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“The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make – not just on your wedding day, but over and over again – and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.”~ Barbara De Angelis
It’s not just you
According to a recent study on engaged couples, approximately 95% view wedding planning as highly stressful, for a number of reasons. Although it’s normal and healthy to feel some stress about your impending wedding day, for some this stress leads to health issues (i.e. migraines, upset stomach, anxiety, and mood swings), pre-wedding arguments, lots of tears, and possibly even “cold feet.” Yikes!
Young and in love
You’re young and in love, so your emotions are in overdrive. Whose wouldn’t be? But the stress of wedding planning occurs because it takes a lot of effort on top of going to work every day, taking care of household responsibilities, paying bills, and spending time with your fiancée, family, and friends.
You still have to plan your wedding and honeymoon (that’s the best part, after all). You’ll also have to make big decisions about who will be in your wedding party, when to send out invites, where to have it, who will sit next to who, how long it will be, what types of food will be served at the reception…the list goes on and on. It’s a lot and typically quite expensive, so you want everything to be perfect. No stress, right?
You’re not alone
If you are feeling the things listed above, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a study on pre-wedding stress, approximately 60% referred to wedding planning as more “anxiety-provoking” than moving, actually getting married, having a baby, or starting a new job!
Before you start spiraling into a tunnel of nerves, depression, and jitters, remember that you’re marrying the love of your life, try to just enjoy the experience – the good and the bad. Why? Because, nothing in life is perfect; all we can do is just enjoy the beauty of it all.
Here’s what to do
Therefore, the first thing I suggest to those who are suffering from the stress of planning a wedding is to take a step back and breathe. Take a break. The world wasn’t created in a day. Pace yourself and give yourself a much-needed respite. Go on a date or two or three and reconnect with your honey.
And, remember, at the end of the day these “wedding day details” really aren’t all that important – your marriage is. If your nerves are getting the best of you and causing you to “behave out of character,” this article will talk you through ways to calm your nerves so you can have an amazing wedding – regardless of what happens.
Read the longer version
You can learn more about how to handle the stress of planning a wedding by reading the following articles: How to Handle Wedding Planning Stress, According to Science by Brides, Stress Management While Planning Your Wedding by The Spruce, and How to Deal With Wedding Planning Stress and Anxiety by WedSites.
Create a doable to do list
One of the best ways to reduce wedding planning stress is to create a doable to-do list. What’s a doable to-do list? It’s a list that will not overwhelm you or stress you out further. In fact, this to-do list may involve taking baby steps towards your wedding planning goals.
The goal is to manage the seemingly unending tasks that come with planning a fab and fun wedding without becoming too stressed-out. Why is this important? If you have too many things on your plate, it can lead to procrastination – and not the healthy kind. Rather, it can lead to passive procrastination (the “bad” kind), anxiety, jitters, mood swings, and panic attacks.
First, create a to-do list that you can manage, complete with detailed steps. Assign deadlines, but don’t get stuck on them that it stresses you out even further. Keep in mind that things happen. If, and when, things don’t go exactly as planned, think of alternatives, and revise your to-do list (including the deadlines). It will all workout if you stay calm.
A good way to stay stress-free (as much as possible) and on-task is to use an online to-do list or a wedding planning website. These tools typically have automated alerts and reminders that help you make sure you have not overlooked, dismissed, or ignored anything for your big day.
Communicate and create healthy boundaries
According to multiple surveys, a major source of wedding planning stress stems from one’s parents! Yep, good old Mom and Dad can wreck-havoc on your already frazzled nerves. In fact, according to survey results, the top stress-provoking factor for engaged couples is their parents with the second factor being in-law involvement.
What can you do when it’s your family that’s causing the stress? Focus on what’s best for you! In other words, listen to your loved ones and be respectful, but in the end, do what’s best for you, your soon-to-be-spouse, and your relationship. Remember, this is your BIG day – not your parents’ or in-laws’.
Start with a sit down with your loved ones – i.e. parents and/or in-laws (separately, of course), and explain to them what you’d like to happen on your wedding day. Provide them with details of the activities, food, attire, seating arrangement, and anything else you feel comfortable sharing with them.
Now, they’ll probably have something to say about everything or nearly everything you tell them – and that’s okay. Listen to them and move on. Create healthy boundaries of what you will and will not accept during the wedding planning stages. Be clear, firm, and respectful about these boundaries. But, don’t argue or debate about your wedding. Hear them out then do what you and your fiancée feel is best.
FYI: Your loved ones may be disappointed or hurt that you didn’t take their suggestions, but they’ll get over it because they love you.
Keep in mind, if your parents or in-laws are financially helping with the wedding, they have a right to offer suggestions, limitations, and requests when it comes to the wedding planning. Can that lead to a heaping dose of stress? Absolutely. But, just try to grin and bear it – it’s only temporary.
Take care of yourself to combat the stress of planning a wedding
Another good way to reduce or eliminate wedding planning stress is to take care of yourself and do things to de-stress from all of the pressures of planning an epic wedding. Understand that pre-wedding stress can trigger or worsen acne or skin conditions, headaches and migraines, gastrointestinal distress (upset stomach), anxiety, depression, poor appetite or stress-eating, irritability, mood swings, low libido, high blood pressure – and even hair loss, in severe cases.
Even if you feel like you simply have no time to focus on yourself – make time! Step away from wedding planning and do something you enjoy like going out with friends, taking a warm bubble bath, getting a massage or going to a spa, taking evening jogs with your partner, practicing mindfulness meditation or yoga, binging Netflix shows and movies, and/or going on a fun date with your soon-to-be life partner.
Pro-tip: You can reduce wedding planning stress by creating a schedule of when you’ll work on wedding planning and when you’re “off duty.” Taking time to focus on yourself not only helps you relax, but also re-calibrate so you are able to get more done without all of the unnecessary stress.
Have a B and C plan
Lastly, always have a back-up plan for wedding day mishaps. Why? Because, this will reduce your stress. The truth is anything can happen – a storm, high winds, miscommunication, a delayed wedding officiant, a wedding dress snafu, the wrong reception foods, etc. And, most of it will probably be out of your control. Yes, there is a lot that can go wrong, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world if it does. All you need is an alternative plan – or two.
Being prepared for “worst-case scenarios” can be quite the stress-reliever. What if your dress alterations didn’t come out exactly like you hoped? What’s the backup plan? Pull out a sewing machine (if one is on-hand) or pin it up from inside. The caterers screwed up the reception food selections. What’s the backup plan? Order pizza! Everyone loves pizza, right? See how important it is to have back-up plans? Always think of alternatives!
About the Author
Dr. R. Y. Langham
Ph.D. in Family Psychology
Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
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