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Vow to Stress Less: Wedding Day Tips from Brides

  • Photo courtesy of Charlotte Milling

    Don't Fret Over Fine Details

    "Little details are totally irrelevant after the fact," says Charlotte Milling from Olympia, Washington. "Curling ribbon, wrapping tulle, and folding napkins will never be as satisfying as spending an hour decompressing. You will reflect more on how you felt on your wedding day than on how closely your final product matched your mental image, so don't shortchange your body.'

    Another realization Charlotte came to was that she was calling the shots! "I found if I wanted to do something, people would indulge me because I was the bride. So when I decided I wanted to go for a run between the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, both of our families and bridal party did our own Rehearsal Day 5K. My maid of honor even trained for it! It gave us all a moment to step back from the chaos, engage in something fun, and bond in a way that wouldn't have been possible at the wedding alone. It is one of my fondest memories from the entire weekend!"

  • Photo courtesy of Catherine Charon

    Sweat to Stress Less

    Catherine Charon from Richmond, Virginia, also used exercise to channel her nerves. "I trained for my first half-marathon in the months leading up to my wedding. Any time I got worried about details or conflicts I went out for a run. It was a great way to clear my head and by the time I got back I felt like I could handle anything. Plus, I was in the best shape of my life when I walked down the aisle 20 days after the race (and I finished in 2:01!)."

    Sign up for a race with the help of the FITNESS half-marathon training guide

  • Photo courtesy of S2Studio

    Let People Help You

    Type A brides take note. "I am a major control freak and didn't want anyone to help — I was afraid if I gave up power it wouldn't be my wedding anymore," confesses Karinda Hersman from Stevensville, Montana. "I wish I had let my mom and maid of honor help out so I wasn't doing everything by myself. They weren't trying to take over, they just wanted to enjoy the process with me. And don't worry when something goes wrong, because it will. At the end of the day, you will be married to the love of your life, and isn't that the ultimate goal?"

  • Photo courtesy of Corri Lewellen

    Designate a Fireman

    Even if the entire planning process is smooth sailing, there can always be a glitch at the last minute. "I had decided early on that I would not get stressed about my wedding," says Corri Lewellen from Jefferson City, Missouri. "I made it until two days before when the bakery called to say they couldn't make the cake I had ordered and paid for. I stayed calm, picked a different style, and moved on. The morning of my wedding, the bakery called my cell phone to tell me they wouldn't be able to deliver the cake to the reception site. I was upset but hate confrontation, so I found someone with a van who could go pick it up. Problem solved? Not in the least. Just before I am getting ready to walk down the aisle (literally), the delivery guy I just hired calls to say the bakery won't release the cake to him because he doesn't have a receipt. Now completely distressed, my mom grabbed the phone, had a heated discussion with the bakery, and handled the situation."

    "Looking back, I wish I had designated someone to handle those calls and put out those fires. If you don't have a wedding coordinator, assign your mom, maid of honor, or someone else who can calmly and firmly handle last-minute flare-ups."

  • Photo courtesy of Ashley Fleming

    Make a Fit Kit

    Before you embark on creating your dream wedding, remember that your usual schedule may get jostled around a bit. "Since I planned my entire wedding, I wasn't able to work out as much as I used to or stick to a regular eating schedule with all the meetings, phone calls, and bridal showers," says Ashley Fleming from Bloomington, Indiana. "Always carry your gym bag with extra clothes in your car in case you have 30 minutes to work out in between meetings, lunch, calls, etc. You never know when you might have few free minutes and if you are prepared you can work out anywhere. Same with your diet — always carry healthy snacks in your purse. I sliced apples and carried Justin's Nut Butter Organic Honey Peanut Butter packets for on-the-go snacks I could eat when hunger hit."

    More healthy, on-the-go snacks

  • Photo courtesy of Presley Salmon

    Be True to You

    "Be yourself!" says Presley Salmon of North Augusta, South Carolina. "Do your own makeup, wear a dress you are comfortable in, and practice dancing in your wedding shoes. If they don't feel right, get another pair. Nothing is more beautiful than a bride who is having fun."

  • Photo courtesy of Michelle Petrillo

    Know When to Save

    To avoid money woes, make a list of things you are willing to bargain on and what you want to splurge on before you start planning. "I was really stressed about sticking to a budget for my wedding," says Michelle Petrillo of Florham Park, New Jersey. "I saved so much money by ordering my flowers from my local supermarket instead of a florist. No one could believe my gorgeous centerpieces came from Shop Rite!"

  • Photo courtesy of Angela Broderick Bell

    Buy a Bigger Size

    Here's one tip brides-to-be probably don't want to hear, but need to. "Buy your dress one size bigger and get it tailored if need be," says Angela Broderick Bell of Leawood, Kansas. "If you are in between it will not only fit you better, you'll also feel and look better. And if you happen to slim down a few weeks before the wedding you'll have a great time taking it in!"

  • Photo courtesy of Katie Young

    Try It On Before Go Time

    This might seem like common knowledge to some, but for panicked planners like Katie Young from Narragansett, Rhode Island, an important reminder. "I picked up my wedding dress and hung it up in the hotel room two days before the wedding. I didn't try it on until it was time to go to the church. When my maid of honor zipped me up, she gasped. Fully zipped, the dress fell to the ground. I looked at the tag to see it was a size 14, and I am a size 2. We called the dress shop and they recognized their mistake. They rushed my dress over but I was 30 minutes late to the ceremony. Lesson learned — make sure it is your dress when you pick it up!"

  • Photo courtesy of Mary Jo Howell

    Exercise Cravings Away

    "I got through wedding planning by spending 45 minutes on the elliptical each time I needed to made a difficult decision," says Mary Jo Howell of Fort Worth, Texas. "This kept me from stress eating and got me in shape for my wedding day."

  • Photo courtesy of Joyce Hanz

    Remember to Remember

    "Three words," says Joyce Hanz of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "It's your memory. My hubby and I cancelled our traditional wedding and eloped at a place we adore. We were married at the historic Banff Spring Hotel in the Canadian Rockies. It was just us and absolutely perfect, not to mention stress free! We stayed for a week honeymooning and have nothing but magical memories of our day."

  • Photo courtesy of Claudia Anel

    Worry About Yourself

    "I was ridiculously stressed by the idea that our guests wouldn't enjoy our wedding," says Claudia Anel of Jersey City, New Jersey. "I freaked out about details all day long for weeks leading up to the big day, I was so miserable. Finally the day of, I realized that every person at our wedding was there to be happy for us. We had 105-degree temperature and an outdoor ceremony but all of our guests beamed with excitement for us anyway. My advice to any bride-to-be is to trust that the important people in your life want the best for you. Knowing that will take the edge off of everything."

    Originally published on, April 2012.