Amidst the hundreds of moving parts which need to come together for your wedding day, stress and tension are bound to creep into your life and relationships with your fiancé, family and friends. Dealing with financial issues and family dynamics while planning a major event with your partner can, at times, make you feel like you are inside of a pressure cooker—about to pop. However, if managed well, the stress involved in planning your wedding can be viewed as a positive challenge and can be used as a building block toward creating a solid foundation for your marriage. I’m here to offer some wisdom from the coaches at Joy of Romance, Inc. to keep the joy alive and the challenges at bay from engagement to honeymoon.
1) Get and Stay Focused.
First things first, get organized from the beginning with a clear list of things that need to be done, budgets that need to be monitored and lists that need to be kept up to date. Choose from an array of online organizers, which include timetables, budget spreadsheets and checklists. The best know free wedding planning tools are by TheKnot.com and MyWedding.com. By keeping these lists online, you will also be able to monitor the items that have been delegated to others. Schedule regular periods throughout the week to update your progress. Have a binder or a portable file folder with hard copies of the lists and any floating papers connected to the wedding.
If you can afford it, call in the experts to help plan and execute your dreams. Wedding planners are there to make sure on your wedding day you get to fully enjoy the beauty of being the bride. The fewer responsibilities you take on as the day approaches, the more fun you will be able to have. That being said, release the reigns and delegate whenever possible. Many friends and family want to help, so it’s a win-win. Let go and trust them with their part.
2) Master Your Communication and Empathy Skills.
In the beginning, have a conversation and clarify what a wedding means to you and to your partner. Have you had a picture in mind since you were a kid about what your wedding would look like? What are the most important aspects of a wedding to you and your love? Does your vision and your fiancé’s vision blend well together? If not, work on coming to some mutual understanding and create a unified vision before involving anyone else in the planning.
Going forward don’t ask for input from others on topics that aren’t up for discussion. Once you have made up your minds on the key elements of the wedding, kindly convey what you’ve decided to your family and explain to them why it is important. Hopefully, they will see that you were not only thinking of yourselves but gave thought to both families with your decision.
Emily Post recently gave some good advice when she spoke at a conference of wedding planners, she encouraged engaged couples to “openly entertain any idea for five minutes” without judging it. Find out why it’s important to the individual suggesting it. Appreciate their input and when it’s not one of you and your fiancé’s non-flexible points, let them know you will consider their idea. Letting others be involved in the process makes them feel needed and important, thus building good will amongst family members and friends.
Emotions run high around weddings. When there is a sticky subject, always let the individual’s whose family is involved approach their family first without bringing their partner along for the discussion. Recognize when a subject becomes a big deal for a family member, there are often deeper needs and feelings triggering their resistance. It is worth asking them why it matters to them. If you don’t think they feel comfortable or are able to voice their feelings, you might want to provide possible reasons and see if they agree. Once their true feelings and needs are on the table, it becomes easier to make sure their overarching needs are being addressed.
3) Building Bridges and a Strong Foundation.
A lot of wedding planning advice states, “this is your wedding and you should have it the way you want it.” In fact, if you truly feel that way, it might be best to elope. Weddings are about bringing together two families and many friends to celebrate your love for one another. There are a lot of bridges that can be built during this process if you keep this viewpoint in mind. You have an opportunity to set the stage and create close alliances between your families. Use this precious time wisely.
As a couple, planning your wedding is also an excellent way for you to learn how to work together harmoniously, deal with conflicts proactively, and create a road map for how you will treat one another henceforth when bumps in the road arise. Make sure to avoid any statements or actions that are disrespectful of one another or your relationship. Have the courage to bring any and all significant concerns to the table. This might be a good time to do some relationship counseling, like our coaching package called Rules of Engagement Training to learn each other’s relationship and communication patterns.
4) Toss Perfection Out the Window.
Often too much weight is put upon the actual wedding day needing to be perfect. From the onset of planning, talk to your partner about what matters most and keep that end goal in the forefront of your minds. Keep it fun, choose to see the challenges as opportunities to grow closer together and strengthen your relationship and enjoy seeing your families come together to celebrate your new life as husband and wife.
Have realistic expectations and know things will not go exactly as planned. There is much to be said for having a point person you trust who will remain calm during the “storm” on the day of your wedding and will be responsible for crisis management so you don’t have to hear about potential problems. Remember some of your fondest memories might actually come from the unexpected twists of fate that might occur that day. Choose to let go of anything that isn’t going “as planned” and stay focused on celebrating your love.
5) Know Your Limits and Schedule Romance.
Be aware of the signs of excess stress, like irritability, fatigue, trouble sleeping, stomach issues and headaches. If you begin feeling overwhelmed or stressed, schedule some quality time to take care of yourself. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first. Keep up with the basics: eat healthy, drink plenty of water, exercise, avoid excess caffeine, alcohol and sweets, and get good sleep. Do a little extra pampering when tension is high. Go watch the sunset, get your nails done, do some meditating or schedule a massage.
Create love rituals. Start by discovering what you and your partner’s love languages are. Feel free to email me at Joy of Romance to get a short quiz or read Dr. Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages” to learn which are your top two languages. The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, gifts and physical touch. It’s important to know both of your love languages because that is the most effective and efficient way you and your partner should be expressing your love to one another. As a couple, it’s important to incorporate those ways of giving love in order to feel truly loved and appreciated.
On top of designing rituals around your love languages, it’s fun to incorporate doing the simple things that are good for both of you and will help you build a healthy life together. You can keep the stress levels down by exercising together, taking turns giving each other massages, grocery shopping and cooking healthy meals together, walking after dinner, stretching and learning how to dance together, if you don’t already know how. By having a healthy set of love rituals in place now, it will be easier to keep them up once you are married.
Hopefully utilizing these tips will help keep you sane, healthy and happy during your wedding planning!
Joy M. Nordenstrom is founder of Joy of Romance, Inc., a certified matchmaker, relationship coach, wedding proposal planner and special romantic event and vacation planner. Joy emphasizes making relationship maintenance fun, sexy and intelligent by educating individuals on a practical, scientific and passionate-based approach to maintaining their romantic relationships.
Joy received an MBA in Entrepreneurship, and a BA in both Communications and Economics, with a minor in Psychology. All degrees are from Mills College in Oakland. Joy is a certified matchmaker from the Matchmaking and Behavioral Science Institute in New York City.
Joy coaches internationally via Skype and in-person locally in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a new mother and lives with her fiancé and their son in Sausalito.
To learn more, visit www.joyofromance.com, follow @joyofromance on Twitter, become a fan at Joy of Romance fan page on Facebook, subscribe to the vodcast Intelligent Love: 411 for Men on iTunes and/or email directly at [email protected].