5 ways to stay calm on your wedding day

Updated Jun 15 2017
Guest post by Lydia Bell
Wedding Wine Glass Charms

I have general anxiety disorder. I’m the type of woman who can go into a panic when the farmers market is delayed due to rain or a friend uses the phrase “let’s play it by ear.” Still, I’ve learned the art of staying cool as a cucumber when it comes to the big stuff.

My wedding week was no different. Many people told me I was "the most calm and collected bride they had ever encountered." Not too bad for an extreme A-type personality like myself!

When it comes to staying calm on your wedding day, there are a few things that can help you keep it all together and enjoy it to the fullest.

1.Keep the schedule to a minimum

I knew from experience that if I scheduled every little detail of the day, I would be stressed out. Most wedding schedules run a bit late, which throws off the rest of the schedule. So instead of setting myself up to freak out if the side plates and table runners were put down five minutes late, I decided not to schedule that kind of stuff at all.

We had more of a “major events” schedule. I scheduled the time for the ceremony to start, the reception to begin, the band to start playing, and the food to arrive. Not only did this save me from biting my nails all day or yelling at vendors, it actually worked out perfectly! In fact, it was the first wedding I’d ever been to where the ceremony actually started on time! A detailed schedule was completely unnecessary.

2.Consider having a buffet

Not only is a buffet a more relaxed environment for your guests, it really cuts down on the stress of seating arrangements. With plated meals, the wait staff will need to know exactly who is sitting where. This means that if a guest or two cancels at the last minute, you may need to rearrange the seats. This adds a lot of stress to the couple and the staff.

We decided to keep it simple and let our guests sit where they were comfortable. Additionally, a cancelled guest wasn’t a “wasted plate,” just more food for everyone else!

3. If you're not a DIY kinda girl, don't try to become one the week of your wedding

Crafts for the un-crafty can be extremely tedious and time-consuming. Unless you love DIY projects, your decorations aren't going to be "Pinterest Perfect" anyway. You can still save money by buying a lot of your decor second hand, borrowing items from friends, or assigning tasks to the people who know what they're doing. Ask friends and family what they enjoy doing, and they'll be happy to help out!

4. Pick your wedding party based on relationships not genders

My husband and I keep saying that what really made our wedding special was all our awesome friends. We wanted our favorite people to be there with us and didn't want to let gender dictate who was at the parties or standing next to us on our big day. It's a stressful experience, so be sure to surround yourself with the people that make you laugh, regardless of gender!

5. Have a plan for keeping your cool

A-types like myself work best with structure. One of the reasons I didn’t have a meltdown was that I had a plan to not have a meltdown. While you might not be able to control your emotions every second of the day, you can set a goal for yourself to not stress the small stuff. In fact, write it down on paper! Make "not being stressed out" a part of your wedding to-do list.

How are you planning to stay calm on your wedding day? Newlyweds, what worked best for you to keep cool on the day of?

  1. I really enjoyed the tip about not over scheduling. That is fantastic advice and something that I absolutely would have done. My day of timeline already features so many items that just looking at it stresses me out. I think I'm going to go back and cut it down. Thanks!

    • Yes!! This was a super important factor in my planning thought process. I know that the timing of things stresses me out in general, so I just said, "I want to keep the schedule simple." I had a start time for hair/makeup, a start time for photos, a start time for the ceremony, and a start time for dinner. We didn't do a bridal party so we didn't have to worry about getting them to a certain place at a certain time, and the only reception tradition we honored was a first dance — we did that to close out the cocktail hour and signal to the guests that they should seat themselves for dinner. I still got a little antsy about time before the day got started (my makeup artist was five minutes late. Not normally a big deal, but I was already super anxious and so I was telling myself, "Oh my God now I'm going to be two minutes late for photos! What, she's still not here? No, now I'll be three minutes late!" ), but doing photos before the ceremony and not worrying about toasts, throwing things, or cutting things helped me feel like I could let go and really enjoy the celebration. We got married, we ate, we drank, we hugged people, and we danced. And we didn't miss the rest of it.

  2. I am also a massive organiser, meticulous detail planner and anxiety sufferer but I really agree with the advice that sometimes it’s less stress to allow a little space, we also had a major things only time line and did a buffet meal with free seating and it was great.

