Photo: James Tang Photography
For most of the time you’re engaged, your wedding will seem like it’s millennia away. You’ll feel like you’re planning and planning and planning, while time crawls at a snail’s pace. Until, that is, it’s 10 days before your wedding, which sneaks up on you and smacks you across the face. No matter how prepared you think you are, and how much you’ve gotten done, once you actually do get close to the big day, trust me, you’ll feel like you’re on a runaway train to Crazy-Town (or at least through Crazy-Town, on its way to Married-Blissworld…).
So, what feelings should you actually expect in the days before your wedding? Keep reading.
Feeling like you're forgetting somethingEven the most meticulous planners will fall victim to this unpleasant feeling of doubt as their wedding date approaches. It’s natural when you’ve been juggling dozens of tasks and obligations for over a year, dealing with a few at a time, and suddenly it’s time for everything to come into play at once. Let yourself have the necessary and all-too-human freakout for a moment, but don’t let it take over the rest of your pre-wedding week—trust me, you didn’t forget anything. And if you did, there’s no way it was anything important, or you would have remembered it. See how easy that was? Not convinced this line of reasoning will work on you at your most irrational? (Been there!) Pre-empt the crazy by starting a wedding-planning checklist early-on in your planning, where you record every wedding task from beginning to booking to paying your final deposit—that way you have something to return to to restore your calmness anytime you feel nuts in the final stretch. Even better: Hire a planner if it’s within budget, and leave this worry up to them.
Feeling like you made the wrong choicesEight months out from your wedding, your reception place settings might seem magical. Eight days before your wedding, you might be wondering what ever drove you to choose gold chargers when pewter would make sooo much more sense! To these voices I urge you to say: “Shut the crap up!” This is the manifestation of all your pre-wedding jitters and planning stress—not an actual rebellion against your very sound charger choices. So whether you end up regretting your decor, dress, or first dance in the days leading up to your wedding, simply take a deep breath, remind yourself how painstaking each and every one of these decisions was, and try to envision everything coming together beautifully—you know it will! If you think you’re experiencing real doubts about something 10 days or fewer away from your wedding, talk it over seriously with your partner and planner (if you have one)—you’ll be amazed at what creative solutions you can come up with when the pressure is on!
Photo: James Tang Photography
Freaking out about the weather forecastBesides the moment you walk down the aisle to marry your betrothed, this is truly the moment you’ve been waiting for when it comes to your wedding! After months of assuming it’ll be sunny and perfect, seeing your wedding day weather for the first time can feel like a make or break moment. Try not to let it consume you. Whether the weather looks like it’ll be just right or totally wrong, keep in mind it’s the weather, so it can and probably will change depending on how far out from the big day you are. Don’t make any rash decisions based on a weather report that’s double-digits days away from your wedding day. Instead, wait till about three days out to make a final call on moving into your backup plan if rain remains in your forecast. By three days out, you’ll have a more definite answer, but still plenty of time to set your backup plan in motion without anything being rushed and crazy-stressful. To significantly reduce your chances of any pre-wedding weather meltdowns, have a rain plan in your back pocket from the day you book your venue—just in case. Don’t necessarily spend money on it, just plan for it (most venues should include this with your booking, but if you’re getting married in a blank canvas, like a field or beach, have a tent on reserve just in case). Seeing definite chances of rain as the day approaches? Breathe deep, rush-order some pretty umbrellas for you, your partner and your wedding party, and repeat after me: No marriage has ever been ruined by rain (and few weddings have been)! (Also, rainy skies make for gorgeous photos.)
Feeling edgy and easily set offI’m going to be straight with you—planning a wedding isn’t all flowers and lace and cake. It’s a stressful, demanding experience, one that costs a lot of money and can bring out unpleasant personality traits in some of the people you’re closest with. For the most part, this is all very manageable and you’ll be amazed at how chill you’ll be able to remain. But when you’re only a week or so out from your wedding, and all that stress comes to a head, you can expect to be a level 11, even if you’re normally a pretty calm person. My advice is to… just let this happen. And then apologize. You can’t be a perfect bride who plans the most epic wedding ever and ALSO does not get stressed and hot-tempered over doing so. So, let your emotions flow—to a point, obviously—and be sure to be generous with the apologies after the fact. It may help to limit any/all wedding talk to ride-or-dies only during this time period (because only people very close to you may be qualified to deal with late-stage bridezilla behavior), but reassure the rest of your social circle (and yourself) that you’ll be back to your old, peaceful self as soon as the aisle-walk is complete! Bottom line: Beating yourself up about your stress getting the best of you only leads to more stress. Expect a few crappy moods and move on!
Photo: Pond Photography
Getting money anxietyEven if you saved more than enough for your wedding expenses (or even if you’re not paying for anything at all), anxiety can set in when it comes time to cut a dozen checks at once for hundreds (or thousands) of dollars each. You might start regretting some of your expenses, wondering if you really needed certain things, wondering if you should have had a wedding at all, or worrying that you won’t have enough funds to cover everything. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This is natural! Just don’t let your stress talk you out of the wedding you’ve wanted and planned for all this time—you’re not actually regretting anything, you’re just having a little sticker shock.
Trust me, once you’ve handed those checks over and are actually at your wedding, partying the night away, you’ll realize how much it was all worth it! A great way to ease this final dose of sticker shock is to ask your vendors if you can pay small amounts over the course of a few months before your wedding, instead of just paying a deposit and final fee. You’ll feel less freaked if that last check is teensy for each vendor. If you’ve actually gone over-budget and are just realizing it as you approach the final few days before your wedding, trim the easy things first: Favors are a good place to start (people hardly notice ‘em) or maybe shave an hour off your photo booth rental. See? Not so hard! Did I mention to just breathe because it’ll all be ok? Do that!
Letting fate take the wheelAfter you ride the rollercoaster of emotion detailed above, you’ll cruise into the final few days (or hours, depending on how long your roller ride lasts…) before your wedding feeling exhausted, excited, maybe a little drunk on emotion, and, most of all, adrenaline-high! You’ll realize you’re past the point of making menu changes, saving money, making bridesmaids happier, calming your mother-in-law, worrying about the weather, and so on, so you’ll arrive at the point where you simply stop caring about making your day “perfect,” and get excited about how perfectly imperfect your day will be. This, to me, is the best part of wedding planning. The stress washes away, the true excitement of marrying your partner and spending time with all your loved ones sets in, and you finally release yourself from the pressure and crazy expectations you’ve put yourself under all these months.
You may find yourself saying, “Sure, OK, whatever, I don’t care!” with a big smile on your face every time someone asks you a wedding question during this phase, and that’s how you know you’re there. Nirvana! Worried you’ll never get passed the stress and arrive at this point of bliss? You will—pretty sure it’s biologically impossible not to (your body is trying to keep you alive, here!)—but you can get there sooner by keeping in mind what really matters as the countdown to your wedding gets shorter and shorter: Marrying your favorite person. Having fun. Making memories. Those three things can be accomplished in sun or rain, with perfect flowers or none, with your hair a little askew, even a full 45 minutes later than you expect them to begin. Repeat that every time you feel nuts and you’ll be on your way to pre-marital nirvana in no time.