First things first, you need to figure out what you can comfortably spend before you can even think about planning your big day. Sit down with your fiance and decide on what the two of you can spend (factoring in whether or not either set of parents will be contributing). Once you have a ballpark amount, write it down. Keep that number in mind as you meet with florists, look at dresses, search venues and think about the menu. Knowing what you can spend as you go though the planning process might feel unromantic, but it will save you headaches and stress in the long run.
Once you have a budget lined up, you can start to formulate an actual plan. Planning is essential if you want to skip the stress. We suggest starting a wedding planning document or notebook (if you prefer to do things in a more tangible way) or using a wedding planning app to stay on track. An app like iWedding Deluxe will help you organize, budget and plan your big day from anywhere you are ($7 for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch). There are dozens of others to choose from. The point is to keep track of what you’ve done (flowers, cake) and what still needs dealing with (seating plan, bridesmaids' dresses).
You will likely end up with someone (or several people) trying to pull you in a direction you don’t want to go. Whether it’s your parents trying to convince you to invite 30 people you’ve never met or your maid of honor trying to convince you of the merits of pink taffeta, you’re bound to butt heads with someone. The key is to stand your ground (that’s why you have a plan). You don’t have to get defensive or upset anyone (they are just trying to help), but don’t think you need to bend to anyone’s will. Simply nod and smile and tell whoever you’re dealing with that you’ll consider their suggestion.
The best way to keep wedding planning stress at bay is to do as much in advance of the big day as possible. That way you build in time for last-minute changes and have ample time to deal with any problems or conflicts that arise. Once you set the date, sit down with your fiance and talk about what you both want. From there, build your budget and start crossing items off of your to-do list. The more time you have before the wedding to simply be in the moment (rather than scramble to finish up small details), the better off you’ll be.
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