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Jennifer Baumgartner
Jennifer Baumgartner Psy.D.

Avoid Wedding Dress Stress!

Avoid Wedding Dress Stress

Holiday season is a time of celebration, family gatherings, and engagements! Now that the ornaments are boxed, food is eaten, and ring resized the difficult process of wedding planning looms in the distance. One of the most difficult choices for a future bride is deciding on her wedding dress. If you are guilty of watching "Say Yes to the Dress" as I am, but my reasons are purely for research of course, you will have had a glimpse into the wedding dress world. This is an entirely different place than the regular clothing world. This world contains superlatives and notions such as "the most special day of your life", "since you were a little girl", "everyone is watching", "you can never do this over" and "everything must be perfect on this day, including you".

All of the dress stress on top of everything else can take the blush out of any bride. How can anyone function successfully under this amount of pressure? Not to fret...Dr. B, with the help of wedding planner Nerissa Montemurro of Private Receptions, is here to ease your wedding worries!

Dr B's Tips:

1. During any difficult time you must use what little energy you have left to actively de-stress. Stressful situations cause arousal. Kuznet's Inverted-U Hypothesis teaches us that too much or too little arousal can decrease performance levels while completing a task. For most individuals, it is the moderate amount of stress that helps us perform at our peak. Remember this when shopping for a dress.

2. Take a time out from all things wedding. Give yourself one day to remove any talk of dresses, cakes, reception, and flowers out of your vocabulary. Store your bridal magazines and block your wedding update emails. Removing yourself from your wedding will put things into perspective, remove unnecessary emotion, increase your objective view of this day, and help you decide on the dress. It will also serve as a reminder that life went on before your wedding and will go on after your wedding no matter the outcome.

3. Remember what this day is really about. Although your wedding day is important, getting married has nothing to do with this one day or the dress. Getting married is really about the commitment you make to your partner, and the decision to build a life with your spouse. The wedding day is merely an arbitrary marker for this commitment. If your focus is funneled into only the wedding day you may be ignoring signs that you should not marry your partner, need to work on your relationship, or must strengthen the actual marriage.

4. If you look back on this day what will you remember? Whenever I need to make an important decision in my life or have hit a difficult period in my life, I always ask myself "When I am 90 years old what would I have wished I had done?" Asking this question has prompted me to move to California, write a book, jump in Lake Momar in my dress, and turn down a job in NYC. If ever perspective was important it is on your wedding day, so ask the question! I promise you the answer will not be the flowers, dress, or cake!

5. You must feel physically and emotionally comfortable in your dress. Your dress should allow you to dance all night and actually breathe! You also want a dress which makes you feel spectacular in your own skin. This is not the time to try something drastically different or experiment with a new look. You want to feel like the most beautiful version of you!

6. You need to create a signature look which is informed by your day-to-day wardrobe. Maybe your love for belts, color, or jewelry sets you apart from the rest every day as well as on this special day! Consider a colorful sash, vintage brooch, or elegant hairpin.

7. Remember you. This day and this dress are yours. Take your first step in assertiveness and boundary setting in your new life with your dress choice. Also remember what looks good in a magazine may not work for you. Ignore Tim Gunn's mantra "Make it work" and just move on to something better.

8. No self-punishment! Remember you want to look you best on your wedding day not like some over-bleached, burnt, and starving version of yourself. Save the crash diets, body wraps, celery sticks, tanning beds, and spray tans for another time.

9. Break all the rules...even mine. You don't have to wear white, you don't have to wear a dress, you don't even have to wear anything all, just as long as it makes you celebrate on, what I hope will be, the happiest day of your life.

Nerissa's Know How:

10. I always suggest for a bride to go shopping by herself the first time around. Get a feel for what she likes without the approval or disapproval from family and friends. Once she has an idea of her top 2 or 3 styles and/or designers then narrow it down with the help of family and friends.

11. Brides need to understand the difference between a TV and the real live dressing room. Nine out of 10 times women try on too many dresses looking for the moment where they break into tears and say "this is the dress!" Nine out of 10 times that doesn't happen. You could love 5, 10, 15, dresses you try on. Remember to work with the figure you have highlighting your strengths. Next remember the type of affair you are having and make sure the dress is suitable for the season, time of day, venue, and the overall environment.

12. Sometimes the dress you thought you'd never wear is the one you end up with. Be flexible when trying on different styles.

13. Be honest about your budget. If you don't have one...get one. Everyone has a budget, and it's best to shop within it. Saves you time, heartache, and debt.

Are you a bride planning you wedding? Or have you already walked down the aisle? What tips can you suggest for other brides? Any grooms out there? Let us know your thoughts!

• Please tune in!
Tues, January 26th at 1pm EST, Dr. B. will participate with Ashley Wood on Rena Resse's Soul Salon Radio Program. Tune in at or visit Rena Reese's website at to find out more. Dr. B. will be talking about 360 Self, her latest project. 360 Self enhances one's awareness of the interconnectedness of the MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT to achieve optimal health and well-being.

Check out my blog on, Wedding Fever

About the Author
Jennifer Baumgartner

Jennifer Baumgartner, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist who examines the underlying reasons for clients' style choices and creates a wardrobe to facilitate positive internal change.

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