Ask the Bride: Advice on Planning and Dealing with the Stress

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We asked a few brides and brides-to-be about their experiences, stresses and the best part of being engaged. Let their answers be a guide, and know that you're not alone. Valerie, married

The thing I stressed about most: Figuring out who will pay for what, and how much money is on the table for the planning process. It's the big elephant in the room when planning a wedding, but a budget needs to be set to help keep everything in order and everyone on the same page.

I personally like the idea of wrapping gifts in clear wrap and displaying them for all to see, so people can mingle and still enjoy showering the bride-to-be with gifts without the hour-long present opening.

The thing I dreaded most about being engaged: Opening presents in front of everyone at showers. It's so wonderful that people want to shower you with gifts, but why is it a tradition for everyone to watch you open them? This puts so much pressure for the bride to be happy whether she likes a gift or not, or if she already received it off her registry list.

I personally like the idea of wrapping gifts in clear wrap and displaying them for all to see, so people can mingle and still enjoy showering the bride-to-be with gifts without the hour-long present opening.

The best part of being engaged/wedding planning: Planning a wonderful day with the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and being with all your friends and family in one spot on one day.

My advice to anyone recently engaged: Hire a wedding planner. If you can't squeeze it into your budget, then do everything you can to hire a day-of coordinator. It made all the difference on our wedding day, allowing us to relax and be guests at our own event!

Leslie, engaged

The thing I stress about most: It seems like when you are trying to plan your own wedding, it takes over your whole life. When you are trying to work and take care of other responsibilities, it's a challenge to manage it all.

The thing I dread the most about being engaged: Everyone immediately asks when and where, and if you don't have a place booked, it can be a little frustrating. What is disappointing is lack of response of potential reception sites. I'm amazed at how many haven't returned calls or emails.

The best part of being engaged/wedding planning: The excitement of the plans for the big day. Everyone congratulates you!

Elizabeth, married

The thing I stressed about most: Where to start with the planning. It’s just overwhelming at first.

The best part of being engaged/wedding planning: Was always having something to talk about and do dealing with the wedding, and making a dream party come true. I couldn't have done it without the help of my planner and my sister.

Advice to anyone recently engaged: Enjoy every minute of planning and don't get stressed. Everything will turn out great. Don't obsess about little details—the wedding day flies by, so enjoy every minute leading up to it.

Allison, engaged

The thing I stress about most: Pleasing everyone. It's been a struggle for me to let go of what other people think/want and focus on the fact that this is my wedding, and what I want is the most important thing. Budget is stressful, too!

The best part of being engaged/wedding planning: Getting to pour over beautiful magazines, Pinterest boards, etc. and slowly see your vision come together.

My advice to anyone recently engaged: Enjoy it! This is such a special time in your life. Try not to stress and remember that at the end of everything you will be marrying the love of your life, and ultimately the details are not important.

Raquel Shutt

Raquel Shutt is the owner of Wedding Savvy Inc., a premier full-service wedding planning company located in Annapolis. For more than 10 years, Wedding Savvy has been featured in many regional publications such as The Knot Magazine, The Washingtonian, and The Capital, as well as featured on We TV’s “Platinum Weddings.” Her firm has been recognized as one of the best by Weddingwire.com and Capital Gazette. Recently, Raquel was named one of Annapolis’ Finest 40 under 40 by Cystic Fibrosis as well as “People to Watch” by The Capital in 2009.