Freaked out.

This is how a bride of any age may feel on the way to a wedding day. Some women feel it more than others. And some never get to the “freaked out cliff.”

If you are an engaged woman and are feeling like you are “losing it” or are getting caught up in the anxiety of wedding planning, I feel you.

In today’s culture, there is huge pressure for a couple to create a remarkable, unique and “perfect” wedding day.

A beautiful, sweet and poignant wedding day is about authenticity. It is about being real.

Yet, the stress of family, friends, our culture and the wedding industry are a perfect storm to create a freaked out bride or couple. If you are stressing over decisions, torn between family or friends or just want to “escape,” I can assure you that all of these experiences and feelings are normal.

A wedding is all about change.  This experience is big/huge and brings up all sorts of feelings – good stuff and shadow stuff. We underestimate the enormity of conflicting feelings during an engagement period and what they may bring up.

I love a couple who takes  “time out” from all things wedding and uses time during an engagement to deepen a bond, to ask hard questions and focuses on the “marriage” part of a wedding day.

1) Wanting to Escape is Normal. So, do it. Get lost – solo or together. Take yourself on a road trip for a day. Ask a girlfriend to join you for an afternoon of window shopping. Go see a movie with a bucket of popcorn. Getting “away” if only for a half or full day can often give you perspective on decisions or choices that are often muted in the enormity of wedding planning, especially if your day is a big one or a destination wedding.

2) Take Advantage of Relationship Comfort and Counsel. I invite you to use your engagement time to deepen your relationship with your partner and yourself. Don’t use this time to anesthetize feelings or thoughts that are being called forth by this huge ritual of transition and change. Few couples do any type of pre-marriage work. Look for a local pre-marriage workshop or find a Pre-Marriage Coach/Counselor.

Pre-Marriage work is about going deeper into your relationship and creating a road map and footprint for a loving, healthy and beautiful partnership/marriage. I invite you to look to Sheryl Paul, author of “The Conscious Bride” for eloquent support and counsel.

3) Get Real. In my experience, freaked out brides get to the “freaky stage” when they start letting the wedding industry get to them. If you are questioning or worrying about your planning choices and decisions, let me put your mind at ease. In my experience and having been to hundreds and hundreds of wedding, there is no perfect wedding day. Sorry, it doesn’t exist.

Secret? It’s the imperfect wedding day that is remembered for a lifetime. Really.

As you move toward your wedding day, I ask you to ponder this: “what appears to be big is really small and what appears to be small is really big.” Life – it’s a beautiful and incredible paradox.

Annemarie Juhlian is a Wedding Officiant, Minister & Celebrant in Seattle, Washington. She creates personalized wedding ceremonies for couples of all faiths and traditions. She also offers pre-marriage coaching sessions for couples and works one-on-one with brides on their way to the wedding day.