You’re blissfully happy, having found that special one you want to marry. He proposes and you say yes. You start planning the wedding. And the stress begins, and pretty soon you’re wondering if all this headache is worth it. Sound familiar?
It’s seriously some kind of rite of passage — the intense migraine that every engagement becomes. But there are several things that can greatly reduce your stress levels. And I wish someone had shared them with me before I got married. So I am here to share the things I learned by doing it the wrong way.
1. You are preparing for a marriage, not the wedding day.
So many young people spend countless hours preparing for the wedding, without realizing what they really need to do is prepare for the marriage. Take some time to get to know your spouse-to-be. Ask the important questions.
How many children do you want? Do you want any? How did your family handle conflict? (Believe it or not that same conflict management style will become part of your marriage.) The better you know your spouse before the wedding, the easier all the days after it will be.
2. Save sex for after the wedding.
This may sound totally foreign or old fashioned. But there is a bond of trust created when you say “I do.” There are countless studies that tell us that sex has a serious impact on our emotional connection to our partner. It’s devastating to share such an intimate act with someone who is not going to stay forever, or with someone who doesn’t treat it with the care and significance it deserves.
I saved myself for marriage. And after our wedding night, I realized how important that single decision had been for my emotional security. If you haven’t saved yourself, then it’s not too late to correct that and start now. It’s seriously worth it.
3. There are two of you getting married, not just one.
I learned so many important lessons about negotiation and teamwork as I worked with my fiancé to choose the invitations, the wedding venue, and the kind of atmosphere we wanted to create for our guests.
I’ve had friends who felt that the wedding was all the woman’s job to plan. And for some reason they seemed to forget that their fiance was getting married that day too, and he may have some things that are important for him to include in his special day. Make sure you discuss what matters to you in a wedding day. And be considerate of each other’s feelings and the feelings of your families.
4. Don’t break the bank.
We were young when we got married. And like many young people we were still finishing college and starting first jobs. We had very little money. And as I looked at bridal magazines I was stunned by how much money they expected us to spend on a cake, a honeymoon, and a dress. It was seriously enough to buy a car, and sometimes a house!
My fiance and I sat down together and decided what mattered most to us in a wedding. We spent more on a photographer and less on flowers, for example. Fake flowers photograph just as well as real ones, and they cost a fraction of the price. I found my wedding dress at a prom dress store and ordered it in white. Instead of costing me thousands, I paid $150, because I was not at a bridal store.
I did have to take it in for some minor alterations, but I still saved a bundle. And wedding invitations can be printed at your photo lab and not on expensive stationary. That one was a shock to me. But I’ve had many friends get married since my wedding, and their photo invites were just as classy and beautiful as the embossed stationery invitations.
5. Look at the camera on your wedding invitation photo.
I wish I had done this one differently. I was so focused on being cool and unique that neither my fiance or I looked directly at the camera in our wedding invitation pictures. Not everyone you invite to your wedding will be able to make it. Great Aunt Mildred who lives three states away may never even get to meet your intended.
This could be the first and only time she will see his face before you post wedding pictures on Facebook. And sometimes Great Aunt Mildred isn’t even on Facebook. So look at the camera. Save the cool poses for your own copies of engagement photos. They will look great in your new place after the wedding. And send off the simpler ones for the sake of family and friends who just want to see who you are marrying.
6. Remember who really matters.
When we got married I remember sending out hundreds of invitations. I invited my high school friends, my college friends, my old roommates, my cousins, co-workers, neighbors, and even the postman.
For me and my outgoing personality, I couldn’t stand to leave anyone out. But looking back I realize that the ones who really mattered were my close friends and family. Everyone else was happy for me, but they didn’t need an individual invitation. And they probably didn’t come even though I gave them one. Weddings are a happy time and should be for those who matter most.
7. Don’t overdo it, you’re still going to need to function after the wedding.
I attacked my wedding like I attacked final exams. I crammed for it, prepared for it, and lost sleep over it. And just like final exams, the day after I was sick as a dog. I didn’t get to enjoy the honeymoon because I was literally in bed. When you have a case of nerves, or you are seriously anxious about the wedding turning out well, make sure you are still taking care of yourself and eating right. Your body will thank you. And if you have too much to do, ask for help. Which leads me to number eight.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
My sweet family and friends kept asking me if they could help with my wedding. One friend wanted to throw a bridal shower. Another cousin wanted to plan some entertainment. We even had a friend offer to DJ the wedding! At first I was really hesitant to let anyone help, because I felt it was my job. But then I began to see that these people wanted to be involved because they wanted a way to show their love for me. When I sat back and let people help, my burden was lifted, and I got to see the joy on their faces as they got to be part of such a special time.
9. Something will go wrong, and that’s ok.
There has never been a perfect wedding day in all of history. Ask anyone. Every wedding has something that goes wrong. The Groom is late. It rains. Or your mother in law forget to put film in her camera. We are human, and this world isn’t perfect. So just sit back and enjoy the ride, and watch for the things that will go wrong at your wedding. It will make for great stories later on.
I still enjoy teasing my husband because he was late to our wedding because he let his parents (who have never been on time in their lives) drive him to the temple. If we let go and accept that nothing will be perfect, then these things won’t ruin our big day.
10. Remember to thank everyone who made it possible.
When I got married I did my best to get every thank you notes sent out before we had been married two months. But I really didn’t understand how important it was. Now that I am older, and have attended many weddings, I realize that these notes say more than thank you. They say I value you, I remembered you were there, and that it’s important to me to take the time to focus on you individually.
Often your friends and family won’t get to spend the kind of time with you at your wedding that they would like to. Sometimes they can’t attend at all and can only send a gift, or their regrets. That thank you note is often the only form of acknowledgement that they receive that says that they were appreciated. And that you know they thought of you during this special time. And saying thank you is just good manners.
So there you have it. Good luck on your wedding preparations. I sometimes wish that I could go back and do it differently. Maybe I would not have given myself an ulcer.
And maybe my first month of married life wouldn’t have been so intensely stressful if I had known my spouse a little better. But I’m glad I took the plunge. It’s been one of the biggest blessings of my life. And I pray you feel the same way, even if the stress is making you crazy.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.