Marriage is consistently named a top “life stressor” on stress test lists—and I suspect wedding planning accounts for a good deal of the angst.  The closer you get to the wedding day, the more stressed, weary and weak you may feel. You may even feel so stressed that you want to cancel the entire event and simply hide under your bed covers. Alas, don’t dismay—it is perfectly natural to experience stress during the wedding-planning process. How you choose to react to stress is the key to surviving this entire process without becoming Bride-zilla.  I believe you can choose to be dazzling rather than stressed, with a little planning and determination.

For me and my husband, Dave, the roles were a bit reversed. He was the one turning into Groom-zilla. He was losing it. He suddenly became someone I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have dinner with, yet alone marry. Obviously, he doesn’t deal well with stress. Let me warn you, stress is a natural part of this process. Yet even though stress can obscure your joy, it can also be good for you. Stress can make you feel vibrant, joyful, and even motivate you by challenging you. It can be positive. It’s all in your perspective and attitude.

If you are the kind of person who usually sees the glass as half-empty rather than half-full, prepare yourself. This is going to be a tough time for you. Acknowledge it now and start asking for help and put together a plan to reduce stress.

Your stress will not just be emotional; it will be physical too. Planning a wedding is not for the weak. Attempting to accomplish all the necessary and numerous tasks in a specific amount of time, while simultaneously maintaining your career, and meeting all the new social demands that are placed on your time is just plain hard work. And to complicate things even more, now there are two families who want your attention and have opinions about how well you are or are not doing things.

Add to that the fact that with all these distractions and engagements you are probably not eating properly, or worse yet, are attempting to lose two dress sizes before the wedding. Regular exercise? What’s that? And when was the last time you had a good, full night’s sleep? Get ready, because all of this can take its toll on your immune system, too. The last thing you need is to fight a three-week-long cold.

Slow Down and Work Your Plan

It’s time to get control. First realize that the stress from the excessive demands is one of the simplest things to reduce by simply limiting activities. Stop driving all over town—use the Internet and phone to do some of your planning. Stop expecting to find the “perfect” florist at the cheapest price. Choose what is more important—saving $200 or saving your sanity?

Realize too, that some responsibilities can be delegated. This is where a good, organized, and dependable person is worth their weight in gold.  You can hire a wedding consultant (be sure he or she belongs to The Association of Bridal Consultants) or rely on a friend with wedding planning experience. My new book, The Simple Wedding: A Faith-filled Guide to Enjoying a Stress-Free Wedding (GuidepostsBooks), is designed to help brides simplify the planning process.  I recommend reading this book with your mother or a bridesmaid who will help you delegate responsibilities wisely.

It’s also important to differentiate between stress coming from the outside and stress that is self-imposed. For example, if you have not worn a size two dress since you were sixteen, it’s time to give up your dream of wearing a size two wedding gown. It’s also time to accept the reality that you cannot please everyone—which includes the two hundred guests you have invited, your soon-to-be mother-in-law, and your next-door neighbor. And the most important fact to accept: there is no such thing as perfection on this earth. So do not expect your wedding day to be perfect. Something can and will go wrong. And that is okay.

You can become the dazzling bride you dream of, without succumbing to Bride-zilla, by beginning now to manage your stress level.  I encourage you to use the business of this planning season to your advantage: delegate, simplify and accept reality.  It’s not just a good plan for your wedding, it’s a good plan for life!

Simplicity Made Simple

·         Use visual imaging to decrease wedding-planning stress. Instead of stressing out over a missed appointment with the caterer, imagine how wonderful you will feel as you walk down the aisle on your father’s arm. Envision yourself as a confident, radiant, and composed bride who is about to embrace love and joy. Let yourself daydream about all the things your future will bring.

·         Instead of arguing, communicate. Remember that your individual histories, and communication styles combined with your unique style of dealing with stress, anger, disappointment, and even joy all play a part in how you manage through the wedding planning process. Pre-marital counseling can be enormous help in teaching coping techniques and gaining perspective.

·         Keep a sense of humor. Getting worked up over every little thing is not going to make anything better. Besides, laughter is the best medicine, especially when it comes to dealing with stress. Stuff will happen but it need not cause stress. Keep things in perspective. Yes, your wedding day is a big deal—but it is not the rest of your life. Your marriage is. If something goes wrong on your wedding day, it will not be the end of the world.

·         Try some proven stress reducers suggested by the National Headache Foundation (http://www.headaches.org/). Get up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Recognize that procrastination is stressful. Rather than putting off until tomorrow, do what you can today. Get enough sleep. Allow time for yourself—everyday—for privacy, quiet, and introspection (and prayer, my addition). Schedule a realistic day. Avoid the tendency to schedule back-to-back appointments. Do something you enjoy everyday. Keep a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings. It can help give you a renewed perspective.

·         Have fun. Try declaring a wedding-free weekend. Do not talk or argue about anything that involves wedding plans. Take a break and go out with your girlfriends. Sometimes too much togetherness is simply too much. Encourage your fiancé to do the same with the guys. With all the chaos and hubbub regarding the wedding, it’s easy to lose sight of what brought the two of you together in the first place. Get dressed up, make reservations at your favorite restaurant and reconnect. (And don’t count the calories!)

·         Don’t forget to take care of your body. Exercise. Choose the form that you enjoy the most and use it to reduce your stress. For me, Pilates Reformer classes work like a charm. I also get a deep massage whenever I feel the pressure is simply too much. Let aromatherapy go to work by lighting a few of your favorite scented candles. Your olfactory system will send signals to the areas of your brain that govern the hypothalamus, which will result in the endocrine and hormonal systems to relive pain, enhance immunity, and make you feel better. Now, relax. Everything is going to be fine.  


Sharon Hanby-Robie is the resident home décor expert for QVC, Inc., an author, speaker, and television personality.  It is Sharon’s goal to “help people discover their own personal style, and to give them the confidence to move forward with making choices that make sense for their families and lifestyle.” She has been an interior designer and member of the American Society of Interior Designers for more than thirty years.  Her new book series, The Spirit of Simple Living™, is published by GuidepostsBooks.