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TOP TIPS How to avoid saying 'Yes' to stress on your wedding day

Wedding coach and bride-to-be Sarah Cooney is helping others with the stress of planning their big day during a pandemic

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Aisle be there for you: Couples need to talk to each more than ever about their wedding priorities

Aisle be there for you: Couples need to talk to each more than ever about their wedding priorities

Love is: Sarah with Patrick

Love is: Sarah with Patrick

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Aisle be there for you: Couples need to talk to each more than ever about their wedding priorities

As Ireland's only bridal coach, Sarah Cooney has spent the past few months helping brides-to-be cope with the stress of planning their big day in the midst of a pandemic.

Now the expert is putting her own anxiety-beating tips to the test as she prepares to walk down the aisle tomorrow.

"The last couple of months have been horrendous in terms of stress," admits bride-to-be Sarah.

"And I'm trained to deal with the stress of organising a wedding - what's it like for somebody who isn't trained?"

"At this stage, I can't wait to say 'I Do' - hopefully Cork won't go into lockdown before then!"

Wedding professional Sarah was due to exchange vows with fiancé Patrick in sun-soaked Tuscany next May.

But, like thousands of others, the couple were forced to cancel their dream destination wedding, as well as this month's back-up ceremony at The Shelbourne in Dublin, due to Covid-19.

Now she's hoping third time's a charm as they tie the knot surrounded by just 21 family members and friends at Hayfield Manor tomorrow.

"One of the biggest things I've been coaching brides on since Covid is 'priorities'," says Sarah, who's also a life coach.

"I advise them to sit down with their partner and chat about what's really important - and I did the same with my own partner.

"We were due to have 100 people at our wedding in Italy, The Shelbourne was Plan B, then I moved everything down to Cork after Dublin moved to Level 3.

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Love is: Sarah with Patrick

Love is: Sarah with Patrick

Love is: Sarah with Patrick

"Our attitude was, 'Let's just go ahead and get married regardless of who turns up on the day', because that is the most important thing for us at the moment.

"It's really important to figure out your needs - and I think Covid has done that for a lot of people."

Glanmire native Sarah first launched her bridal coaching service in 2017 after dreaming of her own big day since she was a girl.

Today she offers personalised and group coaching sessions starting from €25 an hour on Zoom to help others turn the dream into a reality.

"Basically, I coach women around creating a vision for their wedding and how to implement those ideas," she explains.

"I would also be an accountability partner for them - motivating them to keep organised each week and month.

"Assertiveness is another thing that I coach around, in order to help them make informed decisions.

"The dream wedding is the target really, with all my brides.

"It's getting a great response, especially since Covid," tells Sarah, who launched a free SOS phone service for panicked brides during lockdown.

"I've heard some lovely stories about how wedding suppliers have been great in changing dates - but I've also heard some horror stories as well.

"Knowing first-hand myself how horrible it's been, I just want to help as many people as I can and give as many tips as I can."

Although modern grooms are more involved than ever before, it's still mostly brides who say 'Yes' to the stress, according to the expert.

Deep-breathing, meditation or just chatting to an empathetic friend are some of her top tips to stop wedding bells turning to wedding hell.

"Aside from the stress, an awful lot of the responsibility lies with the bride and her vision of the day," she says.

"You might have the best partner in the world, which I'm very lucky to say I do, but they don't understand. They're not dreaming of a wedding all their lives.

"The first thing to do is get to the root of what's causing the anxiety and to label it. The next thing is to control whatever you can control and, if there's things that you can't control, make peace with it.

"Another very important tip I give brides is to get support from family, friends, coaches,counsellors or whoever they rely on," continues Sarah.

"It is quite a difficult time, so I wouldn't be saying to anybody to be shouldering it all alone.

"Get your feelings out there - and be kind to yourself as well."

⬤ See bridalcoaching.ie for more top tips