Weddings are intended to be a beautiful day allowing those who truly care for a couple to share in a very special moment for two people in love. At times, it may be difficult to keep this sentiment in mind when all of your free time has been taken over by bridal showers, bachelor party planning, ceremony venue issues, etc. When you’re in the thick of wedding planning it is easy to get caught up in the little things, and often basic practice of self care can go out the window, and the stress level can go up the roof. The following eight strategies are to help manage your stress and expectations for you and your fiance for your big day.

Wedding survival strategies 1) Focus on your goal. These days it is easy to get caught up in the expectations of the “big day,” that couples often forget to focus on the bigger picture, THE MARRIAGE! This is you and your fiance’s special day. This is about building the foundation of your new family, and new traditions. Your new nuclear family does not include your parents, in-laws, siblings, or your best friend. Your new nuclear family is you, and your spouse, and potentially children. The interesting and tricky thing about a wedding is that while it’s the first representation of your new family, it’s also a way to recognize your new place in your community. Your wedding is a chance for you to build the bridge connecting you and your spouse to your collective parents, siblings, friends, etc.

Wedding survival strategies 2) Build a wall. This involves whomever you identify to be your primary supports, the people you believe have your best interest first (mom, brother, fiance, or best friends). There will be certain extra details or conflicts throughout the wedding planning process, that you don’t need to know about. For example, nosy family members questioning certain traditions or styles chosen for the wedding, complaining bridesmaids, inter-family spats leading up to the wedding, etc. This wall is to be built for two reasons, the first is to separate you from these little pesky conversations and conflicts. Instruct your support system on an idea of what’s okay and what’s not okay for you to know about. You will have plenty of lists, and details to worry about on your own. Your “wall” is there to block out the extra, non-essential bits of worry, while defusing the issue for you. This wall is also there for your emotional needs. Wedding planning can have a heavy emotional impact, and it’s important for you and your fiance to have outlets, and solid people who can be empathic, as well as a voice of reason when in need. When you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, turn to your chosen supports for an extra ear, or shoulder to lean on, or if your looking for help with problem solving, ask for their help.

Wedding survival strategies 3) Be prepared. It is often expected for families to have opinions and specific expectations for the wedding, which they may expect you to consider. Are you willing to share some of the planning and some of the decision making with your family? Whether it is a yes or a no, it is important to be prepared either way. If it is a no, be prepared to put your foot down with a few persuasive family members. You may want to discuss with your fiance in advance as to how you want to handle some of these issues, depending on whose side of the family this is coming from. For those of you paying for your wedding on your own, this may be an easier boundary to set, for those of you accepting family assistance, you want to make this boundary clear in advance in order to head of some of these set expectations. For those of you who are willing to let the bride’s mom choose the soup for the wedding, or letting the groom’s dad hire the bagpipe player he has been dreaming about, identify your deal-breakers. What are two or three decisions you and your fiance do not plan to share with anyone else? This could be the issue of band vs. DJ, or deciding to forgo a traditional wedding party, or the simple selection of flowers. Be prepared with your fiance to identify the two to three must haves for your wedding, the things that only the two of you get to decide on.

Wedding survival strategies 4) Quality time. The wedding planning months are like a juggling act. You are juggling your job, your relationship, family obligations, wedding related appointments, and most likely other friends and family’s wedding events as well. To help slow the two of you down, find something that is just for you and your fiance, something that the two of you can do regularly together, such as dance classes, a premarital workshop, or even a consistent weekly dinner date. This gives you the opportunity to focus only on each other and what you each want in that moment, it’s not about anyone else, or what else you need to be doing, it’s about the two of you.

Wedding survival strategies 5) Superwoman/Superman meets Reality. Resist the temptation to do everything yourself for the wedding. Make a list of every task you could hand off to someone else. As the date gets closer you will hear the question “Do you need help with anything?” more often. Take out the list of hand-off tasks, and start asking those eager to help to take on a job. Part of you may want to feel guilty, however this day is about you. Family and friends offer their help based on their desire to give you a break and feel a part of the day. So do yourself a big favor, and take their offer! You have the rest of your life to pay back favors.

Wedding survival strategies 6) Develop a Mantra. Some women have found that having a goal, or a focus of something exciting after the wedding is helpful in getting over the anxiety and stressful aspects of a wedding. Whether your mantra is “Costa Rica!” To remind you of the upcoming honeymoon you have planned, or “the first married kiss,” or “moving into our new place together” find something that can almost give you tunnel vision to help keep your focus on what really matters to you. Others prefer keeping the the basic point of the wedding in the forefront in their mind: the marriage vs. the wedding. The cake may not be what you wanted, your father may be stressing you out, but remember what you are doing this for, you are marrying a wonderful person!

Wedding survival strategies 7) Create a realistic budget. In advance calculate with your fiance the amount of money that is going into the wedding, and operate within that identified budget. So on the day of your wedding, you won’t be worrying about the money spent, because it will have been well-budgeted, available funds will already be in place. Pick a point person for the day to handle the tipping, paying vendors, etc. This is a good job to hand off to someone you trust, such as dad, your best man, sister, etc.

Wedding survival strategies 8) Write your future spouse a letter. The morning of the wedding, grab a cup of coffee, or go for a walk, whatever your morning routine typically is, and whatever you can manage timing wise the morning of your wedding. When you feel ready, sit down with a piece of paper and pen and write your fiance a letter for them to read before your wedding ceremony. It can be however long or short you want. Share with your fiance what you’re looking forward to in your marriage, share your excitement and thoughts anticipating the days events. This is romantic and touching for your partner to receive the day of the wedding, but it also helps you form your thoughts and emotions going into the wedding, and will most likely get you very excited to get the big day started. If you fear leaving this activity to the very last moment will leave you little time to write the letter, try writing your future spouse the wedding day letter a few weeks ahead of the wedding, on a day where there is no rush and no place to be. You can paint the picture for your fiance, let them know the actual date you are writing the letter, share your wishes and excitement for the day of the wedding, your thoughts leading up to the big day. It will be fun for both of you to read this letter weeks later, reflecting back on where your mindset was so close, yet so far from your wedding day.

There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes in to this one special day, and comes with a lot of little things to do, some planned, some not. The more you surround yourself with people who have your best interest, the more you plan ahead, and remind yourself of your end goal, the more prepared, and ready for your day you will be. Your wedding day will go fast, but the more support you accept from loved ones and your fiance, the more energy and focus you will have to take in all of the little moments of your wedding day from start to finish.