How to Have Joy While Wedding Planning

How to Choose Joy Over Stress While Wedding Planning

It’s the most wonderful day of your life – the day you get to say your vows with the one you love the most in the world. The one that you want to spend the rest of your life with. And all the people you love most in the world will be right there with you! Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Then why is it that couples who start with all this joy and excitement often find themselves bogged down in all the details and nitty gritty decisions and lose their joy while wedding planning? Sadly, I often hear from couples – I am just excited for the wedding to be over. 

Friends, I am here to say that there is a better way. This thing called life – we each only get one. And this journey toward marriage is also a once in a lifetime season. I want you to experience the same joy throughout the entire experience from the day you say “Yes” to the moment you say “I do”.

So how do we have joy in the midst of a time that seems so often to be filled with stress? The key is quite simple. It’s actually the key to having joy in any season in life, wedding planning or not. Want to know what it is? Gratitude.

I’m Lucy Jalin, a Charlottesville wedding photographer passionate about helping couples build stronger marriages and families. Today I’m going to share with you the secret I’ve learned about how to live a joyful life, and I hope it can help you too!

Wedding party huddled in joy around bride and groom at Veritas Vineyards wedding

1. Choose to focus on gratitude

“Gratitude turns what you have into more than enough.” – Lara Casey

There are countless studies that show that our happiness is not primarily about how much we have. And that a gratitude practice is a key component to building resilience, happiness, joy, and defeating a host of mental health issues. The secret is that we actually have power to change the way we feel by changing the way we think. If we continually think about all the things that we wish were different, we wind up feeling discouraged. But if we set our minds on things are good, lovely, and beautiful, then we start to feel happier too.

Remember that joy is a choice. We are often unable to change all the circumstances around us, but if we choose to focus our minds on the positive things in life, our perspective changes. In fact, a remarkable study at Duke University found that participants who listed 3 things they were grateful for 14 days had boosts in happiness scores even 6 months later. The theory is that those 14 days helped rewire the brain to start looking for the good things in life. And then it kept doing that.

2. Try gratitude journaling (or just saying it aloud)

So whoever said “it’s all about perspective” really was right. I’ve had this same experience in my own life with gratitude journaling. I know this task sounds absurdly simple for how much benefit it promises, but it really works! Just try it for 14 days and see if it doesn’t change how you view your wedding planning journey and life. You can write 3 things at the end of each day or talk about it with your partner over dinner. It can be simple, everyday things like a beautiful sunset, or things related to your wedding planning. For example, I’m thankful for…

  1. Grandma’s card in the mail congratulating us on the engagement
  2. Radiant orange glow of sunset over the mountains
  3. Chocolate heaven encapsulated in one bite of a wedding cake tasting
  4. Laying next to each other on a picnic blanket looking at the clouds
  5. Diamond sparkling under the sunlight walking past the window
  6. Jazz tunes and red wine for a date night in

Now tell me you don’t feel a little happier just reading this list.

3. Choose gratitude even in the hard things

So now we know all about choosing to focus on the beautiful gifts and good things in this season. But what about when something not so rosy happens? The reality is that there will also be some disappointments that come along in your wedding planning journey because that is part of life. How do you navigate joy in that? Part of finding joy is learning to see the gifts and beautiful moments in the midst of a sometimes messy path.

Perhaps you are disappointed that one bridesmaid could not come to your bachelorette. Can you choose to be thankful for the 5 others who did come? Maybe you have a less than respectful aunt who thinks she’s in charge and is bossing people around. Can you choose to be thankful that you have family members who love you and want to be there to celebrate with you? Don’t let these disappointments steal the joy from your wedding planning season.

4. Stop comparing your wedding to others

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Social media gives us a wealth of information, but they can also get us into a comparison trap and lead to discontentment. We’ve all been there. By all means, use it to search for ideas and get inspiration, don’t get stuck there. Take breaks if you need. The reality is that there will always be a nicer version of everything, but want to know what makes it the most meaningful and lasting? 

The fact that it’s YOUR wedding. Remember that it’s your day and you don’t have to do it all like everyone else. When you are able to be present and content for what you have and what your wedding day will be, you will experience more joy.

Closing Thoughts

I know that all of this seems overly simple. You might be wondering, “what about the real problems I’m facing?” You might be legitimately overwhelmed because there are so many tasks to complete and people to contact and decisions to make. Yes, all of that is true. But do you know what? You can have all those things taken care of and still not experience joy. Why? Because joy and contentment are ultimately heart attitudes and mindsets that we choose no matter our circumstances. We will talk about practical tips for managing stress another day, but the first and most important thing is to change our mindset. In my experience, when I’ve chosen gratitude in the face of overwhelm and discouragement, those worries naturally seemed to feel less powerful. I truly believe that starting with gratitude will carry you so far.

Now it’s YOUR turn! Make a commitment to yourself to focus on gratitude, try gratitude journaling, or any other strategies that will help you focus on the good things in life!

I hope this post helped you think of some ways to cultivate more joy in this special season of engagement. Congratulations to you and your love and I wish you the absolute best for your wedding day, marriage, and beyond! If you are engaged and looking for wedding photographers in Charlottesville VA, I would love to connect and personally support you along your journey towards marriage.

This post is part of a series on Relationships and Well-being While Wedding Planning. If you are interested in more posts like this, you can find the full series below:

Relationships & Well-being, Tips For Couples


How to Have Joy While Wedding Planning

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