The gown! The rings! The invitations! The favors! There's so much to take care of, you might think that you're going to go crazy. Relax and take a deep breath.
There is no question that planning your wedding will have its ups and downs and stress is a major downer. The key to a happy and healthy planning period depends on how well you manage your stress. Don't just jump to conclusions and think that you can't handle it -- you can. It all starts with planning, organization, budgeting, and keeping cool. Here are some tips to keep you right on track and in the green.
* '''Expect it'''. It's going to happen sooner or later. Just remember to take a deep breath. This is supposed to be fun! However, when it's not, just think back to when you started; that you knew you would be faced with difficult decisions and hard times.
* '''Plan ahead -- way ahead'''. Things book quickly and time goes faster than you think. The more time you have to think ahead, the less likely it is that you will become stressed. So use time wisely and use a checklist to help keep yourself on track. Also, always stick to your budget and keep on top of what you are spending so as to not go overboard. Feeling out of control financially can cause stress levels to soar unnecessarily.
* '''Get organized'''. There is nothing quite like forgetting, losing things, becoming confused about what you got done, what you need to do, what you paid for, who you spoke with, etc. The list goes on. Check out this guide on getting organized to keep your workload at a minimum. Get yourself a big calendar, a notebook, a binder and a few folders, at the very least; a little organization can go a long way to keeping your stress level to a minimum. The easier it is to get things done, the less you'll stress.
* '''Feel things out as you go along'''. Sure, time goes fast but that doesn't mean that you have to rush and make rash decisions. Talk things over with your spouse-to-be or whoever else is involved with the planning. If you feel uncomfortable about anything discuss it before making choices on things like vendors or as basic as choosing guests. Also take your time to go to places, feel gown fabrics, stationery paper, smell flowers, see favors, and taste the food. Any chance you get to see things before committing to them, take it! You'll be happy you got a chance to compare your options.
* '''Perfection is relative'''. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you can't make things perfect, which is completely natural. After all, there is no such thing as perfection. Start off your wedding planning knowing that things won't be perfect. If they do happen to go off without a hitch, then you'll be that much happier with the end results. If you expect too much and things don't work out, you will only be left with stress and disappointment.
* '''Don't let people stress you out'''. This is your day, not theirs, and the only person that you have to please is yourself -- and your fiance, of course. When people become overbearing during the planning process, remember a few of these tips to avoid stressful situations:
** '''Vendors''' -- Remember that you have a budget and that a salesperson's job is to make you spend money. Remind these people that you are sticking to your budget, so no, you don't want to spend the extra money on more expensive flowers (or whatever they are prodding you to upgrade). Be assertive and don't let them push you around.
** '''Arguing Friends and Family''' -- Stop that bickering already! When fighting friends and family start to drive you mad, politely tell them that weddings are about love and that you want your day to be peaceful. If they must continue, please do it somewhere else or some other time.
** '''The Know-It-All '''-- If you're not getting married to him or her, take what this brainiac has to say with a grain of salt. Everyone will have an opinion, but in the end it's what you and your spouse-to-be want that counts.
** '''The Family''' -- Tell family from the beginning about your plans. If you want them to mind their own business, but they insist on helping out, delegate small tasks for them to do with specific instructions. Make them feel like they're involved, but never lose control of the situation and don't forget about YOUR original plans.
* '''Know your limits'''. When it's time for a break, take it. Little moments of relaxation are perfect to ease your mind. As long as you can decompress before you feel like you are at your breaking point, you'll be okay. Here are some fun things to do to take your mind off the wedding for a little bit.
** Take a walk, go for a run, or take your dog to the park. This is great for loosening up and getting fresh air.
** Try a yoga or pilates DVD, or a meditation tape. They'll help you focus your mind and tone up your body, too!
** Visit the spa and get a massage or arrange your own home spa session.
** Eat a great meal or go out to dinner and do ''not'' talk about the wedding.
** Buy flowers for your fiancé and spent a cozy night together.
** Do some arts and crafts that don't have to do with the wedding.
** Grab a cup of tea with your favorite book. You can also entertain your mind with some tunes or a fun movie.
** Take a nap when you feel like you're getting worn out. A relaxing lavender eye pillow can help with headaches.
** Pick up a stack of your favorite magazines (pass on the bridal ones this time), hole up at home, and lose yourself in the fashions, articles, and brainlessness of it all.
** Party with your pals. Grab a cocktail shaker and your Sex and the City DVDs for a girls' night in, or head out on the town!
** Volunteer your time. It will help you get out of your little wedding world and get back to reality.
** Take a mini-vacation from the wedding plans. A long weekend in the Bahamas, a three-day ski trip, or even an overnight in a hotel a few towns away can help you and your sweetie unwind.
* '''Don't neglect your body'''. Stress accumulates over time making the body weak and susceptible to illness, but it can also just make you more cranky, tired, and lifeless. Keeping fit and eating well are as important as how great you look on your wedding day. Plus, regular exercise helps reduce stress naturally.
* '''Ask for help'''. Everyone needs help sometimes. If you come to that point, don't be shy. Most friends and family will be thrilled you are asking for their help. When you have the money to hire a pro, let them handle it. Want to find out more about hiring a planner?
* '''Spend time with your spouse'''. Last, but not least, spend time with the person you plan to marry. Plan ahead, talk about your method of action, and follow the plan that you set as a team. Remember that you are going to annoy each other at times -- it's expected. Avoid name calling and finger pointing. Take moments out of the process to forget about everything and to just be yourselves without the wedding for a weekend. Get away from town or do whatever you need to regroup, relax, and recoup. If needed, go to a pre-wedding counseling session to help ease the stress of this pivotal time in your relationship. It may help reduce potential flare-ups post-marriage as well.