It was an interesting question to ponder, because in all honesty we didn't approach the planning from the perspective of making the wedding anxiety-friendly. However, once Thomas and I sat down to think about it, we quickly realised that almost all of the big decisions we've made during planning have been prompted by or related to making it a comfortable experience for us. We have - partly on purpose but mostly by accident - planned the perfect anxiety-friendly wedding.
So, what have we done to make our wedding anxiety-friendly? Here are a few things that have worked well for us.
When we first began talking about a wedding, I was adamant about one thing: I did not want to have it in Leicester. My love/hate relationship with the city I've called home for 20 years is a whole other post, but at the start of the planning process two years ago I was in a 'hate' phase. So we looked, in a vague and noncommittal way, at venue options from Bristol to Glasgow, Leeds to Warwickshire. But nothing felt right, or affordable, or easy.
And then, a brainwave. Where do we feel most comfortable? The Lansdowne pub here in Leicester. Which building do we both think is one of the most beautiful in England? The Guildhall here in Leicester.
Now, having booked both places, I'm very relieved we chose to be have our celebration here. I'm (luckily) very much in an 'I love Leicester' mood of late, and I'm so excited to show the city off to people from around the world who would otherwise have no reason to visit. More importantly, it has made the planning so much easier, compared with trying to pull off a big event in a city we're unfamiliar with. So you can keep your destination weddings: I'm happy to be having a local one.
Saying "No" To DIY
It would have been so very easy for me - creative, imaginative, crafty - to become completely absorbed in a thousand DIY projects to make our wedding look Pinterest-perfect. I can imagine an alternate reality where we decided to decorate a barn or a marquee from scratch and I spent every evening for the past 12 months sobbing over table centrepieces and hand-sewn bunting.
Instead, we embarked on wedding planning with a strict "No DIY" policy. This was largely for budgetary reasons but also because we explicitly wanted a stripped-back, simple wedding: no favours (which inevitably get forgotten about and left on tables), no elaborate seating plans, no handcrafted centrepieces to fit a theme. In fact, no theme at all. This approach has meant that our energies have been concentrated on the few things - music, clothes, food - that are important to us, and has saved me many a sleepless night worrying about craft supplies.
Making Google Docs Our Best Friend
From guest lists, to keeping track of when people are arriving and where they're staying, to budget and to-do lists, everything is contained on one many-tabbed spreadsheet. And having it as a shared Google Doc means that we can both access it anywhere, any time. Having a 2am panic about unbooked hotel rooms? I can quickly check on my phone without getting out of bed. It's made it so much easier to share the planning and ensure that Thomas - against my instinct to be a complete control freak and drive myself to a breakdown - is able to do his fair share.
Saying "Yes" To Offers Of Help
Chiefly, financial help from my parents. Because, believe it or not, Janet Brown - Fiercely Feminist Independent Woman - is having a wedding almost entirely paid for by my mum and dad. And yeah, that's pretty fucking weird and something both Thomas and I struggled with and debated for a long time. Ultimately, though, we realised that turning down their incredibly generous offer to match the cash they'd given my brother and his wife for their 2015 wedding would have been foolhardy. Could we have paid for it all ourselves? Yes, by scrimping and saving these past two years, during which we were also constantly fretting about Thomas not having permanent employment. But our anxiety levels were immediately reduced the day we deposited those cheques and it's taken so much worry out of the planning process.
Of course, help hasn't only come in the form of money from my parents. So many friends have stepped up to help with everything from collecting jam jars for flowers, to volunteering assistance on the day, to lending cake stands. Knowing people who work in the wedding industry has also been hugely helpful, meaning we got our invitations, cakes, photographer and music all sorted either for free or at mate's rates.
If you're planning a wedding and someone offers to help, it's always worth considering it carefully - I've heard nightmare stories of parents thinking that giving money entitles them to control over the guest list, for example - but if you're comfortable with what's on offer, I'd say go for it.
Planning Time Together On The Big Day
I appreciate that for many people, getting ready separately and seeing each other for the first time as one of you walks down the aisle is all part of the magic. But for Thomas and I, the worst thing we could imagine was being apart until the ceremony. There's a reason we're getting married, after all - he's my person, the one I want by my side when I'm feeling anxious or nervous - and so it felt completely counter-intuitive to be apart during the build-up.
Instead, we'll both spend the morning at a family brunch before returning to our hotel to get ready together. And when the time comes, we'll travel to the Guildhall together ready to meet and greet people as a team. Taking the decision to do away with tradition and spend the whole day together was an easy one to make, and I am so glad I'll have Thomas by my side for the whole experience.