In today’s blog post we’re featuring an awesome interview with Coach Nicole Baker. Nicole works with perfectionists and while planning her own wedding, realized just how many pitfalls perfectionists can fall into during the wedding planning process.
From procrastinating tasks to people pleasing and losing yourself in the process, Nicole is sharing her advice for how couples can better deal with the stress of wedding planning and reprioritize their own vision for the day. Read on for Nicole’s tips below!
Please introduce yourself! Who are you and what do you do?
Hello! My name’s Nicole Baker, I am a coach who helps perfectionists not only set goals but actually follow through on them. Something I realized early on from coaching is that perfectionists have no limit to goals they want to achieve, but they put these insanely high expectations on themselves – feeling like that’s the only way to achieve them.
Through my research, I learned this does one of two things. One, it causes us to slam our foot on the gas, feeling like we need to achieve it now or else we’ll fall behind. Example, “My whole wedding has to be planned by Thursday” frantic energy. Or two, our overwhelm muscle kicks in and says, “Nahhhh, I’ll do this later when I’m more motivated” and we start procrastinating. I.e “How the heck does someone decorate an entire ballroom?… Ya know, I can do this later, so I’ll scroll TikTok instead.”
I help these two types of people look at that big goal that they have for themselves and take action toward accomplishing it in a hustle, overwhelm, and burnout-free manner.
How did you get into coaching for perfectionists?
For this, we have to go back a ways. I was very fortunate to have grown up immersed in the Personal Development world (both my parents worked as coaches and logistic operators for some of the top names in the industry). Through countless seminars, I fell in love with watching someone absolutely change their life.
However, when I was in elementary school, I started getting bullied relentlessly. I was a kid who had a lot of emotions (hello to the fellow empaths out there!) and not much of an idea of what to do with them. My reaction to this type of abusive behavior was to fully shut down and feel like I had to put on this “perfect persona” in order to be accepted. As a result of this situation, I developed body dysmorphia, I entered abusive friendships/relationships, and basically destroyed my self-worth and confidence.
Fortunately, I hit my rock bottom. I was told by a college professor that if I didn’t get my confidence up, I would have to leave the program I had worked so hard to get into. I immediately called my parents and exclaimed how I’ve been hearing this “personal development stuff” for years, it’s now time to implement it. So they coached me, no holds barred.
And through a lot of hard internal work, I graduated and was asked to come back and teach workshops on perfectionism. It was through that experience that I learned how much your mindset has to do with your current circumstances and my life was truly never the same again. Long story short, I fell in love with this work and not long after graduating I started studying neurolinguistic programming, the science of goal setting and perfectionism, and began my career as a coach!
We know wedding planning can be stressful. What happens when couples are dealing with that much pressure?
Wedding planning can definitely be stressful; there are so many things to do, organize, plan and, of course, there’s always those societal and Pinterest pressures that make it feel like we have to do everything perfectly. And to top it off, when we get stressed, we tend to not be our best, most understanding, most communicative self. So it’s easy to be short with each other or go to coping mechanisms (like procrastination).
However, I don’t think anyone goes into the wedding planning process and says, “Great! How can I have as little fun as possible and only be stressed all the time!?” There are so many reasons to get stressed but one big reason to avoid stress like the plague is this is about two people coming together to celebrate their love and union. As cheesy as it sounds, the more often you connect with the overall “why” of the experience, stress tends to melt away.
How can couples release the pressure of wedding planning?
The answer is quite literally that, release. It is so easy to feel like you have to be in control, and that feeling is almost amplified 10x when you start planning a wedding. But if we are constantly in a state of “I need to be in control all the time,” we’re going to suck the fun out of this entire process (especially on the wedding day itself).
So instead of feeling like you need to grip tight to every last little detail, try practicing releasing control. Remember, you hired people to take care of the little details so you don’t have to.
However, I also recommend starting a “releasing practice” long before the wedding day itself. Just like we don’t cook one dinner and suddenly have a Michelin star, we can’t practice releasing one time and suddenly expect to be super chill and present. This is a practice for a reason. Some great methods of release are journaling, meditation, coaching, therapy, or having a mantra like, “How can I make this more fun?”
