Have The Wedding You Want, Not The Wedding You Think You're Supposed To Have

Whenever anyone asks me if I have any advice on how to combat the stress of wedding planning I offer them this potentially obnoxious advice: If something is stressing you out, don’t do it.

By Faith Moore3 min read
shutterstock 779189035

This is excellent advice. But it’s usually met with an eye roll, a polite smile, or the slightly insane laughter of someone whose stress level has already reached previously unimaginable heights. And I get it. Your wedding is supposed to be “the happiest day of your life,” right? You’ve got to have the dress, the flowers, the dance, the toasts, and it’s all got to go off without a hitch, right? I mean, this is your wedding day!

But, honestly, if all that stuff — or some of that stuff — is causing you to develop a facial tic and a habit of devolving into uncontrollable sobbing every time someone says the word “bride,” then maybe it’s time to take a step back.

A wedding reception is basically just a party. The part that matters — you know, where you and the love of your life are joined in holy matrimony till death do you and all that — will be over in under an hour. The rest of it is just a celebration — a party. And parties are supposed to be fun.

A wedding reception is basically just a party. The part that matters will be over in under an hour.

Look, I’m not suggesting that you elope or anything (unless you want to). I wouldn’t deny anyone the chance to wear a beautiful dress and have a fun party. My point is just that there are lots of things that happen at weddings we see in movies or on TV that we feel we ought to have, that maybe we don’t want to have. And, I mean, this is your wedding. Who cares about supposed to?

Now, I know that for some people there are cultural or family traditions that must be observed, and I completely understand that. And those things may cause stress but still be necessary. But, if that’s not the case, there is no reason to have anything at your wedding that doesn’t bring you joy.


In case what I’m saying sounds vaguely helpful but you’re already in wedding freak out mode and can’t even fathom where to begin, here are a few tips for having the wedding you want, not the one you think you’re supposed to have.


Sometimes there are things you know you’d like to have at your wedding that are stressful to plan and execute. For example, maybe you want to offer your guests homemade favors as a way of thanking them for coming, but the idea of sitting still for hours on end tying ribbons around hundreds of little gift bags is causing you to break out in hives. That’s what bridesmaids are for! (Helping, not hives.)

Whenever possible, hand over tedious or stressful tasks to other people.

Whenever possible, hand over tedious or stressful tasks to other people. Keep a list of tasks handy and pull it out whenever anyone offers to help. I know, when you’re in it, it sometimes feels like you’ve got to do everything yourself, but if something necessary is stressing you out, it’s okay to let someone else take it over.

Think outside the Box

There are a lot of things we think we have to have at our wedding that maybe we wouldn’t enjoy. For me, one of those things was dancing. I’ve got two left feet and look ridiculous when I try to dance. Why would I want to embarrass myself on my special day? Just because most weddings include dancing doesn’t mean yours has to if you don’t enjoy it. Instead of dancing, my husband and I opted for board games (yes, board games). We played Pictionary, Cranium, and Taboo, and it was a blast. It’s your special day, so make it a day you’ll enjoy.

Plan for Imperfection

If you can, try to let go of the idea that your wedding has to be perfect. Nothing is perfect. If you assume that your wedding will be, you’re going to be disappointed. This is not to say that you shouldn’t plan anything, or that you might as well give up now and head down to the courthouse. It’s just that, if you can find a way to assume that there will be things that go wrong, you’re going to be a lot less stressed out in the long run.

What matters is that you and your husband tie the knot. The rest is just for fun.

The key is to try to remember that the things we all spend so much time agonizing over — the dress, the flowers, the seating arrangements — don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is that you and your husband tie the knot. The rest is just for fun (at least it should be).


Remember Why You’re Doing This in the First Place

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the details of the wedding we forget what it’s all for. This is supposed to be a celebration of the love you and your husband share — not the world’s most stressful garden party. If you try to keep your eye on the prize — your husband — instead of all the nitty-gritty details, then you’ll be much more able to laugh off the inevitable floral arrangement disaster.

If you’re happy and he’s happy, it shouldn’t matter that Great Aunt Mildred’s false teeth fell out onto someone’s baby when she leaned over to kiss him. If you can laugh together on your wedding day, you’re in pretty good shape for the rest of your life.

Closing Thoughts

If something is stressing you out, don’t do it. That is my advice. Whenever possible, do only things that make you happy when planning your wedding. I mean, it is your wedding after all. Don’t you think it should be fun?