This article first appeared on QuietRev.com
Weddings traditionally require months of detailed planning, culminating in you and your loved one being the center of attention in a large group of people for many hours. To some, this sounds like a lot of fun, but to others, it sounds overwhelming and exhausting.
The good news? By taking careful steps, you can retain your calm and enjoy your wedding day for the joyous experience that it deserves to be.
Planning a wedding means making literally hundreds of decisions such as your guest list, invitations, catering, music, flowers, the gift registry, centerpieces, photographer, videographer, bridesmaids & groomsmen, hotel reservations, travel arrangements, the cake, dress/tux, rings, vows, shoes, hair, makeup, the rehearsal dinner, seating arrangements, and thank-you letters…and then jetting off to a relaxing honeymoon the next day.
Within every one of these decisions are additional sub-decisions. For conscientious people who carefully analyze the information around them in order to make the best choices, that means expending a lot of mental energy.
Let’s be realistic here. If you are reading this article, chances are you are concerned about the stress of wedding planning. That means you know that you might be prone to decision-making overload. If so, then I implore you to try to let some things go.
Lots of decision-making can lead to two things for a sensitive introvert: stress and shutdown.
When I was beginning to plan my wedding, the anticipation of facing this many decisions made me shut down; I didn’t want to think about wedding planning at all because it felt so overwhelming. So, I took steps to eliminate aspects of my wedding and wedding planning that weren’t essential. I learned to let go of details that didn’t really matter to me. And I learned to love delegating.
Here are an introvert’s tips for minimizing wedding stress and shutdown:
Ask yourself: “Years from now, what is the one thing I want people to remember about my wedding?”
Other than actually getting married, what is the central goal of your wedding day?
Our goal was to gather all our loved ones together and have a good time. I wanted people to remember that our wedding was fun and unique. That was it. That was what we decided our main theme was.
With your theme in mind, ask yourself:
- “What do I need to make this wedding memorable in the ways I want?”
- “What can I eliminate and still accomplish my goal?”
Remember these questions and think about them often.
Manage family expectations
Your family and friends may have lots of opinions about how they think things should be done at your wedding. Or they may be content to let you plan as you wish.
But here is where it gets tricky: if your parents are partially or fully footing the bill for the shindig, are their funds a no-strings-attached gift, or do they get a say in the planning?
Here’s my tip: tell your parents that they can pick a certain number of aspects of the wedding in which they can make the decisions (or help make the decisions). Alternatively, tell them a few specific aspects where you absolutely won’t compromise, and let them chime in on the rest.
Hopefully, they will feel that their wishes are being respected and, in turn, respect that you want to make some decisions on your own.
Forget about tradition and do what you want to do
If you have no interest in having a bachelor/bachelorette party, wearing a traditional dress or tux, throwing a bouquet, having a wedding cake, or walking down an aisle, thendon’t. The wedding police aren’t going to show up and arrest you.
At my wedding, I refused to kowtow to tradition that made me uncomfortable or held no meaning. We didn’t recite vows or do any toasts or solo dances. We didn’t have a wedding cake. I didn’t wear a traditional wedding dress or walk down an aisle with everyone staring at me. (I looked like everyone else—a partygoer.) These decisions bucked tradition but made me more comfortable as someone who didn’t enjoy being the center of attention. And no one minded the “missing” elements of the wedding.
Divide assignments with your partner according to your strengths
If your partner is more outgoing, or an extrovert, then he or she may be better at particular tasks.
I did everything concerning the invitations—compiled the mailing list; designed, ordered, addressed, and mailed the invites; and created an online form for RSVPs. My fiancé dislikes that type of work. He was in charge of phoning and negotiating with companies that rented out tents and chairs—tasks he didn’t mind but that I would have dreaded.
If you find yourself avoiding certain aspects of your wedding planning, see if your partner might be willing to do them instead. Play to your strengths. Along the same lines…
Let people help you
When friends and family ask if they can “help with anything”, it’s natural to reply: “No, thank you.” But accept all the help you can get!
My fiancé’s sister offered her help, so I asked if she’d be interested in procuring cupcakes (in lieu of a wedding cake). Once I passed that assignment on to her, I didn’t worry about dessert ever again. It felt awesome to check that task off my list, permanently.
You might be thinking, “How can you hand over such a big task? What if she did a bad job?” I trusted her. Anyway, what was the worst-case scenario? They’re just cupcakes. I let it go, and let her take care of it. And the cupcakes looked great!
The best part was that I didn’t have to spend any of my mental decision power on that task.
Some of your close loved ones might enjoy being given real responsibilities that allow them to help out on your special day. It lets them give you the unique and special gift of their time and effort. So if someone sincerely offers to help, seize the opportunity. Look through your list of tasks to see if you can offload a thing or two.
Then check it off your list, and breathe a sigh of relief.
Take a break
If you feel dazed by all the planning details, schedule some wedding-free time. Arrange for an afternoon where you don’t make or answer any wedding-related phone calls or emails. Go to a movie, go to the park—do the things you normally would do. This is especially important in the last few weeks leading up to the big day.
What about during the wedding itself? If you feel overwhelmed during the reception, go somewhere alone—like the bathroom. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. No one will notice if you’re gone for a few minutes. A few moments of meditation might be just the refreshment you need.
Simply knowing that there is a place you can escape for a breather can help relieve stress when it’s creeping up on you.
Hire a wedding coordinator
A wedding coordinator or planner can take a huge amount of decision-making off your plate. They can assist with selecting and booking a venue, selecting a theme and music, contacting vendors, musicians, and more. On the wedding day, the coordinator confirms all the details and oversees the wedding so everything runs smoothly while you enjoy yourself. Although hiring a wedding coordinator is an additional cost, they can save you from having to make lots of stressful and time-consuming choices.
Remember that your wedding is just that—yours. Keep in mind your main goal, delegate, don’t stress about meaningless traditions, and let go of things that aren’t important. Try to eliminate the little details that don’t contribute to your main goal. You can still have a beautiful, unique, and fun wedding by being considerate to you or your partner’s introverted nature.
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