No matter how excited a bride is at the beginning of the wedding planning process, at some point, she wants to throw her hands in the air and yell, “AHHH!!! Should we just elope?!?!”
Wedding planning is stressful. It can be fun stressful, annoying stressful, or nightmare stressful; but, one way or another, it is stressful. By the time the wedding happens, most brides are simply thrilled to have made it to the day! Even if every detail does not go exactly as planned, they think, “at least I am finally here and am getting married!”
Even though it has been a few years since I felt the uproar of wedding season, I still remember it quite well. If anything brought out pre-marriage conflict between Eric and me, it was wedding planning. He had specific ideas about what he wanted in a wedding; whereas I thought, as the groom, he should always default to my wishes. We were ready to strangle each other before we ever got down the aisle.
If you reach bridal burnout along the way, you are not alone. It is okay. You will get through it. ~smile~
To help you refocus, here are a handful of questions to ask yourself and your spouse-to-be when you reach your breaking point.
- Have we lost sight of the big picture? In the end, couples get married. Whether or not the wedding singer is on key, the candles stay lit, or the ring bearer wets his pants, couples still end the day as husband and wife. When two people become engaged, they are saying, “I want to spend the rest of my life by your side.” But, then the wedding hype quickly floods in and snatches the couple’s attention. When you feel locked in the clutches of wedding planning burnout, ask yourself, “Have we lost sight of what is important?”
- What will matter to us in ten years? Ten years after we got married, I was still bummed that we never got a video of our wedding (despite the fact that two well-intentioned people filmed it). So, we frequently tell our clients, “Hire a videographer!” Ten years later, I can still remember key people who were not there and those who were. I did not expect one of my cousins to come; yet, after the ceremony, I looked up and saw him (and his mischievous grin) descending from the balcony. Also, ten years later, I still regret the conflict our wedding planning generated between ourselves and others; it was not worth it. I would rather have been married in a paper bag in our backyard than to have endured those battles. Once you have an idea of what will matter to you in ten years, you can concentrate your attention on those details.
- Are we expending too much energy trying to make everyone else happy? It is lovely to honor others’ wishes as long as they do not take away from your In the name of harmony and loving on others, sure, you can make some minor changes. However, if you feel yourself being sucked beneath the current of everyone else’s demands, it is time to draw a line. You can kindly let your friends and family know that you will hear their suggestions (and maybe even designate an email address to receive any ideas), but that you will ultimately make the decision you think is best for your wedding day. If your family is making demands because they are supplying the money for the wedding, then it is not a gift, but a loan – where the loan is repaid in the details and demands from your wedding. It would be better to be free from constrictive demands and pay for the ceremony yourselves to have the wedding the way you want. Years later, you don’t want to be resentful of those who had the wedding of their dreams, but not your dreams.
- What message are we trying to send with our ceremony and are we being true to that message? What do we want our ceremony and reception to communicate to our guests? Are we trying to present the gospel? Are we trying to present a model of Christ and the Church? Are we hoping to inspire marriages that are struggling? Do we simply want to show our guests a relaxing evening? Are the decisions we are making leading to those ends?
- Are we so caught up in the wedding planning that we are losing sight of each other? After all of this running around and planning, do you even still like your fiancée? (This is an important question to answer. ~smile~) If your relational connection is suffering, take a break from the planning and spend some time together. Remember what made you want to get married in the first place!
- What can we delegate? Are you drowning in details which you could pass off to someone else? Is your maid (or matron) of honor available to take some responsibility? If not, is another bridesmaid accessible? Is your best man willing to run some errands or make some arrangements for you? Who can help you lighten your load?
- Should we elope? For some, this is a question asked in angst and frustration. For others, it is a real consideration. If you are seriously thinking of eloping, I will direct you back to question number two: What will matter to us in ten years? Think through the pros and cons carefully. Ask yourselves, “Will we regret this?” Be courageous and admit if you are truly not interested in the idea, even if your sweetheart or family is pressuring you. Is a compromise available? Perhaps you could plan a smaller wedding or a destination wedding with just a few close friends and family?
Wedding celebrations have grown (almost exponentially) over the years. What was once a simple ceremony with deep symbolism has spiraled into the event of the season. There is nothing wrong with having a large and illustrious wedding if that is what you both want and can afford, but it does not have to be a huge affair. If you and your fiancée want small, small is great! We discuss wedding planning in detail in our premarital program because we want each couple we coach to have the wedding of their dreams.
When you feel yourself slipping into wedding planning despair, step back, take a deep breath, remind yourself of the overall goal, then whisper and believe, “It is going to be okay.” If need be, take a few days off and think about something entirely different – maybe get reacquainted with your sweetheart?! Determine from the beginning that you will not allow the stress of the wedding to rob you of the joy of this season. Your wedding should be a blessing to your life and a beautiful memory to cherish.
How will you keep your wedding and relationship in perspective as you plan for your big day?