|Loads of love to whoever gets this|
One thing I was told over and over in the days (and minutes) leading up to my wedding was that I was surprisingly calm. I took it as a compliment, but it left me wondering. What was I expected to do? The stereotypical image of a bride is of a neurotic Bridezilla who freaks out if one flower is the wrong shade of pink, who gets anxiety attacks over the thought of her make-up not being perfect, and who envisions the commitment she is about to make and starts plotting her escape route... right? I thought back to what the me of two or three years ago would have done, and that sounded about right.
So, how did I stay calm and end up having the most amazing day? It's been a long way coming, but as so many people seemed interested in my zen-like "skills" I'll try to give you some tips for your own big day (or any other stressful occasion)...
Plenty went "wrong" in the lead-up to our wedding; our venue had to be changed months after we'd sent out the invitations, a bridesmaid flaked on me two months before the wedding, the officiator moved countries and Prague started flooding. Not to mention that on the day there were little snippets of drama - people defaced our guestbook (with naughty pictures - thanks guys!) and got a bit too happy - and I had a huge spot on my chin! A year or two ago, believe me, I would have overly focused on those things and let them put a damper on the day.
As it happens, most of the things that went "wrong" turned out to be for the best - the original venue was closed due to floods, the new bridesmaid was wonderful and the officiator provided everyone with a few laughs. But it doesn't always happen like that - sometimes things just don't work out how you want them to. Still, here are the few things I think that helped me to prepare for the wedding (and get to the aisle) without too much stress...
Don't have a perfect vision of what you want. Well, OK, you can have SOME ideas, of course. I knew what I wanted to look like in my dress, and what I wanted the room to look like, but I made sure that these were vague images - the kind you fondly remember - and not precise details. If I had created the perfect dress or flower arrangement in my head beforehand, then I would have spent hours obsessing over getting everything just right. I've seen other brides do this, and they get so caught up in what colour the napkins will be that they forget what's truly important...
The most important thing is that you're marrying the man/woman you love. OK, it's also nice to look pretty and have the people you love around you, and having good music and nice cake won't hurt, either. But, ultimately, if you're more interested in your shoes than the person you're vowing to spend your life with, then it's time to reevaluate just why you agreed to get married in the first place. Little things will go wrong on the day, but most people will remember how happy the two of you looked, not how your bridesmaid's shoes didn't match.
Accept that things WILL go wrong. I knew from the beginning that things wouldn't go completely to plan - they never do! So, when I was told that things had changed (i.e. the bridesmaid and the venue), I let myself get angry for a few minutes, but then I told myself that I'd expected things to go wrong, and that it was OK. If you let those things become disasters, then they will, but realise that something has gone different to your plan and then think about what you're going to do about it. Sitting around getting angry about it won't help you!
Take things one step at a time. I gave myself a long time to plan the wedding - nearly 14 months! The nice thing about that was that I only needed to do one or two things every month, with a few more things in the last few weeks leading up to it, of course. So, one month, I'd arrange the flowers and buy some shoes, the next I arranged the cake and obtained a document that I needed. When the wedding creeps up on you, the best way to handle it is to focus on the very immediate future - i.e. "OK, tonight is just the rehearsal dinner" and "Right, all I'm doing now is having make-up applied". Which brings me to...
Mindfulness! Of course you need to be aware of the commitment you're making. But, if it's the right move for you, the panic and anxiety usually stems from imagining a hundred scenarios of things going wrong, or even from pure excitement overload. When the nerves hit you and you start visualising yourself tripping over your dress, gently move your mind back to what you're doing right now. Focus on your hands, your breathing, or the sounds in the background. This is what kept me calm right up until about five seconds before I had to start walking down the aisle! After that, yeah, I was nervous - but it was great.
Learn to laugh. So someone steps on your dress, you sign your name on the register in the wrong place, and your schedule isn't running as quickly as you'd planned (these things all happened). Instead of getting angry or upset about it, try to laugh. I don't mean that scary, hysterical laugh that people do when they're really angry. I mean - stop and think about it. Why should you be angry because you tripped and fell? When you're the bride, the entire mood of the wedding is influenced by you. If you trip and have a tantrum, people will feel awkward and on edge. If you trip and laugh and carry on, people will feel relaxed and enjoy themselves more.
Give up control. You can obsessively plan every detail up until the day itself, but when it comes, accept that your reign is over and just let things happen. This is hard for some of us, but try to delegate as much as you can - ask bridesmaids and friends to each be in charge of certain things, if it makes you feel better, and do everything you can to trust them to get it right. People usually can do things if you lay off and let them get on with it, but breathing over their shoulders will just annoy and distract them. If you have a good planner/maid of honour/venue manager, you won't have to worry about much. Just let the river carry you along (and don't get too drunk - nobody wants to see a drunk and disorderly bride)!
Oh, and, you know... marrying the right person helps!! (Psst - if you join one of my coaching programmes or get one-on-one coaching with me, I'll help you to create amazing, strong relationships and to feel secure enough in yourself to know whether they are "The One")
If you'd like to know about my actual wedding, and how you could also have a beautiful and affordable wedding in Prague, stay tuned!