Wedding To Remember

Beat back Bridezilla: Tips to stay calm while planning a wedding

Photo Courtesy Of Deborah Laver

Wedding planner Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events in Los Altos helped Darcy and Mike Jewett, above, organize their celebration, held at a beautiful Healdsburg garden.

While wonderful occasions, weddings are also stressful for every bride. Whether you’re an average Jane or the Royal Princess-to-be, you no doubt face a bewildering mixture of elation and apprehension once you start planning your wedding.

As you and your fiance sort out the guest list, the vendors and how to pay for it all, a quick trip to Vegas may become an increasingly attractive option. Don’t give up just yet, though. Following are tips from Los Altos wedding planners and my own experience to make planning the happiest day of your life as simple and fun as possible.

Consider hiring a planner

“A wedding planner plans and executes all aspects of your wedding, from big things like picking a ceremony location to little things like where to seat talkative Aunt Mary,” said Jamie Chang, owner of Mango Muse Events in Los Altos. “Most of all, they are your personal guide to navigate you through the wedding rapids, so that you end up safe, happy and successful.”

Especially given today’s economy, many couples feel they should plan their weddings themselves, but Los Altos wedding planner Megan Ahalim of La Bella Vita Events notes that even the most do-it-yourself couples frequently need assistance.

“Having a wedding planner will relieve a lot of your stress, help you stay organized and on task, and save you money,” Ahalim said. “Sometimes the amount of money you will save by using a wedding planner will cover or exceed the cost of the wedding planner.”

Involve friends and family

It used to be that family and friends showed up for the wedding with a gift. Instead, why not ask them to help out with various aspects of the wedding instead of buying you that ice cream maker you’ll never use?

Ahalim suggested delegating responsibilities to some of your guests.

“The reality is that it takes a team to make a beautiful wedding happen,” she said.

More likely than not, your friends and family will enjoy helping you arrange flowers, DJ or play music, coordinate vendors and even officiate for you, especially if they have talents or interests in any of those directions.

Be organized

Planning a wedding involves keeping your details straight, especially when you’re still choosing venues, caterers, florists and attire. Keep copious notes about the various options. If you’re tech savvy, the Google Weddings site ( will help you stay organized with spreadsheets, photo sharing and even easy-to-create wedding Web sites. If that’s too stressful, paper and ink (or whiteboards and markers) work well, too.

Hire reliable vendors

It can be tough to choose photographers, caterers and florists, but no matter whom you choose, be sure they have experience with weddings and a good reputation.

“Their experience and expertise will help you both with your planning and to make sure the wedding flows smoothly on the day of,” Chang said. “Hiring vendors to handle the important aspects of your wedding transfers the responsibility off you and into their capable hands, which will leave you feeling much more calm.”

Enjoy being engaged

It may sound obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy to get caught up in all the minutiae of wedding planning and forget the most important fact: You’re about to get married to the person you love. So make sure you enjoy it.

“It’s so important to take some time with your fiance that isn’t wedding-related,” Ahalim said.

She recommended going to see a movie, having a romantic dinner, enjoying a glass of wine together or staying in for the night without working on the wedding to-do list.

Chang agreed that taking time for yourself and your groom-to-be is a good way to relieve wedding-planning stress.

“Go on a date with your fiance and make a pact not to talk about the wedding at all,” she suggested. “Go to the spa, take a long bath, read a book or go for a run – just do something you enjoy.”

Taking time for yourself, Chang said, will help calm you so that when you return to wedding planning, you’ll be in a happier state.

Make a budget

If you go into the wedding-planning process with ideas for a dream wedding and no sense of what it will cost, you almost certainly will spend more money than if you go in with a carefully crafted budget.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have the wedding of your dreams, of course – it will just help you prioritize the things that are most important to you, and remain realistic in your planning, even if your parents are footing the bill.

Expect some things to go wrong on the big day

A private pilot once told me that a good landing is one where everyone walks away from the plane, and a great landing is one where the plane can be used again.

I think weddings are similar. The vast likelihood is that something minor might go wrong. The natural tendency for most brides is to orchestrate everything so tightly that nothing can go wrong, but that creates a great deal of stress and has no guarantee of success. A much better approach is to assume things will go wrong, and as long as they’re minor problems, just laugh them off.

If at the end of the day you’re married to the person you love and no one got hurt during the festivities, I’d call that a great wedding.

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