Image Credit: Anthony Tran
Your wedding is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life, but how are you supposed to enjoy it if you are exhausted and burnt out? You are not alone. In a survey of 500 couples by Zola, 96% stated wedding planning was stressful, with 86% reporting three or more stress-related symptoms (such as sleeplessness, moodiness, and loss of sex drive!). And this was before 2020!
Whether it is additional stress on top of preexisting anxiety or a new feeling for you, there are ways to minimize and cope with wedding-planning blues while preparing for your big day.
Read on for our stress and anxiety management tips while planning your wedding.
Be OK With Not Being OK
With "real" problems in the world and so much uncertainty, maybe you feel guilty for caring so much about your wedding. It's just a party, right? Even before the world-changing events of 2020, many people felt some shame around the emotional energy expended on this single event.
A wedding is so much more than just a party. It is a celebration of two lives coming together in love—a symbol of hope that the world and we will endure. It is a social milestone that brings people together and something you and your partner want to share with those closest to you.
There is no shame in feeling grief that the moment you have been waiting for your whole life might not be what you wanted. Whether you have to change or cancel your plans due to the pandemic, know that your wedding and your feelings matter.
Hire a Wedding Planner
There are so many moving parts to planning a wedding, some you may not even realize until it's too late. If you have the resources, consider hiring a wedding planner. They are the professionals and know what it takes to pull off the event of your dreams. This is especially true at the moment with extra logistical challenges to navigate.
A wedding planner will negotiate with vendors, schedule sample reviews and tastings, and coordinate setting up the venue on the day. There are also day-of coordinators that will only prepare the location for you and handle any last-minute situations. Depending on how comprehensive the services, plan to set aside 10% of your budget if you wish to hire a wedding planner.
If you are short on time, or completely overwhelmed by the planning process, a wedding planner can provide peace of mind and allow you to get back to enjoying the wedding and your life.
Give Yourself Time
Weddings and receptions, even small ones, require significant planning to pull off. Months of prep, in most cases. Hiring vendors, booking venues, finding new vendors if one falls through, dress and suit fittings, cake tastings—the list goes on. Many vendors also require rush fees for short notice.
Space out tasks over the coming months. Do as much as you can early in the process when you are still giddy from the engagement. By giving yourself extra time to plan, you build in a buffer for things to go wrong or for you to relax and take a break in the middle of planning.
Some people find it's useful to pretend you are getting married earlier than the actual date so you can have all the last minute details done in advance.
If you want to get married right away, know you might have to scale back on some of your ideas. A small, civil ceremony with just a handful of people is much less time consuming to plan than a destination wedding with 200 guests.
Make a Calendar
Once you know how long you have to plan, create a calendar to schedule out all your activities. Saving too much for the last minute will only increase your stress and reduce your enjoyment of a day that is supposed to be all about you and your partner.
Thankfully, you now have lots of tools at your fingertips to help you create a customized wedding calendar based on the amount of time you have before the big day. The Knot and Brides both have interactive checklists you can download.
If you already use a calendar app, it's best to integrate the wedding planning into your regular life. Knowing when you have big deadlines at work or other social engagements will help keep you from overbooking or cramming too much into one week. And, if you see an availability in your schedule, you can take advantage of it to knock out several wedding tasks.
Take Care of Yourself
With all the time wedding planning takes, it can be easy to neglect yourself. Paradoxically, when it seems you are at your busiest is exactly the moment you need to take time for yourself. Keep up with your hobbies and don't neglect the things that make you happy.
Maintain any self-care routines you had before getting engaged, or start new ones. Exercise, whether low-impact or strenuous, improves mental focus and mood. Eating healthy and drinking plenty of water will not only make you feel good but will help you look your best too. And consistent adequate sleep can also reduce stress and keep you looking and feeling rested.
These don't have to take a lot of time, and you can always find a way to combine them with other activities. Call vendors while going for a walk or practice breathing and meditating while waiting for an appointment.
Keep it Simple
If you have social anxiety or other mental health considerations, then paring down your wedding might be the best option. Do you freeze at the thought of standing in front of large groups of people? Invite only your closest friends and family. Do you feel like you have two left feet? Try something other than a first dance alone to celebrate your moment.
Try to avoid situations you know will trigger your anxiety. Wedding websites, table place cards with hand calligraphy, choreographed dance numbers—these are all fine if you want them—but they may add levels of stress to your plans that you don't need. Keep your well-being at the front of your wedding plans and your experience will be more joyful.
