The Bride's Guide to Handling Wedding Day Stress
Summer wedding season is in full-swing here in Texas, and brides, grooms, and their families are rushing to pull together the last few details in the days or weeks leading up to the big celebration. In this post I have outlined the three most important tips for brides, and ideas on how they can not only survive their wedding day but enjoy it as well. Set your count-down-calendars aside and grab a pen and paper; you might want to take notes as you go.
Even 'the best day of your life' will have moments like these
Tip #1: 'Day of' wedding stress will start the week of your wedding, if not earlier.
Before getting engaged, my husband and I rarely argued at all. However, in the eight months we were engaged, we encountered more wedding-related disagreements than I could have ever imagined. Who knew something that was supposed to be so joyous and exciting could create so much stress and drama.
The stress and drama seem to amplify however the week of the big day. Time is literally running out and there is usually a long list of things that need to get done now, that were not available to get done previously due to rentals or access to wedding facilities. Consider yourself fore-warned and know that the volume on the stress will be turned up considerably during the last few days before your ceremony. Knowing this, consider ways you can best manage the stress and/or worry you might be experiencing.
The best recommendation that I give to brides when working with them in premarital counseling is to develop a reliable list of coping strategies that work for them and put them to use when possible. You will need several strategies to choose from, as some coping tools require more time/space to complete. Consider some of the below strategies that my clients and I use to help manage stress and worry.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Listening to an audio book
To-do list organization
Chatting with a friend or family member
Taking a walk outside
Each of the activities above can help to reduce stress or worry and requires a different level of time and/or space to accomplish the activity. If you have 10-30 minutes for yourself, consider going on a walk alone or with a friend to decompress. If you are having trouble falling asleep because of all the things to do that are running through your head, consider journaling, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation right before bed. Not sure what some of these activities are? Do a search on YouTube to find instructive videos on deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. It is important that you find something that works for you, and leaves you feeling recharged afterwards. Use these strategies, or one of your own to help manage the stress of your wedding week today.
Tip #2: Understand something will likely go wrong and be okay with it.
For many girls, we have dreamed of our wedding day for years and we expect absolute perfection for this memorable occasion. However, it is possible that not everything will go exactly as you planned on the big day. At my own wedding, several things went a bit off course before the ceremony even started. First, there was no air conditioning on the bus I had reserved to take my bridal party from our hotel where we got ready to the church, the replacement bus they sent also had no AC (keep in mind this was late August in Houston and the women were sweating through their professional makeup while the men were sweating through their dress shirts on the ride), and the wedding programs that my husband had worked on diligently didn’t even get passed out because no one noticed them sitting on a side table in the church’s foyer.
Needless to say, you can plan and plan to anticipate as many scenarios as possible but it is likely that something unexpected will happen. When this happens, because it is a when and not an if, you will already have prepared yourself for this. The initial news, if it even gets to you passed your family and bridesmaids, will be disappointing at best and infuriating at worst. Allow yourself to feel these initial feelings, and possibly engage one of the coping strategies mentioned above to help to manage what you are experiencing. But after a moment or two of overwhelming feeling, recognize that you have the power to choose a different mood.
We can’t control everything that happens in our lives, but we can control how we react to things that happen to us and around us. Keep this in mind on your wedding day, as there may be situations where things are a bit out of control for you. Understand that there is only so much that you can manage and plan for, and redirect your thoughts and feelings to focus on the positive and what the day is really about. In the end, you will be married, and it is likely that no one else even noticed the blip that you worried so much over. Take a deep breath and let go of what is already out of your grasp. Enjoy the day and the little moments that you will cherish for a lifetime to come.
Tip #3: Remember to enjoy your day, it will fly by
We can easily get caught up in all the stress and busyness of the wedding day, without fully acknowledging the importance and significance of what is actually happening. From my own personal experience, and from talking with other brides socially and professionally, we all agree that the wedding day itself feels like it is over as soon as it has begun. It is crazy to think that we sometimes spend years planning all the details of a day that we will only get to experience for what feels like just an hour. I have even personally wished that I could re-attend my own wedding as a guest just so I could see all the details we worked so hard to put together and see everyone enjoying the party we helped host.
Because on your wedding day you will be at the center of all the activities, it is easy to get pulled in several directions at once as well as miss out on the big picture. Don’t worry, you won’t miss any of the most important stuff, but you might have to consciously make time to relax and enjoy all that is going on around you. Like everyone always says, “you only get married once” and while this is mostly true you will want to hold on to these memories for a lifetime for sure. A wedding is a beautiful demonstration of a community of people coming together to support two people as they join together in marriage; take time alone or with your new spouse to revel in the little moments and tuck away these memories so that you can re-experience them as the years come and go.
It is my hope that with these three tips brides can feel prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally for one of the biggest days of their lives. To all the brides getting married this summer: congratulations and I hope you and your spouse enjoy decades upon decades of happiness and love together. I hope each of you can take the love that your relationship was founded on and continue to build upon it to create a strong and long-lasting marriage.
Lauren Barron is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist-Associate who specializes in working with engaged, newlywed, and married couples. Call her at (713)364-9748 today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.