While there’s really no such thing as “stress-free wedding planning,” there are some opportunities that you will find to make your wedding planning a little easier for everyone involved. While each family has its own frustrating quirks, and everyone is likely to have an opinion the second an engagement ring slides onto your finger, here are a few ways to keep things light, fun, and as close to stress-free as wedding planning could possibly be:
Pick Your Battles
Even when planning the smallest possible wedding, you will have to compromise with someone, even if they aren’t contributing a dime to your wedding. That’s just how being a part of a family works. There are some topics that are off the table for discussion (which denomination your ceremony will be composed regarding, for example), but there are some smaller things you might have to let go of. A good test for which details are a part of the “let it go” category is the “10 years” question. Will you remember which cake flavor you went with in 10 years? What boutonnière style your mother wore? Probably not. If something really is important to you, stand your ground, but think about the potential hurt feelings you create when doing so. If your aunt won’t bend on a provocative dress she wants to wear to the ceremony, is it really worth the energy to fight her about it? Chances are good you won’t even notice her during the big day. Weigh which issues mean the most to you, and which you’re willing to compromise on. Know which hills to die on, so to speak, and you’ll spare everyone unnecessary hard feelings.
Accept Help and Try not to Ignore Reality
Planning a wedding can sometimes get you swept up in zombie “get-it-done” mode. You know that you’ll be able to do get it done in the way it needs to be done (whatever it is), so it’s sometimes hard to shift that responsibility or task to someone else who wants to help. If your future sister in law wants to help you deal with the photographer and prepare favors (even if you don’t care for the way she ties ribbons to programs), try to let her help. The more you spread the work around, the easier and more manageable all of these tasks and responsibilities become. Remember, trying to make everything perfect by doing it yourself will not only lead to stress on your part, but some unmet expectations on the big day. Your wedding will be awesome because you’re getting married, not because all of your cocktail napkins are embossed in the same direction. When help is offered, accept graciously, and don’t heap unrealistic expectations on those who offered their hand.
Include Your Future Spouse
The wedding industry is very bride-centered, so it can sometimes be hard to remember that you are, well, including a second person in this whole affair. That person often has opinions, even if they don’t voice them as often or as vivaciously as you do. Try to really talk and listen about your future spouse’s wedding expectations to make sure you’re both on the same page. If your fiancé hates large crowds and loud music, maybe your wedding shouldn’t be packing 300 people into an after-hours club. You might have had the “perfect” wedding dreamed up from the moment you could say “I do,” but that was before you met the person you’re marrying now. Your wedding should be equal parts of the both of you, and it’s worth it to adjust your expectations accordingly.
Take a Step Back
Organization was going to be the last point on my genius list (because let’s face it, a wedding binder with color-coded tabs never hurt anyone), but it isn’t nearly as important as a big cup of perspective as your wedding day draws nearer. The end result of a wedding isn’t a cake or a reception or honeymoon, it’s a marriage. No matter what happens in the weeks and months leading up to your wedding, you will be married when it’s all over. Isn’t that awesome? You get to be legally linked and bound to someone who loves you unconditionally. You get to send holiday cards as a social unit. That is so much cooler than a ceremony harpist.
So whenever wedding stresses seem to get overwhelming, and the DJ won’t call you back after four weeks of frantic emails, grab a beer and watch some crappy reality TV with your future spouse. When all of the relatives have gone home and you’ve returned every duplicate stand mixer, you get to be married to someone who loves you. Keep it all in perspective before you break someone’s fingers for ordering hydrangeas instead of peonies.