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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

The 9 Secrets to Staying Sane a Month Before Your Wedding

The woman doing my wedding gown alterations just told me I'm a "Bride-Chilla" instead of a "Bride-Zilla." Here's how I'm pulling that off.

1 / 9
Courtesy Justin McCallum Photography

I’m looking at the big picture

Keeping perspective on my impending wedding may be easier for me since I live with chronic migraines, so one of my biggest hopes is just to be healthy that day. It doesn’t seem like much to ask, right? With that being my main goal, it’s easier for me to let go of all of these other expectations surrounding this very big, expensive party that cements the commitment my fiancé and I have already made to one another (and our rescue dog). Everyone will tell you the same thing: The day is going to go by so fast that you won’t even know what hit you until it’s over, and the last thing you want to do is spend it worrying about who’s critiquing the vases you chose or whether you shouldn’t have seated Aunt Sally next to Uncle Ben, and whether everyone is having a good time. This really is your day—the two of you—so promise yourself that you will keep your eyes on that prize.

2 / 9

I’m meditating every day for 5 minutes

This one is simple: Whether it’s a guided meditation using an app, a meditation timed to silence on your phone, or an even longer meditation at a center or a class, I promise you that taking time to meditate will create a lasting change in your baseline level of feeling nervous, stressed, and/or worried. Even when your schedule is the most hectic, consider this five-minute mental health break an investment in hours of sanity. For my bachelorette party, we’re incorporating a crystal healing workshop into the day, something I’ve never done before that I expect will be incredibly beneficial and grounding not just for me, but for my entire bridal party and my friends.

3 / 9

I fully expect that stuff will go wrong

I promise I’m not contradicting myself here—stay with me. When you are depending on other people to come together to organize an event (especially something with as many moving pieces as a wedding), keep in mind that everyone involved is a human being, capable of error, flawed, and subject to forces outside of their control (like traffic jams). Step one here is knowing that something is bound to go wrong. Step two is reframing this thought as: Something is going to happen differently than I might like it to. If you know this is inevitable, you can make peace with it sooner rather than later. The flowers may be late, it may rain on your garden wedding, a groomsman might have on the wrong color belt—or miss his flight from Dallas and literally not even be there, and one of the heels on your shoe could break loose and roll down the aisle in front of you. Kind of like every other day in your life, you cannot plan for perfection (cue the annoying wedding guests). So when you get whatever “bad news” comes your way, take a breath and tell yourself that everything will be okay, because it’s happening exactly the way the universe wants it to. Allow yourself to feel nervous, but know that the whole reason behind the day is that you’re marrying the love of your life.

4 / 9

I did the big things early

Locking in contracts with the photographer, florist, entertainment, caterer, venue, and any other key vendors as far in advance as possible will take a huge load off, giving you plenty of time leading up to your wedding day to have fun choosing and changing tablecloth colors, designing centerpieces, and devising your signature cocktail.

5 / 9

I’m writing everything down

Don’t count on your brain to retain every little detail—or any little detail, for that matter. Keep a Google Doc (or five) with lists of everything you’ll need to take care of and your ideal completion date, and keep it updated in real time. There are a ton of resources and magazines online about what you should have settled by which day/month/week, and they’re pretty accurate, so use them as a guide to making your own list. You don’t need an entire notebook, but a couple of lists will corral your to-do list and keep you on task. These are the top apps for staying organized.

6 / 9

I’m not shy about asking for help

While your maid of honor is not your pro-bono wedding planner, you probably chose her because she is always there for you and happy to help. Do not take advantage of this, but rather ask if she would mind helping with small, manageable tasks, like organizing the entertainment for the bachelorette party or putting together a courtesy basket for the restrooms—in other words, finite projects that you can pretty easily hand off. (If you’re unsure how big a project to delegate, check this bridesmaid etiquette guide.) One way to gauge: If you’re delegating a job so you won’t have to pay a vendor to do it, it’s probably too much to ask. With any favor, give your maid of honor lots of lead time; don’t micromanage; and remember to say please and thank you. Sending her a cute little thank-you in the mail is also a really nice gesture to show how much you appreciate her help. (Here’s the weird reason bridesmaid all wear the same color.)

7 / 9

I am practicing self-care for the entire month

If my body wants a doughnut, I’m going to give it a doughnut. But at the same time, I’m making sure to exercise—not because I need to “look good in the dress” but because it can work out tons of built up toxins and stressors in the body, and that release is useful. I’m also taking bubble baths, binge-watching Netflix, getting lost in a beach read, and getting weekly manicures. Do these pampering activities as often as you need to—without completely neglecting your personal, social, or professional duties, or going broke, of course. You’d be surprised how far that $10 nail salon massage goes on a stressful day! Practicing self-care also means accepting your body—even celebrating it—when shopping for a dress and doing the fittings that follow. Don’t feel you have to contort your body or lose 20 pounds to fit the dress. They will make the dress fit you. If you want to lose a pound or two for confidence, make small, healthy changes like eating only one slice of bread or getting in some extra cardio.

8 / 9

I’m staying in touch with the people involved

Email your florist, officiant, bridal party members, wedding planner, photographer, and deejay with questions or requests so you feel like you know what you’re getting and everyone is on the same page.  (Speaking of, don’t miss out on these wedding planner secrets.) Whether it’s the schedule of arrival for your photographers and hair and makeup crew or the delivery of flowers to the venue by the florist, use those lists you made to stay on top of everything and feel in control—not like a micro-manager, just someone whose on top of their game.

9 / 9
Courtesy Justin McCallum Photography

I’m focusing on my fiancé and tuning everyone else out

Someone may “start in” with someone else’s family member before their plane even touches down, your alcoholic uncle may drink too much at the rehearsal dinner, your drama queen friend may start a loud fight with her boyfriend during your first dance, or your very religious aunt may still be miffed that you’re getting married by a stand-up comedian instead of a rabbi and is still emailing you (who taught her to email?) to try and get you to change your mind. Guess what? Not your problem. Your job is to stay as connected to your partner as possible during this time and lean on each other for support and jump up and down together with excitement. If there is a serious situation going on that you just can’t deal with without compromising your serenity, though, designate a close friend or family member who you know is good at crisis control to run interference. This way you know that it will be somehow sorted out and that you’ve got backup just in case something happens on your big day.

These are the little things that make for a happy marriage.

Helaina Hovitz is an editor, journalist, and author of After 9/11.

Helaina Hovitz
Helaina Hovitz is a native New Yorker, editor, journalist, and author of the memoir "After 9/11." Helaina has written for The New York Times, Forbes, Teen Vogue, Glamour, Huffington Post, Women's Health, Bustle, Prevention, Thrillist, VICE, HEALTH, Salon, SELF, the Daily Meal, and many others. Follow her on Twitter @HelainaHovitz and Facebook/HelainaNHovitz.