How to deal with wedding-related stress.

I’ve read multiple books on weddings over the past few months, and that’s not just to ensure I meet my 2011 GoodReads challenge, although it’s helping with that goal tremendously. There are thousands of books about weddings. We’ve thumbed through coffee-table books by famous wedding planners. We’ve read countless books about the planning process, each of which tells us how far behind we are. Mostly, however, I’ve been focusing on books about eco-friendly weddings and budget weddings. As you know, it’s not easy to combine the two, but if we had to describe our wedding in two words, those would be it: eco-friendly and budget.

It’s been a frustrating battle, trying to marry those two concepts, but I’ve learned a lot. Here’s a list of some things I’ve learned that have helped me cope with wedding stress.

1. You have to compromise. Duh. As with anything, unless your budget is unlimited, you just can’t do everything exactly the way you envisioned. Those local, organic flowers? Way more expensive than the ones shipped from Ecuador. How that is possible, I don’t understand. But it means either you use fewer flowers, or you use more oil miles — your call. Maybe it’s a matter of being mentally prepared for disappointment, so you’ll be happy when something works out. Wow, that’s depressing, ain’t it? But in happier news…

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help/Talk to your friends. Ask lots of questions. People offer to help with wedding stuff all the time, and my gut reaction is to politely decline. Surely they aren’t serious about helping, right? Well, guess what? People like weddings, and I’m starting to think they are serious about their offers. So those wonderful, amazing friends who have offered to let me try on their couture wedding gowns, you are coming to the rescue in a most magical way. Thank you.

3. Be flexible and listen to other people’s ideas. The professionals have done this before. If they offer you a way to cut costs, you should listen. Also, don’t forget to listen to what your future-wife/husband wants. S/he may not have many opinions about the wedding, but if there’s something s/he is speaking up about, you can be sure it’s important.

4. Exercise. This isn’t one of those Buff Brides post. In fact, one dress I’ve been offered is slightly too large, so I’m contemplating gaining ten pounds so it fits right. That’s more fun than starving yourself while you’re already stressed out, right? Exercise is important because you need some sort of stress-reliever. My stress comes more from budget shortcomings than planning. If I haven’t had some sort of exercise during the day, there’s no way I’m getting a good night’s sleep. I lie there wondering why I forgot to buy a MegaMillions ticket when the pot’s up to $170 million and why Queen Victoria made this white-dress thing such a pain. Yoga, walking, swimming — anything that makes you tired. Do it. Just don’t forget to eat an extra pile of nachos so you fit into that dress.

And the best piece of advice I’ve gotten — which I’ve gotten from multiple people — is…

5. Stop thinking about what everyone else will think and do what YOU want. It seems simple, right? It also seems, well, selfish. But guess what? This really, truly is the one day that is entirely about you and your fiancé, and you just have to let go of the fact that Uncle Jebediah is going to freak out at the vegetarian menu (which, by the way, is an easy and inexpensive way to make the event eco-friendly). If you can’t afford a sit-down dinner for everyone, but you aslo can’t slash the guest list anymore, well, then, guess what? Hors d’oeuvres will have to do. You can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself on your wedding day.

6. Bourbon. Again, duh.

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