Your wedding day is one of the most exciting and special days of your life, and it’s important to really soak up every moment. Of course, it can be a very stressful time as well because you have invested a great deal of time, energy, and money, and you want everything to go according to plan. As a seasoned wedding officiant, I have noticed a few common things over the years that couples overlook when it comes to getting the most out of their wedding day experience. So with the benefit of hindsight, here are 5 things you can do to avoid making some of the most common mistakes:
Remember You’re Happy
I know this sounds weird, but you have to realize that no matter how you feel on your wedding day, you’re happy! Allow me to explain further. . .
During the months leading up to your wedding, it’s perfectly normal to feel a mix of emotions. Any time you face a major life-changing event, you unconsciously mourn the loss of the person you used to be. You do this even if you know your life is changing for the better because change is difficult regardless of whether it’s good or bad. When you go through the process of getting married, you actually mourn the loss of your old identity as a single person.
Think about other life-changing events you have had, maybe when you went off to college or left home for the first time, or when you started a new job or career. It was both exciting and scary, but you eventually settled into your new self; you worked through the fear, and you grew and matured as a result. Marriage is no different, it takes a little time to completely settle in, so on your wedding day, it is perfectly normal to feel some stress and anxiety. Plus, you have the added pressure of making sure this big event goes smoothly, and you may have a little stage fright to boot.
The takeaway here is that anxiety and other unsettling emotions are normal and to be expected, but they won’t last forever and having these feelings certainly doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. Just keep reminding yourself on your wedding day that underneath these superficial anxieties, you are so happy to be able to spend your life with the person you love. And when people ask you if you’re nervous (which gets pretty annoying after the tenth person asks), just say “yes of course, but I’m also extremely happy!”
Recruiting friends and family to help out may seem like a great way to cut the costs involved with your wedding. Maybe your aunt is great with flowers, your cousin is a good photographer, and your mother agrees to help coordinate day-of tasks.
While this may indeed save money, what typically happens is that it ends up increasing the level of stress for everyone involved, especially you. Even if your friends and family willingly volunteer to help out, they may not realize just how much work they are signing up for. If you haven’t planned a wedding before, chances are that you don’t realize how much work goes into it either, especially behind the scenes. I have had many brides and their mothers express that very thing to me after attempting to do it themselves.
Another issue with having friends and family help out is that once the wedding is underway, they are going to want to enjoy the celebration like all of the other guests. Plus, their lack of experience can be a real liability when some important detail is overlooked or they drop the ball because they get caught up talking with someone they haven’t seen in a while.
The best way to reduce stress on your wedding day is to hire professionals who are reliable, experienced, and knowledgeable so you can just focus on enjoying the moment and celebrating. Having a beautiful wedding that everyone will remember and cherish for a lifetime does come at a cost, but when it comes down to the brass tax, you only get one shot at pulling off this incredible event. When you look back on your wedding day, what you will remember most is not how much it cost, but how good it felt to celebrate this precious moment with friends and family. It’s well worth hiring the right people for the right job to ensure that it all goes smoothly and everyone gets to have a good time.
Have a Solid Plan B
If you choose to have an outdoor wedding ceremony, then don’t overlook the importance of having a good backup plan in case of inclement weather.
Hoping for perfect weather can add a great deal of stress as you approach the big day, and if you don’t have a plan, then it can be a huge letdown if it happens to be dumping rain that day. I’ve worked with too many couples who plan a beautiful wedding on a mountaintop without even considering what would happen if it rains. When I bring up this possibility, it can feel like a real downer to the couple who only wants positive vibes surrounding their wedding planning. But the reality is that it does rain on weddings, and having a backup plan that you’re going to be happy with is crucial.
Some couples will say, “if it rains then we’re just going to have the ceremony anyway, we don’t mind getting wet.” That’s probably the worst plan ever, for so many obvious reasons. The guests and vendors involved probably do mind getting soaked, especially if they have equipment that can’t get wet, like cameras, audio gear, or even the officiant’s ceremony binder and nice clothes. Providing umbrellas and pop-up canopies is not the best remedy either because high winds will easily defeat that solution.
Other couples might have a plan B, but they are still going to be really disappointed if they have to use it. For example, the ceremony site might be next to a waterfall, but the rain plan is for everyone to cram into their tiny hotel room. This is not a well-thought-out rain plan, and the couple is going to be just as nervous about the weather as if they had no plan at all.
So, when deciding on a venue or ceremony location, pick a place where a plan B would be realistic and wouldn’t break your heart if you had to use it. And a simple shift in mindset can make all the difference too. Acknowledging the fact that the weather may not be perfect and you can’t control everything, is a great start. Focusing on what you can control, and preparing for what you can’t, will ease a lot of stress.
You’re probably thinking this is pretty obvious, but I’m not talking about physically being there at your wedding. Of course, your physical presence is a requirement, but when I say that you need to “show up” for your wedding, what I mean is that you need to be fully present in both body and mind. In order to take in the rich experience of your wedding day, you need to be completely in the moment, free of distractions.
It can be very tempting to start drinking before your wedding ceremony. You know, it calms the nerves, and after all, the whole day is a celebration, so why wait until the reception, right? The problem is that drinking can prevent you from being fully present, and it’s very easy to drink a little too much to compensate for your nervousness. Not to mention that it can send a message to both your guests and your partner that you are not taking this whole thing seriously.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having a few adult beverages as much as the next guy, but trust me, there will be plenty of time after the ceremony to cut loose. I recommend talking with your partner beforehand and agreeing that neither of you will drink until after the ceremony. Having that accountability will be helpful when you hear someone in the wedding party cracking a cold one while you’re getting ready. The bottom line is that you don’t want to be that sloshed bride or groom slurring their vows during the ceremony, but even more importantly, you want to be 100% present and focused for this amazing moment in your life!
Day Before Self-Care
This one goes hand in hand with the last one. To fully enjoy this amazing day that you’ve been planning for months, you need to prepare your body and mind, starting the day before. You will be expending a lot of energy on your wedding day, and being “on” for so long can be exhausting. Be sure to fill your body with lots of nutrients the day before. Take vitamin C, eat healthy foods, and drink tons of water. Of course, you may be tempted to have an early celebration at the rehearsal dinner when your closest family and friend arrive, but remain mindful and don’t overdo it or stay up late. You’re going to need a solid night’s sleep to be at your very best.
If you practice yoga or meditation, by all means, schedule a little time for that type of self-care the day before too. If running is your thing, then go on a quick jog just to get your blood flowing, but don’t run a marathon.
The last thing you want to do is spend the entire day before your wedding scrambling to get all the loose ends tied up. Do as much as you can before that, and rely on your wedding planner too, so you don’t get caught up in a stress-inducing frenzy. A good planner will help you to feel at ease and confident that everything is unfolding the way it should.
Being mindful of your choices the day before the wedding is not easy, but trust me, you will thank yourself. Because nothing is better at combating stress and anxiety than simply taking care of yourself and being prepared.
Again, I make these recommendations based on mistakes that I’ve seen couples make over the last 10 years of officiating weddings. I hope my insights help you to really soak up the full experience of getting married, and I sincerely wish you the very best on your wedding day and beyond!
Love & Wisdom Inc.