The Burden of Planning

Hello, hive! I would like to wish everyone a very HEALTHY and HAPPY 2013! May all your wedding planning go smoothly. May your big day be perfection. And if it’s not perfection, I hope that you still leave the party with a huge smile because you just married an amazing guy. Maybe you got engaged over the holidays or maybe you are knee-deep in the planning process (like me) and just need a quiet little reminder, so here it is: Breath in and out deeply. You can do this.

I tend to become easily overwhelmed when starting a new project. This was something that plagued me in college and graduate school. At the beginning of each semester I would receive a course syllabus rife with assignments, projects, and due dates. I would panic, which would often lead to a total emotional meltdown. Eventually this panic runs its course and I am calm enough to talk myself into a “can do,” problem solving attitude. I start by breaking the project or assignment into smaller, more manageable tasks. I also like to make to-do lists where I ask myself, “What can I cross of this list today?” I remember to always take things one day at time. To sum this up in a pithy quote: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. You will never take that first step if you are too busy being emotionally crippled by everything that must be accomplished along the way.

The same advice holds true for wedding planning. I think many women are initially overwhelmed with the amount of planning and decision-making that comes along with throwing a wedding, myself included. You have friends, relatives, coworkers, and complete strangers offering up all kinds of advice or recommendations. To make matters worse, you are immediately bombarded with a thousand minute (but seemingly huge and important) decisions. Everything from wedding colors, to cake flavors, favors, venues, music, vows, and more. There’s lots of weighing pros and cons, rationalizing, and second guessing yourself. But one of the best things you can do is to make a decision and then come to peace with that decision. Walk away from it. We all want to make sound, well-researched choices. Unfortunately there isn’t always time or energy to make the perfect choice every time, so sometimes the good enough choice needs to take precedent. And you need to be okay with that!

Here’s a tale that might ring true with my fellow DIY warriors. My dad (who generally gives the best advice) has something he calls the 90%. Essentially his philosophy is that all the extra time and energy you put into making something 100% isn’t usually worth the investment, nor is it outwardly noticeable to anyone but yourself. Most of the time 90% should be good enough. If you are familiar with economics, this is basically the concept of diminishing marginal returns. He came up with this idea while vacuuming dog hair out of his car. I really like to imagine my dad tediously vacuuming up dog hair while pondering life’s big philosophical questions. I am the type of person who will run herself into the ground in an attempt to reach 100%. I could spend hours or days on a lesson plan that is over in 50 minutes and which my students do not appreciate. I have to go above and beyond, when really, 90% would have sufficed and no one but me would have known the difference. I guess it’s all about knowing when to pick your battles. And some battles just need 90%.

My brother and me hanging out with dad, giver of great advice and proponent of the 90% rule.

Another important piece of advice, which I inherently understood and yet initially failed to follow: stop trying to do everything on your own. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a control freak, but sometimes it’s hard for me to delegate tasks to others. I guess I like knowing things are done right the first time and it’s hard for me to trust other people to complete tasks that are up to my standards. Well guess what? That’s irrational and silly and creates extra, unnecessary stress. Let your eager friends and family help out (but don’t turn them into indentured servants!). And that means your fiancé too, that poor guy who might not have any idea what he’s gotten himself into.

One night I was up late, tossing and turning in bed when I glanced over at Mr. C. He had passed out the moment his head touched the pillow and was sleeping peacefully. Why was I the one up late worrying about wedding details while he was soundly sleeping? First of all, I think that women are terrible about taking their worries and troubles to bed with them. I think men are better at shutting out the mental noise that stirs in our brains and causes worry and anxiety. Secondly, at the time Mr. C did not have my massive wedding checklist floating around his mind. He was blissfully unaware of all that needed to be accomplished in order to throw the wedding of our dreams. That’s because I was the one who was scrolling through wedding blogs making my mental wish list. I was the one on The Knot trying not to freak out when I saw the massive wedding checklist. I was the one with the inspiration folder of DIY projects just waiting to be started (or finished). To be fair, we made all of the big decisions together, but I was starting to become overwhelmed with the details, especially since I’ve also undertaken designing the save-the-dates and invitations.

