How We Have Avoided Most Wedding Stress

by Melissa on May 31, 2011

We’re now nearly 8 months into our engagement and a little over five months from our wedding.  For the most part, things have been really smooth sailing.  Sure, there were some initial freakouts in the beginning once I realized that, no matter how much of a bargain hunter you think you are, a budget wedding in the DC area is very, very difficult.

All I seem to read about are brides stressing out, freaking out, and otherwise going crazy planning their wedding.   Things have been calm for us.  I should be stressed, and for good reason.  Afterall, our wedding venue, a National Park with a complicated application process, still has not confirmed our desired November wedding imagedate.  We’re supposed to find out “in May,” but today is the last day in May and we haven’t heard anything from the venue.  This means we can’t book anything.  No photographer, no hotel room blocks for our guests, no ceremony musician, nothing.  Nothing until we get the date confirmed.

And I’m calm.  My family is freaking out and is getting angry with the park, but I’m just taking everything in stride.  Our families continually ask us if we’ve heard confirmation from the park on our wedding date.  Hello!  We’re not going to keep it a secret!  As soon as we find out, we’ll let you know.  Yet, they continue to ask.  I say “No, We haven’t heard anything.”  When they start to speculate why we haven’t heard, I just change the subject.

So, how else have we avoided stress so far.

No Rushing and a Good Action Plan.   We found the National Park venue in January.  Although we haven’t been able to book anything, we’ve still been able to move forward with a lot of things, but just spread over a greater amount of time.  I attribute this to the action plan I developed back in January.  It has helped immensely and has kept me from getting overwhelmed, and when people ask, “Have you done XYZ?”  I can just say, “No, that’s on our schedule for July.”  End of story.

Limiting Involvement and Help from Others. Although this may sound a little harsh, we have severely curtailed others’ involvement in our wedding planning process.  This has been helpful in a few ways.  1) It’s always frustrating when people either offer to help, or you ask for their help, and then they end up flaking out.  Then you stress because they were supposed to do something, but didn’t.  2) On the opposite extreme, a lot of folks just like to completely take over and hijack your planning when you accept their help.  By doing everything ourselves, and spreading it out over a manageable timeframe, (see #1), we’ve been doing just fine.

Limiting Vendors. We are limiting the number of vendors we are using.  We have realized one thing.  Vendors continually like to push you in a direction with which they’re familiar.  And although I just realize they’re trying to be helpful, I find it frustrating.  For instance, when we showed our “day-of” planner (a neighbor who owns a successful concierge business) our save-the-date cards, she pointed out that they didn’t match our color scheme.  (Side note: our color scheme is super vague to begin with.  Fall colors with some sapphire blue).  Other vendors, like deejays, asked us about songs for bouquet tosses and garter tosses, which we do not want to have.  Freeing ourselves from these vendors help us keep our minds open so that we don’t fall into any sort of traditional wedding stuff that we don’t really want to do.  Other vendors have also (very kindly and with good intentions) suggested that we reconsider our choice not to have a bridal party (or at least have a Maid of Honor and Best Man) and to not select a more casual wedding dress, because we may “regret it later.”

Ettiquette Shchmetiquette. Handwriting addresses on the envelopes?  No online RSVP’ing?  No thanks.  Although I do my research on how things are supposed to be done etiquette-wise, I’m not stressing myself out over it if I can’t figure it out.  For instance, if people really end up judging me because I didn’t address their invitation by hand, then that’s probably someone I don’t want to associate with anyway.  I’m focusing on the important stuff.  Inviting our friends and family, making sure all their names and kids’ names are spelled correctly, and making sure there are fun things for them to do at the wedding!  Although there are a few things I’m adhering to.  For instance, my fiancé thinks it would make things less stuffy if we didn’t have assigned seating.  But, from everything I’ve read, and not even an etiquette issue, this actually helps people feel MORE comfortable, as opposed to less comfortable.

Negativity is self-perpetuating. Do you ever find that the more people talk negatively around you, the more likely you are to join in?  For example, at each job I’ve ever had during my career, people seem to constantly complain.  Bosses, the work, bureaucratic processes, whatever.  And I’ve never thought that anything was all that bad.  But hell, the way people complain, you would think that it’s the worst job ever.  It’s tempting to join in on their complaining just so you feel like part of the conversation, but then you do end up actually feeling negative about your situation!  So, when other folks I know who are married or engaged ask how “crazy” things are going, and if my family is “driving me crazy” and they start to tell all the hellish stories from their experience, I am extremely cautious about searching for things to complain about.  I just say, “no, things are going well so far,” and outline the things that have helped, like our action plan, our decision to limit vendors, our decision to not have a bridal party, not going DIY crazy, etc.

Having the wedding close to where we live, not near where our families live. Planning a wedding that will take place about 20 minutes from our house has made things very easy.  We don’t have to rely on others to take care of things for us.  We don’t have to make extra trips out of town, which would likely make things much more expensive and stressful.  I’m originally from Pittsburgh, a city that is much cheaper than Washington, DC.  At first, I thought it would be cheaper for me to buy a wedding dress in Pittsburgh instead of here in DC.  Well, the more I thought about it, I realized that I would have to make extra trips to Pittsburgh, a nearly five hour drive, several times more than I would typically visit my family there.  To shop for the dress, buy the dress, get fitted for the dress perhaps twice before the wedding.  It didn’t make much sense.  I certainly wouldn’t be saving any money after I took into account gas money or airfare to get myself to Pittsburgh, and it would certainly add aggravation and time to our wedding planning.

So there you have it.  Ways that I’ve managed to avoid wedding stress.  How did you do it?