Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Managing Wedding Stress

For context, I'd just like to announce that MY WEDDING IS JUST SIX WEEKS AWAY. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!



No, you do not get to complain about the capslock on this post. It is an entirely apt expression of my life-angst right now. Because this is the phase of wedding planning that no one can prepare you for. They may try, and they will warn you about the monumental stress-mess-overload that takes over your life in the months preceding the wedding, but you won't really understand. I certainly didn't. I thought I'd understand. I'd pulled all-nighters before. I'd worked under pressure on eight competing deadlines. I'd planned 500 attendee conferences before and knew what needed to get done. I'd seen those to-do lists from The Knot and knew that the last two months seemed to be engulfed in an impossible stream of tasks. It was going to be hard but manageable.

What no one could prepare me for was the emotional overload on top of it all. No one could prepare me for all the darn tears: tears because I feel so gd*mn lucky, tears because I am entirely and legitimately frustrated, and tears from the straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back-eeeeefffffff moments. I didn't know I could get twisted in so many ways at once. I didn't know that people who had stayed away from our wedding planning process would all come clamoring in during the last two months (both in incredible and irritating ways.) I didn't know that small problems would explode into big problems when all the emotions, stress, and complete lack of time set off a dangerous fuse.

And since I can't really prepare you for it, all I can do is tell you how I've been coping. A from-the-trenches look at how I'm managing the day-to-day pressures of the end-stretch of wedding planning.

Gum. Specifically watermelon-flavored gum. I am a stress eater. I will eat and eat and eat until my stomach is filled to bursting. I have no "I'm full" receptors that tell me to stop eating. Yes, it's an emotional issue that I'm dealing with. But the point is, I knew wedding planning would bring out the stress beast. And so I bought a carton of watermelon gum at Costco. Mint gum doesn't help (too refreshing.) Watermelon gum is like candy. I don't care if it's rotting my teeth or giving me aspartame cancer. I care that I'm not stuffing my face right now. (Fun fact: Snoop Dog is also a big fan of watermelon gum. Who knew?)

A good water bottle. I am not joking, my favorite Christmas present this year was this water bottle, in pink (for that, I blame my mother). I love it. Could I drink water out of a glass? Sure. Could I drink water out of a plastic disposable bottle? Sure (but here's why I don't). Could I buy a safe, reusable, aluminum water bottle? I did. I didn't like it. It leaked and got condensation everywhere. I didn't use it. Is $30 a stupid splurge for a water bottle? Not if I inexplicably love the darn thing and carry it with me everywhere. Mine is pink! And has a handle! And I end up drinking 9 glasses of water a day and feeling less sick and dehydrated from the three cups of coffee I'm also drinking! YAY!

Mini-Step Machine. I am not the best at regular exercise. I generally put it off until I'm too tired to actually get around to it. So I bought a mini-step machine that eliminates all "I don't have time for exercise" excuses. I wake up 50 minutes earlier than usual, load up a guilty pleasure TV show (Glee, perhaps? Or Buffy the Vampire Slayer?) and step away. It's been revolutionary. I can watch tv for 40-45 minutes and exercise, all without leaving my house/dealing with the gym. And all for $70 dollars. I cannot sing the praises of this machine enough (I compared reviews. There are cheaper machines out there, but go for the NordicTrack) It's a lazy whiny procrastinator girl's exercise-and-associated-stress-relief dream machine. Yay.

Massage: I don't care if you're too strapped for cash because of the wedding: do it. Or hint to the person planning your shower or bachelorette that you'd love one. Find a well-reviewed Thai massage or non-spa massage location that doesn't cost $100. Just go. I finally made an appointment here and nearly cried from joy (after nearly crying from deep tissue massage pain. There's definitely a tear theme here). I hadn't realized how bad the stress had become until I could actually move my shoulders again. If massage isn't your thing, get a facial, manicure, acupuncture, reflexology or whatever it is that feels like a mini-splurge and relaxes you. You need to take an hour for you. You can find an hour. You can find something in an affordable price range. Really. Now go schedule it.

