A wedding is a celebration of love, but the planning leading up to it can often cause a lot of stress. You may spend hours fine-tuning details, yet when you look back at the experience, you’re more likely to remember how you felt, not whether you had the perfect party favors or guest list. And in hindsight, there was probably something (or even lots of things) you stressed over that truly didn’t matter.

We asked members of the Thrive community to share the wedding-planning advice they would follow if they could do it all over again. These bits of wisdom can help reduce your own pre-wedding stress — and remind you to focus on what matters most.

Don’t stress if things don’t go exactly as planned

“In hindsight, the best piece of advice that I would’ve followed is that the marriage is for you, the wedding is for everyone else. Planning our destination wedding was an incredibly stressful affair — it led to countless sleepless nights and many arguments. If I were to do it all over again, I would kick back, relax, and remember that it is OK if some things don’t go according to plan because no one else knows exactly how things are supposed to be, since you are the one who planned it!”

—Erandi Palihakkara, digital marketing manager, Savannah, GA  

Be mindful of expenses

“I got married at the most expensive villa in our area. It was such a magical wedding, but we spent our entire budget on it. By 9 p.m., we both wished we had eloped instead and spent several weeks in Europe. It’s worth taking another hard look at whether or not you truly desire a big lavish wedding, or if it’s just to impress others.”

—Kathy Haan, business coach and blogger, Denver, IA

Focus on you and your partner

“The best piece of wedding planning advice I could give is a tip from my mom: Involve as few family members and friends as possible. It’s a special day for you and your partner, not them. My mom was the only person who came dress shopping with me. My husband and I told our families that we were going to elope. We planned the wedding by ourselves, and surprised them with the ceremony. We had so much fun — and so little stress!”

—Keshia Rice, dating coach, Atlanta, GA

Set boundaries with family members

“When I was planning my wedding, I read every article I could find about having a wedding on a shoestring budget. The problem with the advice I read was that it suggested I ask friends and family to help with catering, decorating, and photography. Not every family enjoys the stress and work involved in planning a wedding — it becomes something they do for you, rather than something they celebrate with you. Do an honest check-in with your family to ensure they are enthusiastic about helping with your special day. In hindsight, I would have splurged on catering and a photographer, and scrimped on the dress, flowers, and cake. I would have skipped favors entirely. I would have rather had a relaxed gathering of happy family and friends.” 

—Cheryl C., business development, Clayton, CA 

Practice as much as possible

“Be prepared. Walk yourself, your spouse, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and all other participants through the active parts of your wedding. It’s not romantic, but my wife and I practiced walking down the aisle, entering the reception, and doing our first dance, amongst other things. Since I have two left feet, I even practiced dancing with my mother — without revealing the song. Prep got tedious at times, but my actual wedding day went just about perfectly.” 

—Justin Rhodes, mechanical engineer, Pompton Lakes, NJ 

Take a moment to breathe 

“I officiate several weddings every month, and dozens every year. One thing I suggest to all couples is that we simply stop everything at the beginning of the ceremony. I explain to them that after they take their places in front of the attendees, I will welcome everyone, and then say: ‘I would like to pause for a short time before we continue. Not for a moment of silence or meditation. Just a time to stop everything and recognize where we are, and the beautiful expression of love we are about to witness. If you are with someone, look in their eyes. If you’re not, consider those you love and those who love you. But in these brief few seconds, let’s truly gather together here and now, and put everything else aside but love.’ After that, I let everyone breathe for about 20 seconds. It changes everything in the ceremony as we all relax and settle in.”

—Raymond Bechard, author, Old Saybrook, CT

Keep the guest list to a minimum

“Keep your wedding to 20 people or less people who truly matter to you, and people you love with all your heart. My daughter followed this advice and had the wedding of her dreams last October. She talks about it all the time, while her girlfriends look back on their lavish weddings and tell her they wish they had followed her lead.” 

—Lin Eleoff, life and business transformation coach, Providence, RI 

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.