The causes and cures of Wedding Distress (Brides and friends of brides you have to read this!)

Having been a bride-to-be for nearly 6 months, I have definitely had moments of despair and disbelief, especially in the last month or so which proved more challenging in ways I could have never expected. First it looked like my mum suddenly wasn’t going make it because of requiring surgery. My maid of honour had a car crash and injured a disc in her neck. My custom-ordered wedding dress turned out to be a disaster and I struggled for almost a month to get a refund. I fell when running and smashed my face on the pavement, spending 2 weeks swollen, badly bruised and a nose like a sweet potatoe. When my new dress maker seemed to have vanished into thin air with my deposit and precious bridal fabric, I was on the verge on a “bridal breakdown” for sure. I was ready to cancel all wedding plans and elope.

 

Causes and Cures for Wedding Planning Panic

Luckily, all the things above got more or less resolved eventually. But I am still struggling with the anxious aftermaths, difficulty to sleep some nights, fatigue and my lips have taken a beating as I can’t seem to stop nibbling on them.

So what it is that happens to us when we are planning a wedding? Why are brides susceptible to anxiety? Why can the months of engagement easily turn into months of stress, and sometimes even dread?

Now with this unfortunate hands-on-experience, it is time to dive deep into the subject and unravel the causes – and cures- of wedding panic.

Causes and Cures for Wedding Panic

In the research from popular wedding articles on online wedding blogs, everyone is taking about “BRIDEZILLA”.
If you ask me, this term is extremely unfair and judgemental!
I want to tell all brides out there, that we have every right to “go mental” as brides-to-be. Being engaged and planning a wedding is SO charged of various and contrasting emotions:

On the one hand:
Extreme happiness. Excitement. Looking forward to an incredible special day. Waiting for a life together with the love of our life. Getting to choose between fantastic dresses, décor, music, all things related to wedding conceptualizing and design. Looking forward to spending time with family and friends. Fun preparations together with your wedding party.

On the other hand:
Anticipation – easily turned into nervousness. Complex emotions about what lies ahead – marriage is a pretty big commitment right?
Indecisiveness – there seems to  be an infinite of big and small decisions to be made- after about 50 decisions it gets pretty muddled as of what is relevant and irrelevant. (Napkin colours – do you know what I mean?)
The prospect of being centre of attention can frighten some – me included.
The prospect of coordinating and getting all the details to fit together into one smooth and seamless event – we want it to be amazing on top of that.
Family and friends from all walks of life in one place can be joyful but  also overwhelming.
Juggling bridesmaids personalities and making decisions as a group.
Deciding on their dresses – and the big one: deciding on YOUR DRESS, shoes, hair, makeup and accessories – hello! I can take 1 hour getting ready for an evening with book club and I know others that are similar or worse. For a day when one is going to be the most photographed EVER, one can easily develop anxieties about ones appearance, not to mention ones figure. Especially when there are millions of dresses and shoes etc to choose from.

There is already a lot of pressure on women to look good just in everyday life, on ones wedding that pressure is amplified beyond what many women are comfortable with. A common description of the typical wedding day as PERFECT – no wonder at all that brides-to-be are yearning for a perfect wedding day too, which includes perfect appearance, perfect details and perfect everything. This is why, my dear readers, brides-to-be often come across as “perfectionists” – and it opens every single possibility of immense insecurity.

Causes and Cures for Wedding Panic

Many women getting married have no problems with the above and take wedding preparations in their stride, or just hire a wedding planner. But for any one who has even the slightest inclination towards anxiety and self-doubt, this is definitely one of the more challenging times a woman will ever be going through. (Ok, raising toddlers and teenagers might be worse)

So will everyone PLEASE stop talking about bridezillas now, and simply have some understanding and compassion of what it is like? Brides are often accused for being “Divas”, Neglectful of others (including fiancés),  Aggressive, Irritable, Perfectionists, Obsessed, Attention seeking and the worst: Irrational.
All these behaviours are merely symptoms of the extreme stress, anxiety and the overwhelming phase we are going through. Have some mercy on brides, man!

Instead of the bride being constantly asked to monitor her behaviour, being kinder to bridesmaids, being more grateful, humble and serene, how about her near and dear ones stops mocking her and instead showing a bit compassion and understanding? If she is attention seeking – maybe you haven’t given her enough attention? If a friend of you is getting married and you find her worrying about centrepieces – just stop for a sec and realize that this is a woman in distress, and she is not intentionally being relentless or “irrational”, but only experiencing insecurity and confusion whether to please her grandma or her uncle in the choice of flowers.

