Article by Dedreanna Drost
Planning your wedding is usually painted as one of the most exciting and glamorous times of your life. The question gets popped, champagne gets popped, ring selfies a-plenty are posted, and the congratulations flow in endlessly. Once the stardust clears and you’ve swooned and gushed as much as humanly possible, you’re left with the reality of planning a really big life event and quite frankly, it can be very overwhelming.
When you first sit down to write your wedding to-do list, you may begin to wonder how you can possibly accomplish all of the necessary tasks needed to pull this show off. Delegating tasks and asking for help right from this moment will make a significant difference throughout the planning process. This might include hiring a wedding planner, politely setting expectations with bridesmaids, or asking your family for assistance when needed. Set small tasks for yourself each week to keep from feeling overwhelmed, and remember that you aren’t in this alone.
Wedding planning can be stressful at times, and seeking out help when needed is absolutely okay.
Dr. Ashley Margeson is a Naturopathic Doctor, self-professed hormone whisperer, and creator of the Elite Bridal Wellness program. She often works with female entrepreneurs and women in business to stabilize their hormones and maximize their brain power so that they’re most productive during their days.
Margeson says, “More and more professional women are getting married slightly later in life, so we’re not seeing marriages at 18 or 19 anymore. We’re seeing the majority of them happening between 25 and 35 which is when everyone is also juggling careers. Elite Bridal Wellness was actually born from a lot of my patients getting married, and feeling like they couldn’t balance everything. It wasn’t a need that was being met. It was also really important for me to make the program accessible online for people who maybe couldn’t access me in Halifax.”
We live in a world where the pressure to plan a Pinterest perfect wedding is real. When you tell someone you’re getting married, they will usually go on about how excited you must be, and ask about the fun details, but no one ever asks how you’re feeling. Mental health often takes a back seat to the pomp and circumstance, when it should be riding front and centre.
“Nobody talks about it. Every single magazine that you read, and every article online is all about how your wedding is the best day ever, but most people go through it and don’t remember it due to stress.” Margeson says, “I wanted to make mental health support incredibly easy for people to access so nobody gets left out. You get about three months’ worth of things that we start piecing in as you get closer and closer to your wedding. We’ve got six weeks full of meal plans that are designed to be nourishing, not depriving. A lot of women aren’t eating at times because they’re worried about fitting into their dresses. My job is to be concerned about biochemistry and physiology, and make sure you have enough nutrients to help get you through the day.”
The Elite Bridal Wellness program focuses on health from the inside out. She says, “We’ve teamed up with one of my favourite personal trainers to give people access to their applications online to really structure in workouts, whether it be yoga, home, or gym workouts. We’ve designed all of these pre-wedding anxiety strategies. Three weeks out from your wedding, you automatically get sent an email with what to take when you’re feeling a certain way, and what brands we suggest, to ensure that our clients are getting what they need. We’ve taken everything that tends to pop up over the wedding season and designed a strategy for fixing.”
The feedback from the Elite Bridal Wellness program has been very positive. She explains, “The program is really funny because if the program works the way that it should work, you shouldn’t really notice a difference, which is the whole point of healthy living. Most of the brides that go through the program don’t realize the impact of it until they’re talking to their girlfriends the next week and realize what didn’t change. They realize they didn’t gain weight before the wedding, their acne didn’t flare up, they were sleeping well, they enjoyed their wedding day and they didn’t get sick afterwards. That’s the way the program was designed; it was not designed to be a quick fix. Your wedding is really just the start of the rest of your life, so if you do our program, you’re really going to notice that your life takes off after your wedding and your health isn’t holding you back from anything.”
Emily Scott is a Health and Fitness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and Holistic Nutritionist. She says, “exercise is the perfect stress reliever when preparing for a wedding. Weddings involve a great deal of planning and often high stress levels. Most brides want to look their best in their dress, which can also lead to higher than normal stress. Exercise provides a more positive and relaxed mindset while also helping a bride achieve her physique goals.”
She adds, “although weight-loss may be a goal, it is important to avoid a diet where whole food groups are eliminated. The journey to a wedding involves many dinners in honour of the couple plus the meal and treats on the wedding day. Diets low in carbohydrates will leave a bride (or anyone) very uncomfortable in the hours and days following these special gatherings where sweets, and carbohydrate dense foods and drinks are typically present. So even though looking fabulous in the dress is a big goal, I'd recommend avoiding elimination diets and stick to an approach of everything in moderation so that you don't feel awful when these special occasions arise.”
