There are 103 days left until my wedding, and I can say with certainty that planning a wedding has been one of the most stressful experiences of my life. While of course I couldn't be more excited to marry my fiancé—and dance with our friends and family—yeah, I am 100 percent ready to be DONE with the planning part.
There are a seemingly infinite number of decisions required to pull off a successful wedding: Carrot or coconut cake? Classic or trendy floral arrangements? Buffet or sit-down dinner? I DON'T KNOW—STOP ASKING ME THINGS!
There have been endless appointments with vendors, not to mention conversations with well-meaning family members who want to insert their opinions on everything from favors to who should sit where. Planning a wedding will take a lot out of you—and by the time your wedding date creeps up, it's normal to feel stressed, depleted, and completely overwhelmed.
But it doesn't have to be that way! I asked experts for some strategies to help you avoid wedding planning stress (or at least diminish it) and stay healthy (... or at least somewhat sane) in the months leading up to your big walk down the aisle.
1. Make breakfast a non-negotiable.
Wedding planning can make for some late nights—and if you were up until 2 a.m. trying to figure out seating charts, you might be tempted to skip breakfast the next morning in exchange for a few extra zzzs.
But if you want to avoid wedding stress during the planning process—and have plenty of energy to tackle wedding projects during your free time, like after you wrap up at the office—you need to make breakfast a non-negotiable. "Regardless of what you are working on at midnight, it's important to start your day with breakfast," says Erin M. Shyong, RD, CDE. "Skipping it can derail your energy all day and make that couch look cozier than ever after work."
"Start each day with a healthy, balanced breakfast that includes a protein and a fat, like a banana with peanut butter," Shyong says. "Proteins help to keep you full and when combined with healthy fats can really help to stabilize your blood sugar."
2. Get your sweat on.
When you're exhausted from wedding planning stress, working out might be the last thing you feel like doing. But not only will regular sweat sessions have you looking and feeling your best, they'll also deliver a potent energy boost—and will help you better manage all that wedding stress.
"Get at least four to five 20-30 minute workout sessions in weekly. Consistency is key to achieving results and managing stress," says Jillian Michaels, fitness and health expert, and creator of the My Fitness by Jillian Michaels app.
When it comes to working out, it doesn't matter what you do—as long as you enjoy it enough to do it consistently. "Overall, do what you love, keep your intensity level up by pushing yourself, and do it consistently," Michaels says. (Looking for some workout inspiration? Check out the six-week Wedding Warrior program in Michael's app.)
3. Drink plenty of H20.
The months leading up to your wedding week are a time to celebrate—and often those celebrations include extra-delicious-but-maybe-not-so-good-for-you foods and plenty of booze. While there's nothing wrong with diving into a cheese plate and washing it down with a few glasses of champagne (what's life without?!), too much celebratory food can leave you feeling dehydrated and bloated—which can drag down your energy and make it harder to feel your best during the wedding planning process.
Thankfully, there's a simple solution to counteract some of the side effects you might experience from too many pre-wedding celebrations—and that's H20. "The key is to stay hydrated throughout the day," Shyong says. "Carry a water bottle with you and always follow a glass of wine or beer with a glass of water."
Not only will getting plenty of H20 make you feel better, but it'll also make you look better (hello, clear skin!)—which definitely doesn't hurt when your wedding (and wedding photo shoot) is around the corner.
4. Talk yourself out of feeling overwhelmed.
If there were one word to describe the wedding planning process, "overwhelming" would be a serious contender. But kicking this sensation to the curb could be as simple as talking yourself out of it—in the form of affirmations.
"Affirmations are an effective tool because they sink deep into your subconscious, which is where we really operate our daily lives from," says Jill Faulkner, founder of Stick With It Co., which creates products based around affirmations. By repeating daily affirmations like "I trust the process" or "I am calm," you'll start to operate from a more trusting and calm place—and you'll feel tons better as a result.
