Stress-busting strategy: Schedule time to create one.
After getting engaged, sit down with your groom and your families to discuss your dream day. What will it look like? A cocktail party? A formal sit-down dinner? Where will it be? In a loft? On a beach? And what do you want people to wear? Semi-formal attire? Black tie? "Armed with a vision, you'll be able to move on to the next steps: setting a date and a budget, and selecting your vendors," says Talia Fedorowich, a wedding planner from Sixpence for Your Shoe in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Stress-busting strategy: Choose family first.
Picking the bunch can be heart-wrenchingly hard, especially when you can't include all of your friends. Traditionally, your sisters and fiance's sisters are almost always at the top of the list. If you're not that close with them, pick your next nearest and dearest. If you'd like to include buds, make sure it's someone you regularly communicate or spend time with. Before choosing, think, "Will I still be tight with them in five years?" Friendships fade, and you want to make sure they'll be around for the long haul. You'll need to rely on your bridesmaids for help, sanity, and tissues, so only choose people who will help you stay organized and calm.
Stress-busting strategy: Do a little market research.
Before meeting a potential vendor, educate yourself on the prices for services in your area, and bring a list of questions with you to appointments. Some vendors may be willing to negotiate the cost of package deals if you're willing to sacrifice components that aren't high on your priority list. "Also, we always recommend building your budget to 90 percent of what you're truly comfortable spending," says Fedorowich. "You'll able to splurge on that unforeseen can't-live-without addition and cover last-minute incidentals without breaking the bank."
Stress-busting strategy: Consider hiring a planner.
He or she can tackle the bigger issues, like timelines and budgets, and keep you on track. When interviewing potential coordinators, pay attention to personality. "You'll be working closely together in the upcoming months, so it's important that you get along," says Jeri Kadison, a bridal coach in New York City. Also, ask what communication style is best for them. If you prefer the phone and they prefer e-mail, it can lead to a very frustrating relationship. Finally, make sure the planner has experience executing weddings similar in style, decor, and technical design. They may be able to listen well, but if they can't "see" your vision, they'll never be able to re-create it. If a start-to-finish planner isn't within your means, day-of coordinators are available to make sure the actual wedding day and reception flow smoothly. Or, for the DIY bride, write out monthly to-do lists. At the end of every month, reprioritize those items not checked off, and add in any new ones that need to be completed.
Stress-busting strategy: Shift your focus.
Sometimes the easiest way to avoid or manage stress is just to change your way of thinking. "I tell my brides that nothing is perfect," says Kadison. Your day will be beautiful, romantic, and personal, but it won't be perfect. Nothing is! Go into the process with a plan B (vendors or locations you'd be just as happy with in case your first choices don't work out), and accept that that's the best you can do. Ultimately, if something small goes wrong -- your flower girl doesn't want to walk down the aisle, or your maid of honor brings the wrong shoes -- it's not going to ruin your day. Those are the moments that make your wedding unique and memorable.
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