Posts in the 'wedding stress' Category

Your Grown-Up Wedding


Credit:  Lucky Photographer

The first step to having a grown-up wedding is acknowledging that you’re a grown-up. And that your guests and family are grown-ups. Marriage is the second most grown-up thing you can do. So, you might as well start now with the day that’s going to start it all off. In the immortal words of Monica Geller, “It sucks, you’re going to love it.”

You’re saying Yes … to Everything.

Your wedding is not something that’s happening to you. From the cost, to the menu, to the dress, to the guest list, to the decorations. With a shrug, with a frown, with an enthusiastic clapping of hands. You opted in. It’s a big day, and a big undertaking and it’s easy to do it now and resent the hell out of it later. So, remember:

You can say No … to Anything.

Easy to write, not so easy to do. I get yelled at a lot for this one. “I can’t say no to my parents [insert this thing they really want here], it’s impossible.” Nothing is impossible, but yes, some things are hard. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, you’re afraid you’re going to sound like a rude jerk. We covered this a little last week. Most people are not great at conflict, whether they are used to it or not. Be clear that you don’t want it, thank them for the suggestion, if there is an alternative that you like, hype it. Don’t be defensive, smile, change the subject. Works, I swear.

Your Guests are Adults. They Are Also Human Beings in Your Spotlight.

It’s mostly you on stage, but it’s not just you. Everyone wants to get it right, so everyone can enjoy the day. Back your guests up where you can — directional signs, someone standing by to help them find their place card. They do need to know where the restrooms are, they don’t have to be assigned a particular seat at a particular table. No one is going to freak out if you’re serving Coors Light and $5 wine instead of their choice of martini cocktails. Don’t think babysitting, just think “flow.” You cannot please everyone, but you can make it easier for them to enjoy themselves. What would you want if you were a guest? What would need? Make sure that’s covered.

Get Clear About Your Wedding Responsibilities

What goes into your wedding day must come out. When? Someone has to do it, and if it’s not you, then who? What are you allowed to do, and what are you not? Hint: If it has to be stuck on anything, sprinkled, lit or hung, ask first. How long do you have your vendors? When do they need to get paid? What do they need from you to do their job? Don’t assume they will stay later than asked and not get paid for that, or come earlier, or bring more equipment. Don’t make the day harder for them, because it’s going to end up being harder for you. That’s not going to be a good day.

Fly Casual

You have a destination — your big fun, love- and joy-infused wedding day — and you are on your way. You have to give it some time, but you’re going to get there. You don’t have to worry about whether you’re doing it, because you’re doing it. There are plenty of maps and resources to help you. Course corrections can be made — they are not the end of the world or evidence that you are a crappy pilot. And when you get there, ENJOY THE DAY. That’s an order. It’s what adults do. And in the meantime, go easy on yourself, I can guarantee you’re doing a lot better than you think you are.

So, how are you taking a deep breath and putting on the big girl pants when it comes to your wedding? What do you think of my advice? Let me know in the comments below! And if you would like to learn a little more about me and and my part of Wedding World, come visit me at

See you at the end of the aisle,


Real Bride Elissa: What’s In a Name? Apparently, a Lot.

Real Bride Elissa What's In a Name Apparently, A Lot.

Feminism is a complicated term. The fact that it even needs to exist as a concept is frustrating in itself, but with so many varied (and heated) interpretations of the word bouncing around in today’s media, it almost starts to feel like a taboo topic in many circles. Its most basic definition, though, is the idea that society should consider women as equals to men. A few years ago though — well before Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” — I had one of those late-night existential crises that seem to haunt your early 20s. I felt intense guilt over trying to reconcile my feeling (at the time) that I should become a powerful businesswoman, who relentlessly climbs her way to the top, with my lifelong dream of enjoying life with an adoring husband, three rosy-cheeked children, two dogs and one white picket fence — as if wife/motherhood was an antithesis of feminism. An amazing friend of mine said something in response that really resonated with me: “Feminism is about the ability to choose your choice!” Fighting for equality with men also means fighting for overall respect; your choices are valid because you are a person, not looked down upon because your gender should be one way or another. 

