I’ve met so many brides (and yes, I am deliberately leaving out grooms here as I’ve never once seen it happen the other way around) who were so keyed up, sleep-deprived, panicky and stressed out on the day of their wedding that they were incapable of enjoying it. Some cried, some got snappy at their bridesmaids, some hit the bottle and fell over while others still just got through the day on autopilot, looking like zombies.
What could be sadder than that? Your wedding is a day to celebrate your most special relationship, you’ve spent months planning and you may well have spent thousands of pounds on it. And when you look at it like that, it’s no wonder people get stressed…
Read on for our top 10 tips on how to stop stress from wrecking your big day
1. Manage your guest-list carefully
One thing you can do well in advance of the wedding is ensure that you don’t invite anyone who’s likely to wind you up in any way on the day. In the case of family this may sometimes be unavoidable, but beyond that there’s no need for the ex with an axe to grind or the schoolfriend who always like to get one up on you.
2. Think small
A smaller guestlist will generally make for a less fraught atmosphere, not only because of the reduce risk of personality clashes (see above!) but it’s another way you can play down the enormity of the event (cost, organisation etc) and any unrealistic expectations that come with it
3. Pre-wedding pampering
The importance of a good pampering session in the days leading up to the wedding cannot be under-estimated. First, it’ll get you into a calmer and more grounded frame of mind, and secondly, it will mean you look your best – which makes the elements many brides find ‘scary’, such as walking down the aisle with confidence, posing for photos and any speeches – easier to handle. So why not book yourself into a spa a couple of days before the wedding and take time to chill out?
At this late stage you’ll be needing all the help you can get, so I’d advise booking an appointment with a stylist for the day before the wedding and ensuring they will cover all bases: hair, makeup, nails etc giving you time to correct any last-minute changes of heart.
4. Learn some calming techniques
If you’ve ever been into meditation or other forms of relaxation, the run-up to the wedding is a great time to get back into these excellent habits. Take some time out at the end of each day to be calm and quiet, perhaps practicing some breathing techniques that you might be able to use when you’re in the thick of it and everything seems to be flying by too fast.
5. Be prepared for the unexpected
You can never predict exactly how an event will go down to the last detail, so whatever you do, don’t try and do this with a complex social occasion like a wedding! Go in with an open mind, and don’t get hung up on minor mishaps that might seem huge on the day. Smashed glasses and stained dresses are one thing, but I’ll never forget the time I saw a strung-out bride verbally abuse her new husband’s grandma when she had the audacity to play the piano that was sitting unmanned in the corner of the reception hall! Remember, guests have minds of their own and may not always behave entirely as you wish they would – you need to accept that within reason.
6. Practice your vows
You may be repeating them after someone who’s got cue cards on the day, but there’s no harm in taking some time to learn your vows off by heart in those final weeks. If you’re worried about your voice shaking, your volume or tone, you might want to try speaking them in front of some close friends – or taking part in any other activities that involve a modicum of public speaking – then by the time your wedding rolls around you’ll already feel like a pro!
7. Don’t set anything in stone
As a bride, you’re lucky in that you get more of a ‘choice’ than your husband-to-be in whether or not you opt to give a speech. This means that nobody will bat an eyelid if you have one preparted then bottle it on the day: if you want to do a speech but feel nervous about the prospect, don’t tell anyone it’s on the cards until your turn comes and you’re feeling confident. Equally, don’t fret if you forget your gorgeous designer handbag and have to send Mum out to buy a bog-standard one in Accessorize – nobody will ever know.
8. Don’t hit the bottle too hard
A few glasses of bubbly are definitely in order on your wedding day, but don’t slurp too much too early in an attempt to calm your nerves: you’ll either be visibly drunk (which is not a good look for photos) or the booze will go to your head and you’ll end up with memory loss – which would be something of a shame!
9. Have a sensible breakfast
Never has the adage of breakfast being the most important meal of the day been more apt than on the day of you’re wedding (and yes, we are talking about the one you have at around nine in the morning here). Make sure you get plenty of carbs, and ideally some fresh fruit with not too much coffee for a healthy start to the day that will keep your energy levels up till the excitement kicks off mid-afternoon – odds are you won’t have time for lunch and you definitely don’t want to be drinking on an empty stomach.
10. Enjoy the day!
Your wedding will whizz by like no other day of your life, but remember those breathing exercises and the ‘me time’ you’ve been having and stop every so often to ask yourself if you’re having a good time. If the answer is ‘no’ – perhaps you’re worried about whether the food is going to arrive on time or if anyone’s looking after your elderly aunt – identify the problem and delegate the solution to a helpful bridesmaid. You’re not alone!