Plan for Disagreements
You want a country barn wedding; your partner wants the lake cruise. Should we hire an officiant or use your cousin who signed up online? Little decisions can become big issues if not addressed from the beginning.
Part of being in a relationship is compromising. Keeping perspective will also help. This is one day of many you have together, so if the table arrangements have orchids instead of peonies, everything will still be alright.
Each of you should have something of your own during the ceremony. Pick 2-4 items most important to each of you for the event you are unwilling to compromise on. Knowing ahead of time keeps disagreements to a minimum.
Stick to Your Budget
One of the first things you should do, before opening up your first wedding magazine or scrolling Pinterest for ideas, is to decide how much you can afford to spend on your ceremony and reception. We know money issues are a significant source of relationship strain. In the Zola survey, the budget was the number one stressor among couples.
Identify what you have to have for your wedding and purchase those things first. The internet is a vast source of "should have" and "wouldn't it be nice," which only increases your budget. Keep your wish list in check and plan the wedding you can afford.
Your wedding is just one day (an unforgettable day!) in your life. You have friends and acquaintances who you connected with before the engagement and who enjoy seeing you.
Make time connecting with people you love, whether safely physically distanced or online, for non-wedding related reasons. Talk about everything but planning. Listen to what is going on in their lives.
When you need to vent, close friends will listen to you and be an excellent source of humor and perspective through all this. When opening up, be sure to choose friends who will really listen and not minimize or deflect what you are feeling. (See the first tip above.)
Do What You Want
Weddings are steeped in a lot of tradition but that doesn't mean you have to be restricted. Forgo tradition if it doesn't suit you. Do you want to wear a red cocktail dress to walk down the aisle? Then wear one! Would you rather have a pool party with swimming instead of dancing? Go for it!
Pressuring yourself to do or have something at your wedding because it's "traditional" only adds unnecessary stress to your life. If you don't like a tradition, then don't do it. If something else resonates with you deeply, then add it in. Don't let someone else's "should" impact your ceremony. This is you and your partner's day, and it should be an expression of your personalities.
Reconnect With Your Partner
Life doesn't stop when you are planning your wedding. Don't let everyday cares and squabbles take up your time and energy. You and your partner are planning to spend a lifetime together, so don't let the small things derail your plans.
Sharing planning responsibilities lightens the load for everyone and makes you both feel included in the day that is, ultimately, about both of you. You may even find moments to strengthen your relationship during the process.
Make time for each other at regular intervals. Set aside a day, or a weekend, just the two of you, reconnecting and remembering why you wanted to get married in the first place. It can be as simple as just staying in and watching your favorite movies or as grand as a pre-wedding weekend getaway.
Talk to a Professional
Sometimes what you are feeling can be more than just stress or nerves. If you regularly see a therapist, make time to talk specifically about what you are experiencing and underlying causes. They can recommend some additional resources for your management plan to get ahead of symptoms and triggers from the added stresses of wedding planning.
Many professionals specialize in couples and family therapy. Some will have availability for limited-duration sessions specifically for the time leading up to your marriage ceremony. Speak with them about any specific issues you are having and when your symptoms seem to be the most acute.
Online resources now exist for you to meet with a therapist remotely. Talkspace is a community of therapists offering many services, including text-message access. They even take many major insurance plans. Another online space, Open Path Collective, serves people who cannot usually afford therapy by connecting them with licensed therapists at a reduced rate.
Let the Rings Be the Easy Part
Of all the decisions you have to make, let picking the wedding rings be an easy one with the Blue Nile wedding ring guide. Covering everything from choosing the right ring size to selecting styles to suit you both, this guide has all the information you need.
Worried about matching all your wedding jewelry? Take a look at our guide to matching your engagement ring and wedding band and use our Ring Matcher Tool so you can be assured everything coordinates beautifully. There are bridal sets with matching engagement and wedding rings or complete wedding sets with couples rings for both the bride and groom.
Or make your own sets with wedding rings for men in both plain metal and diamond bands and wedding rings for women, featuring a full array of timeless designs in classic and modern styles. You can also stack various rings together and create your own unique wedding set.
The Happiest Day of My Life?
When uncertainty is all around us, it can make us feel our lives are out of our control but know that you are not alone. Loved ones will understand if you have to cancel or change plans. Remember, your ceremony does not define your love.
A sense of humor and perspective could be the best tools for dealing with wedding planning stress. Looking ahead to the rest of your life after the ceremony will help you see the day for what it is—the opening paragraph of a beautiful story.