Weddings are joyful affairs, but especially for brides, stress often comes with the territory. Fortunately, staying on a positive track can be simple if you plan strategically and avoid all-too-common anxiety triggers. Consult this list to stay cool under pressure, and be fully present and fabulously full of life for every moment the special day holds.
1. Make it an easy morning
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to get some sleep the night before, which means resisting the urge to join friends who might be grabbing late-night drinks after the rehearsal dinner.
Have a delicious breakfast, preferably without too many nerve-jangling cups of coffee. Spend time with people who make you happy. (If your aunt tends to transfer her stress onto others, for example, make sure she only stops by for a very quick visit.)
Don’t manically rush through the start of the day—save that energy for the reception dance floor! Budget a few extra minutes for hair and makeup so it’s fine if the session runs a bit long; feeling like you’re in a time crunch can set off an unnecessary spiral of worry.
Make a calming playlist that you can listen to throughout the day as you go about getting ready. Not only will it get you to relax, but it will become an emotion-filled memento for you to listen to later.
2. Don’t impersonate a wedding planner
As the time of the ceremony approaches, brides often fall into a trap of worrying about logistics. Will the caterer remember to use the monogrammed napkins? Will everyone in the wedding party show up on time for the photos?
While such nagging worries are understandable given that brides are usually deeply involved in planning, this is the time to put it all aside. You can’t stay sane if you’re fretting about the small stuff.
Relaxing on the day of is the exact reason you’ve made so many endless preparations! Take a mindful moment to release whatever anxieties you might be holding onto. Then step back and let everyone else do their job. Take care of yourself, and the rest will fall into place.
3. Treat yourself like an athlete
When you’re in the swirl of excitement, it’s incredibly easy to dispense with drinking water and neglect to eat a few small meals. But any wedding day is a long haul, and requires true endurance. Be sure to hydrate, especially in between glasses of champagne or wine, and snack throughout the day.
Gatorade and a protein bar before you get into your gown? Good idea. Gear is another essential: For the reception, consider changing into something more comfortable, like platform heels or even flats, especially if you’ll be sporting gorgeous four-inch-high spikes with your wedding gown. Remember a wrap in case you’re chilled after dancing, sun protection if you’ll be outside—stay physically comfortable and you will stay energized!
4. Rely on your friends
Weddings, like holidays, wouldn’t be true celebrations without a little bad behavior. Whether it’s chaos caused by the token heavy drinker or acrimonious insults hurled by a recently divorced couple, there’s always potential for mayhem. What’s a bride to do? Face the truth: You can’t be responsible for how every guest decides to act.
If you can pinpoint in advance where trouble might crop up, ask a bridesmaid or groomsman to keep an eye out and cheerfully intervene if necessary. But the bottom line is for you to stay focused on the thrill of the nuptials. Nearly everyone will bring their best possible selves to your wedding, and if you don’t let yourself get distracted by unnecessary worries, you will, too.
5. Roll with the joy
Even with the best-laid plans, last minute surprises can crop up. If there’s a bump or two, don’t let it rattle you, just keep your sense of humor and play along. DJ starts playing the wrong first song? Start dancing anyway, and laugh knowingly with your brand-new spouse.
Unexpected rain at your outdoor wedding? Don’t worry! Your Maid of Honor can shield you with an umbrella. If you can stay relaxed and stress-free, so will your guests.
No matter what unexpected mishaps come your way, the incredible memories you’ll have of this day will endure as you celebrate marrying the love of your life surrounded by friends and family.
Kate Chynoweth is the author of The Bridesmaid Guide: Modern Advice on Etiquette, Parties, and Being Fabulous. Her expert advice for brides and wedding parties has been featured in numerous magazines and podcasts. She lives in Berkeley, California.