If you are getting married soon, I would first like to say CONGRATULATIONS! A wedding is a day that celebrates your love and partnership with your significant other, and you deserve to have the day your heart desires. I would also like to say that if you are feeling nervous about the big day, you are not the first and won’t be the last.
Maybe you are someone who suffers from anxiety throughout your daily life. Maybe your anxiety only gets triggered by specific events and milestones. Whatever the case may be between you and anxiety, it is sure to latch on to a special occasion such as your wedding day.
It can be difficult to navigate the anxiousness of planning for something that you are happy about. You may feel the need to clarify that you aren’t worried about the marriage but the wedding itself. People around you might suggest that you have cold feet or invalidate your concerns, as being married “should be all that matters.” You may even question these things yourself.
The truth is, a wedding is a high-stakes situation that can push your mental health to the breaking point. Often, there is a ton of financial investment and time investment that goes into the day, at the end of several years of dreaming about what your special day would look like. A wedding is also an event that means a lot to those around you; even though it’s supposed to be your day, there might be pressure to invite certain people, honor certain family traditions, and so on. It is the sort of occasion that is perfect for breeding anxiety.
What is Wedding Anxiety?
First of all, wedding anxiety and stress can show up very differently from person to person. For some, it may be triggered from day one, and you find that it’s only getting worse as you get closer to your wedding day. For others, it is a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs throughout the planning process. It can be exacerbated by the time you reach your wedding day, or it may die down. Struggling with anxiety can create a feeling not only of nerves but depression, as depression and anxiety often coexist. Weddings are a multi-billion-dollar per year industry; there is immense pressure to create a “picture-perfect day” that you’ll always look back at and remember fondly. Weddings can bring about stresses to do with finances, body image, family history, people-pleasing, and so much more.
3 Ways to Cope with Wedding Anxiety
1. Acknowledge your anxiety:
It can be easy to dismiss the anxiety when everyone around you keeps telling you how common it is. While that could be comforting for a minute, it can also be harmful as you deny the intensity and frequencies of your anxiety symptoms. There is no way to process and deal with your anxiety if you deny it exists or suppress it.
There are some useful skills on how to cope with the anxiety that are foundational. First, you will need to learn to notice when your anxiety is showing up. Aside from the common symptoms such as rumination or difficulty sleeping, anxiety can also show up as overdoing and over-planning. It can be felt in the body: heart racing, headache, uneasiness in the belly, and shaking hands are some physical symptoms that you might experience.
When you can identify anxiety, you are able to then correlate it with events and circumstances. Is it showing up when too many people weigh in on decisions? When you have to make a choice on your own? When you have too many wedding-related errands to do in a day? How about when you haven’t had a non-wedding day in a while?
This might be the first big event you’ve planned or been a part of, which takes a significant mental adjustment! Throwing this sort of organizational timeline into your regular life is a massive change that can make your entire existence seem unfamiliar. We as human beings rely on a certain amount of familiarity and predictability to feel centered and secure. It’s why trying new things is good for us; we break out of our routines and push ourselves to grow. Don’t underestimate the mental load of fitting wedding planning and organizing into your existing obligations.
Once you notice that your anxiety is escalating and you think you know why, take active action to respond to it. Do not just tell yourself, “It’s normal to be anxious,” and keep over-booking your days. Instead, pause and recognize that anxiety is boiling up and decide how you can settle it down. Do you need to delegate someone to intervene when a certain family member is being overbearing? Do you need to find a way to eliminate some of the decisions you are making? Is there a task that can be outsourced completely and taken off your plate?
How is your self-care routine? Has it changed since you began planning your wedding? Yes, schedules have to adapt sometimes for shorter-term projects; different priorities can and do take precedent at various times of life. But that doesn’t mean that all your self-care goes out the window. That is totally fine if you have to adjust how and when that happens. But doing things that contribute to your physical and mental wellness will support you in times of additional stress and busyness.
2. Share your feelings:
One of my favorite quotes from Brené Brown says, “Shame loves keeping secrets.” If you find yourself anxious – among other feelings – please do not bottle it in. Ideally, because these emotions are in response to your wedding, I would recommend that you share them with the person you are marrying. You may worry that your wedding anxiety will translate as marriage anxiety; you can start the conversation by saying that you’re excited to be married but having a hard time with the wedding planning. Your partner is probably on the same page as you about that.
A great place to share your feelings is in premarital counseling. This can not only help you cope with wedding stress as a team but also set your marriage up with strong communication skills. Couples counseling like we offer at our therapy practice in Woodland Hills offers a safe and neutral environment in which to explore and discuss issues, as well as build and strengthen tools that will be needed to go forward as a team. Being able to communicate from a place of mutual respect, with the goal of identifying and solving problems together, is a gift that you can give yourselves and each other. It can be easy to make errors in judgment when it comes to communication, even with the person we share our daily lives with.
There are common communication mistakes that can be identified and avoided with a little bit of effort and practice.
