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The Ultimate Stress-Free Wedding Guide

Keeping stress-free not only ensures you’ll enjoy the biggest party of your life, but also take your good health on honeymoon and home again.

Most of us have heard stories of the stereotypical stressed-out bride-to-be: a bridal-fueled bundle of nerves as she navigates her way through the pre-wedding maze of venues to book, hair trials to endure and bridesmaids to coordinate.

While reaching burnt-out Bridezilla status may not be you, it’s still important to keep your nerves and pre-big day jitters in check as you put your wedding day plans in place. Keeping stress-free not only ensures you’ll enjoy the biggest party of your life, but also take your good health on honeymoon and home again.

“Stress is a choice. It isn’t something that happens to you,” says leading US-based hypnotherapist Cynthia Morgan, who has worked with many nearlyweds.

“We think of stress as external—situations, circumstance and relationships. But stress is always internal. You decide if you will experience stress or peace in any situation. A stressful or stress-free wedding begins with your perceptions.”

Cynthia adds: “Stress comes from focusing on the little picture. While planning the wedding, keep your eye on the big picture: why you are getting married—love—not who will be at the wedding and what you serve for dinner and where to have the ceremony and how much it will cost. Those are decisions that need to be made of course, but if you focus only on the little picture, you will inevitably feel anxious.”

“We cannot control the universe—a caterer can mess up the menu, a band member can get sick, the officiator can forget his or her lines, the dress can rip, the ring can get misplaced. But each thing that goes ‘wrong’ and causes you stress is simply a reminder that you have forgotten the bigger picture. The good news is that you can always choose a different perception: love. Focus on the bigger picture, the love between two people.”

To ensure you know exactly where you’re headed—sans wedding day worry—we’ve compiled everything you need to get you on the road to stress-free planning success…

Stress is a choice. It isn’t something that happens to you

Celebrants

Choosing the right marriage celebrant is key. The person who marries you will become a cherished part of your day. Ensuring the energy between you all feels right is an all-important consideration, as is making sure they are authorized under the Marriage Act 1961. Head to the Register of Marriage Celebrants at www.ag.gov.au/internet/marriagecelebrants.nsf. Be sure to meet your celebrant and confirm your wedding details in writing. The right celebrant will be happy to offer options. Fees, which average $500, should include a rehearsal, pre-wedding support and legal lodging of your intention to marry.

Vows

If you’re steering away from the traditional route, the best way to write your vows is from the heart. Here are some questions to get you thinking:

  • What is the best thing about the person you are going to marry?
  • At what moment did you know this person was the one for you?
  • What does marriage mean to you?
  • What is your favourite memory from your time together?
  • As a child, did you dream of your wedding day or your future husband? How does that vision match up?

Flower children

While moviemakers say never work with animals or children, incorporating kids into your ceremony can be a positive addition to your big day. Regardless of whether they run, skip or hop down (or up) the aisle, flower children have always had a knack for taking any wedding-day stress out of the air. If you’re a stickler for order, however, choosing to have children part of your day can turn up the stress factor. If this is you, make a list of the pros and cons of inviting children into your ceremony before committing.

Transport

Cutting costs can minimise stress on you and the environment. Holding your ceremony and reception at the same venue is a popular option for couples that want to cut down delays, costs and carbon footprints. If you do decide on transport, do your homework. Vintage cars have much wedding day appeal and look photo perfect. However, many are without the mod cons and are often smaller than their modern counterparts—something to think about if your dress of choice is all hoops and tulle. They’re also less reliable. If even the chance of breaking down is going to take your stress levels into overdrive, rethink it.

Focus on the bigger picture, the love between two people.

Music

You like metal, he prefers classical and your guests rock to pop. So where’s the middle ground when it comes to wedding entertainment? While the Chicken Dance may make you cringe, guests with a few bevvys under their belts may not consider it a party without it. Whether you decide on a live band, string quartet, DJ or DIY iPod, your choice will literally set the tone for the entire event.

• Choose tunes for the ceremony, pre-reception drinks party and reception. Opting for a wedding theme? Choose music to suit.
• Choose a song that’s meaningful to you both—lyrically and musically—for the first dance.
• If you’re marrying in a church, get an understanding of what you can and can’t play.
• Plan an outline of your day as if it’s a movie. Know which moments call for what music.
• Be on the same page as your band or DJ.

