Let’s face it, you're engaged and just had a breakdown and now you’re wondering: how do I make wedding planning less stressful? Here’s the top 5 reasons why weddings are stressful, and quick tips from someone that’s also planning their wedding.
Money can be a really sensitive topic, so it's natural that when you're planning your wedding and having to negotiate finances with your fiance, family, and vendors, that anxiety can run high. In a study done by the American Psychological Association, the APA reports that in February 2022, 65% of people report money as being a significant source of stress in their lives. That's up from 57% in 2021, and it's the highest level reported since 2015. So it's safe to say that money stresses us out.
Budgeting is one thing that both reduces stress in some people and elevates stress in others. Budgeting alone is not enough to combat wedding stress. You could have the best budget possible, incredibly organized, and it be absolutely worthless. Statistics show that those that budget their money and stick to their budget spend significantly less money than those that don't.
The trick to setting a budget that takes the stress away rather than stresses you out is first to set a realistic budget.
Understand what the average costs of things are and set your overall budget based on those costs. Many couples set an overall budget without researching realistic average costs and have major sticker shock when they start to plan their wedding.
Weddings are inevitably expensive, and there's a reason for it. Vendors that serve engaged clients most times are working overtime for one wedding alone just to make sure that your event goes perfectly. Then take into account that they're likely serving many many couples every year.
One way to reduce your overall cost is to decide where are we okay with cutting costs and where do we want to spend more money. For my fiance, Sara, and I we decided that the most important vendor at our wedding would be our photographer. To us, photography is the only thing we would get to take from the wedding and keep for generations. I may be a little biased though as a wedding photographer! But our photographer is by far the most expensive vendor, because we want the best we can afford.
If you're on a tight budget, remember that you're going to have to cut costs somewhere. Decide which vendors are worth splurging on and which you want to spend less on
The odds and ends of a wedding and the small things you think "that can't cost too much" tend to add up quickly. Many engaged couples find themselves overwhelmed planning their wedding when they're over budget and what's putting them over budget are the small things. My tip for you during your wedding planning is to find as much help from your friends and vendors you've already hired as you can.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing a "DIY wedding"
I've had many weddings where couples either did their own flowers or had a close friend do their flowers for them. Do you have a friend that can DJ for you? Maybe you and your family can make a day of creating decorations rather than paying a premium for some. I will say that wedding vendors do a phenomenal job, because that's what they specialize in, but if you're specifically looking to cut costs, there's many things you can DIY.
Sara and I got lucky because the wedding venue we booked has all of the decorations we could dream of and they're all included with the venue. Make sure you ask your venue what decorations they have, are they included, and who will be doing the decorating!
In many ways, managing people on and before a wedding is a lot more stressful than managing money. Money doesn't have opinions or expectations, money doesn't expect to sit right next to the couple at the reception, but people do. According to a study done by Brides.com,
"53 percent of couples said their parents are the biggest stress-causing culprit, while 33 percent said it’s their in-laws"
Let's take a look at some ways people stress couples out, and quick tips to alleviate stress!
When you start working with your wedding vendors, it can get overwhelming when you have a long list of possible vendors. You reach out to as many vendors as you can, half of them respond, some take weeks to respond, some don't respond at all, and there's the diamond in the rough that responds in less than 24 hours. During our wedding planning, I can tell you with confidence I can't even remember half of the vendors we've reached out to. So how do you make picking out vendors less stressful?
Create an organized list of wedding vendors and their statuses
If you, like us, have reached out to a lot of vendors, the easiest way to keep track of everything is to have a list of all vendors and notes. For example if you reach out to 3 photographers and photographer A is already booked, photographer B hasn't responded to your email, and photographer C is available and would like to set up a meeting, here's how your list could look:
Photographer A: Emailed, unavailable. Price = $xxxx. Travel fees.
Photographer B: Emailed, awaiting response. Price = ?.
Photographer C: Called, available. Price = $xxxx. No travel fees. Meeting scheduled for x/xx/xx.
Ask vendors you've hired "who do you recommend?"
Vendors have worked many weddings and have met many other vendors. Another great way to help with vendor planning is by asking for recommendations from vendors you've already hired as well as asking your friends who they used!
The guest list is where a lot of couples struggle. Many weddings go from 100 people to 200+ people quickly because couples have a hard time telling people no. Because of that, a lot of couples end up calling the whole big wedding off all together and having a more intimate wedding or eloping. When you have a really small wedding, it's much easier to tell distant people no because you're keeping it to immediate family and friends. But how do you trim your guest list and make a compromise between the two of you as well as your family?
