Photo by Taylor Roades Photography

The truth is, everyone has ideals and expectations when they begin wedding planning. But as things start to progress, hiccups will arise. If you’re not careful, they can steal your joy and your focus from the things that matter most: your love, your relationships and the marriage waiting on the other side of “I do.” So be prepared for the realities of wedding planning, and be ready to handle them like a pro.

1. You will get stressed out

In the beginning, it’s fun and games. Everything is new and exciting. But while you may be thrilled now at the thought of spending every waking moment planning, you’ll eventually run out of steam... and motivation... and pep. Things add up and the task lists are long, so confusion and feelings of being overwhelmed are bound to set in.

How to handle:

• Create realistic goals in manageable chunks, such as month-to-month planning checklists. There are tons of great resources online such as the Real Weddings Wedding Planning Worksheet or the Be My Own Wedding Planner Kit.

• Set aside planning days each week where you’re committed to working on wedding to-do’s. Also be sure to block off down days, where you simply enjoy each other, your friends and family apart from wedding talk. Living real life will only inspire your wedding plans.

2. You will have to compromise

Your fiancé and you will likely have different ideas about how your wedding should play out and what you each value as most important. Rarely will you be entirely on the same page.

How to handle:

• Verbalize your expectations and be ready to compromise where needed. It’s important you both feel heard and that the day is a reflection of two, not just one. If compromise isn’t necessary when it comes to expectations, then it may present itself when it comes to spending.

• Create a realistic budget that you both feel comfortable with and commit to sticking to it. And remember: all those weddings you’re using as inspiration likely cost a pretty penny, far more expensive than you’d imagine.

3. You can’t have it all

I know you think you can. I know you want it. And I know Mom wants to give you your every heart’s desire, but you likely cannot have it all, whether because of compromise, budget or logistical restraints with vendors.

How to handle:

• Use the "Three Most Important Rule.” Pick the three things that are most important to you both – your non negotiables – such as the food, the venue or the decor. Assign the majority of your budget to these things first, being willing to compromise in the other areas. You’ll avoid feeling like you didn’t get anything “exactly” as you wanted.

4. You’re bound to fight

Even if you’ve never fought or you’re really good at bickering, things can get heated, emotions will rise and tension will set in. You might also get into arguments with family and friends, be it your bridesmaids because you’re asking too much of them or perhaps your parents, as you struggle to see eye to eye.

How to handle:

• Approach discussions with a desire to work through them, assuming the best of people’s intentions. Choose not to get defensive or take things personally, seeing it as an opportunity to voice expectations and make sure everyone is heard. Then go back to No. 2, being ready and willing to compromise.

5. You will need help

If I had a penny for every bride that said, “I’m going to do it all,” I’d be a wealthy woman. Other common variations: “I’ve planned weddings before,” or “I’m very detail oriented and can handle things myself.” Regardless, you’re going to want a hand. The task lists are long and there will be months where you simply can’t do it all. Go in knowing you’ll need assistance and avoid feelings of defeat.

How to handle:

• Hire a wedding planner to work with you, keep you accountable to progress and get you back on track when needed.

• Look ahead and delegate right from the get-go, getting family, friends and bridesmaids involved. This way, they can work on things when they have time, not because you’re frantic and need things done, like yesterday.