Photo and Video

Thanks to technology, capturing your big day has become more affordable, taking away one of the most stressful choices for many nearlyweds. While putting digital cameras in the hands of guests may get you some shots to remember, if you’re serious about good photos and video, it’s worth calling in the professionals. Choose people who you have a good rapport with, as you’ll be spending a good portion of your day with them.

• Know what style of photos you’re looking for.
• Do you want a package deal complete with proofs, enlargements and album? Or do you want to walk away with a disk in your hand, and pay for your own, not as-professional, reprints?
• Look closely at past weddings captured by the photographer and videographer. While they may present a showcase, it’s also important to see how they capture a wedding from beginning to end.
• Will you want photos and videos taken throughout the day and night, or just at particular moments such as the ceremony and beginning of reception?

Speeches

Speaking in public is second only to the fear of death for many and is a common source of stress—even the pros who make it look easy often get a case of the jitters. If speaking in front of crowds makes downright wobbly, write your speech before the day, and practise in front of a supportive audience. If you really want to amp up your confidence, join public speaking group Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org.au).

• While it may be tempting to fuel up on champagne before you grab the mike, speaking sober will help you to deliver a much better speech—one that you’ll remember.
• Tradition says the head bridesmaid and groomsman get to speak on behalf of the wedding party, however, some couples choose their own format and allow everyone to chime in.
• Speeches should take between three and five minutes. Let everyone know. There’s nothing like a boring speech to kill the party mood.

Wedding night

If your reception is at a swanky hotel, it’s a great option to book the honeymoon suite and make a glamorous exit before heading to bed. Staying close ensures no one is tempted to drive drunk.

What to pack

• Even if you’re too tired when the party’s over, at some point you’ll want to remove all the wedding hair spray and make-up. Take travel size everything to give yourself a post-wedding pamper.
• While you may have lived together and often wandered around in mis-matched undies, this is one time you’ll want to glam it up. Find out what really floats his lingerie boat and get packing!

Cynthia’s bride-to-be simple self-hypnosis technique:

Throughout the day take a deep breath and say these key words: ‘calm and relaxed’. Then shut your eyes for a second and exhale all tension from your body and all stress from your mind. The more you use this simple self-hypnosis technique the stronger the mind-body response will become.

Top 5 ways to relax

  1. The morning is the perfect time to meditate. When sitting in silence is challenging, reach for your iPod and select a guided meditation by Kelly Howell (www.brainsync.com).
  2. Walk in nature. Getting away from the concrete jungle is crucial. Putting your feet into the sand or grass not only feels great, it also connects us to the living, breathing earth and is literally very grounding.
  3. Spend time in the kitchen. While the art of at-home food preparation has been greatly lost with food-to-go and frozen meals in a box, taking the time to connect to our food, through conscious preparation can do wonders for mental, emotional and physical health.
  4. Have a Reiki session. Reiki connects us directly to life force energy and puts us in a relaxed, meditative state. It also allows you to work through particular issues, including stress, to restore physical and emotional wellbeing.
  5. Take a candle-lit bath. Breaking out the lavender oil, soy candles and playing chilled tunes is a great way to de-stress. To clear your mind while you’re soaking, concentrate on your breathing. Pop in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil to give your skin a moisture infusion.

Start a stress-free married life with the following simple strategies, says Phoebe Hutchison, author of Honeymooners Forever, Twelve Step Marriage Survival Guide.

  • Communicate daily; talk about all the little things. This keeps you emotionally connected and intimate.
  • Don’t be afraid to argue, as it keeps resentment at bay when you keep expressing how you feel.
  • Just because you are married, does not mean you have no rights. Follow your passions, and support your spouse following theirs.
  • Stay as lovers; don’t turn into the married couple who take each other for granted. It is through listening to our spouse, by treating like a lover (not a spouse), that keeps the magic and the passion alive.
  • Be adventurous – in life, and especially in the bedroom.
  • Keep turning to your partner as your best friend; turning to workmates too often, and being intimate with others, can lead to extra-marital affairs.
  • Praise your spouse, don’t be critical. Praise will make your spouse move mountains for you.
  • Worship your spouse. When you treat him like a prince, he can’t help but treat you like a princess.
  • Make love; not war. If you are fighting, stop the fight with a hug, and then a calm chat. Those who humbly stop arguments are those who live to be old together.
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