Start with "what's most important for us at our wedding?"
If what's most important to you is getting married and spending time with the two of you, then I'll tell you right now that a big wedding is going to take away from that very quickly. Big weddings turn into a show very easily, and the day quickly becomes about serving your guest rather than enjoying your day. If what's most important to you is spending time with loved ones, then go for it. Just remember that you pay for every person you invite. When you invite more people, you're also welcoming more drama and complications to your wedding. That's not to say everyone is dramatic, but when you put 200 people together, a lot of times it's simply inevitable.
After you've decided what's important start putting together a list of people to invite. When you're considering someone to be invited, here's a couple good questions to ask yourself:
- Am I inviting them because I want them there? Or because someone else wants them there aside from me and my fiance?
- Will inviting this person create unnecessary drama?
- Have I had a good relationship with this person? Or was the last time we talked 10 years ago?
- Has this person been a significant person in my life?
- Is this person going to create an environment on my wedding day that I'm uncomfortable in?
When you thoughtfully go through your guest list, you'll likely find yourself with less guests than you anticipated. Sara was expecting to invite 150 people to our wedding and we're struggling to think of more than 75 when we ask these questions.
And I'll hop on this soap box real quick but just because somebody is financially contributing to your wedding DOES NOT afford them a say in what must happen. Sure you can listen to their opinions, but at the end of the day this is YOUR wedding. Not theirs.
Sara and I decided to have a two year engagement and we're one year into it, and we can both attest (even with a two year engagement) that time flies. It's easy to feel like the rug is being pulled out from under you as you plan. Here's some ways that time can be stressful, and ways to combat it!
Leading up to the Wedding
When you're planning your wedding, it's helpful to get a good timeline of when things need to be done by. There's a lot of moving pieces so having a check list and a wedding time line can help you avoid stress. Here's a really good timeline from Wedding Wire.
Having a timeline and checklist will save your sanity
Let me also stress that your wedding doesn't have to look like everyone else's. You are a unique couple, so there's absolutely no need to do what everyone else is doing. that includes picking out vendors and timeline preparation.
There are also apps that have wedding planning timelines that you can fill out.
Wedding Day Timeline
On the day of your wedding there will be a lot of moving pieces regardless of how big or small you plan for it to be. Even as elopement and intimate wedding photographers, we find ourselves with a lot of moving pieces on small wedding days. It's crucial that the vendors you hire are both experienced and communicate well with you. Having a very experienced photographer that communicates poorly is the same as having an inexperienced photographer. I'd recommend communicating with a coordinator if you have one to create a timeline for your day. Many photographers, including us at Backpacks and Bow Ties specialize in crafting meaningful days with timeline assistance so that you can enjoy your day.
Don't live by your timeline
While a timeline is extremely helpful for the day of your wedding, it's not the end all be all. Yes you've hired vendors for specific times, and yes there are things to get done, but if your day is dictated by a timeline rather than your emotions and memories, you'll get to the end of the day to realize all of the time slipped away.
Deliberately schedule unscheduled time
At Backpacks and Bow Ties, we deliberately give you time alone with each other where a camera isn't present. Why? Because you need time to be present and create memories without feeling like you have to be "on". We work very hard to make sure that you're comfortable with us and that you don't even notice the camera, but at the end of the day, most people feel a little pressure when there's a camera. Same goes for every other vendor. You need a moment where nobody is present and you can be together alone away from everyone.
This is where we get a bit passionate. There are a lot of expectations placed on you two as a couple and there's no doubt that you've felt them. Expectations are really the underlying stressor for all of the other stresses.
Expectations from Family and Friends
Family and friends very frequently assume that they have a say in your wedding. Guess what, they don't. Your friends aren't getting married that day, your family isn't getting married that day. And yes, of course your family and friends are important to you and they've had a huge impact on your life. I don't discount that at all. The problem is when other people assume that they can tell YOU how YOUR wedding should look.
Expectations from Society
There's no doubt that society places huge expectations on couple, especially on your wedding day. There's a reason traditional weddings have not changed very much over hundreds of years, albeit a bad reason.
They're the same because that's how we've always done it.
But that's neither helpful, healthy, or fun. Our philosophy behind weddings is that there has never been and will never be another couple like you. You're unique, and you're different. That should be celebrated, not brushed over.