I embrace the “choose your choice” attitude as much as possible these days when confronted with “feminist” issues, but wedding planning and marriage preparation are exposing pockets of feelings that I didn’t know I had. I’d always assumed I’d change my name when I got married, because “that’s what women do.” As recently as a few months ago, I was still trying to figure out how to sign my new signature, feeling like a middle schooler as I doodled my married name across a page of notebook paper. The more I doodled though, the more I felt a deep sense of loss. My family name ends when I change my name — with no males in the family, who will carry it on? Plus, I have been “me” for 28 years: I grew up with my name, I got my driver’s license with my name, I earned a degree with my name, I have business cards with my name and I’ve been published with my name! And now, I am about to become someone else. I can go even further down the rabbit hole: a different man has claimed me, with his name, while both of these men remain “themselves.” Alternatively, I feel almost like I’m rejecting my father, the name my parents provided me, and a whole line of people who share my heritage. It suddenly feels so unfair. Yet more feelings arise as I consider this — by not changing my name, am I putting down all the women before me who have chosen to change their names? Insinuating they are less feminist? Am I rejecting my husband, choosing to remain under the umbrella of my relatives, rather than our new family? Not to mention the whole process is complicated and expensive, right after we’ve finished paying for the actual wedding.

Conflictingly, I still I want my new family unit to be united under one moniker. I can certainly choose to hyphenate, but I don’t like the sound of the two names together, not to mention the length. My fiance and I discussed choosing something entirely new, but in the end, we both preferred his current last name, as it’s more unique. I even talked about my feelings with my incredibly supportive parents, who indeed confirmed they would not feel rejected were I to take on my husband’s name. After the wedding I’ll still be the same me who has accomplished all the things above, and I’m excited to publicly announce that I am united to my wonderful fiance. My compromise with myself is to continue as my current self professionally, while changing my name personally. I’ll move my current last name to my middle name, so that on forms for the rest of my life I’ll still be a Stooker. To reference Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would still smell as sweet.”

I may be slightly over-thinking this whole situation, but it feels good to get it out of my head (Wedding Tip #15 – get all those ideas on paper). A few days ago, as I was planning this piece, I came across an amazing blog post that completely satirized the whole marriage-name-change experience. It made me laugh, made me squirm, but made me feel like I’m not alone in feeling like this is something important to think about. Neither option is wrong — that’s what equality (and therefore feminism) is about. Ultimately, I am thankful that I have the choices to choose. No matter what path I take though, I must embrace it, and that is proving true for ALL aspects of wedding planning.

Let Your Wedding Crew Choose. Follow and Get Out of the Way.


Credit: Powell Pictures

So, I’ve been checking in with my 2015 couples a lot this week. March’s backyard wedding was relocated to another backyard. May wants a photo booth.  I’m looking at venues with July #2 this weekend. June #1 is in way better shape than she thinks she is. And, actually, so are you. Remember that the next time you start to wonder.

What’s been interesting is that each of them asked about managing their wedding party. And managing their families. Or, rather, managing their wedding party and families’ questions and expectations.

There are just so many of them, you know? Wedding party and family members. And questions.

When is the bridal shower, where is the bachelorette party? Should all 10 of your family members wear the same color as your bridesmaids and/or groomsmen? When should everyone, or anyone, fly in for the wedding? And on and on.

Should you let them choose, or just tell them what to do?

Well, yeah, definitely one or the other.

But here’s the thing: It’s up to you, what they get to choose, and what you want to  dictate. And it doesn’t always have to be one or the other. Most of the time, wedding-wise, people want (cough, cough, NEED) direction. But if it’s something that’s not a big priority for you, it’s okay to let them make the choice .

