Wedding Day Prep

How to show up for yourself
Words by Christina Shepherd McGuire + PHOTOGRAPHY BY Hannah Hardaway

Trust me. You don’t want to skid to the finish line of your special day thoroughly exhausted and spent. Instead, imagine a blissful saunter down the aisle—all the pieces in place—with a calm, centered demeanor, because you put you first.

Arguably, very few of us put ourselves at the top of our list, especially with the puzzle pieces of a wedding to assemble. Getting married isn’t ultimately about the jaw-dropping dress, how long the flowers will last, or what time the band will start playing. Instead, it’s a union between two people—one of whom needs thorough pampering. Believe me, you’ll spend the rest of your life taking care of others. So, put yourself first this go-round.
Here’s my plan for you.

6 months out:
If the dress fits, BUY IT!

I know—it’s that body image thing again. C’mon, ladies! Embrace and celebrate what you’ve got and, by all means, buy the correctly sized dress! He fell in love with you—and all your glory—so there’s no need to morph yourself into something that you’re not. Squeezing into a smaller dress size only creates undue pressure on you to eventually fit into it. Instead, buy a dress that accentuates your best features (and hides last week’s pizza). And, who knows, if your prewedding workout plan helps you shed a few pounds, maybe it’s the dress that will need a nip and tuck. You are beautiful! Own it.

Start a “whole you” regimen.

We can never show up exclusively for someone else, unless we show up for ourselves first. Too many women suffer from depression, low self-esteem, fatigue, and digestive issues. But what they don’t realize is that lifestyle factors can sometimes contribute to feeling, frankly, yucky. If you’re in a rut, or want to prevent one from forming, schedule a session with a wellness coach like Kari Swenson of Mountain Mermaid Wellness. In one quick session, Swenson will create a regimen that integrates food, exercise, yoga, and mindfulness practices into your prewedding routine. She suggests first tweaking your daily habits by spending a minimum of five minutes each morning sitting quietly. “Have your journal handy and check in with how you are feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally,” she explains. “Wedding planning can be consuming, and having space and time away from it will keep you feeling refreshed.”

3 months out:
Wear sunblock! (And self-tanner, if you must.) Don’t you know? Pale is the new black.

DO NOT—and I repeat—do not fry yourself in the sun with the hope of achieving a bronzed look for your special day. Instead, protect your skin by using a chemical-free, antiaging sunblock before you venture outside. Apply sunblock liberally to your face and neck each morning, in addition to your moisturizer. And for hikes, bike rides, and any other outdoor activity, apply it every few hours, for best results. When the big day is here, your healthy, glowing skin—slightly kissed by the sun, but far from brown—will be a highlight of the day.

And, if you just can’t stand being “less than bronzed,” opt for a botanically based self-tanner. However, approach it with caution if you’ve never used the product. You want to avoid an allergic reaction just days before your wedding.

Delegate, delegate, delegate.

No one can do it all—and if you try to, you may be destined for burnout. So, make a list of all the items related to your prewedding planning. Then, decide what is most important to you and tackle those items yourself. For the more tedious items, like managing the RSVPs and coordinating venue logistics and travel, enlist your mom or an event planner like Virginia Powell Symons of Vibrant Events of Jackson Hole. “It’s my job to help couples break down the [prewedding] workload into distinct and manageable tasks, and then I take ownership of the planning elements that seem daunting or just completely un-fun,” says Powell Symons. She explains that her methodical approach allows a bride to be as involved as she wants, freeing her from the things she finds menial, and allowing her to truly enjoy the process.

1 week out:
Go off-grid.

By this point, you will be living, eating (quite literally, if you are sampling the fare), and breathing all things “wedding.” I remember seriously wanting to throw in the towel one week out and elope instead. But you have a choice. You can either feed into the frenzy, or you can take your man, your backpack, and your hiking boots, and get off the grid.