If you have a close friend or family member who has gone through the wedding planning experience, that might be someone to lean on during this time. Being able to talk out loud about what you find stressful with someone who can relate to the pressures of wedding planning gives you an outlet for your emotions. This person will likely be able to validate what you are feeling. As a bonus, they might have some helpful hints for some of your issues. Be sure to let whoever you talk to know whether you want solutions or just a listening ear, depending on your needs at the time. By setting this boundary, you can seek help or support for yourself and hopefully get what you need. This is not too much to ask of anyone, so don’t feel nervous about doing so.
You might be attending wedding events, such as fairs or markets. This is a great place to connect with others who are planning weddings and hear some of their anxieties and tips and tricks. There is a comfort to be had in creating a community that is in the same boat. Just make sure you can appreciate the positive aspects of being understood, and avoid getting sucked into others’ struggles. The last thing any of you need is to take on the stresses of another person’s wedding.
3. Embrace all the imperfections:
One of the major things that fuel the anxiety of wedding planning and weddings themselves is the occurrence of mishaps and hiccups. Anything that does not go as planned can make us spiral out of control, but with an event that requires as many details and as much coordination as this one, there are bound to be issues that arise. When you have a low tolerance for any imperfections, you can start to lose focus on the bigger picture; the intolerance of imperfections can hijack you from the present moment. This can cause you to lose sight of what is important and ruin what is happening for you at any given time.
Try to determine what the most important element of your wedding is – big hint: it’s ultimately the person you are marrying. If you were told that you had to choose between being married to this person or having the perfect wedding, what would you choose? Yes, you want a day that reflects how special they are to you. Yes, you want everyone to have a good time. But mishaps do happen in life, and sometimes luck doesn’t care that it’s an inconvenient time for you. If a hiccup occurs, ask yourself: “Is this preventing me from marrying my best friend?” If the answer is no, let yourself embrace that truth. It doesn’t mean you have to be over the moon about it. But you can take a moment to put things in perspective for yourself. Think of affirmations that support your ultimate goal of the day.
There are a few options that might be helpful. General statements, such as, “The big picture is marrying my best friend” or “Perfection is an illusion,” might comfort you. You may have a specific family struggle; “My cousin and I are different people, so our weddings are bound to be different, too.” Or, “It is not my job to facilitate others’ wedding visions. This is my wedding”.
Another affirmation you might want to try is, “I will laugh about this later.” It may be difficult to imagine, but there is actually a good chance that some of the mishaps you encounter along the way to your wedding become stories you tell down the road. We have all probably heard a “disaster story” that is told through laughter at some point in our lives. Sometimes, they end up seeming hilarious in retrospect. That doesn’t mean you can’t be frustrated or disappointed at the moment, but simply that you should remind yourself that most of the incidents that pop up on the road to your wedding will be at best amusing and at worst neutral in no time at all.
Ultimately, it would be simple to be able to focus on the core of your wedding: committing to your partner and celebrating your relationship with loved ones. And perhaps that thought can comfort you when you begin to feel overwhelmed. But I know that it isn’t that easy; weddings are significant social occasions in our society.
You may have dreamed about your wedding day since you were young. You may have attended dozens of other weddings, and now it’s your turn. Anticipation can be a weight on your shoulders, even when anticipating something positive. We care so much that it becomes overwhelming, our emotions run high, and even the slightest mishap can feel catastrophic. Being mindful can help with this.
When working on a task for your wedding, try to think solely about that task rather than other tasks you have to get to. When we are in a heightened emotional state, we tend to get into a pattern of, “And then I have to do this, and then I have to do this, and then I have to…” Use your senses to experience what is happening in front of you at any given time. What can you touch, see, and smell? Ground yourself in the present moment, take deep and calming breaths, and tell yourself that you can only do one thing at a time. You deserve to make the process as pleasant as possible for yourself so that you don’t stagger into your wedding day exhausted and just happy for it all to be over. As you plan and organize, make decisions that support your own enjoyment of this celebration! And don’t forget that a wedding is only one day – it’s your marriage that deserves investment.
Other Services at Embracing You Therapy
Here at Embracing You Therapy Group, we invite you to explore with us how life would be different if you had more control over your thoughts and emotions, and we invite you to consider that it is possible to accept things just as they are, embracing imperfections to create a gentler place for calm in your life.
At our mental health practice in Woodland Hills, CA, we offer individual therapy and couple’s therapy. Both Dr. Menije, Ani Seferyan, AMFT, Allison Lucchese, AMFT, and Cindy Sayani, AMFT offer virtual therapy to treat mental health concerns including panic attacks, OCD, phobias, and stress; Mood disorders including depression; Relationship issues, both in couples therapy and with individual clients; Perinatal mental health issues such as postpartum depression, Codependency, and Addiction.Let’s learn what drives your unique perspective on anxiety and stress. Then, let’s find the tools-your unique tools that help you respond to life in a healthy, calm way. Contact us today for your complimentary 20-minute phone consultation with our Client Care Coordinator.