Column: Celebrating the season of engagements while avoiding stress


PUNGO — Valentine’s Day surely rerouted the planned paths for some people.

Only two years ago, the U.S Census Bureau reported $2.6 billion in jewelry merchandise sales in February. 

Such as engagement rings. 

Valentine’s Day is a marked holiday for popping a four-word question: “Will you marry me?”

That’s a significant inquiry not only for the two involved but also for friends and family who surround the loving couple. The joyous answer of “yes” can be followed by several emotions such as excitement, nervousness and especially stress once planning the wedding is underway. 

Executing the dream wedding is no easy task, but it is big business. The U.S. wedding market is a $76 billion dollar industry, according to IBIS World, a business research firm.

That money comes from somewhere. One of the things I worried about when I became engaged was the amount of money we were spending for one day. I’ve heard about family dynamics, such as the awkwardness when divorced parents are involved. Or when two families come from vastly different backgrounds.

Stress is a nasty monster. It can lead to issues such as insomnia, headaches even colds, to name a few. When I feel stress, I tend to shut down. I may not respond as quickly. I withdraw.

Common techniques to manage stress can range from limiting caffeine intake to participating in physical activity or, if you can, hiring a wedding planner.

Pearl Taylor, owner and event planner at Uniquely Yours by Pearl, was the voice of reason who helped me on my wedding journey from picking the flowers to going down the aisle.

“The time goes by too quickly and it is over,” she said. “Try to enjoy the moment. Have a positive attitude toward the planning phase of a wedding.” 

One way I deal with stress is yoga. It quiets the chatter and helps me focus upon one task at a time. Yoga led me to the idea of achieving mindful practice, a stress management technique. It can also help improve problem-solving, ease anxiety and contribute to a healthy sense of self.

This idea helped me take things step by step. It’s also helped me address public speaking, which makes me nervous. I’m studying food science and exercise science studies, and this has also exposed me to some scholarship on the topic.

For example, you could focus upon scanning your body to bring awareness to the way your clothes feel, notice the moment by bringing attention to your thoughts, even the rich inhale and exhale of your breath.

That’s a simple application of being mindful.

When I approached my groom, I practiced mindfulness for the limelight as a bride walking down the aisle, with all eyes watching, which was nerve wracking. The milestone of marriage is a major juncture in a couple’s life, and can heighten feelings at both ends of the spectrum. There is love, and there is stress. 

Joining two families in the unforgettable event of matrimony should be free from worry, anxiety and stress. The reality of things can be different.

Mindfulness, for me, helps deal with planning and managing a hectic, shared occasion. If not to manage stress, mindfulness can capture and savor the moment to fully be emerged in the celebratory atmosphere. To be in the moment. 

Perhaps this year will be a slow wedding season for some, but others on Valentine’s Day may see the path of their life change. I hope they’ll manage it well and enjoy the start of a new journey.

Of course, after that, it’s tax season.

Louka has lived in Pungo for the past five years with her husband and two young children. She studies food science nutrition and exercise science at Norfolk State University. She is scheduled to earn her bachelor’s degree in May.

© 2018 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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