Getting married is a wonderful yet complicated process, and it is easy to find yourself getting anxious about the smallest things. Here are the top six dilemmas I hear from the brides I work with – along with some simple advice to help you beat a bit of that wedding stress.

1. I don’t know where to start!

From the moment you say ‘yes’, the questions start coming. When are you getting married? Where are you getting married? How many people? Everyone wants to know your plans when you don’t even know them yourself. Don’t panic. 

The first thing to do is to earmark a provisional date and check with family and VIP guests that they are free. Next, talk about money, whether you and your fiancée are footing the bill or if you are receiving parental contributions. Once you have a confirmed date and budget, you can start thinking more realistically – for example researching venues with availability in your price range.

2. Help! My mother is taking over…

Sometimes enthusiastic helpers can add to the stress rather than relieve it. Many brides-to-be are faced with an interfering mother-in-law and overbearing mothers. The trick is to manage their expectations and make them feel useful. 

For example, ask your mother-in-law to research local florists and she will feel valued and helpful. Minimise the stressful badgering from your mother by spending an afternoon together to make plans and decisions. Not only is it time-efficient, but she will feel organised and indulged. 

3. Do I have to respect wedding traditions?

A white-tiered wedding cake and formal receiving line, not your thing? You are not alone. Most couples adapt wedding traditions to suit both their style of the day and their tastes. 

While most modern weddings throw the rulebook out of the window, it is important to think about the purpose that many traditions serve. For example, speeches are useful for thanking people and acknowledging the importance of the occasion; a receiving line ensures the newlyweds meet and greet all their guests; a wedding cake provides a decorative focus to the room and a great photo opportunity. While you don’t need to have all these elements, make sure you aren’t missing out on the little yet important things.

Photo Credit: Emily & Jo

4. I’m too old to ask my friends to be bridesmaids. Do I need any at all?

Many brides don’t want to ask their very grown-up friends to wear a dress and be on duty. In many instances, these friends have lovely little children who look angelic and will find the experience much more exciting. A bride does, however, need some support on the day, both practically and emotionally. 

The morning of the wedding is one of the most special times you will share with your best friends, so ask one or two to be with you while you get ready. On a practical note, you also need a helper. Someone should be on hand to hold your bouquet during the ceremony, arrange your dress for photos, help you bustle up your skirts for dancing and, not least if you have a big dress, assist you in the ladies!

5. Shopping for a wedding dress terrifies me…

You are told that as soon as you put on the dress you will know it. You know that people sometimes cry. It will be studied in photographs for generations to come and is the most expensive item of clothing you will ever buy. No wonder you are daunted!

Try to remember this. A wedding dress is unlike anything you have ever worn, whether you are corseted into a boned bodice, swishing about in a full tulle skirt or dazzling in a sparkly gown. Don’t be scared to try on dresses that don’t automatically fall into ‘your style’ –you will be amazed by how different things look on.

6. Will I really look amazing on my wedding day?

If you have chosen a dress you love (and are marrying the right person) then the answer is yes! Putting on a gown is a transformative process. Every detail of the dress is designed to enhance your natural shape and will have been tailored to fit you perfectly. Your hair and make-up will have been refined to suit your style, and your bouquet designed to enhance your dress and reflect the style of the wedding.

After that, it’s down to you and it is all in the details. It is essential that you wear your dress well, with natural posture and poise, to allow it to fit you as intended. Walk at a gentle pace and try to move gracefully: never be in a rush. Hold your bouquet so that it complements your dress, and position yourself for photos so that you are flattering yourself and your dress.

Jo Bryant offers a Wedding Etiquette course based on British Wedding Etiquette from traditions and history to modern trends and contemporary expectations. Find out more at