Wedding planning is stressful enough—then, tack being pregnant on top of it all and it’s no surprise if you’re feeling completely overwhelmed. As if there wasn’t already so much to plan for your nuptials and the celebration following it, you now have less than nine months to prepare for a life-long parenting journey. First thing's first: don’t panic. Whether your pregnancy was planned or a total shock, it’s undoubtedly a doubly exciting time in your life. And, you totally can and (likely will) have the wedding of your dreams and take the expressway to parenthood with grace—although, you will probably hit a few speed bumps along the way. To help ensure you arrive to both destinations safely and with your sanity intact, here is a step-by-step guideline of what to do in the months leading up to your wedding date and due date.
Plan for the unexpected
This is a fundamental rule of wedding planning in general. Try as you might, you can’t control every little detail. Certain things might go wrong, but the end result will be something you’re happy with as long as you plan properly. As soon as you find out you're pregnant, it’s smart to consider how your due date will affect your wedding date. How close are they? How far along will you be on your wedding day? “Becoming pregnant a few weeks before your wedding should barely change anything the planning, but becoming pregnant 8 months before you wedding may require you to move your wedding date to sooner or later,” says Jodi Smith, etiquette expert and owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Decide who you want to tell, if anyone
If you’re not yet showing by the date of your wedding, you may choose to keep your pregnancy news under wraps until you’ve returned from your honeymoon at least—or are three months or more along. If you’re further along than that, you may choose to announce your pregnancy publicly. “Younger brides with first pregnancies often do not really show until much later in the gestation, allowing flowing gowns and big bouquets to mask the pregnancy,” says Smith. “If the bride is already showing, however, it is better to allow for a public announcement and end the gossipy speculations.”
Stay as organized as possible
With twice the amount of to-dos on your plate as a non-pregnant bride, it’s more important than ever that you stay organized. Danielle Lee, co-owner of My House Social, suggests creating a master schedule with timelines and deadlines that outlines all your to-dos for the wedding. “This should include all vendors that need to be booked, when contracts need to be signed and what you need them to provide,” she says. “Being as organized as possible will alleviate stress and you can maintain control of the big picture.”
If you don’t feel that you can handle everything, it’s worth at least considering the idea of hiring a wedding planner. “Having someone else, not to mention someone with experience, manage your wedding plans while you focus on some of the more important changes going on in your life, will help everything go more smoothly,” says Jennifer Borgh, owner of Borghinvilla Wedding Venue in Jamaica.
Delegate and ask for help
Now is the time to ask for help when you need it—even if you think you might not! Cosette Taillac, L.C.S.W., strategic leader for Kaiser Permanente National Mental Health & Wellness, recommends making a list of the top five most important tasks for your wedding and the top five people you can rely on to ask for help. Then, deliberately match up tasks to people and ask for detailed and specific help. “Be direct: Instead of saying, ‘I could use help with my wedding planning,’ say ‘I want to have a rustic menu of simple sliders and sides, can you please research three possible catering options for me in the next two weeks?’ she says. “People appreciate having clear direction for how they can be useful.”
Bump up the self-care
Your main focus throughout your wedding—and baby-planning processes—should be caring for yourself and your baby-to-be. Make sure you’re sleeping a solid 7-9 hours each night, fueling your body with a healthy balance of vitamins and nutrients and exercising on the regular—even when pregnancy symptoms have you craving your couch. “Planning a wedding means a lot of time at tastings, fittings, meetings, and so forth, which can mean a lot of hours sitting (not good for swelling or varicose veins!),” says Melanie Tindell, owner and event planner at Oak & Honey Events in Northeast Ohio. “Not only can exercise boost blood circulation, but it also helps keep your energy levels up, eases any bodily tension and helps alleviates stress."
Do wedding-dress damage control
If you already purchased your wedding gown before becoming pregnant, call your tailor as soon as you’re comfortable to discuss a game plan. Depending on the style and features of the dress, it may be easy to let out or redesign. If you’ve yet to purchase your dress, you’re in luck. You’re ahead of the curve and can now select your sizing according to how far along you will be on your actual wedding day. “Sizing up is the safest way to go, as it’s always easier to tailor a larger dress down to fit perfectly,” says Patrice Catan-Alberty, bridal designer, wedding dress expert and founder of Catan Fashions. “Opt for silhouettes that include A-line, high-waisted gowns and light fabric for a flattering look."
Carefully consider your menu
Whether it’s a brunch buffet or a plated three-course meal, Tindell urges brides not to forget that they may need to alter their wedding-day menu, not just for food, but for drink also. “Ask your bartender to craft a special signature mocktail that can be ‘spiked’ for your imbibing guests,” she says. “And talk to your caterer about the importance of using pasteurized cheeses and fully-cooked meats, too.”
Keep things simple and meaningful
It’s easy to get caught up in the latest wedding trends and spend your limited time, energy and budget on things that you probably won’t think twice about after your big day, but Taillac recommends keeping things simple. “Forgo the multi-day wedding events that are so popular today such as pre-wedding welcome parties, big rehearsal dinners and next-day brunches, and, instead, focus on making your ceremony meaningful for you and your partner and creating a comfortable experience for your guests,” she says. “Remind yourself that the tradeoff for adding more is added stress for you and your baby.”