If you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed by a particular aspect of wedding planning, you can also create a specific affirmation around this situation. "If there is a particular stressor, like finding a venue, the affirmation might be, 'The right venue that is meant to be ours will be available on our desired date,'" Faulkner says.
Carve out 10 minutes each morning to repeat your daily affirmations. Record them on your phone and play them in the car on your way to wedding appointments. Drill the calm, cool, and collected affirmations into your brain—they're sure to affect how you feel.
5. Keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand.
Between meetings with the venue, tastings, fittings, and the other zillion tasks you need to cross off your list, "busy" can seem like a gross understatement. And on your busiest wedding planning days, when you're zipping from one appointment to another, healthy eating is often the first thing that goes out the window. And as a result of either eating snacks that don't make you feel good—or skipping meals and eating nothing at all—you're more likely to feel cranky and tired.
But all that it takes to stay on track is a bit of preparation. For a quick planning day pick-me-up, stash some nuts in the glove compartment of your car and snack on them throughout the day. "Nuts provide a great blend of fats and proteins and are easy to grab-and-go," Shyong says.
6. Make your relationship a priority…
When it comes to wedding planning, it can be easy to miss the forest for the trees and get so caught up in all the details (place settings, flowers, and cufflinks, oh my!) that you forget about what's really important—your relationship.
"All relationships thrive best when a couple puts healthy and loving energy into it. It's easy for that to be put off to the side, even temporarily, while a wedding is being planned," says Lyn Rowbotham, Ph.D., a life and relationship coach in Malibu, CA.
Not making time for your partner (or making every second of your time together focused on the wedding) can create serious tension in your relationship—and make the process of planning a wedding that much more stressful.
Creating some distance between you and a stressful planning issue can leave room for you and your partner to get closer.
"Some issues that can come up are feelings of disconnect between you, resentments that get built up, emotional and/or physical exhaustion, increasing conflict over things that normally wouldn't be an issue, self-doubts, doubts about your partner, a decrease in intimacy, feeling unsupported by your partner, feeling isolated and misunderstood, poor self-care, and communication breakdowns," Rowbotham says.
To avoid issues like these with your partner, carve out time every day to connect. "Check in with your partner… listen and reflect back what you heard and ask how you can be supportive," Rowbotham says. And no wedding talk allowed!
"Create some distance between you and wedding planning issues. They will still be there to manage later. Creating some distance between you and a stressful planning issue can leave room for you and your partner to get closer."
Remember, the wedding is just one day, but the marriage? That's (hopefully) for life—so make sure you make the time to connect with your partner throughout the wedding planning process.
"Remind yourself that your love and your relationship is the why. It's why there is a wedding, why you want it to be special… for both of you. The how is the planning. The why has to remain the priority or the how doesn't really matter," Rowbotham says.
7. … and make yourself a priority too.
It's important to make the time to take care of your relationship. But it's just as important—if not more so—to make the time to take care of yourself. "If you're not taking care of yourself, then you're going to have a harder time taking care of the things you need to take care of.
More often than not, wedding planning involves quite a few folks, with lots of opinions and visions, and a bride or groom must protect their peace—and their sanity," Faulkner says. "Without self-care, there is room for feelings of chaos. If self-care is not prioritized, what is an exciting and joyous time has the potential to turn into frustration."
Spend a few hours each week doing the things that make you feel calm, centered, and taken care of, whether that's hitting your favorite yoga class, carving out a few hours to read a new (non wedding-related) book, or getting a massage. Rest and recharge. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of everything else in your life—including wedding planning.
I've started implementing these wedding day tips over the past few days, and let me tell you—they work. I'm already feeling like a happier and healthier bride-to-be—and I'm going to carry that with me through the next 103 days, straight until I walk down the aisle.
Deanna deBara is a freelance writer and accidental marathon runner living in Portland, OR. Keep up with her running adventures on Instagram @deannadebara.