Wedding Woosah: Reducing Bridal Stress Through Gratitude by Nia McLean

wedding bridal party

My wedding is day is quickly approaching.  The venues have been scouted and booked.  The cake has been ordered.  The flowers have been selected. Our photographer and DJ have been contracted. My dress has been taken in for alterations. The invitations (at least the first round) have been sent out. There is a mountain of cardboard boxes in a corner of my living room full of wedding favors, keepsakes, presents for the wedding party and other things for our reception. I finally feel as if most of the items on my seemingly never-ending to-do list are done.

wedding invitations DIY

I am relieved and I am also reflective. Back in February, I had no idea how Sean and I were going to pull everything off.  I was still living in Atlanta and he was in Maryland. I was finishing my last semester in seminary and did not have a lot of time to devote to planning a wedding. Nonetheless, we knew we wanted to get married as soon as possible. So, I hit the ground running as soon as I moved back to the DC area after my graduation in May.

wedding to do list

Many couples take at least a year to plan their weddings. Sean and I did it in less than seven months.  Needless to say, there have been moments when the stress has been REAL. Yet at this moment, I am just full of gratitude. These are just a few of the things that I am grateful for:

  • I was able to find my gown in on my second go-round and it was actually on sale for hundreds less than I intended to spend. I also had an amazing experience selecting my dress. The bridal shop consultant I worked with was friendly and helpful and my bridesmaids, mother, and future mother-in-law were super supportive.
  • I was connected with a fabulous wedding coordinator that I do not have to pay thousands of dollars for. Ms. Bettye has worked (along with Sean’s mom) at our church coordinating weddings for over a decade.
  • Though we are paying for the wedding ourselves, Sean’s parents have generously assisted us. His mom surprised me by paying for our wedding flowers, the flower girl basket, a beautiful moneybag, and the earrings that I will wear at the ceremony. His father offered to cover the balance of our rehearsal dinner.
  • I am amazed at how Sean’s family and my family have embraced each other. My sister and Sean’s sister-in-law (both bridesmaids) are like bffs now. My niece and Sean’s niece (both junior bridesmaids) get along well. Sean’s mom and my mom went shopping together to look for the dresses they will wear at the wedding.
  • Though he is admittedly a master procrastinator, Sean has been much more helpful and involved than grooms are reputed to be. He has accompanied me to bridal events, managed the mail merge for our invitations, booked our DJ, interviewed videographers, and has been active in most aspects of our wedding decision-making.
  • Crest Whitestrips. They are totally worth the $45.
  • Though I am not consciously dieting (and definitely not starving myself), my dress was much looser when I went in for my dress fitting. I was afraid the opposite would happen.
  • We got our marriage license without having to get blood tests (no shots! Woohoo!), as DC does not require them.
  • The wedding is only 32 days away!!!!!!! I feel happier every time I think about how close I am to becoming Nia McLean-Johnson

wedding bridal party

If I were to go back in time to this beginning of this process, I would have consciously practiced gratitude throughout all of my wedding planning. It is easier to feel this way now that we are closer to the finish line and have accomplished the majority of our tasks. Yet, I think that if I had implemented the practice earlier, the planning process may have felt like less of an ordeal.

That being said, my recommendation for the newly engaged is to keep a running list of things to be thankful for, along with the to-do list. Showing gratitude helps provide balance and it serves as a reminder of what really matters.

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