Here we go! The wedding season is here!
Oh, yes and so is the crazy exciting season of Christmas/New Years and the perfection that is a Taranaki summer!!
Although those things do seem to take a back seat when your wedding is on its way.
It brings me back to when my husband Chad and I got married almost 5 years ago in mid-January. The date was close to New Years, but it worked perfectly while I was on summer holidays from my nursing studies. I didn’t quite expect that a January wedding would be so full on. We navigated these challenges the best we could given our combined experience of ZERO with planning a wedding.
Looking back now, as a Registered Celebrant, Registered Nurse, and once bride, I have considered how best to manage the stress and the emotional toll that planning a wedding can take on you and your partner. As my grounding is in healthcare it only natural to offer some helpful tips and guidance on keeping calm and as stress free as possible in the lead up to your big day! Tips that can also be used in the lead up to any event or at any stage in our ever-busy daily lives.
The lead up to your wedding can be filled with excitement, anxiety, stress, love, drama and expectations of the unknown days ahead. It can also be some of the most emotionally charged and intense times too.
These stresses can be internal, derived from our own personal standards and coping strategies. But equally they can be external too. (Examples like: paying last minute bills, managing Christmas and New Year while wedding planning, answering all those questions from everyone, and the dreaded family dramas that love to pop up (CRINGE)).
It is not often in life we are the hopeful, yet inexperienced project managers of a large event that is our wedding. A day of all your hopes and dreams that also pivots on one of the most defining moments of our lives.
Talk about pressure!
So as a RN, and a Celebrant it is only natural to offer some tips and guidance, so you can follow on these next few weeks and months with as much enjoyment and calm as possible.
As well as the dress, flowers and table settings, you want to have your mind and your emotions on point too. Mindfulness means to be aware of how we are feeling and thinking, and being aware of what those feelings are doing to our body. That way, if we are experiencing feelings that are causing negative or stressful emotions, we can take control and intervene. I like to think of it as self-regulation. This kind of thinking brings about a state of calm that you can keep coming back to. Helpful in those moments when we feel things are becoming overwhelming. If you are wanting some support with this, there is books at the library, podcasts, meditations on you tube and locally we have a few experienced professionals you can see. I can recommend Meegan Care at the Wellness Project
Latte, flat white, Vinos, and ciders:
(Tis the season) Yes coffee and alcohol. These substances can peak you out and run you down. Be aware of your intake in these more stressful times and take control. Leading up to the wedding you can have high levels of the stress hormone Cortisol running through your body. Therefore, raising your stress levels. Caffeine and alcohol can then increase Cortisol levels even further. This makes us feel acute stress. If you are feeling the effects of coffee and alcohol, perhaps try to limit or avoid where possible. See how it goes.
Of course, it is also important to note our food choices in times of stress. (I myself love a good piece of cake). What feels good and comforting in the short term such as high fat, sugar and carb foods can also leave us feeling lethargic, bloated and generally off almost immediately after. Try to decrease these foods, and simply be aware of why you are reaching for it.
Exercise, now this isn’t CrossFit or marathon training. (Although it can be). I am honestly saying you can just walk. Or gentle exercise. Simply the act of moving your body can help to lower stress, anxiety and bring a sense of calm. Particularly outside in nature. Set aside a few time slots a week to do some kind of movement. A great time is after dinner (when it’s not too hot) turn off the TV and go. Even better, do it with your partner, use it as a date activity, go somewhere new and a catch up. Other great exercise activities for stress reduction include swimming lengths, running, bike rides or yoga. I recently tried yoga for the first time and loved it. It is far more than exercise and I found to be a very spiritual and relaxing experience. If you haven’t tried it or not for a long time, give it a go.
Be aware of who you are surrounding yourself with. We all have certain people in our lives that increase stress or tension, they may be loved ones (or not). Set healthy boundaries with these people. Take time to be alone or with just your partner to recharge. It is ok to put you and your partner first at this time.
Actually, it is essential!
In addition to this, it is ok to say no. This goes for anything. Events, catch ups, last minute requests to a change in the seating plan by family member’s, (Cringe again), or anything! If you are feeling overwhelmed and you have been asked to attend events or gatherings, it is ok to say no. Just be polite about it and if they care about you they should understand. Spare time can be hard to come by and if you need to take a moment to recharge.. then that is absolutely necessary.
Along with saying no, it is also important to keep organised. Keep a list and a calendar. When we got married I made a massive calendar on a piece of ply wood. It started two months out. Included was all those last-minute appointments, payment due dates, when family and friends were arriving, etc. This is also great because helpful loved ones can see what you are doing and where you need help.
(Shout out to my beautiful mother-in-law GG who was that person for us, love you xx)
Big calendars and lists are particularly good when we are not the best at asking for help.
How are you sleeping? If this is an issue it can be another sign of stress. Particularly not being able to get to sleep, and/or waking in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep. This can be another symptom of the raised cortisol levels. Some suggestions for this is to set yourself a regular bed time. And stick to it. Mine is 10pm. That means getting ready for bed half an hour earlier. Let your body and your subconscious know that: yes, we are busy, and we have lots on our mind, BUT we rest regularly in a routine too. Try and do your wedding planning earlier in the day so your mind isn’t in a state of problem solving before bed. Avoid surfing Pinterest or Facebook for wedding ideas at night too. You may think it is relaxing but subconsciously your brain is taking it all in.. trying to problem solve and help. That can lead to a busy mind at night. Turn off devices. Just do one thing at a time, an hour before your head hits that pillow. Lastly check your calendar. Notice that you are in fact organised. There is plenty of time to deal with things or think about issues in the days ahead. Right now, it is bed time.
All the other points mentioned here will also help with sleep too.
Social media is fantastic, it connects us, educates us, and entertains us. It can also be a huge contributor of stress. There are so many wedding ideas out there. It is actually impossible to do everything. (Even with the best bridesmaid team). Here is also where I mention comparison. This being to other weddings whether it be celebrities/ friends/ acquaintances. Comparison WILL. KILL. YOU. Metaphorically.
I am giving you permission to “unfollow” or “unlike” that page that keeps stressing you out. Feel the freedom!
Listen to your body.
Have you been feeling tense for the last few days? Heart rate increasing at times, forgetfulness, or forgetting to eat? These are all your body signs of stress increasing in your body. Be mindful of your body and what it is trying to tell you. Then take action with a coping strategy. Go for a walk or stop what you are doing and redirect for a moment. Remember why you are doing this. Which leads me to…
Your other half, your soul mate..
Lastly, and above all else, take time each day to check-in with your partner. Talk about non-wedding related things and remember to cuddle. Your partner is your number one. They need to be protected and nurtured, just as you do. They will have their own nerves about the day, so work to reassure each other and stay focused. Use these tools to help you help each other. This was always going to be my most important point. You are a united team and together every stress is halved and shared.
What a beautiful thing and how lucky are the both of you.
For all these moments leading up will someday be just that.. moments. Enjoy being surrounded by friends and family. Enjoy the excitement and the focus on your love. Remember, getting married is about the two of you, your love, your vows and your commitment forever.
Promises and love that will last far longer than the theatrics of the day.
With much love
Image cred to Tammie Pittwood Photography.