Having to take care of endless details, manage vendors, handle family demands and meet the emotional needs of the groom - and fitting it all into an already busy schedule - can turn any sweet-natured woman into either a blubbering mess or the dreaded bridezilla.
Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. Wedding consultants and planning experts agree that there are some ways to manage the stress and make the planning process more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Expect stress. If you accept the fact that this is a stressful time, you can let go of guilt about it and take some precautionary measures to deal with it. Talk with your fiancÃ© and a close friend about helping you chill out when things get too tense. Come up with a non-judgmental code word they can say to let you know it's time for a break. When you hear the code word, stop, take a deep breath and then set the planning aside for a while and do something non-wedding related.
Be realistic. A lot of brides set their expectations so high that they drive themselves (and everyone around them) crazy trying to meet them. But unless you have unlimited access to money, you're going to have to adjust some of your plans. There are a lot of resources (Web sites, books, magazines, friends) that can help you pull off a lovely wedding on whatever budget you have.
Don't try to please everyone. It's just not possible. Nor is it reasonable to try. The wedding is about the bride and groom. You two need to decide what is meaningful to you and what will express who you are. If his mother wants Cousin Jennie to play her bagpipe as you march down the aisle and you don't care for the idea, it's ok to say no. Come up with a polite response such as, "Thanks for your suggestion, but we're going in a different direction with the plans." Feelings may get bruised, but ultimately it's your day and it only has to please you and your fiancÃ©.
Delegate, delegate, delegate. No matter how capable you are, no matter how nifty your organizer is, you can't do everything by yourself. Nor should you, so stop feeling guilty. It's ok to ask friends, family and the groom for help - as long as you do it nicely. Some churches or reception halls have a wedding coordinator available to help with details. They've done this hundreds of times - you haven't. Use them!
Take care of yourself. It's always important to eat right, get enough sleep and exercise, but it's especially important during times of stress. You'll feel more energized, you'll be able to think more clearly and make better decisions. Besides, who wants to see a bride with dark circles under her eyes drag herself down the aisle?
Keep things in perspective. The most important thing to remember is that the wedding is only a one-day event. It's just a party to celebrate the beginning of a life together. Too many brides feel enormous pressure to make the wedding perfect and they forget about building a solid marriage. Don't lose yourself in the details of this one day. You have a lifetime of new memories to create, this is only one of them.