Once the initial engagement euphoria tapers off, it's completely normal to get overwhelmed by the onslaught of decisions you need to make leading up to the big day. It's all too easy to let self-care fall by the wayside during this hectic time, but it's a crucial component to prevent stress from spiraling out of control.
Has your to-do list taken on a life of its own, to the point where you're paralyzed about what to do next? Do well-intentioned "How are the wedding plans going?" remarks secretly make you want to hyperventilate? Can't remember the last real date you went on with your spouse-to-be? If you answered "yes" to any (or all) of the above, then it might be time to hit the pause button.
Here, wedding pros share sanity-saving tips to help you get back on track and make the process enjoyable again. Trust us, you'll be enthusiastically counting down the days until your I do's again before you know it!
1. Tackle Each Item in Order of Importance to You
“A couple can only do so much before burnout sinks in, so it’s important to prioritize from the beginning and let the little things go," says Fabrice Orlando from Cocoon Events Management Group. He recommends deciding on three top priorities for your wedding day and making a pact not to stress over anything that falls outside of that. If your must-haves list changes throughout the course of your engagement, let your wedding vendors know, and they can adjust accordingly. "Focus on just one item at a time so you don't experience decision overload. This will prevent you from getting confused by lots of different options and second-guessing yourself," says Jacqueline Hill from Jacqueline Events & Design.
2. Set Realistic Deadlines for Completion
Your wedding won't be planned in a week, so don't set yourself up for failure by procrastinating. Create a timeline with all of your major task items and allot yourself extra time in case of unforeseen circumstances. When you accomplish a big task, give yourself a special treat to stay motivated. Also, if you haven’t already, use one folder to store all of your bridal-related business cards, vendor checklists, contracts, and any other necessary documents. “Once you complete a contract, just make a copy and pop it into your folder so that you know where to access it if needed,” Hill says. That way, you’ll never have to frantically search for an important wedding document in a mountain of disorganized paperwork ever again.
3. Step Away From the Pinterest Board
“If it all starts to feel like too much, then take a breather and go on a self-imposed wedding ban for a few days (or even a week). Don't look at your Pinterest board, wedding emails, or the huge binder of notes and paperwork that you've collected over the past few months,” Orlando says. Instead, use this restorative period to enjoy some downtime with your friends, take long baths, practice yoga, or do whatever else relaxes you.
4. Get Your Adrenaline Pumping
If you've already tried a number of relaxing activities and still found yourself fixating on the latest wedding conundrum while you're doing downward dog or getting a pedicure, then you might want to take an entirely different approach instead. "Release some endorphins and get your mind off planning by going for a run, a swim, or even a hike with friends," says Kevin Dennis from Fantasy Sound Event Services.
5. Outsource Some of Your Responsibilities
Burnout often means you're not delegating enough, so have a powwow with your fiancé to figure out what you can both take off your plates. "If you feel like you don't have enough time for wedding planning, then see how you can free up other areas of your life. Revisit your household tasks and see if there is any flexibility there, whether it's temporarily hiring a cleaning company or taking advantage of online subscription services to deliver groceries to your home," Orlando says.
6. Reconnect With Your Spouse-To-Be
Plan a fun and low-key outing with your partner, whether it's strolling through the farmer's market, lingering over a cappuccino at a local coffee shop, or taking in an art exhibit. “Sometimes I send my clients some gourmet macarons with a bottle of champagne and tell them to take a night off from planning and reconnect. Make a rule about no wedding talk—and stick to it!" says Kim Sayatovic from Belladeux Event Design. Bonus points if you can take an affordable weekend getaway or staycation together.
7. Ease Back Into the Wedding Prep
"After you take a breather from planning, the worst thing you can do is jump back into it, full throttle," Dennis says. Instead, break up bigger projects like putting together the seating chart into smaller, more manageable steps that you can tackle one piece at a time. For example, for the seating chart: step one is to design the chart layout; step two might be to create different colors for each guest category; step three entails writing each person's name on a flag based on his or her color category and placing it on the poster board.
8. Focus on the Fun Parts
Setting aside time for the exciting aspects of wedding planning can reenergize your motivation. "Invite your friends to join you and turn that to-do into a bonding experience. For example, you can plan a champagne brunch after dress shopping. Spending the day with your pals with surely pick your spirits up," Sayatovic says.
9. Call in Professional Reinforcements
If you've tried all of these coping techniques and are still struggling with coordinating your wedding, then you might want to hire an event planner to tackle the more tedious tasks. "You can add a pro planner at any point during the process, even at the last minute. However, it’s better to bring one in after you've signed all of your contracts and have the design in place. That way, they can look over everything for you and bring any problems to your attention before the day of the wedding," Sayatovic says.
10. Remind Yourself Why You’re Getting Married in the First Place
When it all starts to feel like too much, take a moment to write down all of the reasons why you want to spend the rest of your life with your fiancé. Remember that in the end, your wedding isn't about the flowers, music, or food. “It's a celebration of your relationship and the journey you are on together. You're marrying the love of your life. That's what truly matters!" Hill says.