A weekend backcountry camping trip, bike excursion, or surf trip might just be the prewedding “elopement” you need. But first, hand off any additional tasks that you don’t have the energy for (and be okay relinquishing control). Then, make it easy on yourself by grabbing prepared meals and sandwiches for the cooler (from Sweet Cheeks Meats or Local Butcher) or freeze-dried dinners (like Backpacker’s Pantry meals available at Headwall Sports) for backpacking. Lastly, choose a spot that is tourist-free and truly off-grid. From car camping to scaling surrounding peaks, there are endless options for isolating yourself in nature, rehearsing your vows in private (with a glass of wine and many laughs), and truly celebrating what has brought you to this point.

Less partying, more OM.

As ladies, our bodies don’t give us much leeway. And, the cumulative effects of stress and partying are often hard to hide when you’re on stage. If you have a yoga practice, this is the time to ramp it up and put your routine on the daily “must do” list. If you’re the power yoga type, choose a more nourishing yin practice during this time; a weekly restorative class fits the bill nicely.

If yoga’s something that doesn’t even register on your radar, then, instead of saying “yes” to every festivity planned by your maid of honor, opt for some time to clear your brain, or meditate. Choosing relaxation, in lieu of partying like a rock star, will do worlds for not only your complexion and your body, but also for your state of mind—especially when it comes to those last-minute details.

The day before:
Do a float.

Sure, the traditional mani-pedi outing is fun, but have you ever tried float therapy? Healing Waters Therapeutic Float Center in Jackson offers float sessions in saltwater “pods.” It may just be the closest you’ll ever get to achieving zero gravity. While floating, the body balances and heals, and the senses rest, making it the perfect prewedding regime. And, since float therapy is regularly used by athletes to prepare for a big game or event, I’m sure it can calm those prewedding jitters (or at least guarantee you a good night’s sleep).

Which brings me to … get a good night’s sleep.

Once the rehearsal dinner has passed, don’t feel pressured to continue the after-party. Instead, set your boundaries ahead of time by letting family members and the bridal party know you want to get a good night’s sleep. Swenson of Mountain Mermaid Wellness says it’s important to create healthy boundaries, and sleeping instead of partying is a good choice. “Well-intentioned [family members] can bring their desires to the table, causing pressure. Make sure that you honor what feels best for you, since the day is about celebrating you and your honey,” she recommends. Lights out at 10 p.m. will help. I promise!

The day of:
Work out first!

A good night’s sleep, followed by a protein-packed smoothie and a workout of your choice perfectly poises you for the full day ahead. Before the partygoers even grumble, “G’morning,” slip on your shoes and go for a run. Even thirty minutes of cardio will help with your sense of focus, while also revving up your metabolism to adequately handle the impending overload of food and spirits. Plus, the endorphins and serotonin will provide a sense of calmness, while also lowering your blood pressure and relaxing your mind. It’s the perfect setup for your big day.

Turn off your phone. Really. I mean it.

If someone simply must contact you, they’ll call your mom or your bestie. Texting, checking your Facebook status, and constantly posting play-by-play photos only further distracts you from the excitement of the day. Let someone else field your calls (Remember your boundaries!) by delegating a trusted bridesmaid to be your “secretary” for the day. Then, ask her to only enlist you for items that absolutely need your attention. This will allow you to fully embrace the love surrounding your special day and to concentrate on what really matters: the celebration of your union.

A self-affirmed “chowderhead” with a western soul, Christina Shepherd McGuire shares her Teton home with her husband, two children, dog, cat, and seven chickens. She believes that traditions shape people and strives to balance life’s craziness with moments of slow living. When she’s not hanging out with local farmers—milking a goat—or gaining inspiration for the next best read, you might find her deep in some singletrack with a flat tire. Catch up with her at or when you pick up a copy of Teton Family magazine.

Photo by David Stubbs
Photo by Katy Gray
Photo by Hannah Hardaway
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