Like so many other Americans, I’ll be watching the Royal Wedding early in the morning. But seeing Meghan Markle and Prince Harry get married also makes me think of my own wedding, only six months ago, and the advice that I’d give Meghan if I could: to remain as calm and stress-free as possible.
On the morning of December 9, 2017, I looked out my hotel room window and saw snowflakes gently falling onto the bustling streets of New York City. Not only was it the first snow of winter, but it was also my wedding day. Pete and I had a very quick engagement—six months to be exact. So, we really had to trust the process and let our very gracious wedding hosts (my parents!) guide us through each step. A week before the wedding, I called my mom in a bit of a panic: “My weather app is showing snow! Do you think everyone will make it?” My entire family, and dozens of friends, were flying across the country to celebrate our special day. “It will all work out,” my mom assured me.
While I don’t know Meghan personally, I can only imagine the stress she faces, especially with all the recent controversy surrounding her family. And I imagine she feels much of the same anxiety that I did—just a hundred times more intense. Now that I’m past this life milestone, I see even more clearly how important it is that brides and grooms around the world listen to the age-old advice that many of us are given throughout wedding planning: Just relax and enjoy. This is supposed to be a happy time—not a stressful one.
Here are a few tips to make your big day (and all of the planning leading up to it!) a little less stressful.
When people offer to take things off your plate leading up to the big day, just say yes. And if you have a bridal party, don’t feel bad about asking them for help when necessary. Family and friends often step-up to the plate. Delegate tasks so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your special day.
2. Be present.
Take a note out of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s rule book. Sources say the couple will not be allowing cell phones at their royal wedding, which I think is brilliant. On the morning of my wedding day, I handed my cell phone over to one of my bridesmaids so that I could truly be in the moment. If there’s ever a time in life to be truly present, your wedding day is certainly one of them.
Leading up to the big day, a lot of people told me to have a nice meal before walking down the aisle because they knew I probably wouldn’t get to eat dinner on my wedding night. Sadly, it’s true. When you are mingling with relatives and dancing the night away, it’s easy to forget to eat. I wish I would have taken a couple of minutes to at least enjoy the hors d’oeuvres at our cocktail hour. But when you are in the moment, it’s all a whirlwind. So, enjoy something delicious before you walk down the aisle in case you miss dinner on your wedding night.
4. Accept that some things are simply out of your control.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am very punctual. Leading up to the wedding, I even sent our bridal party a note stating that I would not be late walking down the aisle. But as fate would have it, I was twenty minutes late walking down the aisle because my groom’s transportation took him to the wrong side of town. My father tried to ease my nerves as we sat in a car tucked on the side of the church awaiting Pete’s arrival. I wish I had relaxed a bit more and enjoyed those last few moments with my dad before he gave me away to Pete. The truth is, time and snowy weather weren’t the only things out of my control on the big day. It’s just the way life works, so try and roll with it, take it all in, and enjoy each moment.
Weddings are so expensive. My parents were generous enough to host mine—and I truly recognize how lucky we were (and how lucky Meghan and Harry are!) to have financial support. Whether you’re hosting your own event or someone is hosting it for you, putting together a budget of your financial responsibilities is smart. I’ll admit, I didn’t budget for hair, makeup, bachelorette festivities, wedding shoes, gifts for my bridal party— the list goes on! Pete didn’t either. Looking back, I wish we had put together a budget for those expenses because they do add up. I recommend setting boundaries with your bank account from the beginning. Staying within your budget will reduce any unnecessary stress around your special time.
6. Remember, it’s your day!
Every time you catch yourself worrying about your wedding guests enjoying themselves on your wedding day just remember: It’s your wedding day! I am the type of person that always wants to make sure that everyone is happy and having a great time. As you gear up for the big day, you’ll be presented with all sorts of ideas and opinions. Some you’ll love— others you won’t. The best advice my mom gave me was to nod my head agreeingly and then proceed to do what felt best for me and Pete. If you don’t like someone’s idea or opinions, that’s just fine—there’s no need for an argument. Don’t worry about everyone else, and focus instead on your own love and happiness.