Friday, April 27, 2018

The Mindful Bride: Part 1, Planning and Executing

I wanted to do this series on being a bride, mostly because I found my experience to be quite different than many other brides, but also to help others who may feel like they are going crazy with planning, executing, and trying to enjoy their wedding day. There are steps to health & wellness in the face of stress and change, and everyday life. Being a bride and planning a wedding is no different; It can still be busy-making, stressful, and time consuming, so we can't forget about our own wellness during this process.

Here is Part 1: Wellness Guidelines for Planning and Executing, which is more about maintaining a clear head, not getting overwhelmed, and picking your battles. Part 2 will talk about actual self-care and stress management.


When you're about to get married, other married people loved to give you friendly warnings about what all could and will happen on your wedding day. I was told, my wedding day would fly by! That I would barely get a chance to enjoy it; There will always be something that goes wrong or not according to plan... I listened nicely to all of these warnings but I still believed that I could influence my experience as a bride.

At my wedding a few weekends ago, I did just that. People told me I was the most organized bride they've ever seen. My florist commented several times that I was one of the easiest brides she's ever worked with. Even my photographers exclaimed that they wish every bride was like me. 

I don't want my ego spin out of control, but I had to reflect on all of this feedback. What was I doing that other brides weren't?!

I will admit that I was incredibly organized - but this was made easier when I decided how much "stuff" we needed for our wedding. Perhaps you have grandiose ideas with extremely specific visuals in mind... maybe you have family or traditional obligations that you have to bend to. The point was that my husband and I chose what was right for us, and we didn't go overboard.

Rule #1: Less is more
You might think that you need 2-foot tall centrepieces to create a proper atmosphere. I will tell you that you can get away with a lot less. I had short, skinny $2 vases from Ikea and 3 roses in each.
We could have gone overboard, which is why it's so easy to become overwhelmed. It's okay to take a few non-essential items off your plate!

Items that we passed on included:

- Specialty late-night food station. Instead the venue/caterers supplied fruit, cheese and crackers;
- Videographer. We had a family member record our first dance. It wasn't worth paying $4000 to someone to film the day for us; especially as we had made such a great connection with our photographer. Finding her took time and luck; and it was more intimate without a film crew hovering over us.
- Extra entertainment. We felt the only entertainment our guests needed was a loving ceremony, an excellent dinner, and a lot of dancing!
- Extra flowers. I asked that all the bouquets be half the size of a classic bouquet. It saved us a ton of money and no one even noticed. Remember, the bigger the bouquet, the more you/your dress is covered.
- Fancy lights or smoke machines. Extra equipment needs to be rented, delivered, set up, taken down... We were able to dim the lights at our reception after dinner. That with some amazing music (and an open bar) was all we needed to have an incredible party. No special slide shows, screens, flashing dance floor lights were necessary.
- A Calligrapher or specialty invitations. I hand wrote out all the addresses on envelops for our invitations, and I used VistaPrint for all of our stationary. We mailed out 2 cards and one return envelope. We had our directions and Inn booking information on the back of the invite. We saved paper and money! If you don't want to hand-write out your envelopes, use a label maker or your printer.
- Special DIY projects. I picked one and it was because I had made a huge mistake: I ordered twice as many invitations as I actually needed. I thought, How could I repurpose all of these card stock invitations? Then I remembered that my mom had recently bought me a book on making paper flowers. So I packed up the invites, drove to her house, and we spent a day together making flowers out of my invitations:
It started off fun, watching chick flicks and cliche wedding movies while we cut out dozens of stencilled petals... but by the end of the day we had only completed 10 flowers between the two of us. It was gruelling and time consuming. But the truth is that we were able to use them without needing 100 of them. They were accent decor, not "mandatory" at every table. I was totally happy with that... as were my blistered hands.

DIY projects are fun and great ideas in hindsight. Some of them might actually be quite doable. But don't feel like you need to put intricate work into something for every single guest - Unless you have the time, patience, and the passion for such a project.

It's okay if you want these things. It's your wedding and you can create the day however you like. But there are times when you need to let things go. They are seriously not worth it.

