Last summer while out on assignment photographing a wedding show, I encountered my very first real-life bridezilla.  From a distance she looked like every other excited blushing bride-to-be: smiling, well-dressed, surrounded by a group of giggling girlfriends. But as she came closer to the candy bar booth, her seemingly lovely persona melted away to reveal a shrill woman imbued with irritation.

“What do you mean the chocolate malt balls don’t come in baby blue?” she snapped at the candy worker. “They
need to be baby blue! This is a disaster!”

Now I don’t claim to have any first-hand experience when it comes down to how to plan a wedding, but, as I ducked behind the candy stand to hide my disdain, I couldn’t help but think that there has to be a better way than getting hung up on tiny details like malt ball colours.

So, to find out how to plan a wedding without turning into bridezilla, I called Elise Schmitz, founder and owner of Toast Special Events in Ottawa, for some expert advice.

Wedding tip #1: Prioritize your budget

Setting a budget is all well and good when it comes to
wedding planning, but it’s important to remember that budgets are never ever absolute and that, as Schmitz politely puts it, “things happen.”

“Have a conversation in the very beginning about what is most important to both of you, such as the photographer, the food, the venue,” recommends Schmitz. “The budget will shift to accommodate your priorities the further into planning you get.”

Even though there is a certain flexibility to every budget and
money matters, it is also very important to exercise will power and avoid those oh-so tempting last minute impulse purchases – adorable bride and groom sweats, a more expensive brand of champagne, diamond accents here, there and everywhere (too much? Well, you get the idea).

“The last thing you want to do is have a budget that is $20,000 and realize at the end that you’ve spent $35,000 on a ton of little extras without keeping track of the bills,” says Schmitz.

For more tips on how to plan a wedding without the stress, keep reading on the next page…
bridezilla-other-pages.jpgLisa Davis, a newlywed, admits that she got caught up in all of the cutesy
wedding accessory extras and that her spending spiraled out of control. “Luckily, my guy was able to talk some sense into me and I returned a bunch of stuff before we were married. I got close to $5000 back!” she says. “I had no idea I had blown through so much!”

Talk about stress! So keep to your calculating guns ladies and turn that budget into a fine work of art.

Wedding tip #2: Avoid the ‘Momzilla’

If you thought a bridezilla was bad, think again. A momzilla can be 10 times worse. Even the most sweet-natured, well-intentioned mother or mother-in-law can turn a little sour amidst the skeins of taffeta and prospect of helping to create the perfect celebration. Schmitz advises setting boundaries before any planning starts to keep the family peace.

“Accepting monetary gifts from the parents can bring in 50 percent of the stress right there,” says Schmitz, who has seen her fair share of this strange phenomenon. Too often a money gift is misconstrued as the right to butt in and take control.

“Be sure to have a discussion with your fiancé and all of the parents to have some sort of agreement in place. Otherwise the parents, especially the mothers, can get too involved and it doesn’t end up being your wedding at all.”

Jackie Greenwood, who recently celebrated her fifth
wedding anniversary, suggests assigning money gifts to a certain aspect of the day to maintain a sense of order. “My mother-in-law wanted to give us money, so we said she could pay for the flowers and over see them,” says Greenwood.

“We didn’t really care about the flowers, though we definitely wanted some, so it didn’t matter which ones she chose. Plus it helped keep her involved at the same time.”

For even more expert wedding advice about decor and DIY projects, keep reading on the next page…
Wedding tip #3: Don’t do it ALL yourself

One of the greatest misconceptions surrounding
wedding day style is that taking a DIY approach is easier. Although you may be able to pinch a few pennies, especially if you are the crafty type who loves nothing more than being up to her eyeballs in glitter pens and handmade fabric bows, the truth of the matter is that doing it all yourself piles on the stress.

For example, according to Schmitz if you decide to have the ceremony in your own backyard you have to keep in mind renting chairs, coordinating those rentals, organizing refreshments, having a backup weather plan, decorating the area, finding somebody to marry you and more!

"Non-religious ceremonies are definitely very popular these days," admits Schmitz. "But what people forget is that hosting your own ceremony comes with its own long to-do list, whereas if you get married in a church, for example, seating, space, the minister, everything is taken care of upfront."

Wedding tip #4: Minimize the décor

There can be no denying that weddings are, more than anything, pretty. However, that’s not a reason to go completely berserk with the décor. A common mistake of brides-to-be is fixating on too many design details at once, resulting in a hodge-podge aesthetic and so much stress that even a bottle of wine can do little to untie the knots of anxiety.

Schmitz advises keeping the ceremony décor minimalistic and instead splurging on the reception. "Chances are people aren’t going to remember the ceremony decor, but they will remember the moment they walk into the reception and think WOW!"

The old saying ‘less is more’ is a cliché for a reason, so choose a focal point with your décor, such as a beautiful centerpiece or spectacular ambient lighting options, to capture your guest’s attention right away. Reign in the design elements to create greater design impact while keeping your sanity at the same time (bonus!) This will help keep everyone
happier as the big day approaches.

For green wedding tips to keep stress at bay keep reading on the next page…
Wedding tip #5: Go green

Environmental writer for the
New York Times, Mireya Navarro, believes that planning an eco-friendly wedding reduces stress.

"Choosing to go green for your wedding reduces your options when it comes to planning," she says, explaining that the principle of a green wedding is to reduce consumption and pollution.

As a green wedding planner you are more likely to cut down on excess elements. For example, you might keep your guest list shorter; your registries less cluttered; and even get rid of printed wedding invitations all together in the spirit of reducing waste. As a result, you instantly have less to worry about and the risk of a bridezilla rearing her ugly head diminishes.

Wedding tip #6: Above all…

"Remember to breathe," says Laura Norris, an Ottawa-based photographer and recent bride herself. After all, when it comes down to it, the wedding is just one day; a day that can in many ways set the tone for the entire marriage.

So to all of you future brides and grooms, remember to plan around stress and make your wedding day one that can be looked back upon with nothing but

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