It is not a conscious decision by brides to act this way– it is rather that we are under attack by wedding demons, way beyond what we can control ourselves. Our bridezilla diva tendencies is not a choice – it is a result of too much pressure from every direction. Because we have looked forward to this special day for a long time, and now it is fast approaching – surely that is reason enough to get hyper-excited about everything about it – even the flower girls basket?

We have never done this kind of thing before – so it is obvious why one is going to feel insecure and bewildered, all at the very same time.

Causes and Cures for Wedding Panic
Have you ever found yourself spending more than 20 minutes in the cereal aisle of a supermarket trying to decide what breakfast cereal you want? There are simply too many brands to choose from, alluring packaging, concepts of what is good for you or not, in the end of it  you don’t even know what you like anymore. Do I like cranberries or raisins more? Do I prefer granola or flakes? Gooseberry/ almond or cashew/ fig? What about my fiancé, what does he like again – maybe this sports blend? In the end, you might pick up something that you really didn’t like, or walked out of the aisle empty handed.

Even a normal person can find this detailed decision making too much. Multiply that feeling by 10.000 – that is what it is like to be a bride. Do you follow? Stress and too much choice can make any normal human irrational. It is not fun.

Ok, so lets stop ranting and rather take a quick look at what can be done to support a bride you know going through this, or if you are a bride, how you can help yourself feeling this confused way. Because maybe you like me is just sick of spending everyone waking hour thinking about your wedding, debating endlessly with yourself if you want a block heel or a stiletto for your wedding shoe, how much to spend on the dessert buffet, associating everything in your surrounding to your wedding (it is not pleasant im telling you – when I go for a “relaxing” run I cant stop thinking about greenery garlands, and that is most likely why I tripped and bashed my face into the pavement)
Maybe you are sick of finding yourself absent minded and distracted (I have found mittens in the freezer) because your mind is full of possible vendors, leaving you unable to concentrate on everyday tasks.

The main objective is:

To calm the bride/ you down and find some healthy distance to the issue – try watching a lighthearted movie (not about weddings), go for a walk in nature, or visit a friend who is not in your wedding party ( do NOT talk about weddings)
To understand that the bride/ you  are not going crazy, she/ you are going through a stressful time, and everybody does sometime so it’s okay
To realize the bride/ you are not a wedding “freak” and this is really normal (hence the numerous articles on the subject)
The bride is/ you are not acting this way by choice, she is/ you are temporarily taken away by feelings that are outside of her normal personality and she needs gentle treatment to come out of it – not making fun of, brushing over, or abandonment
To understand that the wedding is only the brides/ yours and your fiancés – not some bridal blog or wedding magazine. Peer pressure and comparing with other weddings can leave one feeling “not good enough” But the most important thing is that you create your day your way, not anybody else’s.

Causes and Cures for Wedding Panic

How to deal with yourself/ a bride you know in times of wedding worry before it leads to acute bridal distress
It is important to get some wedding “off”time and plan some time away from wedding planning. For example, try to have a few wedding free days per week
As a wedding planning human being, you are going to have 100s of ideas coming to you at random times. Instead of trying to have all your wedding ideas and thoughts in your head, put it somewhere like in your phone. Me and the fiancé share a list where we jolt down what we come up with, just to get it off our minds, and can look at it later. (We have ended up scrapping most of the ideas already)
Limit wedding related social media time – if Internet was ever accused for being information overload – Pinterest is inspiration overload.
Have a friend – who is not in your wedding party- you can talk to about your wedding who isn’t personally involved. It can be especially helpful to talk to an older, already  married woman. They will help you get some healthy perspective and realistic view points.
Try to solve other things in your life as a distraction – perhaps time to reupholster that sofa? If you don’t keep up with your “normal” life at the same time as wedding planning, you are almost guaranteed to feel empty and sad after the big day – a.k.a the “wedding blues”
Adopt a cheerful motto such as “Everything is going to be fine in the end – and if it is not fine, it is not the end” or similar for a bit of self-reassuring as needed
Try to limit the amount of alcohol you consume – it makes sleeping much  harder, it exacerbates anxiety and endless worries, and is a depressant which could kill motivation.
Don’t crash diet – very bad for your mood and energy levels. Eat balanced, nutritious and stable diet – a bit of this and a bit of that, no deprivation because it tends to backlash in the end.
Have a stable and sensible exercise routine, don’t try too hard or you might burnout or loose the willpower
Pick out 3 – max 5- segments of the wedding to focus harder on, such as the ceremony, dress and the food, and let the other segments of the party be less important (napkins, flower girl baskets etc). That way your attention will not get spread too thin.