But let them know one way or the other.  And if the answer is, “This is what we’re doing,” remember to smile and say “Thank you.” And if it’s “Whatever you want to do,” give them a deadline to let you know, well, what they’re going to do. Every choice needs to come with a deadline. Every mandate needs to come with gratitude and a smile. Got it? Now go forth and plan …

What’s the last detail your wedding crew has thrown back to you? And which way did you decide to go. Let me know in the comments below! And if you’d like to learn a little bit more about me and my part of Wedding World, visit


See you at the end of the aisle,


Five Good Wedding Planning Habits You Should Probably Start Now

Five Good Wedding Planning Habits That You  Should Probably Start Now

I believe that it’s not enough to simply survive planning your wedding, you should thrive and feel like a Boss while you’re doing it.  Here are five wedding planning habits to start practicing now that will help.

Let’s start with the money, first:

1.Multiplication. Avoid sticker shock that every couple goes through, and  remember that you are buying in bulk. For example, Chiavari chairs  for  $10 each? Multiply by 100 = $1o00. $2000 if you’re getting another set for the reception.

2.Ask about the other STDs – Service, Tax and Delivery. Always. Everyone who is delivering a product – your photographer, your photo booth, your cake – is going to charge tax, plus a delivery or travel fee. Your venue and your caterer will charge tax, plus a service fee. Here in Los Angeles, that’s usually adds up to  30% of the bill, on top of the bill, turning your $85 per person dinner into $110.50 per person. Multiply that by 100 …

3. Your last question to any potential vendor needs to be, “Is there anything else I need to know?” There are many unknown unknowns in wedding planning — the stuff that you don’t know that you don’t know, or need to know.  Asking this question will give the opportunity for your vendor to go over anything they might have missed in their spiel, but are mentioned in the contract, or cover concerns other couples should have had. Things like, late fees, open fire permits, parking, vendor meals. That question might lead to more questions, but there are never too many questions. Or answers, for that matter.

And then there’s the mindset:

4. Treat this like any other shopping trip. This past weekend, I walked through Bloomingdales – like an idiot – to get to the rest of the mall, and I was stopped dead by an ankle length full-sweeping silk skirt. If you follow me on Pinterest, you know that’s My Style. $598? No. I took a picture of it so I can maybe find it cheaper online, and then skipped over to Banana Republic and bought another ankle-length sweeping skirt for $75. My point is, that with every vendor, every service, you have alternatives. The last thing you look at is not the only option you have. It’s not only being able to afford it, maybe you just don’t like it. As an ex-bride of mine once said to the hovering bridal salon sales lady, “I know I look good in it, I just don’t feel good in it!” Feel good in it, feel good about it, whatever it is. If you don’t, move on.

5. Keep reminding yourself that you are not a victim of your wedding.  This wedding isn’t something that’s happening to you, you’re not being forced to pay $110 per person for dinner on a Saturday night. If you start thinking otherwise, or continue thinking that way, you are going to be very, very unhappy through this whole thing.  Throwing a wedding is a choice that you are making. That can be frustrating, or it can be empowering: You get to choose how you’re going to do it, what your wedding is  going to look like, or if you’re going to do it all. You get to say “Yes,” and you also get to say, “No,” and your reasons for doing either are perfectly valid, okay? So, stay empowered and don’t confuse “want to” with “have to.”

You’ve got this.

What are some habits that you’re already starting with your wedding planning? And what do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments below. And if you would like more information about me and my little area of Wedding World, visit

See you at the end of the aisle,


Real Bride Elizabeth: The Stress Rears its Head

Up until about a week ago, I was fairly laidback about my wedding. This surprised me, because I tend to be somewhat of an anxious person. I was pretty proud of myself. However, it seemed like once I got in the 3 month range, a little timer went off and all of a sudden I was in panic mode.


This is my “are you kidding me?” face

It all started with our upcoming trip to North Carolina. One of Bryce’s friends is getting married, so I decided to take advantage of being there and get in my hair trial, makeup trial and meet with my photographer to go over details. One little question from my hair stylist about what my timeline was for the day sent me into a tizzy. I know what time the wedding is going to be, but that’s about it. I have NO idea how long it will take for me to get my hair done, what time the photographer is showing up, or any of those others minute details that haven’t crossed my mind.