Setting goals together is a great way for a couple to fight stress as a team. Scott says, “Schedules may conflict, making it difficult to go for walks or to the gym together. But a couple could design weekly challenges where each day they have an exercise to complete. The winner at the end of the week could receive a massage or get breakfast in bed the next day as a reward! I would also recommend grocery shopping as a couple. This mundane task can be made fun by tackling it together and allows a couple the opportunity to plan their healthy meals together.”
Scott suggests finding an activity that excites you and fitting it into your routine 3-5 days a week for about 30 minutes. “Running, hot yoga, weight lifting, and cross-fit are all great stress-relieving activities.”
Stefanie Phillips, the studio manager at the downtown Fredericton hot yoga studio, Dynamic Yoga, agrees that yoga is a beneficial form of stress relief. She says, “yoga allows you to relax, shut off the outside world & focus on body awareness, movements, stretching & de-stressing; mainly giving your body and mind the things they need that we often forget to do during a regular day.”
Phillips explains the benefits of hot yoga for relaxation and stress relief during the wedding planning process. “When we stress and have anxiety, especially building up towards a big event, it can cause tension and pain in some parts of the body. Being aware of this, and avoiding risking your health over a very special day, is so important. Whether a couple goes to yoga together or separately, it can help them take a break from over thinking and stressing about wedding planning, and the long list of tasks it comes with. It is important to be present on your mat and let go of any unnecessary worry.”
Today, many engaged couples are planning a wedding while already raising a family. Adding the stress of wedding planning to the pressure of being a good partner and parent, along with managing a career, is a lot for anyone to handle. Don’t feel guilty for needing to indulge in self-care. We’ve all seen videos and posts poking fun at ‘bridezillas’ for losing their cool during various wedding planning situations, but the reality is that she was probably dealing with more stress than one video could highlight.
Financial obligations are also a huge factor in pre-wedding anxiety. Since more couples are getting married later in life, there is no longer the expectation that their parents will be taking care of the bill. Pair that with the pressure that social media puts on us to have the most beautiful, unique, but also trendy wedding with the best of everything, and you have the recipe for many financially fueled arguments. Hiring a wedding planner or having someone trustworthy to help keep track of your budget will be a weight lifted, and prevent tension in your relationship.
Stacey Murray is the owner of Tale Of Two Wedding Coordination in Fredericton. She says, “When choosing to hire a wedding planner, couples should ask themselves these questions: Would you prefer to enjoy and not work on your wedding day? Are you too busy and/or overwhelmed to properly plan your wedding? Do you have a wedding vision but have no idea how to begin to execute it? Are you planning your wedding from a distance? Are you hosting your wedding in a location that you’re unfamiliar with?”
If a couple answers yes to any of these questions, then they should consider hiring a wedding planner.
Murray adds, “On average it takes 250 hours to plan a wedding, that’s over six 40 hour work weeks! Most people do not have this much spare time in addition to their already busy lives. A wedding planner will decrease the number of hours a couple needs to invest in planning their wedding by understanding the couple’s wedding vision, and then executing this vision by doing research on relevant vendors and providing the couple with vendor options to choose from. It’s the research that takes up all of a couple’s time when planning a wedding themselves. Couples who experience anxiety when planning their wedding are most likely trying to please everyone who will be in attendance at their wedding. If you are a couple who is experiencing anxiety, please keep in mind that your wedding should be a reflection of yourselves, and that your guests may not make the same decisions as you when planning their own wedding, but they will enjoy themselves at your wedding because they’re there to support you!”
Whether you choose to hire a wedding planner or not, stress will still occur and self-care will carry you through some of the most stressful times in this process.
Before you start planning, before the big decisions need to be made, or when your maid of honour comes to you with drama about one of the bridesmaids, take care of yourself first. Most of us wear many hats, such as mother, entrepreneur, wife, best friend, and household manager. Sometimes, adding a wedding veil to the top, no matter how light and airy it may be, is enough to tip us over. Try to simplify the elements of your wedding that are keeping you up at night. If you’re nervous about speaking in front of a crowd, shorten your vows and skip the wedding speech. Simplifying the biggest stressors will allow you do check tasks off your list faster, which will make you feel lighter and less stressed.
Massage therapy is an excellent way to practice self-care during this process. Josh Lutes RMT is the owner of Maritime Medical Massage Clinic in Moncton. He says, “Massages help calm the mind and body and general Swedish relaxation massage is best. Massages are extremely important for mental health and keeping balance.”
