Ideas & Inspiration/Advice

10 Things Every Couple Can Do To Make Wedding Planning Less Stressful

So, as you may know, a couple of weeks back, we launched Healthy Happy Bride, a year-long campaign all about making your wedding planning experience as fun, positive and uplifting as possible.

No body bashing, no crash dieting, no getting into debt, and no stress and anxiety. But that’s easier said than done, right?

So for anyone newly engaged, or near the start of their wedding planning, we thought we’d set you up on good footing, with ten ideas for how to kick start your planning the Healthy Happy Bride (and Groom) way.

1. Be a Team from the Start

In many couples, one person will be more interested or enthusiastic about planning the wedding, and it can be tempting to just let that person run with it.

But when you’re not on the same page and working together, it can lead to issues down the line when it comes to managing your budget, dealing with vendors or fielding questions from friends and family.

Before you make any decisions on your wedding, sit down and have an honest discussion about what you want from your day, who you want to invite, how much you want to, or can realistically do yourselves, or if you want to invest in a planner.

Communication is the best tool for avoiding rows and disagreements at what’s supposed to be a fun and happy time.

Rustic Fall Wedding Inspiration by Sylvia Gil Photography and Kate Siegel 5

2. Make a Realistic Budget

Most couples will make a wedding budget, ie; what they want to spend on certain areas of their wedding.

But it’s rare couples make an informed budget based on what things actually cost. So once you start paying out, you’re suddenly way over-budget without quite knowing how you got there.

Call a few vendors to get a ballpark figure of what things should cost in your area, or talk to close married friends about how much they spent on certain aspects of their day. Money chats, particularly with friends, can be so awkward, but it’s worth asking now rather than getting nasty surprises throughout your planning.

Identify how much you can afford to spend on your wedding, and discuss if/how you parents or family might be able to contribute, and from there you can create a realistic budget.

Round everything up by at least 10%, and don’t forget to include things like fees and tips, and you should have yourself covered.

3. Set Others’ Expectations

A friend told me this when we got engaged, and I didn’t realise how valuable it was until afterwards. Friends and family can get so invested in your day – which is awesome! – but it can also become overwhelming too.

If you’re going to have an informal, non-religious, or non-traditional wedding, it’s good to let parents or older relatives get a sense of that as early as possible, likewise if you’re having a family-only wedding, maybe tell your friends sooner rather than later.

Managing expectations helps you avoid stress, confusion and hurt feelings closer to your big day.

4. Set Your Own (Manageable) Expectations Too

So you may have dreamed of the big white dress, and the huge banquet hall, a 10 tiered wedding cake and all your friends and family looking on adoringly.

There’s no reason why you can’t have all that (there’s ways to make things work in every budget!) but being practical and keeping perspective is perhaps the most important thing you can do to avoid anxiety when you’re planning your wedding.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to have the ‘perfect’ wedding, it doesn’t exist and you’ll only ruin your great day by looking for flaws.

Manage your expectations for yourself too. You don’t need to lose weight/have bigger boobs/get lots of botox to look gorgeous on your big day.

We’ll be doing more posts on this throughout the year, but for now I’ll say, while it’s great to eat well and get plenty of exercise to manage any pre-wedding stress, there’s also no point in being miserable for a year before your wedding in order to drop a dress size. Letting go of any expectations to look a certain way on your wedding day will be so liberating!

Likewise manage your expectations for other people too. Your friends, family and bridal party will be so excited for you, but they may not always show the same enthusiasm for your day as you do. That’s totally normal, so try not let yourself get frustrated or upset by a lack of interest on someone else’s part.

5. Identify Two Priorities

So most of the time, when we ask couples for advice on wedding planning, they say, ‘pick two or three priorities, and focus your budget on those.”

The problem is, for most people, the priorities are often food, photography, music or the venue. All of which are the most expensive, big ticket elements of wedding planning.

To avoid getting stressed (and over-stretching your budget), I think you should choose a maximum of two priorities, say food and photography, or photography and entertainment (you can see I’m big on the photography!).

You’ll still find a great venue, caterer, or band if you don’t choose them as your top priorities, but don’t let it stress you out if you can’t get your number one choice on everything.

You really won’t remember your compromises on the day. I promise!

6. Learn How To Say No, Well

My husband and I don’t have pushy parents or friends with high expectations, but I still found wedding planning an exercise in master diplomacy. So I can’t imagine what it must be like for couples whose family have lots of requests and suggestions!

Learn to take advice graciously and listen to people’s points of view. But at the end of the day, it’s your wedding. So if you’re mum wants to invite her third cousin, your dad thinks he should play bagpipes at the ceremony, and your sister insists on you having a bouquet toss when you don’t want one, just say ‘no’.

You may need to make the odd concession here and there (as I said, it’s all about diplomacy!), but if you find yourself saying ‘yes’ to so many things you’re losing site of your day, you need to find a way to kindly, but firmly, tell them it’s not part of your plan.


7. Assemble a Crack Team

Wedding planning is SO MUCH EASIER if you can divvy out the jobs to your friends and family. I know it can be hard when you’re so close to something (I’m not much of a delegator!) but particularly in the final weeks and days before your wedding, it’s important to enjoy the ride, and not feel like you need to be tying 150 little bows on your napkins, all by yourself.

Getting others involved makes your day all the more special when it finally comes around. So whether it’s family, your bridal party, or just a bunch of obliging friends, assemble a gang of people who’ll collect mason jars, hang signs, usher guests, and pay vendors. You can’t, and shouldn’t, do it all alone.

8. Make a Non-Wedding Plan

This might go without saying for some, but while you’re planning your wedding, don’t put everything else in your life on hold.

Between saving and planning, so many couples ease off on other aspects of their life in the lead up to their day, and then feel a massive void when it’s all over.

Do lots of non-wedding things throughout your engagement, meet friends and don’t talk about your wedding, and plan days out or trips away.

When you feel like an entire year of your life has gone into your wedding, it’s so much easier to get anxious about how it’s all going to turn out. Your wedding does deserve lots of time and attention, but it doesn’t need to be the only thing you have going on.

9. Set Aside Planning Time

Likewise, do make time for planning. Say, Monday nights, or Saturday mornings.

When you have a dedicated space in your week to make decisions, you’ll both feel like you’re making progress, but also that wedding planning isn’t seeping into other aspects of your life.

Particularly work!

So many employers get frustrated with staff planning weddings or fielding vendor calls and emails during work hours, (89% of brides admitted to wedding planning on company time) so having a set time for doing this will avoid issues at work too.

10. Make Planning a Timeline

Finally, this is my top piece of advice to not feel overwhelmed with wedding planning.

Make a timeline. Once we’d booked a venue, we set up a Trello account (any to-do list tool would work) and we made a list of every single task, big or small that we needed to do. Each week we moved a handful of tasks into a ‘this week’ column and ticked them off as they were done.

We had a pull out planning timeline to work out what needed to be done when (we booked the photographers a year in advance, I went dress shopping nine months before, did the DIY elements three months before etc), which meant we made a decision and moved on, rather than second guessing things and changing plans.

And finally, we pretended our wedding was a month before it really was. So in our heads everything had to be done by the end of June rather than the end of July. Even the last minute things like bridal party gifts, picking up socks for the groom or printing out an on-the-day timeline.

We felt so unstressed in the last few weeks before our wedding, we could just sit back, relax, and enjoy the build-up to our big party!

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