Pegged as the “happiest day of your life,” a wedding can also be one of the most stressful and emotionally draining days of your life. Much of this associated stress comes from the whole planning process, which can take anywhere from a few weeks all the way up to a year or two.

If you aren’t hiring a wedding planner there are a few things that you need to consider to keep stress to a minimum. Here are some key points to keep in mind.

  • Ask for help -While chances are good that both the family of the bride and groom will volunteer their time in the planning, don’t be afraid to ask if they don’t. In all likelihood, they just assumed that you had everything covered and didn’t want anyone else meddling. Delegating to both family and members of the wedding party is totally acceptable and highly encouraged.
  • Budget yourself – It’s important that you stick to a realistic budget when planning your perfect day. In tough economic times like these, it’s important to save money wherever possible. If you have plans to or recently purchased a home, think about the costs associated with that big purchase and reduce the number of decorations or consider a cash bar instead of an open bar. Areas where you can easily cut costs include:
    • Food/Wedding Cake – Consider gourmet cupcakes instead of a big, expensive wedding cake
    • Beverages – Cash bar instead of open bar
    • Decorations – Don’t go overboard. Subtlety isn’t a bad thing
    • Venue – Hold the ceremony and or reception at a family member’s home
    • Bridesmaid & Groomsmen Gifts – Think functional & stylish, not frivolous and expensive
    • Wedding Dress & Tux – Shop sales for the dress and rent, don’t buy your tuxedo
  • It’s his day also – For many husbands-to-be, involvement in the planning process ends after the proposal. It’s OK for the men to be involved, in fact it’s highly encouraged. One great way to get the men involved is have them plan the groomsmen gifts. Whether it is some nice leather briefcases, fancy shaving kits or cologne sets – the groom is going to have a better idea of what his groomsmen want.
  • Don’t wait till the last minute – Probably the worst thing you could do is waiting until the last minute to get things done. By giving yourself enough time beforehand, the actual day of will be infinitely less stressful. Invitations should be mailed out at least 6 weeks before the event and request RSVPs no later than 3 weeks before the event. This will give you adequate time to inform the caterers. You also need time to find a dress, get it altered as well as allow time for the bridesmaids to be fitted for and have their dresses altered.

It’s important to remain level-headed about the whole planning process, keeping in mind that when all is said and done, you’ll have each other. While it’s OK to strive for perfection, you need to plan for a few small bumps in the road. Going in with above average expectations is just going to make things all that much worse when they don’t go according to plan. Keeping it real and the “happiest day of your life” will be just that.