Causes and Cures for Wedding Planning Panic
As soon as you are engaged, people will LOVE to tell you everything you should and shouldn’t do. Just smile, say thank you very much, mop up one or two ideas (or none) and then move on. It is your wedding so create it from your heart and your individual circumstances. Know what you love and what you don’t – it will make deciding much easier. No two weddings are ever going to be the same. You are not arranging somebody else’s wedding – your and your grooms only. There is no right or wrong way. Realizing that will take a huge bundle of stress of your shoulders.

It’s hard not to get caught up in all the attention and excitement, and most of the time in is FUN. There’s nothing wrong with being eager about your wedding and gorging in all the details – no matter how serious or silly they are. So try to just relax and have a good time, keep your happiness and motivation level as high as possible, be sensible for your own sake  and enjoy the process! You are most likely only going through this time once in your life, this time will fly by quickly so be as “bridal” as you feel like and hopefully your surroundings will be understanding enough for you to keep up with your wedding enthusiasm 🙂

image sources: hello may // joel allegretto // hey wedding lady   //  magnolia rouge // my wedding guides

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Food for glowing wedding day skin

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I personally quite dislike the “eat this and don’t eat that” kind of lists, because they make me feel guilty and insecure about my more far-from-perfect habits. Honestly, I have heard advise given to brides that we should give up sugar, alcohol, caffeine, dairy and gluten. Hey – because I’m getting married, must I suddenly turn into a hypochondriac and develop a pretend food allergy? I’m sorry, it is just not going to happen. It is a ridiculous expectation if you ask me. I was once given a very sensible piece of wisdom : “everything in moderation, including moderation” – that is how I think about lifestyle advice. Deprivation has not made anyone happier a happier person, brides at the very least I think.So I am writing about this today because I rather eat myself towards a perfect glow for my wedding day than trying to do avoid a whole list of things.

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First of all on the menu is: WATER.
Yes, we hear it all the time, whether you want to loose weight or improve your digestive health. But before you reach for your 8th glass of water for the day, just be aware that drinking toooo much is not good at all, as you will literally dilute your internal fluids and disturb important mineral balances – what could lead to dull skin and fatigue. Not ideal. Unless you do serious sports and/ or live in a very hot climate, you should not need to drink more than 1 – 1.5 litres a day. (By the way did you know that milk is more hydrating than water?)

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Second: FRESH FRUIT AND VEG.

For fibre, vitamins, minerals and other beautifying and vitality-enhancing stuff.
Especially watermelon, lemons, beetroot, carrot, strawberries and broccoli, but any fruit,berry and vegetable will do you amazing favours. Aim for fruit with breakfast, as a snack and for dessert, and a small plate/ half a big plate of raw and cooked vegetable at lunch and dinner. In Japan people eat up to 18 portions of veg each day, where western people often struggle to eat 5. And we all know that japanese women don’t visibly age, don’t we?) 🙂

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Third: EGGS.
Full of biotin – skin and hair nutrient number one. Valuable source of protein and perfect snacking food too.

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Number four: OILY FISH
Those omegas will pump your skin full of glow and give your hair silkiness galore. Great for your brain, heart and eye sight as well – reasons to have fish on the menu at least 2 a week. You can also bump your dose by adding a omega-capsule to your daily intake.

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And lastly: GREEN TEA

Increases your metabolism and purifies your skin. Make a big pot and sip away! Be creative and make ice tea with fruit/ berry or herb flavourings for variation.

Enjoy these beneficial foods and beverages for so many more reasons than just for your skin, and if you keep it up chances are you will be naturally flawless come wedding day. I am certainly giving it a go as it seems tonnes easier than using all the bridal beauty products I have been advised to buy….

These skin nutrients will be good for fertility too so why not?? 🙂

Natural Bride Beauty

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There are so many beauty lists on the web already – do you need to read another one? Yes – if you are not into make up, manicure and hair straighteners in your normal life, why should you feel pressured to barbie doll yourself up now. Do you really need a make up artist if you hardly ever put mascara on? If you prefer your hair natural and loose, why spend R500 on a “do” that will just make you feel like somebody else and not yourself on your day. Did you know that many brides hardly ever look at their wedding photos, simply because they can’t recognize the person they see – that person is not a true representation of who they truly are.