    I’d also add “hand it over wherever possible” to the list. Our day broke into three parts in three different venues: getting ready in our home, the ceremony the registry office and the party at our favourite gallery/arthouse cinema/bar a few streets away from the registry office. We had some friends photographing us getting ready and prompting when to be ready to get in the taxi etc, our best man/chief bridesmaid (his official title) was in charge of the registry office bit and the venue manager of the gallery went above and beyond and took over day of duties from there. Each of these three had the major things only timeline for the day.

    This worked like a charm, thank goodness, because the night before me and my wife DID NOT SLEEP. We had a meal with our families the night before and didn’t drink any alcohol and went to bed early. And then just lay there getting more and more fretful and eventually really quite upset. We ended up putting talk radio on and dozing off a bit to it. When we woke up or rather admitted defeat on our wedding day morning, we were exhausted and I did have a little cry. But, because we had really properly handed over all the stuff, the day ran without our overseeing and management, all we had to do was stay awake! I had a brief dip in the early afternoon, but I called out for a coffee and glass of wine, they were put in my hands and I was fine, we got to bed at about 2pm I think. Our utter lack of sleep honestly did not ruin our day, I may even have stressed more had I had been fully awake to do so!

    The point of planning ahead is to make yourself as planner, redundant on the day. Basically I’d plan it assuming you will be completely incapacitated and someone else will be running it, if your plan will still work with you as a zombie then you’ve pretty much got it right!

    • Wow, thanks for this! I have a lot of issues with insomnia and anxiety, and one of my big fears is that I am not going to be able to sleep the night before the wedding. But this has really reassured me that even if that happens, I'll still be able to make it through the next day. Thanks!!

      • We crashed big time the next day but yes, basically it was fine! Yes it's a huge significant day but plan it right and hand it over and you don't have to do anything, it's not like waking up sleep deprived on a big work day (and if it's looking like a work day ie task filled then I'd say it would be well worth looking again at how you are doing things). I should also add that we weren't doing any decor or any set up on the day, we gave that all to the venue to the day before with detailed instructions including photographs and then just let it go. All the stuff that happens on that day is the kind of energy giving lovely stuff, I started with less spoons that day but I actually felt like I got more spoons throughout the day. I also took a command decision early in the day to be here now and go with what felt good in that moment, I felt like a coffee mid afternoon so I had one, in my everyday control the anxiety life afternoon coffee is a total no no! I was wrecked the next day but I had lived every single moment, something my anxiety avoiding can often prevent me doing, it was more than worth it. Have a wonderful wedding!

  3. I too have anxiety and this is a really reassuring article. We've booked street food vendors so people can eat when/where they want and there's absolutely no structure other than when the ceremony and reception start. So true about the crafting as well- I used to be really arty but everything seems so much more pressured when it's wedding related. I had to be realistic to save my sanity.

  4. Great post! Love the last tip. When it came to planning the wedding over the last year, my #1 priority was not to freak out over it. (No bridezilla breakdowns yet, but still have 2 months to go!)

  5. Excellent point about the timing and scheduling!
    I am a very punctual person and if I could I would schedule every minute of my day! I created a big board for guests to see the "day of" timings all day, so they knew what to expect. It was short and sweet, I only included the major events like speeches, dinner, cake and dancing. The day didn't work out to those timings at all but I didn't even notice!
    Definitely do not over plan, my brain couldn't have handled organising every minute while trying to enjoy the day!

  6. Love this post! I also have anxiety (SO much love for OB for having a whole category for it!) Wedding is in a month and we're doing a buffet. Our venue can't provide formal seating, so we don't have to worry about assigned seating which is great! If we did, we would just have it for family and not for our friends. My MOM is DIY and organized, which I'm not taking for granted, that's just never been me. Great post and curious to see the other comments.

  7. I'm not sure if it will actually pan out but my gym has a class 10-11am on Saturdays and I'm planning on going to it. That way I can work out my nervous energy and take a nice, long shower to relax. I'm not stressed about the details but I am dreading the day of the ceremony up until I walk down that aisle because I always get so anxious wairing for something to start, even if it's just a movie or someone else's wedding.

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