Many couples feel overwhelmed and end up putting off their wedding planning. Why does that happen and how can perfectionists battle procrastination?
Great question and we can honestly blame our brains for this one. Whenever our brain gets overwhelmed (for instance, when we think about everything that needs to happen in order to plan a wedding, or heck, even just hire a caterer) our brain… well, it totally freaks out! In fact, the same things get fired off in our brain when we’re overwhelmed as when we are under attack and our survival is threatened. Seriously.
This results in us clinging to our “comfort zone” or, how our brain likes to look at it, “the zone where I will for sure be kept alive.” So I want people who feel the gradual growing stress of procrastination to understand it’s not you – it’s 10/10 your brain.
BUT you can do something very simple in order to calm that overwhelm: chunk your tasks down. If you have on your wedding planning to-do list “work on wedding website,” that might create some overwhelm. However, if you instead put on your to-do list, “Thursday at 3pm we are going to write our love story page,” that’s a lot less overwhelming.
Break it down until you can look at a to-do list item and say, “Yep, I know exactly what I need to do in order to achieve that” and the overwhelm will dissipate.
Let’s talk about people pleasing. How does that affect wedding planning?
If you have ever identified as a people pleaser, planning a wedding suddenly feels like you’re not planning your wedding. Whether it’s with whom to invite, shopping for wedding attire, or picking out your wedding parties, it feels like no matter where you turn, you’re going to disappoint someone (whether you actually are or not).
This can feel exhausting and honestly, no matter what we do, when it comes to wedding planning, someone might get hurt or disappointed. The important thing to remember is that it is YOUR wedding. Trust yourself, trust your gut and know that no matter what, you’ll make the right decisions.
How can couples prioritize their own vision and happiness for their wedding?
The most important thing is to know exactly what that looks like. If you were going on a road trip to stay with your family in New Orleans, you wouldn’t plug “the south” into Google Maps, you would plug in the exact address. We work the same way. So sit down with your partner and answer the question, “What does happiness look like for us on our wedding day?” and get specific!
Then ask, “What needs to be in place in order to make that happen?” Do you need to delegate? Release a certain vendor that isn’t working out? Invite or not invite someone? Make extra time for you both to do a check in? This is a fun and simple exercise that you can use to make sure your wedding day is really your own!
Besides being a coach, you’re also planning a wedding of your own! What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned from planning your own wedding?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that literally nothing is going to go as planned! I’ve been engaged since April 2021 and we were venue hunting for 8 months. Eight. Months. After three venues falling through and lots of tears later, I realized I was falling directly into a pattern I actively teach against: if what you’re doing isn’t working, stop doing it harder.
It was like we were trying to shove a square peg into a round hole for months and we both finally looked at each other and almost laughed. We were trying to control every last little detail of the venue so much so that we couldn’t find anything that matched our insanely high expectations.
So the moral of the story, release your expectations because the perfect thing always seems to find you when you’re not heavily breathing into a bag.
What part of your wedding are you most looking forward to?
I’m gonna cheat and choose two parts! The first is the week of the wedding; I am so excited to be surrounded by family (we are all staying under the same roof for the whole wedding week). I cannot wait for all the quiet moments that happen the week of, from sipping coffee in the morning on the porch, to steaming out my dress with my best friends. I am making it a goal to be as present as possible and those little moments always make it feel so easy.
And the second one is the moment right after the ceremony/family photos and right before our grand entrance. My fiance and I have planned a 2 minute moment just for us to take a breath together and check in for the first time as husband and wife. Again, it’s another little moment, but I always feel like those are the ones we cherish the most.
Lastly, what song always gets you onto the dance floor at a wedding reception?
10/10 the Wobble. I will never be able to hear that song and not go FULL OUT on the dance floor!
Thank you so much to Nicole for sharing her tips with us and dropping some serious wisdom about prioritizing your happiness on your wedding day. Connect with Nicole online (and wish her well with her own wedding planning!) through the links below:
Website: www.lifecoachbaker.com (Here you can find info about me, my programs, the Life Coach Baker Podcast and my free “What type of perfectionist are you?” quiz!)
Instagram is where I’m most active and you can find me @lifecoachbaker