On the other hand, perhaps this is one occasion when one feels entitled to “go wild”when it comes to beautification, and indulge in our lust for bringing out inner glamour diva/ princess, just for one very special day. It is our freedom to decide whichever, because it our dream day that should be fulfilled. But what is important to know, is that we don’t have to subscribe to the conventional bride concept, just because we are getting hitched.

Besides, the beauty industry seem to have endless opportunities to separate brides- to – be with huge chunks of money. I feel somewhat bullied into feeling like I’m is not a “real” bride until I’ve had at least one facial a month, my teeth whitened, hair extensions, eye lash extensions, spray tan, maintained perfect nails for 6 months prior for all those ring showing moments. Is this my wedding prep, or have I entered a beauty pageant??

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This bride is absolutely stunning, there is no denying. But in my opinion she would be twice as beautiful with just a bit less mascara.

I normally myself don’t use much in terms of beauty products from the chemist, just a bit of day and night moisturizer. I do my eye brows and love a bit of lipstick when I go out. That is pretty much it. I do want to make sure that I have glowing skin, no large pores/ break outs or dull looking skin on the day. Luckily, I’ve got some easy, natural and inexpensive tricks up my sleeve:

  • Aspirin – contains hydrochloric acid that is the magic ingredient in many anti-ageing and skin clarifying creams and micro-peels. Crush up 4 or so dissolvabe tablets, mix with a bit of water and rub into your skin, avoiding the eye area. Leave for 5-10 minutes, it will dry on your skin so before washing it off, put some water on your finger tips and do a gentle scrub before rinsing. Will lead to astonishingly radiant and youthful skin done 1 -2 per week
  • You can also mix the dissolved aspirin with some yogurt and honey and use as a mask – will hydrate your skin and make it glow
  • Dilute tea tree oil with  water and use as a toner – great for deep cleansing and prevention of break outs
  • Double cream yogurt is a wonderful cooling mask – the lactic acid is fantastic for anti ageing too as it works to renew the skin cells. Magic and so inexpensive!
  • Dark marks? Use a drop of fresh lemon juice n the area to make it lighter. Apple cider vinegar will do the job just as well. Dilute 1:4 if you have sensitive skin.
  • Mix bicarbonate of soda (not baking powder) with a bit of coconut oil as a face mask. Sounds crazy but you can say goodbye to blackheads and prevent wrinkles this simple way, at least according to the DIY beauty-pros.
  • Green tea – if you are not already drinking this skin cleansing beverage, now is a good time to start. Keep they teabags and stick them in the fridge – use them as facial “wipes”to drench your skin in antioxidants

I’m still in two minds whether to have my make up done professionally or do it myself. Whatever I decide, the look will be natural and understated. I definitely am not aiming for the Cinderella look, perhaps a bit more like Pocahontas!

If you want to achieve natural beauty it obviously helps to already have perfect skin and supermodel features, but even if you do go for make up, you can ask your make up person (or learn yourself) how to get that “barely there” look. Think dewy skin, a sweep of shimmer and blush, and berry lips. The use of highlighter and bronzer in clever places will enhance your features without anyone realizing there is any make up at all. Think of it as 3D effect enhancement. Eyeshadow a tone of so darker that your own skin will give subtle definition to your blinkers without looking too done up.

To achieve porcelain skin:

  1. Use a primer, one which is fluid and not heavy. Apply a think layer over the whole face and let it dry completely.
  2. Use a second layer of primer on your nose, forehead and high cheekbones.
  3. After primer is dry, apply a light foundation, BB cream or tinted moisturizer. Apply with a brush with circular motions. You want to avoid a heavy and thick product because it will give a “cakey” result. Keep it light and fresh.
  4. Set with translucent powder, or powder which is 1 tone lighter than your normal skin tone. Apply one layer at a time so it doesn’t get heavy.
  5. Brush over some light champagne colored powder with a slight shimmer  over cheek bones and temples
  6. Blush: the color that matches your skin best + a little rosier. Look at yourself in the mirror and do a pout as if you want to give yourself a kiss. You can see the hollows under the cheek bones where the blush should go. Using a big brush or soft sponge apply a few thin layers.
  7. Stand back and admire your goddess-like skin!
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Image courtesy of Intimate Weddings

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