How I've Tamed Wedding Planning Stress & Kept My Sanity

By Sunny Cash, Bened Life Chief Community Officer

Wedding Planning: Equal Parts Magical & Stressful

I am what you would consider a very low-key and easy-to-please bride. Promise. I picked my wedding dress out in less than an hour on my first shopping appointment. That counts for something, right?

But planning a wedding? It's filled with hours of researching and calling vendors, appropriately budgeting so you’re not spending your life savings on one day, and long fitful nights of sleep mentally tabulating lists of all you have still left to do. In retrospect, I can see how stressed out and high-strung brides and grooms aren’t born – they’re created. 

Imagine this: It's 2 am, I've got work in a few hours, and yet, sleep is playing hard to get. And guess what's keeping me up? Not work stress, not family drama, and definitely not a packed schedule. Nope, it's the copious amounts of pre-wedding planning that I have ahead of me that's got my brain doing Olympic-level gymnastics instead of sleeping. 

I battle with a recurring dream (nightmare) multiple times a month. My fiancé and I have spent months putting in hours of planning, only to get to the altar, completely forgetting to write our vows. Or the caterer doesn’t show up. Or the photographer bailed at the last minute due to a family emergency. Or some sort of remix of all of the above.

Isn't it peculiar how a day we eagerly anticipate becomes the source of sleepless nights and endless worry? A day meant to be joyous has me poring over an exhaustive mental checklist until the wee hours of the morning or battling wedding day nightmares that drag me from my usual restful sleep.  

A realization struck me recently when a coworker wisely told me the wedding itself is but a fleeting moment in time. It’s just one short day spent celebrating, and it'll all be a cherished memory in the blink of an eye. Part of the enjoyment of this day should be the planning. Enjoy the process.

That revelation prompted me to reevaluate my approach to wedding planning. I embarked on a quest to discover ways to manage the stress so I could savor the process of building the day I get to marry my soon-to-be husband instead of wallowing in a whirlpool of stress that has me losing sleep. 

I do want to preface that I am a bride who is balling on a budget and loves a good deal. But with that DIY attitude comes the stress of a massive amount of legwork. This list, therefore, is inclusive and applicable to all, but especially those DIY brides and grooms! 

10 Ways to Minimize Wedding Planning Stress

The author, Sunny, and her fiance Billy laying in a field. Their dog Freya sits between them. A nearby sign says “My parents are getting married finally"
  1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize 

Identify what truly matters to you and your partner for the big day. A good friend told me to choose 1-3 things that you and your partner do not want to compromise on and prioritize them in your budget. 

For us, there was a specific photographer we wanted. Our dog, Freya, also had to be allowed at the ceremony and photos. If a venue was not dog-friendly, it was an automatic no, no second thoughts. Everything else was negotiable.  

  1. Acknowledge your wedding planning stressors 

Recognize what parts of wedding planning are causing you the most stress. Is it guest list management, vendor coordination, or financial concerns? Tackle those things first! Remove as much stress at the forefront of planning as possible,  so the rest of the planning process can be fun! 

For me, finances and booking a venue were the most stressful tasks. Once I sat down with my fiancé and built out a budget, suddenly the finances weren’t so scary anymore! Booking the venue was the largest expense, so once that bandaid was ripped off, I could spend the rest of the budget on the fun parts of planning. This also meant I could share the date and location with friends and family so they could begin planning their visit. 

When the recurring dream of forgetting to write our vows and ceremony started causing me to lose sleep, I prioritized the vows. I found a program that helps you, your partner, and the officiant build a ceremony and vows with ease. 

My partner and I were having trouble thinking about what type of ceremony rituals we wanted. We found that had hundreds of ideas to choose from, which took a huge research and mental burden off our plates. While packages felt a little spendy for me, the $80 ultimately was worth the mental peace it gave us to tackle a very large and daunting task. 

Constantly reevaluate your wedding stress levels throughout the process, not just at the beginning, so you can continue to reprioritize and tackle accordingly.

Sunny sits at a table, both hands full of wedding planning documents with a bottle of red wine close at hand
  1. Delegate tasks and network like a pro 

Reach out to friends, family, and members of your wedding party who are eager to help. More often than not, they may not be outwardly offering help as they don't wish to intrude or be overbearing. Weddings are also a great opportunity to support the small businesses of your friends and family. 

I hate asking for help, but I am so blessed and fortunate to have amazing family members who are beyond excited to help in any way possible. Because they knew my hesitancy to reach out for assistance when needed, I did not have to do much asking. Help was politely and graciously offered. 

Family members and friends are helping us with discounts and handmade items. Cousins with small businesses will provide favors and centerpieces at cost, and one will make the cake. My aunt will hand-make my veil and silk flower bouquets. A friend will officiate, and my sister’s friends will coordinate the day in exchange for an invite and access to the open bar.

A large bulk of the details are being graciously and lovingly filled in by enthusiastic and talented friends and family. That weight that has been taken off of my shoulders has been priceless. It also allows for fun weekends spending time with these family members putting stuff together! It's also making our day feel so incredibly special, with no part of it going untouched by the hands of our loved ones.

  1. Set Boundaries 

Establish clear boundaries with vendors, family members, and even yourself. Know when to say no and when to take a break to recharge.  This is incredibly important, because, without boundaries, you could end up sacrificing what you and your partner truly want on your big day. You may find yourself accommodating the needs of family over your own or overspending your budget on unnecessary upsells from a vendor. 

Sunny in a bridal shop after finding her dress, holding a heart-shaped sign reading, “I found the one!
  1. Stay organized with a wedding planning checklist 

Create a comprehensive checklist to stay organized and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. There are so many little things that go into planning a wedding, and when hiring a wedding planner isn’t in the budget, you need tools to help you and your partner understand every little thing that you need to account for.  