This prompted me to email every wedding planner in the Greensboro area to inquire about day-of coordination. Bad idea. I had NO idea just having someone come the day of the wedding to make sure everything goes smoothly was so expensive. One planner quoted me $2,350 FOR JUST THE DAY. Nope nope nope.

At lunch, my boss and I sat down and talked about my options. After tossing some ideas around, I reached out to one of my friends from college who had a picture-perfect wedding this past August. She was already going to be invited, but I asked if she would consider coming out and helping decorate and coordinate. She graciously said yes, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I feel about the entire situation knowing that I will have someone to handle the tiny details the day-of.


Jenny to the rescue!

For my future brides to be, here are some other things that helped me curb my emotions when I feel the stress taking over:

  • Playing with my dog
  • Yoga
  • Looking at cute pictures of animals online
  • Bourbon. Lots of bourbon.

Ladies, what are you doing to combat wedding stress? Do you have any neat little secrets that you’d care to divulge?

Signs of the All-Dreaded “Bride Brain” & What You Can Do To Squash It

Heeeyyyoooo!!! Now that you’re rockin’ that sparkler and all you newbie Broke-Ass Brides are starting to look ahead to your big day, I think it’s important to sit you down and talk about that horrible monster that is sure to rear its ugly head at some point during your planning process …

BRIDE BRAIN. *cue suspenseful music*

But Christen!, you’re saying, I’m totes rational and there’s no way, ever, EVAR that I’ll succumb to Bride Brain. I got my shizz together and I GOT THIS.

Darling, it’s OK. Bride Brain is nothing to be ashamed of … unless you let it get the best of you. And please, for the sake of your friends, family and your spouse-to-be, don’t let it do that. Otherwise you’ll have a lot of grovelling to do.

How do you know you’re getting conquered by Bride Brain? Well …

– Instead of wearing rose-colored glasses, you’ve started rocking Wedding Color-Scheme Glasses. Everything you see is suddenly twisted into wedding context. Would that rad vintage beer sign work with your Champagne fountain? Is that Creature from the Black Lagoon statue workable with your centerpieces?

– You can’t have a conversation without bringing up your wedding … even with the customer service rep from your bank or the gas station attendant.

– You find yourself more stressed over whether you have enough baby’s breath for your bouquet than the fact that your car’s radiator is about to fall out.

– Your last 20 Facebook/Twitter posts are wedding related.

– You live on Pinterest and have pinned 7x more on your wedding board than any other of your boards.

– You now picture your wedding in terms of how good it’ll look on a blog.

– You’re having wedding nightmares … every night. Getting strangled by your veil, your MIL turns into Ursula from “The Little Mermaid,” your groom shows up naked (though that may not be so bad).

Fear not, you rockin’ BABs! This too can be fixed.

First, step away from your computer. That’s right, take that finger off the mouse and and power that bad boy down. WAIT!!! Not YET … finish reading this, first.

Talk to your partner about setting up at least one night per week that has absolutely, positively nothing to do with your impending nuptials. Go catch a ball game! Hit up the mini-golf course. Have some fun and blow off some steam.

Plan a mock-wedding full of the ugliest shizz you would never imagine having at your big day. Poufy sleeves, baby-puke-colored bridesmaid dresses. All the hideousness to your heart’s content. Make a Pinterest board for it, sketch it, whatevs. Just make something that is so far from what you want that you can’t help but bust a gut laughing (or gagging).

Tackle one big thing at a time. For serious. You don’t play in the NFL, so don’t think you’re capable of taking down more than one linebacker at a time. Make a list of your priorities (Venue, photography, cake, bar, dress … etc) and number them. Then devote a week to the first one, the next week to the second, etc. Limit the list to your top five or ten, and don’t start working on the small deets until each one of these big ones is donezo. Once all the big pieces are in place, the little stuff will either come easy or no longer matter.

Fine yourself every time you mention your wedding plans during an arbitrary convo. Kind of like a swear jar, throw a quarter into a vessel every time you bring up your special day during an irrelevant chat. Gas Station Gus will thank you.

