When it comes to giving wedding planning advice or working with clients as a professional wedding mentor, there is one word that I really try to avoid, and I encourage couples to avoid it, too. It's the one word that can cause your zen-like wedding planning energy to tailspin into a whirlwind of overwhelming wedding planning stress and anxiety in a matter of seconds. It's also the one word that signals that a boat load of often unrealistic expectations are hanging out on the horizon. What is this crazy word I speak of? It's "should."
You may have heard the phrase, "Don't 'should' on yourself," and if there's one area where people are totally susceptible to should-ing on themselves, it's wedding planning. Your parents tell you that you "should" do X. Your friends tell you that you "should" do Y. Your Great Aunt Mabel tells you that you "should" do Z. And before you know it, you're should-ing all over yourself, too.
Everyone thinks they are an expert on weddings, even if they have just attended a wedding once, planned a wedding once, or heard a wedding story about so and so once. (I suspect this is what it's like when you have kids, too, but I haven't crossed that bridge.) However, that doesn't mean you need to take these "shoulds" to heart. The reality is we all have our own unique set of expectations about weddings, and none are more "right" than others.
The very best experts when it comes to your wedding day are two people only — you and your partner. Sure, other people can offer helpful advice and guidance based on their experiences, but the only two people who truly understand the goals and nuances of your wedding day are the two of you.
Want to steer clear of "should" and the stress that comes with it? Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Don't let others should on you
This one is a tough one to avoid, so your response is important when people tell you that you should do something (like hire a DJ if you want to go the iPod route for your wedding, or get married in a church if you haven't stepped in a church in a decade). When people say you should do something, listen, thank them for their input, and then take a step back to see if it's something that feels right to you. If not, scrap the idea, and keep moving.
2. Avoid should-ing on your partner
When two people are planning a wedding, many times they have opposing ideas about how to do certain things because of their different beliefs and assumptions about weddings. To avoid should-ing on each other, commit to not using the word when you're discussing wedding plans, particularly those areas of wedding planning you find stressful.
When you find yourself using the s-word, take a step back and discuss why something feels really important to the other person (for example, when one partner wants to walk around to dinner tables and thank everyone during the reception, and the other partner thinks this sounds like a complete nightmare). The goal is to not dance around the issue, but to better understand your partner's assumptions about weddings, and why they feel the way they do. Then you're both in a better place to find a creative solution that will satisfy each of you.
3. Try not to should on your family, friends, and guests
Just as people think couples should do certain things when it comes to weddings, couples often think their family, friends, and guests should do other things as wedding guests. The biggest stress-avoidance tactic in these cases is to remember the Golden Rule.
If it's a family member you're really close with, it's certainly a good idea to explain your point of view to the person (like, a cousin who thinks cocktail wedding attire means jeans and a suit jacket). Ultimately, however, their choices are their choices. The sooner you let go of the idea that someone should 100 percent do something because it's a wedding, the sooner you get your zen-like wedding planning energy back — and that's key to actually enjoying the wedding planning process.
For more wedding inspiration, check out Bustle on YouTube.
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