By Laurie Sue Brockway
Author of WEDDING GODDESS
Everybody loves a wedding … but are we living in a nation of stressed out brides?
While the Runaway Bride story of recent headlines is not a typical story, it helped shine a light on something most people can’t fully understand unless they have – or once had -- those bridal hormones coursing through them. Planning a wedding can be a big pain in the you-know-what ... and all that people pleasing can zap the spirit and joy out of being a bride.
Bridal stress is unique. It is essentially temporary, yet is connected to much deeper family issues and emotional challenges. It can easily be triggered by practical issues – ask any bride who has tried to interpret a tricky vendor contract or shop for bridesmaid dresses with their attendants -- and is exacerbated by family dynamics . There is often a decision to make, or challenge to resolve, at every turn of that journey to the altar. Every little nuance -- and nuisance -- can put you in a momentary tizzy.
It is no wonder some women get the bridal blues.
Here are some of the challenges, and antidotes, for brides-to-be:
BRIDEZILLAS ARE MADE, NOT BORN. It’s supposed to be the happiest time of your life – and you want it to be – yet planning a wedding is like working a second job. You have to find the time to tend to a multitude of details as part of an already busy schedule while managing vendors, family anxieties and demands, your groom, your emotions and an array of tricky wedding dynamics. True, some brides are downright demanding but most are nice people, sucked into the vortex of wedding planning stress, and overwhelmed by the stress, pressure and expectations of those around her.
Wedding Goddess Antidote: A bride has to include stress management, self-nurturing and time to chill out as an integral part of her wedding planning process. When you feel the stress building, take time out, go for a walk, slip into a movie, get a massage, go for a manicure, write in a journal, do something un-wedding. You have to love, honor and cherish yourself if you want to be loved, honored and cherished by someone else!
EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT YOUR WEDDING-- AND YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN FEELING YOU CANNOT WIN! No matter who you are or what age … everyone has something to say about your wedding. You may be showered with congratulations and gifts, but you are simultaneously bombarded with unsolicited advice, wedding horror stories you don’t want to hear, and negative vibes from well-meaning friends and relatives who are too lost in their own experience to realize they are imposing on you. People tend to see your wedding as a chance to fulfill their own needs and family dynamics erupt in every which direction because as the clan prepares to gather they begin to act out what it’s all about for them – not you! The issues are classic – mom wants it to be the wedding she never had, sister or best friend wishes it were her, your groom is afraid to stand up to his family. Or the experience may be fraught with more modern challenges such as questions about mixing faiths, opting for a non-religious wedding or planning an alternative kind of affair.
Wedding Goddess Antidote: A Bride has to clarify the wedding she truly wants, try to stay centered and set clear boundaries that no one can penetrate with words or attitudes. If all else fails, consider this: The reality is that weddings tend to be for other people, but marriage is for you two. Focus on what your marriage will mean to you.
GETTING MARRIED CAN STIR UP A LOT OF EMOTIONS. The process itself sets forth period of growth and change that can be very confusing and nerve -wracking. Once you decide to marry you will begin the process of getting ready for marriage, and unresolved emotions about parents and family, past loves and concerns about the person you have chosen will come to the surface to be explored. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t marry, it just means inner work is called for along with all the outer preparations.
Wedding Goddess Antidote: A bride can embrace the awareness that she is embarking on a journey of evolution from one part of life to another, and honor and address the emotions and fears that arise. Trust they are natural and pay attention to any issues that might require support or counseling. It is important to stay on top of your emotions and be honest with yourself during this time. Don't sweep things under the rug.
WEDDING PLANNING CAN BE A CRISIS. There is so much focus on the external experience that a bride can become mired in details and demands and lose track of herself and the reason she is getting married in the first place. When she feels that planning the wedding of her dreams means going to battle – with parents, family, friends, groom, and almost anyone involved – she becomes hostile and reactive. What began as a joyful experience turns into a fight … a fight for having the perfect wedding. It is exhausting and can turn even sweet tempered people can turn mean and cranky.
Wedding Goddess Antidote: Remember that the true meaning of marriage is to bring two together in sacred union – the party is meant to be a celebration not something that will kill your spirit in the planning. When two people in love literally step up to commit themselves to one another in matrimony they have the opportunity to unite not just their hearts, lives and families, but to unite their very beings. And it is not just the couple that benefits from the ceremony – anyone who witnesses a wedding can be empowered and inspired by the love in the room. Focus on the love and remember it is always your aim.
YOUR HAPPINESS IN LIFE DOES NOT HINGE ON YOUR WEDDING ALONE. Some brides believe that they must have a perfect wedding in order to have a perfect marriage and a perfect life. They give the wedding day too much power. They begin to treat the wedding itself as something to be worshipped and served. There is an underlying fear that if something goes wrong with the wedding, it is a sign that will make or break the marriage. Our culture places a tremendous emphasis on having a great wedding and not enough focus on having an awesome marriage. It's okay to be temporarily obsessed and to yearn for the perfect wedding -- we all go there at some point -- but you have to keep your eye on what's truly important.
Wedding Goddess Antidote: Step back and realize, the most important part of the day is not the day itself ... but that you walked down that aisle and into the arms of the person you love … the one you look forward to building your life with. You will have a lifetime in which you can create more memories ... the wedding day, while important, is only one of the many experiences and memories you will share!
Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway is an interfaith and non-denominational wedding officiant. She creates unique ceremonies for couples of all backgrounds and faiths, and is also widely recognized as a bridal stress expert. She is author of "WEDDING GODDESS: A Divine Guide To Transforming Wedding Stress into Wedding Bliss" (Perigee Books, May 2005). Visit Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway at WeddingGoddess.com.