Wine. That's right, wine. A glass a day is good for you. It doesn't need to be fancy, just something you can enjoy. Personally, if I air out the Charles Shaw Merlot or Cab, it does the trick. Ever since it won at our blind taste test party, we've been bigger fans. For white, however, I prefer Trader Joe's Vinho Verde, which is a refreshing, slightly bubbly, inexpensive ($4) Portuguese white.

Oatmeal oatmeal and more damn oatmeal. This is both a cost issue (waaaaah budget means very little money to buy lunches at work) and a time issue (time? who has time for supermarket shopping??!! or cooking!!!!!) So, as incredibly boring as oatmeal has become, I can still have something cheap and easy at my fingertips. I've stocked my home and office with oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, and nuts. And I keep a bag of pre-washed salad, black beans, and shredded cheese in the fridge for quickie salads. Because honestly, right now, I could stress eat the entire bag of fresh baked cookies that they sell at the shop beneath my office. In fact, I could happily stress eat that bag of cookies every day. But I don't have an extra $6 each day, nor do I have an extra 1500 calories each day. So, by keeping oatmeal in the office, I no longer have the excuse to pop by the store that sells those delicious cookies, looking for a lunch sandwich (and cookies). I can thereby save my money and my stress-eating waistline (yep, still trying to fit back into that wedding dress).

Ask for help. I'm not very good at that. In fact, I'm terrible at it. But I cannot tell you how grateful I am - and how much this wedding planning process has been enriched - by the people who have jumped in to help us out. And by the people who insisted on wresting tasks from my controlling hands. I want to kiss and hug every one of them right now.

Throw money at it. Seriously, if you can, get a bit freer with your pocketbook. I decided DIY invitations were insane with our schedule and we just ordered something we loved. I realized I have no interest in worrying about whether we have enough staff to clean up at the end of the night and just hired someone to help. I decided not to worry about how our small car will transporting things to the venue and we're renting a minivan (which will also take care of a taxi expense to the airport.) I decided I wanted a bouquet so my nervous hands won't be weird looking in photos. Whatever. I don't care anymore. I'm using our contingency budget on this and, if a real contingency comes up, we'll find a way to manage. Because I don't have the energy to deal anymore.

If you have a pet, indulge in tummy petting whenever possible. You may have heard that it's like frolicking in the back hair of an angel. It is. And it absolutely helps.

And lastly, let yourself cry if you need to. Even if you don't know what you're crying about. Curl up in your partner's arms, even if there's nothing he or she can do to help besides stroking your hair and offering you shoulder to burrow into.


  1. I love the honesty in your posts about the stresses of wedding planning. I did the bulk of the planning (and paying) myself as well and thought I was going to break down from stress at the end!! I also got a massage and it helped immensely. I know this could just cause more stress --- BUT --- I made the "deadline" for things to be completed a few days before the wedding. That way, I felt like I could "relax" beforehand and then when little things came up it's all I had to focus on. Also --- the day of the wedding I realized we didn't get any drinks for the trolleys (we had a 30 min drive to the reception venue) and I just called both of the dads to do it. They were more than happy, and really, had nothing to do but dress that day (and show up!).

    I know everyone says this, too...but everything will work out and you will feel AMAZING afterwards when you realize how much free time you have. ;)

  2. Great post! A few points:
    1. I hate the way water tastes out of aluminum bottles. But I love the way Died Coke tastes out of aluminum cans. Whaaa?
    2. Nordic Track is a great company. I grew up with one of their skiers in the house, and loved it, and now Collin and I have one of their spinners. Love it!
    3. I am jealous of people who live in states where wine is available at Trader Joe's for $4.

