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    Tips to Minimize Wedding Stress

    howardLast month, I read a column in another local newspaper, the Jweekly, entitled “Getting married at home? Some tips to help ensure a stress-free celebration.” I was surprised that almost the entire article focused on insurance-related tips! There were no tips about dealing with outspoken family members who share unsolicited opinions. There were no suggestions on how to deal with the options and choices one must sift through in planning for a wedding. I was also surprised that the title suggested that there is a method to ensure that a wedding can be stress-free.

    So, based on my years of experience as a wedding officiant, I would like to share some tips to create a lower stress wedding.

    While in everyday life I believe that being considerate is extremely important, in wedding planning I encourage my couples to consider themselves first. Family members and friends will often offer unsolicited advice. I suggest thanking them, and continue planning the wedding that you want.

    Yes, Aunt Gladys is trying to be helpful when she informs you that you simply have to include (fill in a religious ritual, societal custom or Hollywood movie hoopla here) otherwise your wedding won’t really be a wedding. I always encourage my couples to include elements in their ceremony or celebration that are meaningful to them, not simply because someone else says they are essential.

    If there is an element you would like to include that seems antiquated or in any way foreign to you, explore with your partner and officiant how to connect with the element, making it relevant to you. I particularly enjoy offering suggestions on ways to contemporize a ritual. I have also found The Wedding Ceremony Planner (Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2013), a reference book by Reverend Judith Johnson, PhD, to be an excellent resource. Not only does she help with contextualization, but she also provides real life examples.

    Don’t let your entire life become focused solely on planning your wedding. Life continues moving forward around you. Engaging in other activities will help get your mind off the current wedding challenge that you’re facing. Keeping involved with your friends’ lives will help you and your beloved remain grounded. Another benefit in staying involved with others is that you won’t be as likely to find yourself in a vacuum right after your wedding if you’ve stayed engaged with other people and activities during the process of wedding planning.

    Compromise will be essential both during your wedding planning and during your marriage, so start practicing immediately! I am not suggesting that you let your partner, friend, family member or vendor steam roll over you. What I am suggesting is that, as in life, weddings offer a myriad of possibilities. Think about what is most important for you to include, and consider what you can be more flexible about.

    I won’t say that my tips will ensure a stress-free wedding, as I do not believe there is such a thing. My goal is to help you minimize the stress. I believe that focusing on your needs and desires will help to insulate you from all the purportedly helpful suggestions that your family and friends will undoubtedly offer.

    May the path to your wedding be as wonderful as your path down the aisle!

    Howard M. Steiermann is an Ordained Ritual Facilitator based in San Francisco. For more information, please visit