Expectations from Yourself
Odds are, after hearing many many people telling you what your wedding or relationship should look like, you've probably started to project some of those expectations on yourself. Maybe you've tried on your outfit and fallen in love with it but in the back of your head there's a voice saying "I don't think _____ will like it". That translates into how many people you invite whether you want to or not, what vendors you do and don't include, where you get married, how you get married, and if you choose not to elope even though that's what you're dreaming of.
It's important to recognize when your wedding day is turning into a show designed by other people. It's hard to see through the fog a lot of times. If you're looking at your wedding day and thinking "this is nothing like I was hoping it to be", then you've fallen into the trap of expectations. But there's hope!
What do YOU want your wedding to look like?
At Backpacks and Bow Ties we like to ask our couples "what would the perfect date for you two look like if you were spending the whole day together?". If you two love going on walks together, why not incorporate that into your wedding day? If you love rock climbing, do that. If you love skate boarding, I better see some skate boards at your wedding! If you choose to elope, you're entire day - start to finish- can be filled with things you love to do together along with saying your vows. But we know that eloping isn't for everyone! For your smaller wedding, think of ways to incorporate the things you love into the day. Same with bigger weddings. It can be harder to do when there's a large crowd at your wedding, but trust me, it's not impossible to make the day exactly how you want it.
If you are considering eloping, we've designed a quick quiz you can take to see if eloping is right for you! Click Here.
The reality is, for many people there's simply a lot of stress surrounding your wedding planning and wedding itself. It's easy to be hard on yourself and think you're doing a bad job. Trust me, from a couple that's planning a wedding now.
It's okay to be nervous. Even when you're 100% certain you're ready to be married, there's still a lot of nerves around weddings. It's a big life change, and life changes are just not what most humans are good at. I know I'm not.
Give yourself a break, you're doing great
Contrary to what you may believe, you're doing a good job. You need to give yourself a break both mentally and physically. Stop wedding planning and remember why you're planning a wedding in the first place. It's because you really love someone and want to spend the rest of your life with the. So I want you to find your partner, give them a hug, and tell them you love them. Go on a date! Do something fun, and make it a rule not to mention wedding planning. Just this once. You both deserve a break.
Mental and Physical Health
It's easy to let your mental and physical health go downhill when you're caught up in everything surrounding your wedding. It's not unusual, and you're not the first to experience it. Treat your mind and your body well, your future self will thank you. Be sure to have a daily routine that takes care of both of these. Ask your partner for help when things get tough. Ask your friends and family for support.
You can take things off your plate without giving up your vision
Asking other people for help in wedding planning can take things off of your plate and give you a much needed break. Give people specific tasks or ask them to reach out to some vendors. You don't have to give up planning or give up your vision for the day to get help. Delegating to others that are willing can take a lot of strain off of your mental and physical health.
Center of Attention
For a lot of people, being the center of attention in your wedding planning and on the day of your wedding is absolutely dreadful. You can't imagine having all of those eyes on you all day, or worse having to speak in front of them. If that's you, it's especially important that you give yourselves plenty of time alone together away from anyone on your wedding day. Comfort and support each other while you're going through the day.
If you're changing your vows because of someone in the audience, they don't need to hear your vows
This is one of the things we tell our couples all the time. If you are writing your vows and you think to yourself "oh no, I can't say that, ____ is going to be there" then they don't need to hear your vows. You shouldn't have to censor your vows because of people that are there with you. There's two ways to fix this. One is to simply not invite them to the wedding, and this goes back to being very intentional with who you allow to be a part of your day. The other, which is popular for couples that want intimate vows but a bigger wedding, is to have private vows away from the crowd. You can do this by turning off the mics during the ceremony or stepping away from the audience so they can't hear your vows. You could also opt to have traditional vows in front of your friends and family, and say personal vows to each other either before or after the ceremony. A lot of our couples choose to have a first look or first touch and say their vows then. Sara and I are personally doing that as well.
What's Important to You?
At the end of the day, the first question you should ask in every decision is what's most important to us? Then make your decision based off that. If it's going to hurt someone's feelings, you can explain your decision to them in a way that helps them to understand that the day is truly about you two and you want your wedding to reflect that.
If you need help planning your wedding and want a photographer that is truly there to capture your individuality then contact us here and lets start ditching stress today!
If you're wanting a good laugh, check out this wedding planning skit from College Humor!