I'll tell you the secret: not only how to stay calm at the altar but also how to have a truly joyous wedding day. After counseling thousands of women over the last fourteen years through their engagement, I can tell you with a fair amount of certainty what it takes to be a blissful bride. But first I'm going to tell you what most women do that nearly ensures that they'll be a wreck at their wedding.
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Most women believe that the engagement is the time to plan their wedding. Sounds logical, right? You get engaged and within hours you set a date, book the location, secure a photographer, set up your wedding website, and begin making the countless lists of details that, when checked, will secure a fabulous wedding day. Most women focus on the externals - the flowers, the dress, the rings, the colors - believing the cultural message that has been telling them since they were little girls that a perfect wedding translates into a perfect marriage and a perfect life. They're not consciously thinking about this equation; they don't have to since every media message has inundated them with this false belief, and as soon as they pick up a bridal magazine, the message is reinforced: If you plan a perfect wedding, you will look beautiful on your wedding day and live happily ever after.
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The message is a lie, and I'll tell you why: a beautiful wedding and a calm bride actually have nothing do with perfect centerpieces. Who remembers the centerpieces two weeks after the wedding? When you think of the beautiful weddings you've attended in your life, do you remember the color of the napkins? Do you even recall what the bride's dress looked like? Not likely. A calm bride and a beautiful wedding are about what's happening emotionally, within the bride and between the couple. When the bride is connected to herself and her partner, everybody feels it. We love weddings not because they're externally beautifully affairs but because they remind us of the highest aspects of ourselves, they fill us with hope, they elevate us to a realm slightly outside our normal, daily existence, and quite simply, they open our hearts to love.
And yet we tell women to spend their engagements obsessively focused on planning a perfect day. We guide them down a path that usually results in disconnecting from themselves and their partners, spending a boatload of money, and showing up on the wedding day looking like a ghost of themselves. The reasons for the perpetuation of this lie extend beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say what everyone intuitively knows: when you fall prey to the cultural pitfalls and turn into bridezilla, you create misery for yourself and everyone around you and do nothing to prepare yourself or your partner for a beautiful day and, far more importantly, a healthy foundation on which to begin your marriage.
So what's the antidote? What's the secret to a calm bride and truly beautiful day? The secret is fourfold: