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Untying the Knot

10 Tips for Handling Stress on Your Way to the Altar

by Carolyn A. Romano
March 2008

Most of us have little trouble imagining our wedding day in all its perfection:  the dress, the music, the flower girl sprinkling rose petals as she walks down the aisle.  But no matter what we’ve heard, few of us realize what actually goes into planning one of the most important and memorable days of our life.  And whether you have a wedding planner, helpful family and friends, or just you and your future husband, many of us are unprepared to handle the level of stress that accompanies organizing such a blessed event.  So to help you through the process, here are 10 important tips to handle the hiccups, hurdles, and hurricanes that may arise on your way to wedded bliss.
 
1.  Make sure you’ve got the right person, and the rest are just details.  When you know at a profound level that you are making a commitment to a person who is worthy of you and who is willing to give as much as s/he gets, then relax and trust.  There’s nothing worse than rushing into marriage because you’re worried about your age or your biological clock or your image in the eyes of others. Perhaps you have some doubts but hope that your partner will change once the two of you are married.  You may be right, but be sure to address your concerns before the wedding, not after.  Honor yourself first.
 
2.  Prioritize. Yes, the rest are just details, but there are a lot of them!  So, grab one of those handy wedding planning guides and take advantage of the wisdom of all who have gone before you.  Consider what wedding details are most important to you and your future spouse and prioritize your list.  For me, the most important things are the vows (because it’s about the commitment after all), the music (so my guests will dance and have a good time), and the photographer (so I will always have the memory of the day and the people who shared it with me).  Your list might be different.  Nail down your most important, can’t-have-a-wedding-without items and spend extra time arranging these details. 
 
3.  Take care of yourself.  I like to think of this as “extreme self-care”—after Tip 1, it’s the key to managing all the stressful moments that arise as you are making decisions about catering halls and guest lists and even wedding favors.  Plan your wedding but also plan—schedule them into your calendar if you have to—appointments that affirm your commitment to your emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.  Make time for a massage or Reiki session; sign up for some hypnosis to help you reduce anxiety or free up your creativity so you can write your wedding vows.  Attend a stress management class or women’s group.  Treat yourself as the special person you are.
 
4.  Enjoy the time you are taking to create your wedding day.  Many of us assume negative attitudes when we are a little stressed or unsure about how we will ever manage to get it all done.  Realize that you can be stressed and happy, unsure and at peace, in the present moment while planning for a future one.  Attend to all the details with enthusiasm, ask for help when necessary, and know when it’s time to let go.  Enjoying time with your future spouse or with your friends (where all wedding talk is off-limits) will renew you, keep you balanced, and help you gear up for the next wave of planning. 
 
5.  Accept that chaos and glitches are a natural part of life.  They say that truth is stranger than fiction and given what happened on the day of my sister’s wedding, I have to agree.  When we arrived for the rehearsal, the priest informed us that the church had a “small bee problem.”  A rare type of honeybee currently on the endangered species list had taken up residence in the walls of the church.  Because of their protected status, an exterminator could not be called in; instead, a beekeeper was needed to locate and move the hive.  To make a long story short, this did not happen in time, and thousands of bees presided over my sister’s beautiful ceremony.  Remember, things may not go just as you planned, but don’t allow the unexpected to spoil your day. 
 
6.  Keep your sense of humor.  Did I mention that I am allergic to bees?  And that I was stung right after the ceremony?  Sad, but true.  And funny, definitely funny!  My sister marveled at how rapidly my foot swelled and without missing a beat, commented that at least it turned the same color of crimson as my dress.  And it remains one of our favorite wedding stories to retell.  So whether during the planning process or the actual day, try to look for the lighter side in every situation.  A good laugh goes a long way in dealing with stress.
 
7.  Share the day.  Be honest: how many times since your engagement have you declared, “I’m the bride!” or “It’s my wedding!”  Too many?  Not enough?  I caution you to remember that while it is your day, it’s not just your day.  It’s your partner’s day and your family’s day and your friends’ day, too.  All the people who are most important to you are coming together to help you prepare, to support you, to wish you well.  It’s a glorious day, so share it with all in a spirit of generosity and love. 
 
8.  Take care of yourself.  This may seem like a repeat of number 3, and it is.  I cannot emphasize enough the value of taking time for self.  Whether it is a few moments for quiet reflection, a yoga class, or an impromptu coffee with a friend, finding the time to nurture your soul will help you when you need to focus on those wedding details and will enable you to keep a healthy perspective. 
 
9.  Know when to retreat and regroup.  One of the biggest causes of wedding stress occurs when brides feel pressured to make decisions or include elements or people in their wedding that make them uncomfortable.  Be open to hearing suggestions from others, but remember you don’t have to commit to a decision right away.  Instead, smile and say, “Thanks for the advice.  Let me think about it.”  Repeat as necessary.  This buys you time and space to figure out how you really feel about the request, as well as how best to respond to it.  Whatever decision you make, always be tactful. 
 
10.  Enjoy the day and don’t forget to dance!  You’ve reached the end of months of planning, your wedding day is upon you, and you are embarking on your life together.  Celebrate all that has brought you and your spouse together, all that has gone before, and all that is to come.  Yes, dance!
 
I hope that these tips help you handle the ups and downs you will inevitably encounter on your way to the altar.  Above all, don’t sweat the small stuff.  Remember, bees are small.
 
 
Carolyn Romano owns and operates Bliss Healing Arts.  She combines energy work, hypnosis, and shamanic techniques in her coaching work with individuals and groups.  www.blisshealingarts.com, 508-481-2547

 
Copyright 2005, 2008 Carolyn Romano.  All rights reserved.  First published in Latin American Bride Magazine. www.blisshealingarts.com

 

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