Keeping Your Shit Together in the Final Stretch
Aug 1, 2021
It’s August, and that means fall weddings are in the very final stretch of planning. An avalanche of details and micro decisions are converging and creating one of the most stressful times that many people experience in their lives. Adding any additional stressors to wedding planning may have you ready to pull your hair out. I’m very familiar with the level of stress that can come with wedding planning in the final weeks and anything else that may get thrown at you. In those three weeks, here’s the things that got me through:
#1 – Perspective
At the outset of wedding planning, I taped a wallet-sized photo of myself and my then-fiancé from the night of our engagement to the front of the binder. Under it, I taped a sticky note that said “Reminder: This is what it’s all about & nothing else matters.” My goal in wedding planning was to throw a party where both of our families and all of our friends would be in one place at one time – most likely the only time in our lives when that would happen – and to get married. So long as both of those things happened, I didn’t really care how.
When you’re wedding planning, especially in those final weeks where it’s easy to get lost in the weeds, make sure you check in with yourself regularly and make sure that you’re keeping your eye on the prize: your spouse. Stay connected to them as best you can and make sure you’re making time for date nights, and ban wedding planning as a topic of conversation if you need to.
#2 – Take Regular Breaks
This is something that I started doing during wedding planning and have kept doing nearly four years later – I take days completely off where I am nothing but a bump on a log. Most folks planning weddings now have full time jobs, and you might also have kids or other familial care obligations, a chronic medical condition, a second job, a near-and-dear hobby, etc. All of these things take up not only time but mental and physical energy, and it’s important to give your body and brain a rest every now and then.
About once a week, take a few hours off to just relax. Don’t kid yourself that watching TV while you answer emails is a break – it’s not. Put the laptop or phone down and zone right out, amigo. Play a video game for a few hours. If you love baking, indulge in a new cookie recipe. If you’re into it, treat yourself to a yoga session that’s focused on relaxing and managing stress, not a workout. Catch up with a friend (with wedding planning a banned topic).
If you’re like me and have trouble being completely unproductive, remind yourself that self-care is still care and is really important to your long-term health and mental wellness. If you’re concerned about taking too long relaxing, set a timer. If you struggle to make these relaxation breaks happen, put them on your calendar and treat those times as sacred. Turn off your phone and commit to it. You need it!
#3 – Maintain Boundaries
A massive source of stress are nosy friends and family that ask about how wedding planning is going and then proceed to offer their unsolicited opinion about decisions you’ve made. Unless said person is a wedding professional offering their professional opinion (which they still shouldn’t be doing unsolicited) or a financial contributor toward your wedding, politely remind them that it’s your wedding and you’ll do as you and your future spouse please.
If you find yourself second-guessing your decisions based on their feedback, limit topics of conversation, or pretend that whatever decision they’re asking about is a surprise. In more extreme cases, practice the following line: “Our minds are made up and the topic is not up for discussion.” If that feels like an inflammatory line and you’d like to redirect the heat, you can say, “The final decision has already been sent to that vendor and we can’t change it.”
#4 – Ask for help and DELEGATE
When you come to the point where there just aren’t enough hours in the day, delegate the details to someone else – your planner or coordinator, someone in your bridal party, a sibling, a parent, or even your spouse. Explain what your opinions are, if you have any hard ones, what the expectations and budget are, and then let them handle it. Check it off of your list and trust them to take care of it. You don’t have to be a one-person show. Don’t expect anyone to be a mind-reader, and ask for help when you need it from people that you trust.
If you’re booked with me, I’m at your beck and call in the final eight weeks. If you need me to call and strong-arm a caterer, I’m on it. If you need to find a last-minute bartender, I’m on it. If you need me to find and shop for bridal party gifts, I’m on it. If you find out three days out from your wedding that your florist is delivering disassembled flowers, I’m on it.
#5 – Let it out!
Don’t hold it in. If you need to vent, do it. Find your safe zone people – your MOH, sibling, or parent – and talk out the stress that you’re going through. Express at the beginning of the conversation that you’re not looking for solutions or help (unless you are!) and that you just need someone to validate your feelings. If you don’t have a safe zone, I can be that for you and you’re welcome to talk my ear off about how the florist is driving you nuts and the DJ keeps arguing about your no-play list.
If you need to cry, here’s my top videos that will absolutely put you in tears (I cried putting these together):
- Surprise Puppies!
- Reunited with Pets!
- Surprise Military Homecomings! (Seriously, these get me every time)
- Seeing in Color for the First Time!
- Babies Hearing for the First Time!
- Grandparents Meeting Grandbabies!
- Wedding First Looks!
Alternately, you can just go watch the first 5 minutes of the movie Up, or the last 30 of Titanic.
#6 – Bill Murray.
No, really – hear me out.
My husband had a death in his immediate family three weeks before our wedding. A few days after the passing of that family member, my now-husband and I were zoning out on the couch and trying to catch our breath and Meatballs came on cable. This 1979 movie is a comedic classic coming-of-age story set in a summer camp and featuring a late-twenties Bill Murray in his prime. In an excellent parody of every sports movie with a motivational speech by the coach in the final hour, Bill’s character Tripper gives a perspective-altering tirade that culminates with the entire camp chanting “It just doesn’t matter!” [Watch it on YouTube here!]
This came on at an integral time when we were struggling to figure out how to move forward planning a joyful event in the face of grief. “It just doesn’t matter” became our motto in those final weeks.
“What color napkins do you want?” Doesn’t matter.
“What do you want to eat for lunch?” Doesn’t matter.
“How do you want to do this?” Doesn’t matter.
“When do you want to do that?” Doesn’t matter.
It sounds a little nihilistic, and this may seem odd coming from a wedding professional, but please believe me when I say that these last-minute decisions don’t matter a whole lot. In twenty years, you won’t remember a single one of these details that you’re deciding in the final hour. Unless you’re having to hire a last-minute vendor, the decision won’t affect much in the grand scheme of things. You'll remember how you felt on your wedding day, not whether the caterer brought a caesar or green salad, or if you misplaced your cake topper, or you forgot to pack the decals you wanted on the bottom of your shoes. Take a breath and remember that you won’t remember, and the decision might feel less heavy in the moment.
You know what I remember from my wedding? Unbridled joy. Screaming "I'm getting married today!" in the parking lot when we arrived at the venue, holding hands with my almost-husband around the corner during our first touch, passing a champagne bottle down the line of bridesmaids as we lined up to march down the aisle, that first sight of him across the ceremony space, grinning so hard my face hurt as we walked back down the aisle, dancing with my baby nieces, singing "Don't Stop Believin'" at the top of my lungs, holding my husband close as we swayed to our last dance song, and losing my absolute shit at the fireworks show during our exit.
Keep your eyes on the prize and keep your chin up - you're almost there!