According to a recent Zola study of 500 engaged or newlywed couples, most of you are freaking the eff out about wedding planning—96% of you, in fact (and odds are, the other four percent is lying). Having your stress level in overdrive is completely understandable—you still have your job, your family, your bills (you know, a life), plus, you’re spending a lot of money for a party for 120 of your nearest and dearest. No biggie, right?
According to the study, 40% of couples categorized wedding planning as “extremely stressful” while 71% thought it was more nerve-wracking than other major life events like finding a new job. “When anybody comes to me and says they’re stressed with the planning of their wedding, it is my first suggestion that they take a deep breath, step away from their email, and remember the big picture,” says event planner Sarah Kudlack of Philadelphia’s Heart & Dash. “Being stressed out about the details is not going to change the fact that you’re marrying the love of your life.”
Before you start to go down the stressy rabbit hole, there are easy ways to calm those nerves and enjoy this experience with your fiancé. We asked the experts what you need to do to keep calm and plan on; here’s what they had to say:
For 35% of the couples surveyed, it’s the details that are driving them the most cray. “Decide right now that if you’re going to nitpick every single detail, you’re going to be unhappy,” says Michelle Leo, a wedding planner in Salt Lake City. “If you’ve got a great attitude about your wedding, you’re going to have a great day.”
To help keep things in perspective, prioritize the essentials—those things that are super important to making this your dream wedding—then refer to your “must” list over and over during the planning process so you don’t go down a spiral of DIY projects you saw on Pinterest or feel the need to constantly upgrade your flower arrangements. Repeatedly checking in with your initial goals will help you stay on track—and on budget. “By putting a lot of those key pieces in place right at the very start of the planning process, you’re going to avoid a lot of stress down the road,” says Leo. “You’re going to avoid overspending on things you decided at the get-go weren’t that important.”
Mom and Dad are also the source of some major tension—53% of couples said their parents are the biggest stress-causing culprit, while 33% said it’s their in-laws. “You need to remember the wedding is about you and your future husband, and the life you are starting,” says Nashville-based wedding planner Kelly Dellinger. If mom and dad are contributing to your wedding budget, they’ve bought themselves a say in the planning. Sit down with them right from the start and talk about your vision for the big day, and hear what they have to say about the things that are very important to them; then find ways to compromise so everyone is happy. Getting your families on the same page right from the get-go is the best way to avoid butting heads when you’re in the thick of planning.
Create a Plan B
There will be things that happen that are out of your control—namely, the weather, says Leo. Being prepared for any “worst-case scenarios” will help you roll with the punches if—and when—something does go awry. “Step back and calm down about the fabric swatches not matching or whatever small little hiccup comes up,” says Dillinger. “If you get married at the end of the day, it was a great wedding.”
Make Time for Self Care
86% of couples said pre-planning stress caused them to experience physical symptoms like breakouts, reduced sex drive, headaches, and changes in appetite—even hair loss!
While it may seem counterintuitive when you have so much to do, stepping away for something restorative, like a manicure, yoga class, or Netflix binge is critical for your overall well-being.
“Set certain times you’re going to work on wedding planning, and then leave it,” says Charlottesville, Virginia-based wedding planner and florist Mallory Joyce. For example, allot two hours in the evening, three nights a week, for wedding-related tasks. The other nights, do something you enjoy; 61% of the Zola respondents chose to listen to music, 27% opted to hit the gym or get a massage, and 12% found stress relief in a yoga class. “Eating healthy, exercising, whatever it is you do to help relax and re-center yourself, is really important to do during your wedding planning process,” says Joyce.
When your iPhone is lighting up endlessly with text messages from your vendors, it can be tempting to throw the thing out the car window. But that little device can be a lifeline to some peace of mind. Apps like Calm and OMG I Can Meditate offer timed meditation practices that can help you go from manic to chill in anywhere from two to 10 minutes. “Ultimately, what meditation helps us practice is non-judgment, gratitude, but sometimes you need little cues for specific tools that you might want to pull up faster,” says OMG I Can Meditate founder and meditation coach Lynne Goldberg. “When you get stressed and you get into that ‘fight or flight’ reaction, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure goes up, you're releasing cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. When you meditate, what you’re doing is the antidote. You’re releasing oxytocin, serotonin, you’re slowing your heart rate, you're lowering your blood pressure, you’re actually changing your mood. It helps you see things with a lot more clarity.”
Go on a Date
According to the Zola survey, 43% of couples say that wedding planning put a strain on their relationship. Respondents said the stressors came from differing opinions on the wedding details (50%!), followed by problems with family and friends, and when their significant other either didn’t help with the planning or didn’t do things on time. Double down on the reasons why you’re marrying this person—it can help you work through any tiffs because he forgot to return the DJ's call. “The last thing I want for any couple is to feel stress on their wedding day that takes away from this beautiful thing that’s happening and this new chapter that’s beginning for them,” says Kudlack. Joyce agrees, saying: “The wedding is supposed to be a joyful time and often couples get caught up in the budget and family and all the plans, and they forget why they’re actually getting married—and it’s because they love each other."