Planning the Happiest Day of Your Life (During a Difficult Time)

Wedding experts share insight on how to throw a wedding while coping with a departed or sick loved one, a job loss, a partner who is stationed overseas, and other life challenges.
By: 
Stefania Sainato

Create a strong support system.

There’s one coping method that all of these couples have in common, which is that they've created a support network—a team of bridesmaids, family, friends, and even groomsmen—who they can rely on. Although it can be hard to muster up the courage to ask for assistance, Nativdad says it’s a must: “I’ve been the girl tearing up at a bridal expo all by myself…it’s not fun!”

Keene believes that at their best, weddings are an exercise in community. But it’s not enough to simply ask for help—you need to figure out what you need and be specific about it. “Say, ‘I’d like you to come wedding dress shopping with me,’ or ‘I’d like you to ask me when we talk how wedding planning is going,'" she recommends. Of course, everyone won’t always live up to the expectations, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Make planning easier on yourself.

In addition to hiring a wedding planner, there are measures you can take to make the planning process smoother. Souza advises keeping the guest count lower (this helps keep finances and stress levels at bay) and throwing the wedding closer to home so you don’t have to worry about traveling. Choose an easy-to-serve menu and sit-as-you-wish seating. Keene also recommends keeping a spreadsheet that details what object is getting hauled where and when (“that beer isn’t going to get itself to the venue!”).

Coming to terms with what we hoped would be, and what is.

If we could leave you with any advice, it would be this: We've been trained to think that wedding planning is a time when everything in our life magically comes together. Every person in our life is supportive and comes out to celebrate us. But once you actually start the process, it may not be exactly what you envisioned, which can leave you disappointed.

The wedding industry has built a marketing machine around the idea that wedding planning is the time we’ll form the closest bond with our mothers, and the time that our fathers will show their love for us in the most concrete way. In reality, this often isn’t true, even if you have two parents involved in your wedding.”

But here’s the good part: Even if your planning process wasn’t “perfect” and didn't resemble a fairytale, that’s OK. The end goal is the same: You get to spend the rest of your life with the person who loves you the most, and that reality will be even better than you can imagine.