Your wedding should be the happiest day of your life. But many of us find ourselves overwhelmed in the weeks leading up to the big day. Hilly Janes explains how to cope with wedding stress.
A recent poll of 2,000 people who had got married in the last five years found that two-thirds said that planning a wedding completely took over their lives.
The wedding industry is worth £10bn a year in the UK and a recent survey on weddingguideuk.com found that the average cost of a wedding is now £11,000. Upmarket Brides magazine, meanwhile, said in January 2013 that their readers reported an average spend of £22,000.
With these amounts of money involved, it’s unsurprising that couples suffer from wedding stress.
What causes wedding stress?
Ensuring everyone has a wonderful day can be very stressful. The amount of organisation involved can feel overwhelming. Pressure from family members and the need to coordinate subcontractors like caterers and photographers often add to an already stressful situation.
The body’s response to such adversity is to elevate levels of stress hormones, which in turn make you want to curl up into a ball, get aggressive or run away.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
What everyone will remember will not be the colour of the groom’s socks, or how the potatoes were cooked, but the warmth and fun of all being together and having a great day.
2. Break it up into manageable steps
Discuss with your partner what kind of wedding you want and can afford. Talk to friends and family members whose style and taste you share for top tips.
If it gets stressful, work out what is urgent and important, and tackle that first, breaking each task into clear steps and setting a deadline. A free online wedding planner can help, or hire a professional – expensive, but they can save a lot of wedding stress, especially if you are time poor.
3. Set a budget
Be clear about how much you can spend and allow for a 10 per cent emergency fund. If you don’t want family members to have a say in what happens, don’t ask them for financial help, even if it means a more modest affair. It’s your wedding, not theirs.
Don’t like cake, don’t want a big reception? Don’t have one – the only thing that is compulsory is that you have arranged to both turn up with two witnesses and the officiant at an agreed place and time.
If you’re thinking of getting married abroad, remember that, although it may be costly, fewer people are likely to attend.
4. Avoid family conflict
Family relationships can be complicated if partners or parents have divorced. If a jolly reunion is out of the question, consider getting married quietly and telling everyone afterwards.
5. Limit pre-wedding events
Outings to scout for wedding dresses, hen and stag weekends all increase expense and organisation. Your best mates won‘t let on, but they might find these a costly imposition, especially if they have other friends getting married around the same time.
6. Involve and delegate
Perfectionists and control freaks guarantee wedding stress. Learning to delegate and involve others is one of the best ways of relieving some of the pressure you may be feeling. Don’t be afraid to involve your partner: a recent survey showed that more and more grooms are getting involved with planning their weddings.
Ask friends and family to take on something you find particularly stressful: maybe designing the invitations or choosing the wine. This is also a good way of negotiating financial contributions – my brother and sister-in-law sourced and paid for our gorgeous cake.
7. Keep it in perspective
If you feel upset about something, try talking to someone else about it or writing it down. It will help distance you from the problem.
8. Love yourself and your partner
Eating and sleeping well is important for coping with wedding stress in the run up to the big day, as is finding time to do the things you love with your partner.
Remember that a wedding is a one-off event, while your marriage could last 60 or 70 years.
9. Learn to relax
There is a lot of scientific evidence that meditation can significantly lower our stress levels. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and try and focus on your breathing. Meditating for a few minutes a day should help to make you feel more relaxed in the run up to your wedding.
In the run up to the big day, you may find a bit of pampering – a massage or a hot bath with lavender oil – can work wonders for your stress levels.