Wedding Stress is an Entirely Self-Imposed Construct

by Melissa on February 28, 2011

You stress over your wedding because you choose to stress, not because of something that has been brought upon you.  Think about it.  You do not need most of the stuff that brides stress themselves out over for their wedding.

I, for one, have only a few requirements for my wedding day:

  • A bride
  • A groom
  • An officiant
  • A marriage license
  • And some way to keep guests fed and happy.

On the surface, most brides realize this is all you need.  But it’s the details that trip them up.  The dress, the hair, the makeup.

Wedding Planning and Time Management

I have discovered that it is this “keep guests happy” thing that trips up most brides.  While I admire some brides’ creativity and tolerance for time consuming tasks, I just want to step back and Stress Photo.  Source http://planningforever.com/blog/2008/07/07/wedding-stresssnap-out-of-it/doink them in the forehead.  Especially the ones that do all of those time consuming tasks, yet write about all their wedding-related stress.

I, for one, have leisure time.  I think that if you can’t get career-related work done at your job in 40 hours, then you have a serious time management problem.  And because I have leisure time, I guard it carefully.  In most cases, my leisure time is used to do things I enjoy (like blogging!).  For instance, my fiancé and I pay for a house cleaning service because we don’t want to use our free time to clean the house, something we don’t enjoy.

I tend to think that people, generally speaking, feel like they don’t have any free time.  Like it means they are less of a person if they say they have leisure time. I think that Laura Vanderkam over at 168 hours says it great.  And while this post is focused on parents specifically, I think that it can also be said for brides-to-be:

… I think modern parents like to claim we have no free time because it’s a way to show how dedicated we are both to our work and our families. We also have this perception of leisure time as meaning something decadent, like a massage at a spa. So if we’re not at the spa, we think we have no free time, even though we’re spending hours parked in front of the tube or hanging out on Facebook. The fact that we don’t use our leisure time well doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
We all like to complain, but there is a big downside to this claim to have no free time. It makes young people — young women in particular — think that there is no way they can build a career and a family and still have time to sleep, exercise, volunteer, read a book, or all of the above. But you can. I hope more of us will start talking about the leisure time we do have as a way to change the conversation from one of “no time” to choosing what is a priority. I have free time. And I’m guessing you probably do too.

My name is Melissa and I have free time too!

I think that Laura’s post says a lot.  By saying that we have free time during the wedding planning process, does it mean that we aren’t as dedicated to our wedding, or worse yet, our marriage?  No.  Of course not.  Laura Vanderkam has another post that writes that $5000 could pay for either A) an engagment ring (or think wedding expenses too!), or B) about 100 nights of babysitting.  Which one will help improve a marriage?

Stop the DIY Madness

Many brides-to-be complain about all this wedding stress, and yet they still cut out hundreds of circle fabric pieces to put over your DIY pudding favor jars?  And you actually make paper doll cutouts for your bridesmaids (with hair to match)?

I will be the first to say it.  This whole DIY business has made brides go crazy.  Seriously?  Just give me a book of matches as a favor and I’ll find it much more useful.  I don’t want you to spend countless hours and stress over the wedding favor that you give me, or worry that I will judge you because you don’t have awesome DIY decorations at your wedding.  I will not think you’re any less of a person.  In fact, I’ll think that you’re more practical for focusing your time on what matters.

Focus on what is important, because, your guests aren’t really going to appreciate the hours that it took you to do stamp your amazingly renewable resource bamboo servingware or how much thought you put into sending box-size invitations

Three Options when a Stressor Presents Itself

And it’s not just spending hours on end crafting perfect DIY decor and favors that stress out brides.  Another point of stress?  People will always try to interfere with the couple’s plans.  When that happens, You have three choices:

  1. Accept their advice and move on
  2. Ignore their advice and move on
  3. Lament and complain at length about how they’re interfering with your plans by trying to get you to fill in the blank [increase your guest list, have a different menu, more bridesmaids, less flowers, a bigger cake, insert other suggestions here.]  Let it eat at you, bother you, dig away at your soul.  Let it add mounds of stress.  Let your wedding become a source of stress rather than a source of joy

Families and friends will always offer unsolicited advice.  Avoid the “You’ll See” Prophesy.   Don’t let others’ comments wear you down.  Pick option 1 or 2 and get on with your life.

I’m not saying that I won’t stress over my wedding.  I had an anxiety attack over it just a few weeks into planning, mostly fueled by how much weddings cost.  But now that we have decided to eliminate as many wedding vendors as possible, including wedding caterers, we can now have the wedding WE want and not pay a dollar more than what we want.  I’m not going to spend countless hours on trying to craft amazing decorations and favors.  I’m not crafty.  I’ve tried to be, and it’s just never stuck.

So instead, I’m going to focus my efforts on what I can do and what I am known for, (excessive planning), and just make our day as special as possible.  Even if we don’t have bridesmaids newsletters.