In 2017, ‘wedding planner’ made the Forbes top 10 Most Stressful Jobs in America list – coming in at #5, under ‘police officer,’ ‘airline pilot’ and ‘enlisted military personnel.’ But what’s really staggering about this is, wedding planners share this stress with their couples – one hundred percent. If you ask me, couples that are wedding planning should come in at #6.
Planning a wedding is stressful! Whether you’ve hired a full-service wedding planner, or you’re going at it completely alone – wedding planning is a stressful task. You’re being asked to produce & manage the experience of hundreds of your closest friends and family; not before committing to someone for the rest of your life in a public ceremony - all the while, preparing to make one of the most transformative decisions of your life!
What’s misleading about your wedding planning time is, for some reason it got coined as some of the happiest times of your life. I would say that after your wedding will come some of the happiest times of your life. With that said, I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to hear my clients say they’re so stressed – or that they’re not even enjoying their engagement. That’s when I say, REGROUP! *Let’s go back to the basics, and refocus our attention on this beautiful relationship. And, in the meantime, manage your wedding planning stress & anxiety with these tips:
Duh. You have to communicate; with each other, with your parents, with your family, with your planner and with your vendors. Period. I’d suggest communicating about these 4 main topics: 1) who is paying for what/budget breakdown 2) what’s important/wedding vision 3) checklist task delegations and 4) expectations.
With an overwhelming amount of decisions and deadlines, wedding planning can cause many people to catastrophize. This is the thought process that usually begins with “oh, no!” – you’re perceiving a situation to be terrible. Oftentimes, it comes when the bride or groom thinks they’ve made a mistake (incorrect invitation addressing, miscounting, missed deadline). You think, “oh, no!” and immediately get hit with sinking fear and anxiety.
Stop catastrophizing by reeling in those planning fears. Starting with what you’re panicking about. For example, you think you’ve submitted an incorrect final guest count to your caterer. Stop and think about how you envision this fear playing out. Then, most importantly, find out if this fear has a basis in reality. Think about worst-case scenarios to help manage catastrophizing. I think I told our caterer 180 when we’re really expecting 195. What is the worst-case scenario? Depending on your reception meal style, it could mean portion sizes are smaller, or a catering staff needs to run out and buy more food. Are you still getting married and committing a life to your best friend?
Schedule, schedule, schedule
Make a record of what you do with your time – how many hours in a day are you spending on: work, significant other, social life, wedding planning, exercise, spirituality, household tasks, etc. Is there balance in your life? Are you committing to activities that take you away from other things that are more important?
I recently met with a bride whom I very much admire. She met with me and knew she wanted to book a full-service wedding planner. With a time consuming job, minimal time with her significant other & social life, and general lack of wedding industry savvy, this woman knew what she needed. She knew how she wanted to spend her time, and how she didn’t want to spend her time. She knew this, regardless of the judgments that may come with a bride who ‘needs a lot of help’ planning her wedding.
It’s so important to be honest about what you value in life, and how you want to fill up your days. If wedding planning isn’t bringing you joy, or if you’re spending too much time with planning anxiety, let go. Find the balance that’s right for you.
With that said, begin scheduling wedding planning sessions in your calendar. Just as you would a yoga class, schedule wedding planning with your spouse for say 2 hours every Thursday night. Adding wedding planning to your calendar allows for you to anticipate and even prepare for what’s to come. And falling into this routine can help you enjoy more of your time throughout the week before & after that set planning time. If you get an email from your florist on Monday, bring it to your Thursday planning meeting to discuss instead of just tackling things haphazardly.
Stop anxious thoughts
This can be a little unrealistic because planning a wedding is an anxiety-ridden task. However, if you can’t completely stop anxious thoughts, at least slow them down a bit. If your mind is completely preoccupied with anxious thoughts about your bridesmaid dresses, or how much money you’re asking the groomsmen to spend – try refocusing on thoughts that are more pleasant and more productive.
Think of things that make you happy or motivate you: your wedding dress, your honeymoon, the first dance, etc. And if your wedding, in general, makes you anxious, think of pleasant and productive things outside of your wedding: an upcoming vacation, your pet, shopping, a favorite movie or book, etc. You’d be surprised how distracting these pleasant & productive thoughts can be when you just swap them in (distracting, in a good way).
*Make time for your significant other
This is always my go-to response for remedying wedding planning stress. Go on a date. Cook dinner together. Have some sex. Drink some wine. Go hiking. Watch a movie. At the end of the day, and at the end of your wedding planning checklist is…your wedding! That’s what it’s all about. You’re going to get married whether you obsess over bridesmaid dress prices, or not.
So cool off, and regroup. Reconnect with your significant other who is the reason behind all of this madness, right? Double-down on the reasons why you’re getting married, and all of the joy to come. Slip back into some of your old, pre-engagement rituals, and schedule planning for another day. Or email your planner with a list of things to take care of – boom. I love those emails so much.
Make time for yourself
Besides anxiety, there are other unpleasant side effects of (wedding planning) stress, like hair loss, acne, reduced sex drive and headaches. So, even though it seems like taking an hour away from your ceremony strings repertoire list is going to put you years behind- it’s not. Your wellness is far more important. So, make time for yourself by going to a yoga class, getting a facial, getting drinks with friends, buying a new plant – whatever makes you happy! Whatever you do, it should bring you joy & comfort, allowing you to return to wedding planning refreshed & mindful.