Whether you’re planning an extravagant dream wedding or you’re keeping things simple, you might find the lead-up to your big day to be a source of anxiety. Even as a psychiatrist, planning my own wedding has spiked my anxiety levels, despite trying to utilize my knowledge and coping skills.
For me, the guest list and finances are two planning issues sure to jump-start my anxiety. Guilt rises at the thought of not being able to invite everyone. And as for issues surrounding money? Catastrophic thoughts anticipating the worst outcome quickly flood my mind, such as not having enough money in my account, risking overdraft charges, thus not being able to pay my bills, followed by not being able to pay taxes come April.
It’s a snowball effect. There are definitely times when I, admittedly, want to cancel everything and just elope.
But the anxiety that I’m experiencing surrounding wedding planning can be a common experience, especially if you’ve experienced anxiety in the past. The process often pushes us outside of our comfort zone by bringing up deeper issues related to complex family dynamics, difficulties with communication, and struggles with perfectionism.
In addition, the wedding planning process takes up a lot of time. In fact, a recent survey by Minted found that a modern day wedding takes approximately 528 hours — equivalent to 22 full days — to plan. This equates to a lot of time outside your usual schedule of work, children, and any other day-to-day responsibilities.
As perfect as we’d love this process to be, acceptance of the expected ups and downs, in addition to delegating and communicating with your partner, can help you feel more at ease. So, whether you’re about to embark on your wedding planning journey or are currently in the middle of planning, here are five tips to help you tackle wedding planning anxiety.
Expect that people will provide their own opinion, unsolicited advice, and requests regarding your wedding. And if you’re like me, hearing others’ opinions can be overwhelming because it’s yet another thing to think about on top of the million things running through your mind.
Initially, I dealt with opinions regarding where to have the venue and who to invite, but once I set the boundary that I’m firm and happy with our chosen venue and assured that I’ll do my best to include people on the guest list but can’t make any promises, the remarks decreased.
A life lesson Sometimes it takes effort to reinforce boundaries, but it’s good practice for anything you experience in life because it demonstrates that you’re the one in control.
That said, setting boundaries can be tough, especially if it’s with people you love and care about. Let them know that although you value their opinion, you’ll ask for their advice and support when needed. This conveys that you’ve got things covered for now.
Delegate responsibilities to people you trust
Your plate is full, so make room by allowing others to help you. Sometimes it can be hard to relinquish control over each little detail, but giving tasks to others can alleviate your anxiety from building up further. And chances are you have friends and family who’ve experienced this process and are more than willing to assist you.
For example, my sister-in-law knows my style, so I gave her my price range for bridesmaid dress options and let her do the searching. Also, I asked my mom to collect family members’ addresses and emails, which made creating my contact list much easier. Even delegating simple tasks allows you to have one less thing on your to-do list and can make a huge impact on your stress levels.
Partner with your fiancé and openly communicate
Though wedding planning can cause disagreements, it may also provide a wonderful opportunity to lean on each other and utilize each other’s strengths to plan your special day.
This learning experience is great practice for your future as a married couple because decisions on finances, how you handle conflict, and even how you communicate your opinion, are bound to come up many more times in the future.
For example, the one who is more logistical can take on the management of contracts, negotiating prices, and coordinating transportation, while the more creative one can be in charge of design, motif, and photography.
That said, while my fiancé is definitely the more logistical one and is much better at negotiation — and I happily let him have control over those tasks — he always keeps me in the loop with what was discussed.
This isn’t to say we haven’t had our disagreements, especially regarding financial decisions. However, we both express our opinions and compromise, which has strengthened our relationship even further.
Reach out to your support system
Whether it’s your family, friends, or a therapist, don’t hold onto your feelings. Suppressing feelings can manifest in various ways — anxiety being one of them. Having someone to vent to can help prevent stress from building up, be it a friend, family member, or even your partner. I reach out to my sister — I’m fortunate that she’s a psychotherapist — best friends, and fiancé each time I’m frustrated and need to process the anxiety I’m experiencing.
Be mindful, present, and in the moment as much as possible
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and constantly think about your approaching wedding date, but this is such a momentous time in your life that you should try to enjoy each and every part of the process.
Each time your mind drifts to negative thoughts, shift your thinking to remind yourself that everything will ultimately turn out fine. When I started wedding dress shopping, I was constantly worried that I’d never find the dress. Luckily, my wedding dress consultant reminded me to take deep breaths — one great example of a mindfulness practice — and to pause and treasure the experience. Needless to say, her words definitely helped.
Coping mechanisms for wedding anxiety can be applied to everyday life
Wedding planning can trigger a lot of anxiety, but there are ways to cope and better manage the stress. Utilizing coping skills such as setting boundaries, staying connected, practicing mindfulness, and asking for help or assistance are important techniques, not only to cope with wedding planning, but also to utilize in your day-to-day life.
So next time you find yourself feeling extremely overwhelmed, try experimenting with different techniques. Also, remind yourself to enjoy the process and feel assured your wedding day will turn out great in the end.
Dr. Vania Manipod, DO, is a board-certified psychiatrist, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Western University of Health Sciences, and currently in private practice in Ventura, California. She believes in a holistic approach to psychiatry that incorporates psychotherapeutic techniques, diet, and lifestyle, in addition to medication management when indicated. Dr. Manipod has built an international following on social media based on her work to reduce the stigma of mental health, particularly through her Instagram and blog, Freud & Fashion. Moreover, she has spoken nationwide on topics such as burnout, traumatic brain injury, and social media.