Anyone who's planned a wedding knows that mounting responsibilities and deadlines can make you want to pull out your hair.
Stress rears its ugly head in many ways, so before you snap at your maid of honor (who keeps reminding you that yellow isn't really her color), pause, take a deep breath, and start thinking of ways to unwind with some fun, non-wedding activities.
Your family, friends and fiancé will be happy to join in if it means keeping your sanity in check!
Stop and Smell the Roses During Photo Sessions
Couples today get creative with their engagement pictures. If you're striking poses on city streets downtown, stop for lunch at a nearby bistro and take a breather. Strolling barefoot up and down the beach while your photographer snaps pictures? After the session's over, take a dip in the ocean! Enjoy a packed lunch and relax in the sun with your toes in the sand.
If traditional engagement photos at the park or lakeside are more your style, you can still take a moment to enjoy the natural surroundings. Pack a yummy picnic for you and your man to nosh on, or toss the Frisbee. Your photographer might even want to get a few candid pictures of you kicking back.
Get Away for a Wedding-free Weekend
You don't have to spend a lot of money to get away with your fiancé. Spend a night or two in your favorite nearby town; while you're there, treat yourselves to a special dinner and splurge on dessert. During the day, go sightseeing or visit the local farmers market. Rent a bicycle built for two and ride around town together (also a fun way to get some exercise). If you and your man love the outdoors, go camping and take a scenic hike in the woods.
The only rule is whatever kind of getaway you choose, keep wedding talk to a minimum!
Register with a Strategy
Registering for wedding gifts is often a long and grueling process. But it can also be fun! After all, you're essentially creating a giant gift wish list.
To keep from feeling overwhelmed by all the choices in the store, do some preliminary research online with your man and preview items before you go.
If your fiancé doesn't know much about fine china or kitchen electrics, (I speak from experience because mine didn't!), it's OK to take your mom or maid of honor to help you register for these items instead. Your husband-to-be will probably be a lot more opinionated when it comes to registering for manly gifts like grills and barware.
And don't forget to choose new his and hers luggage for that awesome honeymoon you'll be taking!
Spend Time with Other Couples
Nothing is better than taking a night off from wedding planning and spending some quality time with your friends. Schedule a BYOB game night, make your famous onion dip and organize a competitive girls vs. boys game of Catchphrase. Or, host a themed potluck dinner and have guests bring their favorite Italian, Southern or Mexican dish (you get the idea).
Depending on the season, you can take part in whatever festivities are going on in your area. Plan a tailgate before a big football game in the fall, go ice skating in the winter or round up enough friends to play a game of kickball in the spring.
Don't Forget Dad
It's easy to leave out Dad during the wedding hoopla.
If you're close to your dad, remember that it's really hard for him to let go of his baby girl. Take time to catch up over dinner at your favorite hamburger joint, or cheer on your favorite sports team together.
If he has two left feet, take a few daddy-daughter dance lessons in preparation for your dance at the wedding reception. Practice makes perfect, and you're sure to share a few good laughs during the lessons, too!
Veg Out with Wedding-centric Entertainment
How is it that talking about your own wedding can be so stressful, yet watching someone else's wedding -- particularly in a movie or on TV -- is so fun?
When we watch wedding-centric movies and TV shows, we delight in the spectacle. My dad silently took notes on how not to act like Steve Martin's neurotic character when we watched "Father of the Bride" together. If your fiancé likes Adam Sandler, "The Wedding Singer" is a great movie to watch with him for a good laugh (and to reminisce about all things '80s, from the big hair and the fashion to the music). "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" are perfect flicks to enjoy with your girlfriends.
Men get hooked on bridezilla drama really easily, and watching other brides go off the deep end will be a nice reminder that you're very reasonable by comparison.
Make a Standing Date for Girls' Night Out
Your bridesmaids aren't your minions -- they're your best friends! Whether your girlfriends are married, engaged or single, they don't want to hear about your wedding every time you get together over dinner and drinks, so take time to ask about their jobs, hobbies and the men in their lives, too.
Start a tradition of scheduling regular girls' nights out, like getting together to see the newest chick flick at the movie theater, or singing karaoke at your favorite dive bar downtown. Get in the habit of making time for your best friends right away so you won't get too consumed by newlywed bliss to stay in touch later on.
Include Mom in Your Plans
Most moms want to be really involved in the wedding plans, so be sure to show yours that she's an integral part of the process. Ask for her advice when you want her opinion -- sometimes moms just know best when it comes to making tough decisions, like whether or not to invite children to the wedding.
Go shopping with her to help her find the perfect blush pink mother of the bride dress she's looking for, or treat her to a mani/pedi.
She may even want to help you shop for resort wear for the honeymoon, so let her spoil you this one last time!
Catch up with Kid Siblings
If you have younger siblings, don't neglect them during your engagement! If they're old enough, try to involve them in some of the activities so they feel included in all the excitement. If they're school-aged, join them for lunch one day at the cafeteria, and if you can't make it, pack their lunch with a sweet note written on their napkin as a reminder that you're thinking about them.
For college-aged sisters and brothers, send a care package full of homemade cookies and a $20 bill. College kids are masters at stretching a few extra dollars, and they'll be thrilled with the added fun money.
And if your siblings are your age or older, make like you're kids again and go play putt-putt and grab some pizza.
Take Care of Yourself
Even though you're a full-time bride, don't give up on all of your extracurricular activities or that scrapbooking hobby you love so much. Try your best to stay organized, and make lists of responsibilities so you can stay on top of deadlines and goals. Focus on one interest at a time. Train for a 5K road race that's coming up, or learn a few phrases of the country's language where you'll be honeymooning. If you're really stressed out, splurge on a massage or curl up with a good book. If shopping relaxes you, hit the mall!
No matter what you do to alleviate stress, remember to enjoy your engagement -- it's too special of a time to waste by letting your worries get the best of you.
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- Box Office Mojo. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." (Aug. 1, 2010).http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=mybigfatgreekwedding.htm
- Brigham Young University. "Stayin' alive: That's what friends are for." July 27, 2010. (July 31, 2010). http://news.byu.edu/archive10-jul-relationships.aspx
- Horton, Jennifer. "Pets and Stress Relief." Discovery Health. May 20, 2009. (Aug. 1, 2010).https://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/happiness/pets-happiness1.htm
- Liebling-Goldberg, Melissa and Sobieraj Westfall, Sandra. "Hillary Clinton's MOTB Moment: 'Stunning-Like a Princess.'" People Magazine. Aug. 4, 2010. (Aug. 4, 2010).http://stylenews.peoplestylewatch.com/2010/08/04/hillary-clintons-motb-moment-stunning-like-a-princess/?xid=rss-topheadlines
- Olean Times Herald. "Tips for planning a last-minute family vacation." Aug., 3, 2010. (Aug. 4, 2010). http://www.oleantimesherald.com/advertisers/hotels/article_fc5423d4-9f36-11df-929f-001cc4c03286.html