Planning a wedding is stressful.

Regardless of whether you’re inviting 50 people or 500, getting ready for the big day requires making hundreds of little decisions, performing hundreds of piddly tasks and fielding hundreds of questions from friends, family and venders, all while trying to fulfill your normal responsibilities at home and work.

To make the whole process even more fun, everyone you know has an opinion on how you’re making those decisions, carrying out those tasks and fulfilling those responsibilities.

You can try to keep things simple. You can try to buck the system. But short of eloping (or letting someone else plan the whole shebang), all weddings come with a certain amount of anxiety and exhaustion.

I’ve learned that lesson in spades these last several months. And I was not expecting that.

I’m an expert events planner, who makes decisions easily and quickly. I care way more about being married then having a wedding. And Pinterest has no pull whatsoever on me. Accordingly, I thought this process would be a breeze.

Granted, part of my stress stems from the fact that I’m planning a wedding in a major metropolitan area, 10 hours away from family. All my bridesmaids live elsewhere, and my local female friends have an average of seven children each. Help is in short supply.

Still, even if I had an army of maiden aunts to run errands and make food, someone would still need to tell them what errands to run and what food to make. When planning a wedding, stress just has a way of finding you.

All that being said, with only a few weeks to go until the wedding, I’ve managed to stay relatively sane and pleasant. There have been no Bridezilla breakdowns. Credit for that goes to grace and to the five sentences I keep repeating to myself.

 

“It’s a sacrament, not a show.” No matter what “The Knot” says, the goal of my wedding day is not to impress my guests or dazzle my friends. It’s to give myself to another human being. It’s to enter into a sacred covenant with the man I love and become one flesh with him. At the end of the day, that’s what matters. Not how delicious the food tastes. Not how beautiful the flowers look. Not how great the music sounds. Just that I give myself to him, he gives himself to me, and God blesses that giving by pouring out grace upon us.

 

“My wedding day is not ‘my day.’ It’s not ‘about me.’” Rather, my wedding day is about God. It’s about my fiancé and I becoming an image of the life-giving communion within the Holy Trinity. It’s about the grace he will give us in the years to come and the grace he has given us in years past — all the grace that brought us to this day.

On another level, our wedding day is about the people who’ve been instruments of that grace: our parents who raised us, our friends who encouraged us and everyone who prayed for us. Chris and I would not be walking down the aisle if not for those people and their prayers. “Our day” very much belongs to them. So honoring them and God needs to be my focus, not having picture-perfect hair and nails.

 

“I can’t please everyone.” Chris and I want to honor our guests. Again, they helped make our marriage possible. So we want to give them good food, good drinks and a good time. We also want to make the day as convenient as possible for them. But there are limits.

For example, we’re among the last of our faithful (and fertile) friends to marry. Which means we can’t invite all our friends’ children. There are just too many (200-plus). I also didn’t want the anxiety of dealing with seating charts the week before the wedding, so we’re skipping the big dinner and doing an afternoon cocktail reception instead.

Making the former decision means some friends can’t come. The latter decision will likely ruffle the feathers of an older guest or two. But our wallets and sanity required we make those decisions. Some people will love them. Others won’t. That’s just life in a fallen world.

 

“Nobody knows what doesn’t get done.” The chalkboard menu signs I’m hoping to make, the bunches of almonds I want to wrap in tulle, the flowers we plan on arranging in silver teapots the night before — all that will be beautiful. But if it doesn’t come together in time, nobody will know.

My bridesmaids and I (plus now Register readers) are the only ones who know about those details. None of them are essential to the day. Accordingly, they’re not worth stressing about. I have more important things to concern myself with … such as enjoying my time with friends and family in the days and hours before the wedding.

 

“Wedding planning is good practice for the rest of our lives.” Today, Chris and I must decide what the menu for our rehearsal dinner will be. In five years, we may be deciding whether to homeschool a child. Today, we disagree about how many people to invite. Next year, we may be disagreeing about what house to buy.

Stresses, decisions, disagreements — those are the things of married life, not just wedding planning. They’re not going to magically disappear when we say “I do.” So, if Chris and I want our marriage to be successful, we need to learn how to navigate them.

Approaching the difficulties of wedding planning as preparation for marriage — seeing them as an opportunity to communicate better, grow in patience and die to self — makes the process more worthwhile. It doesn’t necessarily make it less stressful, but it does make it more fruitful.

Emily Stimpson

(soon-to-be Chapman)

writes from Steubenville, Ohio.

Shutterstock illustration