He had no idea I was feeling overwhelmed until one day I had a mini-meltdown. “I can’t do this by myself!” I cried. Mr. C was taken aback by this sudden deluge of emotions. He had no idea I was silently obsessing over these details. I had let the worry pile up and pile up until I couldn’t hold it back anymore. I told him I felt like Frodo carrying the One Ring into Mordor. I was carrying this massive burden on my own. I was the one having nightmares about a wedding with missing chairs, bad food, and absent bridesmaids. I was the one stressing about vendors and hair stylists. And really, that was my fault. I hadn’t showed him the checklist. I hadn’t communicated my expectations. I hadn’t assigned him any tasks. He didn’t know a thing about scouting out rehearsal dinner locations, out of town guest baskets, escort cards, or booking hotel room blocks. As soon as I communicated my frustrations to him, he immediately asked what he could do to make the wedding planning burden easier. So I did something I should have done weeks earlier: I assigned specific tasks to him. And you know what? The world did not end. He completed them and he did an awesome job. That’s because I’m marrying a very capable and responsible guy to whom I wasn’t giving enough credit.

I sit and ponder why I didn’t enlist Mr. C’s help earlier.

Well, that’s about it on advice from me (for now, anyway). To be honest, I enjoyed writing this out because I am often the one who needs to listen to my own advice the most. I need to stay calm and focused and continue taking this wedding planning journey one day at time. I need to remember that I’m not facing this journey alone but with an awesomely supportive guy by my side. I need to remember that in most cases 90% will just have to do. I need to be okay with that. Actually, I am keeping that in mind right now as I’m finishing up our save-the-dates which I can’t wait to share with you!

Did you feel overwhelmed when you first started planning? What is your go-to strategy for staying calm and focused when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Did you have trouble enlisting the help of your friends, family, or even your fiancé for your wedding?


Mrs. Camel

Athens, GA
Wedding Date:
May 2013
Getting All Dolled Up
The Merry Minks: The Cocktail Hour
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  1. Member
    Almost Mrs.P 2056 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:36 am

    Great advice, Miss Camel! I also tend to do everything all by myself, and invest at least 100%. We are not superhuman!

  2. Member
    hagel 2 posts, Wannabee @ 6:40 am

    May I ask you what kind of tasks you assigned to your FI? I am not engaged yet but I am sure my guy wouldn’t want to do DIY projects, obsess over venues or music.. He thinks we can just get married at city hall and have a party at home with the radio on lol. I am afraid of when the day comes that I’ll be engaged, I’ll be doing everything on my own.

  3. mssquirrel Member
    mssquirrel 276 posts, Helper bee @ 6:43 am

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I too have had this meltdown. It is hard to give up the control but man has it made my life so much easier. Mr. Squirrel is invested in a completely different way now and it is nice to know we are in it together.

  4. bracelet Member
    bracelet 278 posts, Helper bee @ 7:01 am

    I think I melted down about twice during planning, but more from general stress levels than just specifically wedding stress levels. If I feel too stressed, I have a crying meltdown and after that all is good again.
    And weirdly enough, those uber-long checklists gave me a sense of control rather than freaking me out. I like lists. ;)

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    LadyMegBeth, Guest @ 8:22 am

    Ok, first….awesome, awesome post. You are a *wonderful* writer and give very sage advice which I will take to heart.

    Second, and forgive me this one because I’m running on a serious caffiene deficiancy this morning, but I read that line about your Dad as “He came up with this idea while vacuuming dog hair out of his cat.” and laughed myself silly. Out loud. At a high volume. My coworkers think I’m a crazy person, but man I needed a good laugh this morning. What you wrote makes a whole lot more sense, but I can’t get the initial hilarious mental image out of my head now.

    So, yeah. Thanks for that (and for sharing your Dad’s wisdom!). Happy planning! ;)

  6. Member
    casualencounter 61 posts, Worker bee @ 8:23 am

    I’m not engaged or getting married, but everything you talked about is so relevant, just in general. Thank you for sharing. And you have such an awesome, analytical father! The part about your dad made me smile :)
    I am happy that you feel that you can rely on your partner to support you and to get things done. WOO HOO!

  7. msmongoose Member
    msmongoose 264 posts, Helper bee @ 8:27 am

    Awesome advice–just last night I was having trouble sleeping from stressing out over random wedding-related things (in this case it was bachelorette party related). I’m just a bit stressed that my BMs aren’t taking the planning seriously so I’m trying to figure out if I should step in and handle the situation or if I should just let it go and see what happens.

