I am currently in the midst of planning a wedding. This was not ever something I aspired to do with my life, and so I’m not necessarily taking it as seriously as many women in my situation would. I’m 36 (37 in a month!) and have a pretty good idea of who I am, as does the groom. Neither of us has any misgivings about what the wedding is going to be — a great party to celebrate our love for our friends and family.
To that end, I’m a “bad bride”. I’m not demanding attention or spending much time planning the event itself, not to mention the bachelorette party or any of the surrounding festivities. I am a bad target for all the wedding advertisements swirling around me on Facebook and Instagram, and I am definitely not responding to calls to go to a private registry party or a wedding expo. I’m not contributing to the Big Wedding Industrial Complex in many ways. I hope the entire economy doesn’t collapse in my bridal absence.
In spite of the fact that my stress levels are definitely very low for a bride-to-be, I have determined there are even more ways to reduce stress in planning a wedding. As a “bad bride”, I recommend the following:
Ditch the bridal party
From what I can tell, the bridesmaids are the main source of drama in most weddings (although the mother-of-the-bride can come in a close second). Asking three to 12 of your best friends to accompany you down the aisle while wearing matching dresses is a cute enough request for any woman, but it quickly turns into a lot of wrangling and reassuring, especially as the party grows in size. Someone is going to be upset she wasn’t the maid of honor, or upset she wasn’t invited to be a bridesmaid at all, or upset at the dress color you chose. Also, it turns into a huge financial burden for you and for them. Being part of the bridal party means chipping in to plan and pay for the bachelorette party, the lingerie party, and any other number of pre-wedding rituals, like mani/pedis, massages, or facials. In the interest of preserving your sanity as well as your friendships with your best friends, ditching the bridal party is a great idea.
Plan to wear a bridal caftan
The wedding dress is one of the most expensive parts of the modern wedding. Beyond the initial expense of purchasing a single-use designer gown, there is the tailoring to consider. Most brides plan to lose weight or at least tone up significantly before the most photographed day of their lives, and the dress will need to be measured and cut and stitched to best accentuate the bride’s assets. This costs almost as much money as the dress itself, not to mention the stress of having to schedule fittings with some of the most sought after tailors in whatever city you inhabit. Finally, the stress of having to remodel your body to suit society’s ideals of what a bride should look like on her wedding day is enormous. All of this stress and ire can be sidestepped by planning to wear a lose-fitting, flowing caftan in whatever pattern and at whatever length the bride is most comfortable in. She won’t need any tailoring whatsoever, nor will she need to lose weight or worry about whether or not the skin on her shoulders is presentable. And she can eat as much cake as she wants.
Book the entire event at a single, scenic venue
Another major expense for a wedding is decorations. Many brides opt for opulent bouquets, curtains of floating gauze, and myriad candles to create the right ambiance for their special day. The cost for this is enormous, and this expense doubles or more when applied to both the venue for the ceremony and that of the reception. There’s also transportation between both venues to consider, which can add up quickly, particularly if the bride and groom wish to provide safe transportation for the entire wedding party. The best solution to this level of stress and investment is to book a beautiful venue for the ceremony, reception, and overnight hotel stay, if possible. If the venue is scenic enough, decor will be redundant, and if the ceremony and reception are in the same space, transportation will be unnecessary. Plus, friends and family won’t have to deal with the hassle of deciding whether or not to bring a jacket or a comfortable pair of dancing shoes to the ceremony if they can just dash to their room between events. Less stress for everyone!
Ask a friend to officiate
While many people have religious considerations regarding who can perform their wedding ceremony, there are just as many brides-to-be who have no real affiliation with a church or religious entity. Trying to find a priest or pastor with whom you agree and who will capture the true spirit of your nuptials can be extremely stressful. Luckily, it’s very easy to become ordained (often for free), and you can ask a friend who knows you and your significant other well to write and perform the ceremony for you. You probably have at least one close friend who is boisterous and good at public speaking, and will be glad to serve as your officiant on your special day. Give them a specific outline of how you want the ceremony to go a few weeks before the event and let them do their thing. Make sure they understand the level of seriousness, any special songs or poems you want included, and what level of tradition you’d like (for instance, whether or not you’ll be writing your own vows or using pre-written ones, whether you want them to ask the celebrants to stand while the bride arrives, etc).
If you’re still stressed out about planning a wedding, just stop. Go to the nearest courthouse on a business day or take a road trip to Las Vegas and get married without any pomp or circumstance. You might tick off a relative or two, but at the end of the day, your wedding should reflect your feelings about the marriage while keeping you sane. If it’s too stressful to plan and throw a party or arrange a ceremony, don’t do it. Your marriage will probably be stronger in the long run, anyway.
Those are just five tips for reducing stress during wedding planning. I’m sure I’ll come up with more as I get closer to the date.