Lutes says, “Most clients receive a massage monthly but you can never have too many.”
Some additional methods of self-care may include daily walks, nightly bubble baths, journaling, cooking healthy meals, listening to inspiring audiobooks, or simply taking the time for your favourite hobbies. Your wedding will be a special day in your life, but planning it doesn’t have to take up all of your free time.
When it comes to seeking stress relief, essential oils can be an important player in the pre-wedding game. To some, the use of essential oils to get rid of anxiety may still seem like new age woo, but their benefits are known to have real results. Lindsey Jarrett is a doTERRA wellness advocate, certified yoga teacher, and reiki practitioner. She loves showing others how to embody a life of natural health, wellbeing and connection.
Jarrett says, “Brides understandably want their weddings to be the best day ever, but these expectations can cause a lot of stress in our minds and bodies. Poor digestion, headaches, and sleeplessness can be caused by stress, and will definitely leak into the relationships and circumstances around us. From decision making to handling unforeseen changes, to nerves, and trying to please ourselves (and everyone around us) there are many moving pieces during planning that can pull us away from our best selves.
Essential oils are like lighthouses that bring us back into the present moment. When we take a second to use an oil, we're calling our breath back into the moment which helps take our nervous system out of fight-or-flight mode and back into a state of calm. It's from this clear state that our brain functions best and we make the best decisions that allow us to pivot with ease when things don't go as planned.
These oils also directly impact the limbic area of the brain. This is the control centre for many things including memory, focus, emotions and heart rate to name a few. Just from smelling a pure, therapeutic grade essential oil, the volatile molecules of the oil will trigger a cascade of signals to the limbic area that can help calm the body and dispel feelings of anxiousness. Many people also find this improves their sleep which so many brides and grooms struggle with leading up to the big day.”
When asked what oils were best for stress relief, she advised, "Just about any essential oil can be good for stress relief and it depends on what the individual bride or groom is drawn to the most. If you're drawn to an oil, it's exactly the one you need, so go with it and don't be too worried about 'doing it right'. Traditionally floral smells like lavender and rose calm the mind best, while any citrus or peppermint oil will uplift and rejuvenate. The woody or earthy smells like cedarwood, frankincense and the doTERRA ‘Balance’ blend are known to be very grounding and relaxing.”
Essential oils aren’t just for pre-wedding use, and many couples can benefit from them on the big day as well. “Since smells works so strongly with the memory centre of the brain, we can create a signature scent for our day and whenever we smell it in the future it will bring us back to that special time in our lives. You can also choose to have a diffuser going where the bridal party is getting ready or even in the reception room! People who really want to get into it could make rollerballs for safest use on skin or spray bottle mists for their bridal party to use during the weekend festivities. One role of the maid of honour can be to ensure the bride gets plenty of ‘sniffs’ in throughout the day so she can stay calm, present, and embrace the moments.”
Essential oils aren’t just for the ladies, Jarrett says. “Peppermint has cooling properties and a swipe of it along the back of neck or temples can help the bridal party, especially groomsmen in hot suits, cool down.”
They can also be used long after the wedding is over. “Not many people know that couples can also use essential oils to enhance libido. *doTERRA’s ‘Passion’ blend is a fun one to gift the happy couple for the honeymoon festivities. Oils use is a journey. Be patient with yourself and don’t expect to learn it all at once. The best thing you can do is invest in a brand you completely trust to be safe, pure, and potent so that they work well with the body.”
Jarret also took the time create these fun signature blends for couples to try on their wedding day. These scents can be added to your diffuser and diffused any time during your day.
* 2 Drops Lavender
* 3 Drops Cedarwood
* 1 Drop Marjoram
* 1 Drop Clary sage
* 3 drops Sandalwood
* 3 drops doTERRA Whisper
* 3 drops doTERRA Citrus Bliss
* 3 Drops Bergamot
* 3 Drops Lime
* 2 Drops Lavender
* 2 Drops Spearmint
Throughout the entire planning process, make sure to check in with your partner regularly to see how they’re holding up. Checking in with each other will allow any current worries to be laid out on the table and dealt with before the big day. The whirlwind wedding planning process will be over before you know it, and making time for each other to soak in all of the good moments is so important.
Your wedding will be a day you’ll always remember, so no matter how bumpy the planning process may be, sit back and enjoy the ride.