A friend of mine who is an incredible baker made cookies and brownies for the end of the night at her own wedding. Our venue allowed the same and I had planned on doing some baking for ours as well (otherwise what's the point of owning a Kitchenaid mixer?). But the week before the wedding my schedule got slammed - and not just with wedding stuff... but work, and family, and other commitments. I was exhausted and baking wasn't going to happen. At that point I really didn't care. I didn't even tell the venue until I arrived on the day-of. It wasn't a big deal, but I'm glad I made the decision to let it go.

Rule #2: Avoid overreacting. 

Things go wrong. People have very loud opinions and expectations.
Our planned outdoor ceremony ended up being moved indoors due to a freak ice storm in the middle of April. One of the worst storms in Toronto in years, with rain, freezing rain, snow, slush and ice all within 24 hours. We had an entire table not show up, and even our officiant was a little late to arrive. Shit happens. It wasn't going to stop us from getting married. Nothing would. There was no point in getting angry. We were still getting married, and everything in my eyes was still as perfect as it could be.

But even if something had gone wrong that was someone's obvious fault; there's nothing good that comes out of going full dragon. The important point is to keep a level head. Exhale a deep breath, and then find a solution. One of the best parts of being the bride? You have a team of people who are there for you to troubleshoot.

Our venue (which was also an Inn) made multiple errors with room bookings and didn't have the room I requested available for getting ready in. So as I had my manicure done, my sister went up to the front desk and fixed it all. I didn't stress for a second. The issue would be fixed, or we would somehow find a solution (or another room). There's always a way to make things work. The goal is to not fight the resolution.

And remember - you're getting married! This is a happy day of celebration and everyone is there in support of you and your partner! Create and nurture the positive energy that you want surrounding you on your day.

Rule #3: Let the experts do their job - and trust them!

So you shelled out a few thousand dollars on photography... perhaps hundreds if not thousands on flowers (You've seen these weddings on Pinterest!). There's a reason you're paying so much: You are paying a professional for their time and their skill. Sure, there's the cost of materials, but you sought out your specific vendors because you thought they were the best in your price range, and you seem to really connect with them.

I gave our florist an idea of what I wanted, with flower types and colours, but I honestly had no idea what was in season. She guided me to combinations that ended up being incredible. She put together the most beautiful bouquets, and they were all so simple and romantic. Even when it came to the ribbon around the stems, she made a recommendation and not only did I love it, but I trusted her that it would look amazing (and she didn't disappoint).

Trust your experts. Try to avoid harassing them with phone calls and emails with changes and demands. I'm not saying that you shouldn't stick up for what you want or what you're asking for, but keep an open mind and understand that these people work weddings for a living.

Even if it's not exactly as you had pictured it in your head, try to see the beauty in it. See the love and the handiwork that went into each piece from your vendors/experts.

Rule #4: Call upon your think tank, but avoid getting too many opinions

There were multiple times where I had to make silly little decisions (like, which font looks better for the seating chart?) and I got a little overwhelmed with indecision (mostly because I didn't care about seating chart fonts... I just wanted it to be legible for our guests). Instead of just picking something, I would call upon one of my bridesmaids, or my sister, or mom, or, if the decision was more crucial than fonts, I would bring in my fiancé. I would have 3-4 options ready, then I would ask 1-2 people for their opinion - never more than that. Any more opinions and you will second guess yourself, and now you're trying to please the crowd. Once a decision was made, we stuck to it and moved on.

There's no need to dwell on the tiniest details; but you're also allowed some help in making those decisions. Back to Rule #1: Less is more. You don't need your whole posse there for you when you try on wedding dresses or meet with your florist. Pick one person and enjoy the experience. If you find there's someone who's opinion on the matter would mean a lot to you, then go home and come back another day with that person.

For our wedding cupcakes I went by myself to put down the deposit and then brought home a few different varieties/flavours of cupcakes home for my fiancé so that he could help choose the flavour that we would serve. The point is that you don't have to do everything alone. It's okay to ask for help.


I understand that my situation will not apply to everyone, but I hope that these little tidbits of advice will help others beyond the typical "warnings" that women hear. A warning isn't always helpful but guidance on how to better manage the wedding planning and execution is. And that is my hope for today's blog post. I'll be posting again soon for Part 2: Self-Care for the Mindful Bride