Wedding planning is a very special kind of stressful, with all these big important decisions, financial obligations, prying questions from family, etc… So it is totally natural to feel a bit overwhelmed by the task and by the societal pressure to be over the moon with happiness and enjoy planning your “perfect day.”
Today I want to give you some tools and ideas for coping with wedding planning stress and the common stressful issues that could pop up during your planning.
Family Meddling & Disapproval
Parental disapproval is one of the hardest things you can deal with when planning a wedding. First things first, if your family objects to your partner, for any reason at all, you need to address this early in your engagement. Plan a night where you can all get together so they can get to know your partner. Talk to them, and listen to their concerns. They may be wrong, and they may be right, but if something seems off to them, its better to go into the conversation with an open heart and open mind. Offering to see a marriage and family counselor may help ease the tension as well. But I cannot emphasize this enough, if your family’s approval is important to you and they are a part of your life, get a dialogue going right away. A strained relationship between you and your family will make for a stressful engagement, and potentially beyond the wedding.
If your parents are meddling or disapprove of your choices for the event itself, what you are (or are not) spending money on, or who you want to invite, these details are a little easier to work out if you have a game plan going in. If a conversation is getting heated, table the issue for another day and take some time discuss the detail in question with your partner. If you decide to accommodate your family’s wishes, brainstorm some ways to compromise that still align with your wishes for the day. If you family is contributing to the wedding financially, consider giving them a specific task to be in charge of can help alleviate squabbles over details.
This is very likely the first time you have held an event of this magnitude and might also be one of your first big projects of your relationship. Whether you have a $5,000 or $50,000 budget, its a big chunk of cash. Be open and realistic about what you can afford and don’t feel pressured to raise your budget just because you think that is what other people are spending. Talk with your partner about your priorities for the event and then allocate the budget accordingly to accommodate those priorities and what you can afford.
Once you have set a budget, make a plan to save up for the wedding. Create a spreadsheet for your budget, payment due dates, and your overall plans for the wedding. This will help take the guess work out of the financial elements and allow you to feel more at ease.
If you have any feelings of regret, concern, or are afraid the spending might be getting out of hand, take a moment with your partner to regroup and evaluate your budget. Is there anything that can be adjusted or tweaked? It may help to revisit your priorities list again and make sure you are on track.
Use your engagement to work on your financial planning and communication skills with your partner. Establish open dialogue from the start and you will be well on your way to a successful, lasting marriage.
Guest List Woes
Your guest list combines both of the previous stressors, family and finances, then adds friends to the mix. Knowing who you want to attend, how many guests you can afford, and what the right number is for the type of wedding you want is like fitting together pieces of a complex puzzle. You probably won’t be able to invite every single family member and Facebook friend, so get clear on a number early on and stick to it.
Ditch the “obligation” guests who you would rather not invite, but you might feel pressure to invite by your family or friends. This can include extended family, friends of family, coworkers, friend’s significant others, etc… Inviting someone because you think you have to can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration.
A good way to avoid miscommunication or disappointment regarding the guest list is to be careful with how much you share about the wedding with people who are not going to be invited.
Focus on inviting your closest loved ones. If you have a limited budget, but want to invite a bunch of people, get creative on how you can make that happen. If you can’t feasibly invite everyone you wanted, your friends and family are adults, and while they may be disappointed about not being invited, they will understand.
In short, you will likely stress about not inviting someone more than that person will, so make your list, stick to it, and don’t make a big deal of it.
The Bridal Party
Your Bridal Party should be there for you 100%. Choose people who you can trust to help you when things get stressful or emotional. You want folks on your team who can be supportive, give feedback on ideas, and take you out for a cocktail when things get to be overwhelming. It can be a big job though, and it is important to keep in mind that no one except your partner will care as much about your wedding as you do. Lean on your bridal party for support, but also do not expect more than they are able to give.
Dealing with the stress
A lot of wedding related stress can be mitigated by managing your expectations along the way. The idea that your wedding is the biggest day of your life, or that it is supposed to be perfect, is unrealistic. Set clear goals and intentions from the start and return to them when things get murky.
Take a break. Get away for a weekend with your partner. Check in with one another. Go on dates and enjoy being engaged. Make plans for your future together, not just the wedding. If you find your lives becoming overwhelmed with wedding planning tasks, consider setting aside a specific time for those tasks so they do not eat up all your free time with your partner.
If you let wedding planning rule your life for the entire engagement, the wedding day itself will come and go so fast, and you may finding yourself wondering if it was worth it. Get help from wedding pros (it’s literally what they are there for) and friends when you need it. Never be afraid to ask for help, whether it is with tasks, or for emotional support.
Getting married is a big fuckin’ deal, we shouldn’t be expecting couples to just glide through it like it’s not. There are so may changes that are happening around you while you plan this huge party. Don’t lose sight of why you are doing all of this.
Feeling overwhelmed or need help with something? Join us in the Secularly Wed Community and let us know what we can do to help! (Our group is private and completely free!)