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    cookie, Guest @ 8:39 am

    I am a planner. I love to plan. I would love to plan other people’s weddings, bat mitvahs-whatever. Planning is my happy place. However my own wedding totally freaked me out. I tend to visit my good friend avoidance whenever I’m freaked out and I was really miserable. I had so many wedding nightmares, it started becoming entertainment. Thank God I had a seventeen month long engagement! I spent a year hiding out, reading wedding blogs and envying everyone elses wedding, and about five months actually doing any planning. I was stressed out and made everybody crazy. All the worrying I did was for nothing because our wedding was one of the best moments of my life. It was perfect. It was all woth it and it will all work out!

  9. Member
    Ms_Maple 115 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:35 am

    What a great post and I totally feel you. I started having nightmares about things going wrong over a year before our wedding. One of our really good friends is getting married a week before us and last week I had a dream we forgot to go to their wedding – as if nightmares about my own wedding isn’t bad enough!

  10. Member
    bailey12 366 posts, Helper bee @ 11:25 am

    I use the 90% rule with my PhD program. You just can’t do everything that is expected of you *perfectly* all of the time. I should use it more often with wedding planning too.

  11. graywolf Member
    graywolf 725 posts, Busy bee @ 1:21 pm

    well said. its great that mr C was so willing to step in.

  12. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 1:44 pm

    This is excellent advice, and something I wish I had followed earlier on during my planning. I had a few meltdowns before I learned to involve Mr. P earlier instead of waiting for the inevitable.

  13. Member
    ashleighxcult 173 posts, Blushing bee @ 3:30 pm

    “But one of the best things you can do is to make a decision and then come to peace with that decision. Walk away from it.”

    Miss Camel, thank you SO MUCH for writing this. I’m almost a year into wedding planning (five months to go!) and I just hit the wall. Between everything seeming like it’s all happening at once and monetary concerns and an overbearing future sister-in-law, I have been on my way to a meltdown.

    I think this post has a lot of great advice that all brides can use to not stress as much :)

  14. camel Member
    camel 703 posts, Busy bee @ 3:58 pm

    @Hagel: I assigned him a couple tasks like booking the hotel room blocks, scouting out and booking the rehearsal dinner location (and approving a menu), ordering favors, and booking transportation. I had him create a Google doc spreadsheet where he wrote down who he spoke to, price quotes, phone numbers, and other important details which the then shared with me. I hate talking to people on the phone so I basically gave him all the phone tasks. ;)

    @Mrs. Bracelet: I am definitely guilty of the periodic crying meltdown. I get stressed, overwhelmed, cry about it, then get over it and move on. I feel so pathetic but hey, it works!

    @cookie: Yeah, I think something about it being your big day makes it so much harder to plan and organize. I’m glad to hear yours went off so well! I hope I can say the same in five months!

    @ashleighxcult: I’m so glad you found it helpful! Don’t have a meltdown, just take it one day at a time. I’m sure you are doing an awesome job. I have five months left but most of the big things are taken care of, I just need to get some of these little details out of the way.

  15. Member
    RheannaRaye 363 posts, Helper bee @ 4:46 pm

    I needed this.

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    Haley, Guest @ 4:49 am

    This is exactly what I needed to read right now. We’ve been planning our wedding for a year, and finally get married in just over a month in another country. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment, thinking that so much needs to be done, but its hard when we can’t do some things until we get to New Zealand (planning the wedding from Australia).

    I just need to take one little thing at a time, instead of a million things at once, and I’m also a fan of the stress-cry-getoverit method

  17. Guest Icon Guest
    Sunshine's Mom, Guest @ 5:20 am

    Sweet, precious little girl, all grown up and creating that biggest event of a lifetime. You will do absolutely fine sweetie, because 90% to you is about 200% compared to anyone else; even at age 3 you’re creativity was amazingly artistic and I’d be scrambling to find that substitute decor to satisfy what your imagination could dream up.
    I’d love to help if I can, bring a car load of what needs put together and come to the cabin; I’ll dig out the hot glue gun. Maybe convince K to come in and pick her up at GSP on the way up, but I’d love to have you with or without K coming in.
    Here are 2 cute smiles:

  18. Guest Icon Guest
    MissSTBmrs.Pie, Guest @ 8:33 pm

    I really appreciated this post. Beautifully written and a relief to read. Thank you! :)

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    Heather, Guest @ 4:24 pm

    Really nice post Mrs. Camel. I really like the idea of the 90% and am definitely going to think of that when I look through wedding photographer estimates tonight!

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