If you’re an idealist, you might be of the philosophy that “all you need is love.” And while love and romance are great foundations for a marriage—and the very worthy cause for a ceremony and celebration with your loved ones—the reality is that planning a wedding involves plenty of organization, time management, attention to detail and problem-solving for issues great and small. So, no matter how optimistic or idealistic you consider yourself, there will be stressors along the way, and it’s time to figure out how to navigate the ups and downs of wedding planning.

How do you turn that Pinterest board into a reality? Hiring a professional wedding planner is the best bet, and these professionals can help out at any level of involvement—whether you just need some day-of coordinating, or if you want them to take charge of the entire event.

Molly Reid, a journalist in New Orleans, is a natural leader who is laid-back and loves to plan parties for her friends, so she thought that planning her wedding would be seamless. She laughs when she reflects on the process, admitting that she learned a lot about herself and planning during this time. She says organizing her wedding was like “taking on a second job. If you won’t enjoy that, then swallow the pill and get a planner. A good [wedding planner] will save you boatloads of time and stress. I thought it was an extravagance, but I should have realized that planning a wedding with just my mother, from scratch, was a recipe for a world of irritation. I enjoy planning parties, but a wedding is a whole other thing— there are 6,000 times as many details to consider!”

When hiring a planner, it’s important to interview several candidates. Shop around and seek recommendations from friends who have tied the knot—when all is said and done, you could tally up weeks of time spent with this person, so you want to make sure that you mesh well in terms of personality. While you’re not marrying this person, you are entrusting them to plan one of the biggest and most important days of your life.

Nancy Staggs, a wedding and party planner based in New Orleans agrees that getting along with her clients is essential, although she is skilled at dealing with a stressed-out bride. “Sticking to a schedule is important,” she says. “Even though it’s the bride’s day, you have to stay on schedule to ensure that everything gets planned without rushing.” Sometimes they only want help with flowers or the decorations; sometimes they want the entire event planned out. Staggs is flexible and makes sure to keep a checklist and remain clear about what they are going to get.

She also encourages brides-to-be to be aware of their budgets: “There can be lots of hidden costs,” she says. “Hemming and bustling a dress can cost as much as $300.” She notes that there also can be an up-charge for larger invitations.

Planning the wedding involves managing the guest list; getting save-the-dates and invitations made; figuring out who will be part of the ceremony; figuring out transportation; the venue; finding the right dress; entertainment, food and reception area and because of the fact that in New Orleans, the party doesn’t stop—the post-reception area where the younger generation goes after the older relatives have retired for the night.


When you feel swamped by planning, spend time with friends who aren’t involved in the wedding, so it won’t be the only topic of conversation.


Getting Hitched Without A Hitch

“It’s common to feel a loss of independence or uneasiness about the permanence of a new relationship,” says wedding counselor Adrienne Brink.


Amid the festivities, another thing to remember: It’s not just a day, but a lifetime you are planning for, so many couples choose during this time period to attend pre-wedding counseling or, as Rev. Dr. Jerry Schumm calls it, a pre-wedding “conversation.” (He prefers not to use the phrase counseling due to stigmas attached to the word.)

Schumm, who recently relocated to Mississippi after living in Florida, travels all over the Gulf South to conduct wedding ceremonies. He has officiated more than 2,000 weddings in his 40-year career and he believes that taking the time to discuss your goals as a couple is highly beneficial.

“I came up with a [questionnaire] form,” he says. “And it ended up being a piece I’ve used almost 2,300 times. If I am talking to a young couple, I ask them what they want, what they’re looking for in a marriage.”

For some couples, he says, parental approval is important. For others, it’s finances. He also encourages them to discuss whether or not they want to have children.

Adrienne Brink, a wedding counselor in Slidell, says, “It’s becoming more popular for couples to do some sort of relationship assessment or skill-building program before they get married.”

She notes that many couples are waiting until their late 20s or 30s to get married, in an effort to make mature decisions. “They are more thoughtful about what it takes to have a lasting commitment,” she continues. “While weddings can symbolize an exciting new beginning, they also bring many stressors. It’s common to feel a loss of independence or uneasiness about the permanence of a new relationship…Add to that the task of bringing to life a dream wedding and anyone can understand why a person would feel increased stress during their engagement. The best way to work through this is to process what is going on in a supportive atmosphere. If you feel understood, affirmed and validated, you can find the strength from within to cope with these stressors.”

Amy Johnston, who got married in 2010, began dating her now-husband when they were sophomores in college. Over the years, they knew they were meant to be together, but as two ambitious 20-somethings fresh out of a competitive law school, they wanted to address potential sticky situations before they tied the knot.

“Looking back, I’m really glad we carved out time in the pre-wedding chaos to do pre-marital counseling,” says Johnston. “It gave us an invaluable opportunity to really focus and reflect on what was important to us and our future together—values, priorities, finances and building a family. I also think it probably helped resolve potential disagreements before we started. And we had a place from which to continue a conversation about important (and even not so important) things in our lives.”

Individual therapy might also help during times of great stress. Says Molly Reid, “I actually went to a therapist to talk about my feelings on the subject because I didn’t want to bore my friends. That was really helpful.”
 


Simple, quick ways to De-stress during the planning process:

• Treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure and, or massage
• Go see a movie with your friends who aren’t involved in the wedding
• Spend a night with your fiancé on the couch and make a rule that you will NOT talk about the big day
• Attend a yoga or meditation class, or download an app, such as Mindfulness or Buddhify, on your smartphone that will guide you through relaxation techniques
• Keep a journal for venting
• Take a hot bath with lavender and Epsom salts