In our culture, brides and stress go hand-in-hand.
Bridal stress is unique. It is essentially temporary, yet is often connected to deeper emotional challenges and is exacerbated by family dynamics . There is often a decision to make, or challenge to resolve, at every turn and any little disruption can put you in a momentary tizzy.
In this article, I am addressing brides, but this stuff happens to grooms too! Here are some of the challenges, and solutions:
1. Bridezillas are made, not born. It's supposed to be the happiest time of your life -- and you want it to be -- yet planning a wedding is hard work. You have to find the time to tend to a multitude of details as part of an already busy schedule while managing vendors, family anxieties and demands, your relationship, your emotions, and an array of tricky wedding dynamics. While it is true that some brides are downright demanding, many are nice people, sucked into the vortex of wedding planning stress and overwhelmed by the expectations or shenanigans of those around her.
Solution: Include stress management, self-nurturing and time to chill out as an integral part of her wedding planning process. When you feel the stress building, take time out, go for a walk, slip into a movie, get a massage, go for a manicure, write in a journal, do something un-wedding.
2. Everyone has something to say about your wedding! No matter who you are or what age, everyone has an opinion to express. You may be showered with congratulations and gifts, but you are simultaneously bombarded with unsolicited advice, wedding horror stories, and negative vibes from well-meaning friends and relatives who are too lost in their own experience to realize they are imposing on you. People tend to use a family wedding as a chance to fulfill their own needs. Family dynamics erupt in every which direction because as the clan prepares to gather they begin to act out what it's all about for them -- not you! The issues are often classic -- mom wants it to be the wedding she never had -- or the experience may be fraught with more modern challenges such as questions about mixing faiths, opting for a non-religious wedding or planning an alternative kind of affair, or a same-sex ceremony.
Solution: Clarify the wedding you truly want, try to stay centered and set clear boundaries that no one can penetrate with words or attitudes. If all else fails, remember this: Weddings may be for other people, but marriage is for the two of you. Focus on what your marriage will mean to you.
3. Getting married can stir up a lot of emotions. The process itself sets forth a period of growth and change that can be daunting. As you begin the process of getting ready for marriage, unresolved emotions may arise and come to the surface to be explored. They may be about parents and family, past loves and even concerns about the person you have chosen. This doesn't mean you shouldn't marry, it just means inner work is called for along with all the outer preparations.
Solution: Embrace the awareness that the wedding signifies embarking on a journey of evolution from one part of life to another, and honor and address the emotions and fears that arise. Trust they are natural and pay attention to any issues that might require support or counseling. It is important to stay on top of your emotions and be honest with yourself during this time. Don't sweep things under the rug.
4. Wedding planning can be a crisis. There is so much focus on the external experience that a bride can become mired in details and demands and lose track of the reason she is getting married in the first place. When she feels that planning the wedding of her dreams means going to battle -- with parents, family, friends, and vendors -- she becomes hostile and reactive. What began as a joyful experience turns into a fight to ensure the perfect wedding. It is exhausting and even sweet tempered people can turn mean and cranky.
Solution: Remember that the true meaning of marriage is to bring two together in sacred union -- the party is meant to be a celebration, not something that will kill your spirit in the planning. When two people in love literally step up to commit themselves to one another in matrimony they have the opportunity to unite not just their hearts, lives and families, but to unite their very beings. Anyone who witnesses a wedding can be empowered and inspired by the love in the room. Focus on the love and remember it is always your aim.
5. Your happiness in life DOES NOT hinge on your wedding alone It really doesn't. Some brides believe that they must have a perfect wedding in order to have a perfect marriage and a perfect life. They give the wedding day too much power and begin to treat the wedding itself as something to be worshiped and served. There is an underlying fear that if something goes wrong with the wedding, it is a sign that will make or break the marriage. Our culture places a tremendous emphasis on having a great wedding and not enough focus on having an awesome marriage. It's okay to be temporarily obsessed and to yearn for the perfect wedding, but you have to keep your eye on what's truly important.
Solution: Step back and realize the most important part of the day is not the day itself but that you walked down that aisle and into the arms of the person you love, the one with whom you choose to build a life. You will have many more chances to create more memories. The wedding day, while important, is only one of the many experiences and memories you will share!
So relax and have fun on your big day!