  3. I wasn't prepared for all of the emotions, either. It was crazy. Laughing, crying, stressing, rinse, repeat. I wanted to have EVERYTHING done before the family started arriving, but didn't. Surprise! So, when my sister and her family arrived, they went to work and helped joyfully which make me laugh, cry, and stress. And, the whirlwind of emotions does go away slightly on The Day. You will probably get to a point where you're like, "Whatever. Doesn't matter." I wasn't prepared for that, either. BUT, I was the last one ready and someone needed to be at the venue to get the flowers and such.. I was fine, "Go ahead, I'll meet you there. It'll only be a couple of minutes. It's FINE, really. I have to drive my car anyway, it's got all the STUFF in it." Then, when they all left, PANIC CITY! God bless my hair stylist that talked me through all of it. I was not prepared for that. But, when I got there, saw my people, my community, it was okay. However it was, it was, and it was fine and beautiful and we were married. One more thing and I'll stop this rambling post.. I thought that I would sleep like a baby on our wedding night. I mean, after the drinking, dancing, sweating, and then the lovin', blissful sleep would come, right? NOPE. I turned it over and over in my mind. "Did THIS happen? Did we get THAT picture? Did people have fun? Was the food okay? Did I really look like I think I looked?" I really wish someone had said, "Hey, you know what? Pack some Tylenol PM in that bag. You never know." So, from me to you, pack some. Just in case.

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one who hate aluminum water bottles. The taste, the condensation, the difficulty of cleaning them. Ugh.

    Yes about the indulges. Small indulges at this time are important. Fit them in.

  5. Noting down several things here - the water bottle to add to my wishlist, the stepper to check out further, the specific TJs wines to pick up on my shopping trip tonight.

    Sorry you're hitting that stress wall, but thanks for all the tips!

  6. Yes, yes re: throw money at problems to make them disappear. We were super careful and thrifty for the first seven months of wedding planning, but then in the final two, when we were also extra, extra busy at work (how 'bout a new job?!), get rid of problems with a little cash was worth it a million times over. A few hundred dollars here and there on extra speakers, extra chairs, extra flowers (and I still wish I'd gotten more!), art supplies for the kiddos, and a Day of Coordinator wasn't the end of the world when it allowed us to sleep at night.

  7. It's kind of comforting in a way to hear that you're still feeling The Stress even after preparing as much as you could for it. I'll mentally try to prepare myself for the inevitability of this stage.

    Massages are THE BEST. I just feel so much better about life after having one.

    I'm glad to hear you like the Kor water bottle! I bought a couple coupons from Jasmere for them and have been waiting for the ones I want to be back in stock to order them.

    The cat comic made me laugh, a lot.

    I'll make one more suggestion that I think would help: buy some nice-smelling bath salts, draw yourself a warm bath, light some candles, and settle in for a good soak with reading material of some kind.


  9. Good plan. At this point, just throw money at it. If it helps, buy it. Because after the first week of April whether your wedding cost $27,312 or $27,964 will not matter.

  10. YES. Very good points on what it feels like. And good suggestions for dealing with it all. I found that I cried a lot and couldn't really express what I was crying about around 6-7 weeks before the wedding. A lot of that had to do with being in the middle of an international move and trying to pack up, but I think it was bigger than that too. I think I was probably feeling the stress from the move and the upcoming wedding at the same time.

    I would also add sleep as a suggestion. It is good to try to get as many good nights of sleep as possible all the way up to the wedding. The accumulated emotional fatigue combined with actual physical exhaustion is pretty rough to handle.

  11. YES YES on the massages. Get as many as you can. They were the only thing between me and chewing my own arm off.

    We love you, Becca! Hang in there!

  12. ohmygod your wedding is 6 WEEKS AWAY!! ahhhhh!! Okay, sorry, that's probably not helping - but wow, I can't believe it's so close!

    1) I love gum and though I try to avoid it, during stressful times (like finals week, tech week), I become a 6-pack a day chewer. It's ridiculous, but it helps me focus.

    2) I bought a stainless steel water bottle, and while it makes me mentally feel better, it just doesn't work as well as the plastic kind. :P I hate how you can't squeeze it.

    3) Oatmeal is awesome... and if you buy it in bulk at costco, it's so cheap, it's like they're paying you to eat it! ;) I eat 2 bowls every morning w/bananas and raisins.

    You're almost there! Keep breathing and hold on tight!!

  13. I bought the mini stepper today. Great recommendation! The weather has been terrible lately and it's so easy to make excuses not to get outside to exercise. Now there's no excuse. :)


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