Wedding planning can test your sanity. A survey by Zola found that 96% of couples experience pre-wedding stress while 86% actually experienced symptoms such as hair loss and insomnia. Before you lose precious sleep, let’s look at 5 ways you can stay sane while wedding planning.
1) Stick to Your Budget
In order to stick to a budget, you need to actually have one. Schedule a time to sit down with your fiancé and decide first how much you want to spend, and then where you want to spend it. I would suggest creating a working document like this:
As you can see, I went a bit over on rentals. Now I am going to adjust my budget and make a few sacrifices. Maybe I’ll cut down on florals or appetizers. Either way, I am choosing not to allow money to become a stressor while planning. By sticking to a budget, you can avoid a huge area of stress for many couples.
2) Focus on Your Goals
Obviously, your primary goal is to get married. So as long as you’re still heading in that direction you can take a big sigh of relief. Along with marriage you should have a few more goals for your big day. Dream up three vital aspects that you want for your wedding.
Is it great food? Music? Atmosphere? Create attainable goals (with your fiancé) and stick to them. Follow the SMART guide (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time Bound). When you see your wedding like a project you can strategize and achieve the aspects that are most important to you as a couple.
For example, if amazing food is one of your goals, you can go about it like this:
Staying organized will definitely help you stay sane. When you feel the stress kicking in, ask yourself, “How does this fit into my goal of _____? Is this a detail I can control? Where does this fit into my SMART plan?” When you focus on your main goals you let go of the small stuff… more on that later.
3) Hire a Planner
When I was wedding planning I was stubborn and thought I could do it on my own. Our venue required us to hire a planner and I did so begrudgingly. Trust me on this one, you want to hire a planner.
You need a point person to take charge day of. Someone needs to make decisions and be available when things go wrong. You don’t want it to be your mom, your Aunt Sally, or your socially awkward cousin. Let your family enjoy the day and let someone else put out fires.
Hiring a planner removes a great deal of stress. You don’t need to go all out and hire this guy:
But I would suggest going with at least a day-of planner. These people are angels. The best day of planners will understand your goals and make sure they are met. They keep the day running on time while taking fire from family. Great planners will advocate for you and your wishes when things start to fall apart.
Find someone with good references and make sure you like them. A great planner can make your goals a reality and they are well worth the investment.
4) Learn to Say Yes (and No)
When someone asks if they can help say, “yes!” If you have no clue what you actually need help with, just say you’ll get back to them. Sooner or later there will be a job for everyone.
You do not need to do this alone. You have friends and family who would love to help you. Ask your dad to pick up lunch for the bridal party, ask a trusted friend to pick up flowers. Let those closest to you be a part of your big day.
You will also need to learn how to say no. Sometimes family and friends will ask if they can contribute in ways that aren't so helpful. You don’t even have to use the word “no” but you do need to stick to your main goals.
You can tell you brother-in-law that you would rather he enjoy the ceremony and that he doesn’t need to call his high-school band buddies. You can tell your Uncle that you are hiring caterers and that you’ll enjoy his famous chili another time. When your friend suggests baking the cake, you can politely ask her to gift you with desserts for the rehearsal dinner instead.
5) Let Go
If you catch yourself lying awake thinking about whether you actually want those purple napkins or if your flower arrangements are going to rival your cousin’s wedding decor, it may be time to let go. Grab a notebook and write down your three achievable goals. At the top of the paper write:
Are you still getting married? If the answer is yes, take a deep breath. (If not, you may want to call somebody)
Is this thing you are worried about related to one of your main goals? If so, fit it in to your SMART plan and be specific. If not, it is definitely time to let go. One of the main stressors you can combat is perfectionism. Right here, right now I want you to say out loud:
“My wedding will not be perfect, but it will be great.”
Your big day is important and exciting but it is just that. A day. One day out of thousands that you will get to spend with your favorite person. You have a lifetime of joy ahead of you. Your wedding is only the beginning. So, don’t let perfectionism rob you of your joy. Let go of the little things and focus on what is important: starting your story with your chosen one.
If you need a laugh (and if your humor is dark like mine) see Jim Gaffigan’s thoughts on weddings. He’s harsh but we really do need to realize that (unless you’re Meghan Markle) this is not a fantasy royal affair.
I hope these 5 steps will help you stay sane during this wonderful season. Wedding planning does not need to keep you up at night. So take a deep breath, focus on what is important, and get some rest.