In the age of Pinterest and theKnot.com, it's easy for engaged couples to get overwhelmed by the wealth of ideas out there.
The bride and groom have to pick a venue, a theme, a color scheme, someone to officiate the ceremony. They have to decide on the wedding party and guests, seating arrangements, the type of food they'll eat, how it'll be served, what will it be served on and should they have cake or cupcakes or pies or cake pops, or would that be weird? Then there's the dress, the flowers, the favors, the gifts for out-of-towners, the music and, oh right, the budget.
Add to all this the expectations of a perfect wedding day, pressure from family members and friends who have their own ideas, the sometimes unimaginable costs of making it all happen and easy access to the 500 billion possible wedding scenarios out there, and you can have a stressful situation. To say the least.
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Brides these days often use Pinterest -- an online tool used to share and organize the things you like and projects you want to take on -- to find ideas for their weddings. But Bluffton bride-to-be Ingrid Campbell found the website too overwhelming.
She ended up ditching Pinterest and creating her own homemade mood board, using an actual cork board. There, on that finite space, she hangs anything wedding-related -- from photos and postcards to pieces of fabric and color templates.
"I like being able to just look at it, physically move things around, add new items and remove others," Campbell said. "I get inspired by so many random things, and I like seeing them all come together right on my bedroom wall."
Using her own mood board takes away the added pressure of seeing what everyone else has pinned on Pinterest.
She also frequents theKnot.com, a website dedicated to helping couples plan their weddings. The Knot has an app that allows brides to save the wedding details they like, such as dresses or bouquets.
"I don't know if this will help come (dress) shopping time since I must have liked close to 100," she said. "It's a neat app, but I try to limit the browsing of dresses. I have a good idea of what I want and what I like. The app is fun but won't be a decider at the end of the day."
Brooke Bellaver of Bluffton is in the midst of planning her May 24 wedding to Brett Krudener. She got some of the ideas for their wedding from magazines, but mostly she uses Pinterest, where she has made three or four themed boards so far.
Because of all the great ideas out there, Bellaver has changed her mind several times.
"It's definitely very overwhelming," she said. "There's so much out there and so much that it's definitely hard to keep track of it all. ... Because of Pinterest and social media, it's so trendy to have a wedding, and it's like you're trying to outdo everyone. And I sit back and I'm like, 'Why? It's just one day. Why are we going crazy over this?' But it's just out there, and it's in your face all the time."
KNOWING WHEN TO STOP
Lisa Manning, owner of Southern Weddings, said some clients come to her knowing nothing about weddings. Some have never even been to a wedding. And others spend all day on Pinterest, coming up with a million ideas.
"The problem with it is that they don't know when to stop," Manning said. "Let's say they come up with a great plan, and then they keep going to magazines, and they keep going on the Knot, and they keep going to Pinterest. And they see 87 more things. And so then it becomes this wishy washy (thing). That's what stresses everybody out because once they've made the plan, they don't stick with it. They want to change it because they saw the next greatest thing."
She said some of her brides do that with their wedding gowns. They spend all this time looking for the perfect dress, decide on one and keep looking at the magazines. Some even go back and cancel their dress orders because they find something they like better.
"All I can say to that is that's just ridiculous," she said.
Her advice to brides is to go with the first idea they love, plan it and stop looking at pictures.
Another problem with all the ideas out there is that some of them are unrealistic.
She recalled a time more than a decade ago, when brides were saying they wanted pink Lily of the Valley flowers. She said the hybrid pink flowers were seen in Martha Stewart Weddings and got brides all excited.
The problem was that pink Lily of the Valleys didn't really exist.
"The florist said, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" Manning said.
She said Lily of the Valleys are not hardy flowers. Florists had to order double the amount needed because half of the flowers would be ruined by the time they arrived. She said the cost was going to be $3,000 for one bouquet.
Manning said brides often admit to her that they're stressed about planning their weddings. She said the biggest stressor of all is the families. Parents of the bride and groom put a lot of expectations on their children.
At a wedding Manning planned last Octorber, the bride wanted her father to walk her down the aisle. Her parents were divorced, and the mother also wanted to walk her down the aisle. The mother ended up throwing a screaming fit until she was given permission to walk her daughter down the aisle.
Manning tells brides and grooms not even to bother debating with others about the wedding plans. The mother of the bride might want one thing while the mother of the groom wants something completely different. You can't make everyone happy, and this is your wedding, not theirs.
"What you do is you don't get into the debate. You look at them, you smile, and say, 'That is a great idea,' " Manning said. "Then do whatever you want to do. ... Don't even argue with them."
KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT
While many brides get burned out with all the details of their wedding day, others manage to remain laid back and just do their thing.
Okatie bride Karsen Gardner has not allowed all the planning to stress her out. She does use Pinterest and changes her mind all the time about different aspects of the wedding. But for the most part, she knows what she wants.
She's planning a casual wedding on the dock next to The Church of the Cross in Bluffton. She does not have a wedding planner. All the planning is being done by Gardner and her mother. She said having a simple wedding eliminates a lot of the stress that many brides experience. Her attitude also staves off the stress.
"I like input from people, but I'm stubborn, and if I don't like the idea, I won't go with it and will just make it my own," she said.
Caitlin Blount of Hilton Head Island didn't seem too frazzled by all the ideas on the Internet. She said it was overwhelming, but it helped to pick a theme before looking around.
"There are so many different ideas out there, and it will look kind of jumbled up if you don't really have a theme. So that was one of the first things we did."
The Blounts had a "date night" theme with candles and black-and-white decor.
Blount said Pinterest was really helpful and she used a lot of the ideas she found there.
She and her husband, Brian, both had ideas ahead of time of what they wanted for their special day. He already knew most of the vendors since he was raised on Hilton Head. They used a lot of people who he knew from childhood.
Blount said another way to reduce the stress load is to ask for help. Everybody wants to help.
"I felt like I was burdening people," she said. "And then I would be up until midnight (putting together details) or even later some days. Everybody wants to help, but nobody wants to step on toes. ... It's OK to ask for help. And have your fiance go with you. They might not want to, but they'll enjoy the experience. They like to be involved and have a say."
RELAX AND ENJOY YOUR DAY
It depends on what they are stressing about, but Manning said her advice is usually for the bride to spend some time with girlfriends or with her fiance with one rule -- no discussion of the wedding.
She said it's also a good idea to set aside certain times to work on planning the wedding so it doesn't take over your life.
"Don't let it be so consuming," Manning said. "Sit back. Relax. Enjoy the process. ... Take some time off to do other things."
Hilton Head licensed professional counselor Dr. Debi Lynes sees a lot of stressed-out brides and grooms in her office. She offers one piece of advice to couples planning their weddings.
"Really enjoy not just the wedding but the act of being together," she said. "Don't stress about the stuff. Pay attention to each other. And that is huge because what people really pay attention to is the interaction of the couple and the families. And I think if you want people to enjoy the wedding, relax and enjoy it yourself."
Campbell admits the wedding planning was overwhelming at first. But she has managed to not get swept up in all the hoopla.
"The whole 'This is the biggest day in your life' thing was put aside real quick," she said. "Thanks to family and friends, I know it will be an amazing experience, and everything will work out without the stress part."
Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.