I would have totally forgotten about linens if I didn’t have it laid out to me in this printable wedding planner with over 300 pages to pick and choose from. Best part? It was only $1 on Etsy. 

I liked being able to go through the PDFs and select which pages best pertained to our needs as I was planning. I printed up what we needed and organized them all into a binder! This binder will be given to our day-of coordinators should anything go wrong, or if they need to contact a vendor. 

There are also great options for physical and digital planners out there on the market. Find one that works best for you!

  1. Practice pre-wedding self-care regularly 

Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine.  In my experience, appropriately taking care of myself through regular practices can greatly reduce stress, and how I respond to new stressors as they happen. My tolerance for added stress greatly increases when I am on top of my self-care game.   

A huge part of this is being mindful of what I put into my body. When I'm stressed, I crave junk food. While a sugary treat or a family-sized bag of cheesy chips is fine occasionally, I overindulge when stressed. This gives me a quick dopamine hit but leaves me feeling sluggish and more stressed. 

I love to cook, so I've started channeling my junk food cravings into finding delicious, healthy recipes. One-pan meals are my current favorite. Don't worry, cheesy chips and treats still make an appearance. My fiancé and I are currently obsessed with Handel’s Ice Cream! 

I also try to work out 2-4 times a week. Working out helps me get out any pent-up energy and negative feelings in my body that result from stress. Afterwards, it feels like my mind and body have taken a large collective stretch that leaves me feeling loose and relaxed. 

Taking classes at my local barre studio gives me the structure and community I need to make exercising fun and rewarding. With how crazy life can be, even outside of a wedding planning season, I don’t beat myself up if I haven’t gone as much as I would like. 

Still, I hold myself accountable to at least two classes a week because of all the amazing benefits that come with just moving your body. Even just a little can go a long way!

Whatever your self-care looks like, be it a bubble bath, a yoga session, a date night, or simply taking a walk in nature, prioritize activities that give your mind space and don't add to your already full plate. Even better if you spend those moments with your partner, who is no doubt feeling the pressure of the planning too.

Sunny and Billy hiking in outdoor gear. They’re on a mountain vista, with red stone cliffs behind them, and an obviously huge difference in their heights.
  1. Find additional support where you need it 

Despite my best efforts, I found I needed a little extra support. My sleep was vastly better, but it was still inconsistent. My stress was also largely better than it had been before, but it felt like my sleep quality was affecting my ability to respond to my stress well. So I turned to my doctors and holistic approaches for a little help in the right direction.

I started taking Neuralli Mood, a probiotic supplement intended to help with the stress response. I started taking it at a particularly busy time during wedding planning when I was really feeling like the smallest things were big things. 

Within just a few short weeks, I felt my reactions to anything adverse were almost scary calm, cool, and collected. Two weeks prior, I would have been a blubbering mess in the face of any inconvenience, big or small. 

I also found I was sleeping better, and on nights where I needed just a little extra help finding sleep free from wedding nightmares, I would take some melatonin (at the advice of my healthcare provider), and I was as good as new!  

Don’t be afraid to find alternative methods with your healthcare provider to help support you through more stressful periods. Your body isn’t broken and you are not any less resilient, but your mind and body might just need the added support! 

  1. Communicate openly with your partner

Keep the lines of communication open with your fiancé. Share your wedding worries, dreams, and ideas to stay on the same page and support one another through the process. Any big decision being made should be discussed with the other beforehand. 

This isn’t just your day or their day; it's a day meant to celebrate the both of you! Your future spouse’s opinions matter just as much as your own. My partner didn’t have any incredibly strong opinions outside of the cake’s flavor and overall food quality, but regardless, I still brought things to him, and vice versa. 

  1. Embrace imperfection 

Understand that not everything will go according to plan, and that’s okay. Embrace imperfection and find beauty in the unexpected moments that make your wedding day uniquely yours. 

I have been told by other brides to expect one big thing to go wrong and 2-3 small things not to go right, and roll with it. We spend so much time building up this big perfect picture in our heads, leaving little room or grace for ourselves if something goes astray. 

We are having our dog, Freya, be the ring bearer, and in all honesty, I am so ready, (and secretly hoping) that something unhinged happens with that.

I hope she sees that all her favorite people are all around her and goes rogue down the aisle to say hi to everyone. (Because, let’s be honest, that would be a memory that would last forever and make for some priceless social media photos!) I will have to come back once the wedding is over to provide updates on this blog. ;) 

  1. Focus on the big picture

When wedding stress starts to creep in, remind yourself of the reason behind it all: celebrating your love and commitment to your partner. Keep the big picture in mind to maintain perspective.

At the end of the day, as long as you get to stand up with the person you love to say “I do”, it doesn’t matter if the food doesn’t make it and you have to order pizza, or if you blank at the altar and forget your vows, or trip going down the aisle. There’s a long list of things that could go wrong. In the end, though, you are there for each other, and that’s all that matters. 

I can confidently tell you, as I sit here, two months away from our big day, that I have nothing but an overwhelming sense of peace. All is pretty much ready. There are small little details still to be taken care of, but there is a plan for them all. 

Sunny and Billy in a field together. Billy is standing behind her, giving her a hug.

About the author

Sunny serves as Bened Life’s Chief Community Officer. With extensive experience in neurodivergent communities, both as an ally and a member, paired with a genuine passion for people, she finds her role at Bened Life to be anything but a job. In her free time, you can find Sunny at the closest beach, National Park, wine tasting room, or bird dog training field with her fiancé and their dog.

Recommended Reading:

What to Know about Neuralli Mood

Three Methods for Natural Stress Relief

What Is the Gut-Brain Axis? How Your Microbiome Can Influence Wellbeing


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