The Zen Approach to Wedding Planning

How to keep your cool when the pressure is on

So what is Zen, and what does it have to do with being engaged? First, here's what Zen is not: a cult, a diet, or something that requires lots of chanting. Now, what it is: a way of thinking, being still and mindful of each second, breathing deeply, focusing. A Zen outlook can help calm you down when the seating plan or his mom is driving you nuts. Consider Zen your spiritual wedding planner. With Zen, you say to yourself: Right here, right now, everything is fine. Got it? Good. Hear that sound? It's you, breathing peacefully. Followers of Zen Buddhism believe that certain guidelines, or precepts, are the key to living a wise and contemplative life. We adapted the precepts (below) to help you be a more blissful bride.

1. I will be mindful and reverential with all life.

Consider kindness a way of being. It's an expression of your love and compassion for others, including the florist who's got three other weddings to contend with on the day you marry and the girlfriends who give up their lunch hours to help you hunt for place-card holders.

2. I will respect others' property; I will not steal.

Others' property includes their time and energy. Asking your friends to help you out with, say, making the favors, is okay; expecting them to be available 24/7 is not. Certainly, your buddies are happy for you, but remember that the wedding is your top priority, not theirs.

3. I will be conscious and loving in my sexual relationship.

Sex is about intimacy and trust between two people. It's not about manipulation. (For example, seducing your fiancé to get what you want—the big-band orchestra, the deluxe photo package, the Aspen honeymoon.)

4. I will honor honesty and truth; I will not deceive.

Your beau wants a wedding at city hall; you've always dreamed of exchanging vows in a church. If you say, "Whatever you want, Honey," but resent it for all eternity, you're cheating both of you. Tell him what's in your heart. You may have to work out a compromise, but it will be an honest one.

5. I will exercise proper care of my mind and body; I will not overindulge in anything.

It's all fun, fun, fun—showers, bachelorette parties—with lots of temptations (food, drink, cute bartenders). But if you want to fit into your dress, don't want a hangover, and most of all, want to be able to face yourself in the morning, employ some moderation.

6. I will remember that silence is precious; I will not gossip or engage in frivolous conversation.

Even if one of your bridesmaids is behaving badly (refusing to show up for fittings, criticizing your decisions), don't talk about her behind her back. Try to find out what's really bothering her and work around her problem.

7. I will be humble; I will not praise myself and judge others.

By getting married, you're becoming part of a big celebration and joining an even bigger family—his. Family members have faults, and even if you can't accept those flaws, accepting the family will make yours a better marriage.

8. I will be generous in the giving of wealth.

As all those registry gifts begin to arrive, think of others less fortunate than you by donating your current housewares (coffeemaker, toaster) still in good condition to a thrift shop or charity. Check to see if your reception leftovers can be delivered to a food bank, the flowers to a hospice.

9. I will keep my mind calm and at peace and not give way to anger.

Meditate on this: It's not all going to go perfectly. Know that on your wedding day you won't be able to control the weather, traffic delays, or your sister's mood swings. Fretting today won't fix a potential problem tomorrow. Let it go.

10. I will not lose sight of the truth.

A wedding is a joyous occasion, but it's not just about having the party of a lifetime. Don't let the planning get in the way of the day's real purpose: to join your life with his.

Keywords:
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