as my group of friends have paired off and gotten married. I myself have a wedding in four months, but it was in the beginning phases of my wedding planning, when I felt everything spiraling out of control, including myself. I started doubting my decisions, thinking awful thoughts like was all of this stress really worth it, when a smart man said something to me that really hit home. He said “Ilyssa, its not a Disney movie.”
Weddings are a planning nightmare that are made worse by the fairy-tale expectations that this day needs to be perfect or that all the players in your scenario are going to act as the perfect people in your planned theatrical production. At the end of day all of things you feel are important are. Flowers are important, table arrangements, the music, the cake are important pieces, but what’s more important is that your not walking down the aisle alone to no one.
When I’ve asked others why is wedding planning so stressful, the answer usually is, ‘it just is, weddings are stressful’. This answer has become not good enough for me. My question is why? The truth is, its never ok for stress or stressful people to constantly bother you or the love that you have worked hard to create with the person you have chosen to spend your life with. Sadly, weddings sometimes bring out the worst in people. I’ve learned the hard way that you can't control other people's behavior. What you can do is be nice to everyone, but let them work out their own baggage. Your parents, for example are people that stress you out for various reasons your entire life, why would you think they would stop now? Your control lies in how you and your partner decide to handle it. When it came our turn, we decided to follow a very specific plan and stay on that positive stress free track together and this how:
1. Schedule a NO WEDDING night: This is perhaps the most important thing to stop others from stressing you out. One night a week, neither of you are allowed to mention the word wedding nor anything wedding related. Turn off your phones, shut down the computers and emails. This can be a date night, or just a relaxing at home together night to remind you why you're going through all this craziness in the first place!
2. Continue to be romantic: Everyday is a chance to wake up and show your partner how much they mean to you. Little post it notes, a ready breakfast in the morning or a thoughtful dinner, a text to say an unexpected I love you, are all ways to keep your romance thriving through the stress.
3. Accept the stress and anxiety, but don’t feed into it: It’s going to happen—things will go wrong, people will make rude comments, the people you expected to come through for your special day will not rise to the occasion. Allow yourself to feel stressed out. These are normal feelings and it’s fine to feel them. But don’t feed into them. Don’t give the feelings or negative people more power than they deserve. Instead, accept them as part of the process, but acknowledge your control over your feelings. You’re more powerful than stress. Remind each other of this. As soon as we got engaged we bought a gym membership. We did this to have a healthy activity and place to experience serenity together. Or even better, this is a good opportunity to began a couples yoga or meditation practice together.
4. Know what YOU want before everyone you know starts telling you what you want: Before you run off to tell the parents and friends and post to facebook you are engaged, take some time for you and your partner to get used to the idea. Discuss the kind of wedding you want. When you start sharing the news, without having a clue about the experience you want to create, you are more vulnerable to pressure and influence from others.
5. Everyone has an agenda for your wedding: People tend to see your wedding as a chance to fulfill their own needs. They tend to act out what it’s all about for them – not the two of you! Set clear boundaries, and also protect yourselves emotionally from the sometimes-negative vibes from well-meaning friends and relatives. Never go to bed angry with your partner, remember it’s the others stress and negativity not yours!
6. Your happiness in life DOES NOT hinge on the wedding alone: Our culture places a tremendous emphasis on having a great wedding and not enough focus on having an awesome marriage. It’s okay to be temporarily obsessed for the perfect wedding – we all go there at some point – but you have to keep your eye on what’s truly important. Step back and realize, the most important part of the day is not the day itself, but that you walked down that aisle and into the arms of the one you love, the one you look forward to building your life with.
And lastly, when the stressful situations and people arise and they will, find a quiet moment with your partner and repeat this mantra together: They are not the ones getting married, WE are.