Finally … KEEP CHAMPAGNE IN YOUR FRIDGE. I can’t stress this one enough. It doesn’t need to be a baller-ass bottle of Dom. But make sure you have it on hand for stressy wedding moments. There’s something about those tiny bubbles that will put you in a happy fog and remember the celebratory aspect of this whole deal. Don’t drink? Keep whatever special, treat-yo-self kind of bev you lurve on hand.

With this, I set you free to tackle the wedding road ahead of you. Please, make sure to keep your brain straight and don’t hesitate to freak out in the comments if you need to. We’ll love you regardless.

Now off with you! Go get some other stuff done and don’t even think about picking up that guest list. Go on, BABs, and be the amazeballz chickadees you are!




{Real Bride: Carrie} Cha-cha-cha-Changes! (& Dealing With Life’s 3 Biggest Stressors At Once!)

Hey there, BABs! Back in the days when I was debating where we should get married, I mentioned our plan to move to San Diego, California, from Ohio.  Well, I’m happy to announce that we turned that plan into action and…


Our new neighborhood beach!

Honestly, now that I’m here, I’m really glad we decided to have our wedding in Arizona.  Trying to find a place to live, find jobs, and learn our way around a new city has been hard enough without also trying to find an ultra-low-budget wedding venue!

It’s been a tough transition for us.  It took me nearly a month to find a job.  Combine that with the sticker shock of SoCal life compared to the Midwest, and the wedding countdown ticking away, stir vigorously, and you’ve got one stressed-out Carrie.  As always, Zach has been the yin to my yang.  When I’m lying on the bed crying that, “We’re never EVER going to have enough money for a wedding!!!!!!!” he’s sitting there rubbing my back reminding me that, “Everything will be perfect.  Just be patient and it will work out!”  I know he’s right.  However, according to the experts, moving, getting married, and unemployment are three of  life’s biggest stressors!  Thankfully, we are both now working and building that wedding savings account!

How can you be sad with views like this?

I know our situation is easy compared to the problems many other engaged couples are facing.  I’m glad that we were able to make it through this huge life transition together!  Did anyone else move or have a major life change mid-engagement?  What are your tips to help engaged couples cope with wedding/life stress, and come out stronger in the end?

{Win This} Give Yourself A Break From Wedding Stress With 1Hour Break!

Conveniently purse-size!

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This week, three lucky BABs will win packs of 1Hour Break (One will win a 12-pack, one a 6-pack, and one a 3-pack)!

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{Win This} Let Dr. Rita Ease Your Wedding Woes With The Bride’s Emotional Survival Guide App!

There's an app for that.

The journey toward your wedding day has begun. With a simple “yes”, you set into motion one of the most emotionally charged and psychologically challenging of all society’s rituals. Marriage, like birth and death, eclipses the routine of our daily lives through its sheer drama, symbolism, and importance. Expectations and sensitivities run high; your relationship is thrust into the public spotlight. Add to this the complications of planning such an extravaganza, and the effect can be overwhelming. It’s not surprising that more than half of all engaged couples experience very real pre-wedding stress that puts their relationship to the test.


 Dr. Rita Bigel-Casher, psychologist and author, is here to help you through the wedding rollercoaster of emotion with her iPhone app: The Bride’s Emotional Survival Guide. “Many women empathize when I compare the road to love and marriage to a ride on a merry-go-round. One moment you can be on top of the world, while the next you are on the way back down again. Just like the carousel, our romantic lives provide endless opportunities for excitement and joy. And one day, when horse and rider are in perfect sync, you and your true love grab the shiny brass ring and make a pact to marry.”
Guided by her thirty years’ experience, Dr. Rita has packed her app full of tips, tests, and helpful tools, focusing on the emotional hot spots that can flare up as a couple plans their nuptials: family pressures, money, differing religions and traditions, nerves, fear, second thoughts, and divided loyalties. The Bride’s Emotional Survival Guide can help  you work through all of these issues so you can move past the conflict and stress and focus on the joy of marrying the love of your life.

This week, three lucky BABs will win a copy of The Bride’s Guide to Emotional Survival app!  You’re not alone: Dr Rita can help.

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