I got married on May 21st! After Anthony proposed and I said "yes," we waited a full month before we thought about planning. We planned for about 10 months in total. Initially, I was dreading the planning. Most experiences of wedding planning, that I knew about, were stressful, frustrating and a drain on mental health. I'm sure you have all heard of or seen a "bridezilla" on television or in real life. I thought that was the way my wedding planning experience had to be. I've heard stories about how stress can overshadow the excitement and happiness of getting married.
I realized that I had the power to create the wedding planning experience I wanted. We chose to wanted a peaceful experience, from start to finish. Wedding planning for us was overall peaceful and fun. There were a couple of bumps along the way, of course, but all in all it was a pleasant experience.
Throughout the process, I was asked numerous times if I was "stressing out" about the planning. Each time my answer was "no" and it was the truth! You might be wondering how?! The following list describes tips on how we created a peaceful wedding planning experience. I included the input of my awesome hubby, Anthony Strayhorn, personal trainer and lifestyle coach. It was great having his support and enthusiasm along the way!
First things first, we knew for a long time, even before we were engaged, that we wanted the wedding planning to be as stress-free as possible. We understood that the energy created from the planning would flow into the wedding and marriage and we wanted that energy to be peaceful, loving, and fun! We set that as an intention early on and maintained it throughout. During the rare occasion of stress, we remembered the intention of peace and the stress melted away. Being mindful that a peaceful and loving wedding planning experience will ultimately create a peaceful and loving wedding helped mitigate and manage any circumstances that had the potential to be stressful.
We were also intentional about not creating personal debt from the wedding. We both already have a manageable amount of debt and did not want to add anymore going into our marriage. This was something that we decided together and kept in the front of our minds throughout the planning. Again, setting this intention from the start, and going back to it in any questionable moments helped us stick to a budget and make smart choices along the way. There were times when I worried about the cost of things, but I remembered our financial intention and made the necessary choices to honor it. This really helped us to keep costs down and not spend money on things that were unnecessary. It is easy to get carried away and spend money outside of your budget when planning a wedding. Wedding vendors are keen on upselling and leading you to believe that you need things for your wedding regardless of your budget.
No Bridesmaids/No Groomsmen:
Choosing not to have bridesmaids or groomsmen saved us much stress, time, energy, and money. Thinking about who my bridesmaids would be was stressful in and of itself. I have so many friends and family members to choose from who love and support me, narrowing it down to only a few would have been a challenge for me. So nixing the bridesmaids altogether also nixed the stress that might have come with them. I did not have to decide on the dresses, clothes, makeup, and related costs. Anthony felt the same when it came to the groomsmen and was happy not to have them. We wanted our guests to be able sit back, relax, and enjoy the wedding rather than feeling like they had a job to do.
The planning time line felt like a bell-curve. In the beginning there was not much to do, especially after the venue was decided on and my dress was purchased. As it got closer to the date, wedding planning tasks ramped up and there was much more to organize, schedule, and arrange. The last couple of weeks before the wedding, there was not much to do other than relax.
Putting our mental and emotional health as a top priority was a focus of ours. At the height of wedding planning, I felt like I was completing multiple wedding tasks every day. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. It was during this time that I designated one day per week to be my "day off." On that "day off" I would focus on other things like work, friends, family, Anthony, and of course myself. Making sure I stayed on top of my self-care, which included physical fitness, meditation, reading, and healthy eating was paramount. I made it a point to focus on balance and not allow things and people that are important to me take second place to wedding planning. I also made sure that I had alone time, as well as quality time with Anthony. It was important for us to enjoy the moments as fiancés before we became husband and wife. Making the time for self-care greatly helped us maintain our peace and excitement about getting married.
Asking for help:
This was a big one for me because asking for help is a challenge in my day-to-day life, regardless of planning a wedding. We have so many loving friends and family who excitedly offered their help throughout the planning process. Whether it was assisting with planning details, helping me chose my wedding colors, hair style, dress, nails, decorating the broom we jumped, or just being an ear when I needed to vent, it was much appreciated. At times, it felt like we had a wedding planning team! Do not be afraid to ask for help. You do not have to do it all alone. Our wedding ceremony and reception was inclusive, in that we wanted everyone there to feel that they were part of our family. That feeling started from the beginning when we included others in helping with the planning process. Ultimately, it prevented us from feeling stressed and increased the wedding planning peace.
Sticking to our plan:
This may seem like a direct contridiction to the previous point, however, if you have an idea of how you want your wedding to look and to flow, try not being persuaded by the opinions of others. As cliché as it sounds, your wedding day is YOUR wedding day. Make choices that reflect you and your spouse's personalities. There were choices that we made for our wedding that others did not agree with or like, for example, Anthony and I are vegan so some of the food choices were vegan and the wedding cupcakes were vegan. We made sure our vision was the priority. If people offered suggestions that went against what we wanted, we respectfully chose otherwise. Ultimately, we created the wedding day experience that we both wanted and it could not have turned out more perfectly! Our love and union is what we were celebrating. We wanted nothing to get in the way of that.
I hope you found these tips to be helpful in your planning. Remember, planning a wedding does not have to be stressful. You have the power to create the experience that you want!
Peace, Love, Light
Erica James-Strayhorn, LMFT