This past weekend I have been at a wedding in Vienna. I was reminded of my own wedding, only that we decided for a small wedding with 7 people and this wedding was a larger event with 110 invitees coming from as far as Bolivia. Whether it is a small or a large wedding, the preparations and the lead up to the ‘big day’ are a reality. The following article will look into this topic:
Wedding preparations are intense and stressful. They entail more details and preparation than a couple usually expects. How come? In this article I will highlight some reasons and remedies to alleviate some of the stress that comes with a big life transition.
What you see is NOT what you get
First of all, we have all seen them: Beautiful pictures of weddings, professionally shot, people smiling and posing in front of beautiful scenery and in even more splendid clothes. The truth is that these photos are just snapshots of moments which do not convey all the preparations and hard work that has gone into them, not to mention the money.
We often get fooled by what we see, believing that the smile and fun in these pictures is all that there is. The truth is that there is a lot of joy in most weddings but before it comes to the day itself, there is a lot of preparation that goes unnoticed for many guests and the photographer.
Expectation versus reality
The stress is created when reality is not living up to our expectations. During the time of preparation, the couple first has to make their expectations and ideas clear and communicate openly about what they want. The difference between what is important for one partner as opposed to the other, already opens up the possibility of distress. In addition, financial limitations will cut some of the dreams the bride and groom have for their wedding, which also causes disappointment.
Life transition and meaning
Wedding, like childbirth, moving out of the family home or death in the family are big life transition points which in themselves both consciously and unconsciously bring about a shift. Changing from calling your partner ‘boyfriend’ to ‘fiancé’ and then ‘husband’ will have an effect on you, whether you are aware of it or not. The internal meaning, identity, expectations and beliefs will change with a change of position.
The tradition and ritual of marriage
Getting married is a long-standing tradition with many different rituals, depending on family expectations, culture, religion and personal preferences. Signing a paper and legalizing your relationship has an impact, which you will, if at all, only realize in the time following the wedding.
The wedding day
Then there is the wedding day itself with its last minute preparations, whether you have invited only a few or many guests. It also means getting everything ready for a specific time, always with the wish of fulfillment of your expectations in the back of your mind.
Like any ‘big moment’ in your life you will most likely feel excited, nervous, stressed. The normal reaction of your body in those moments is to be pumping adrenaline through your system to make you more alert.
So, how to alleviate some of the stress?
First, get help during the time of preparation. Build a project team who is willing to get quotes for flowers or potential venues, choose a friend to buy the wedding dress with and, if finances allow, outsource as much as you can to people and businesses you trust.
Secondly be aware of the expectations you and your partner will have and that reality will most definitely look a little bit different. Allow for those potential differences in advance.
If you find it difficult to agree with your partner on what you want, think about engaging someone who can help.
For the day itself, make sure you have enough time. Any preparations that do not need to be last minute can and should be done before the actual day. For last minute preparations find someone you can trust.
As a coach and counsellor I know and would expect that the stress for you as a couple will be significantly heightened not just on the day but also in the time leading up to the wedding, sometimes this might mean 6 – 12 months. Make sure you start your married life on good terms – it is never too late to give yourself the gift of asking for help.