By Rev. Janine H. Burns, D.D.
Most couples assume the stress they experience prior to their wedding can be attributed to the simple fact of living in a stressful world, wherein the only solution involves evoking a stoic, grin-and-bear-it attitude. But this need not be the case.
What we call stress is the energy we feel in our bodies as a result of focusing upon fears, anxieties, and negative projections. It's a malady that robs you of the joy, peace, love and contentment that you rightly deserve while preparing for your Wedding Celebration.
After officiating many Weddings over the years, I've been able to hone in on the challenges where stress most often develops. The following are some simple but powerful skills I've been teaching to effectively remedy this; skills any couple could use to create a stress-free wedding.
First, I encourage my couples to be here in the moment. Stress often begins when you allow your mind to race and think disastrous thoughts. You start to imagine all sorts of things that could go wrong and suddenly the feeling of stress comes over you. Rather than sacrifice your mental energy to such negative ideas and projections, make an agreement with yourself and your partner to stay focused on the positive. Let go of yesterday and don't worry about tomorrow. Focus on the present moment. To paraphrase a wise old saying 'the past is over the future not yet here, in this moment is the gift, that's why it's called the present.' Remember, you've hired skilled, experienced wedding professionals: caterers, florists, musicians, DJs, photographers, etc. who know how to work things out and get things done. As you focus on this you'll be able to relax more, treasure your special day, and enjoy the gifts of the present moment.
Next, I encourage my couples to practice Conscious Breathing. Breath is a powerful force that can be used to control the energy of our emotions. Think about it -- when encountering something of real beauty, we often gasp, hold our breath and say, "that's so lovely, it takes my breath away." On the other hand, when we hear something that disturbs or depresses us, we often sigh deeply and mournfully.
You can reduce stress considerably by slowing down the physiology of the body through Conscious breathing. I suggest you begin your practice by breathing slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. The trick is to do it without any pauses between the breaths. Breathe in through the nose and, at the top of the breath, gently exhale through the mouth without stopping the flow of breath. After you exhale don't stop or pause at the end. Allow the breath to gently flow in and out in one continuous, seamless motion. Pay attention to how your chest and shoulders move, feeling the air as it enters your nostrils and leaves your body brushing across your lips. Doing this for three minutes a day has been clinically proven to not only relax your body but also calm your mind.
Finally, it's important to be flexible with our nuptial needs and desires. Sometimes things just don't turn out the way we'd like them to. Stuff happens. I've seen a lot of stuff happen at Weddings from the rings getting lost, to forgetting the marriage license, to the bride's dress getting torn. If we demand that a situation be a certain way and it's not we can become awfully upset. Thinking things "should" and "must" and "have to be" a certain way in order for us to be happy is the type of thinking that causes extreme stress. There is an alternative way of thinking. It is to "prefer" that an event or circumstance be a certain way. When you prefer that something is a certain way and it's not, you won't lose your peace of mind, power, or poise. The ancient Chinese book of wisdom the "Tao de Ching" says that in a great storm, the mighty oaks, so rigid and strong, will crack and perish whereas the humble willow, so supple and flexible, will bend and survive. Preferring is a method to promote flexibility over rigidity, one that will keep your mind nimble and clear enough to handle any challenge that may arise.
I trust this overview will be as helpful to you as it has been for many of the couples I've worked with. Practice these simple skills and you will be well on your way creating a stress-free wedding.
Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials and may your lives together be filled with love, peace, joy, prosperity and happiness!