Wedding season: while most other states in the U.S. are approaching the low-season for weddings due to the cold and likelihood of snow, those of us in Florida are gearing up for our high-season. With the approach of November, which means the official end of hurricane season and perhaps some actual fall-like weather, engaged couples in Florida are more likely to pick a wedding date between November and the end of May. Though different from our northern friends, this is understandable due to discernably cooler weather and reduced chances of rain compared to Florida summer months, which are notorious for heat, humidity, and intermittent rain downpours. Given that we are at the start of the Florida wedding season, today’s blog will focus on wedding planning, stress, and anxiety.
Many of the couples I see in my practice, particularly for premarital therapy, report feeling incredibly stressed during the wedding planning phase. In fact, even though this should ideally be one of the most joyous occasions, some couples just cannot wait for the wedding to be over and done with. In today’s post, I want to normalize the experience that couples (yes, both the bride and groom) can have while wedding planning, as well as offer some strategies for reducing pre-wedding stress and jitters.
- One of the biggest factors that impacts the wedding planning stage is the amount of time between the proposal and the wedding. While it seems logical, it needs to be said: the shorter the engagement and the more elaborate the wedding, the more likely it is that the couple will feel increased stress, anxiety, and perhaps depression symptoms.
- If it is within your budget, one solution to this is hiring a professional wedding planner or month-of coordinator who can take over, leaving you to enjoy the process.
- If it is not in your budget to hire a wedding planner, create a master list of wedding tasks. Then create a manageable plan by setting reasonable dates to complete each task; manageable means taking into consideration that you are not only wedding-planning, but asking yourself how you will fit those tasks into the rest of your life, which may include work, social outings, exercise, etc. Balance is the key to not feeling overwhelmed during this process.
- Don’t leave everything to the last minute. There is no greater cause for stress in the wedding planning process than procrastination.
- If you are already feeling overwhelmed, consider eliminating unnecessary wedding details. For example, do you really need the fresh lavender sprigs hand-tied to each guests’ place card? While this may sound beautiful, a lot of effort goes into creating these small details. A lot of effort equals a lot of time, and likely added stress.
- On the same note, leave the more detailed, preparation-heavy, and especially day-of tasks to a professional. Even if you cannot afford a wedding planner to handle all pre-wedding planning, there are certain vendors that are advisable to hire. For example, doing your own florals the day of and cooking your own food for the reception are jobs better left to a professional who can focus their energy on the task and leave you feeling relaxed and enjoying the day.
- If they are not already, get your fiancé to help! After all, you aren’t planning your own party. This is a celebration of the union between you and your partner, which should also symbolize the cooperation and teamwork in your relationship (both very important qualities of a healthy, satisfying marriage). Practice teamwork and the sharing of responsibilities by both contributing to the planning process.
- Similar to this, don’t be hesitant to ask your bridal party for help. Many couples I meet with report feeling as though they are burdening their bridal party by asking for help; however, other than standing by you on one of the most important days in your life, their role is to help and support you through wedding planning (and also support your marriage after the wedding day).
- The wedding industry is huge and there are likely multiple different companies for each of the services you need on your big day. However, interviewing multiple florists, caterers, photographers, etc. can lead to feeling overwhelmed. To lessen this, pick two to three vendors for each type of service needed for your wedding. This will make the selection process much more manageable, rule-out the need for excel spreadsheets with multiple comparison criteria, reduce stress, and lead to feeling accomplished when you make a choice (much more quickly)!
- Managing inter-family dynamics can be one of the biggest stressors as a couple plans their wedding! This is especially true when parents want a lot of input, and even go as far as planning the day for you. For some couples, this is actually a dream come true! For others, this can lead to feelings of resentment and bitterness. If this is the case for you, have an open and honest (and calm) discussion with said-family members to express your concerns and your preferences for YOUR wedding day. If it’s your fiancé’s parents, it is probably better for he/she to speak with them directly, but this is also an opportunity for you to practice having open and honest dialogue with your new family. Some of my clients like to practice this through role-plays during our sessions.
- Continue to take care of yourself throughout the entire process. Get rest, eat healthy, exercise, socialize, travel (if you normally would), etc.
- If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, pause and take a few deep breaths. Go to the gym. Go to a yoga class. Go get some fresh air. Have a date night. Do something relaxing and non-wedding related.
- Within all of this, it is incredibly important to take time for yourself and not neglect important activities or people in your life. It is okay, and even preferable, to take a day or even a week or more off from wedding planning. If you find you are neglecting self-care practices such as exercise, rest or sleep, cooking, that you are less engaged at work, and perhaps even experiencing conflict with your fiancé, it is important to pause, reflect, and get back on track. Taking time off from wedding planning is perfectly okay – the wedding will still happen.
- This leads me to my next point: keep focus on the reason why you are getting married. While the party after the nuptials is exciting and fun, the reason why everyone gathered that day is to witness you and your soon-to-be spouse commit your love to one another. With this purpose in mind, couples often are able to take a new perspective on the planning process and reframe the importance of the lavender sprigs in favor of the much-greater reason they are planning this day in the first place.
As the big day comes, most concerns and stress that was experienced prior to the wedding seems to melt away for many couples. All that matters is that the day is finally here, the planning efforts have come to fruition, and today you will marry your best friend. Now, of course, there are still those well-known brides so gracefully referred to as “bridezillas” – brides who cannot relinquish control even the day of. It is important to remember, and it is likely that others have probably already told you, that the day will truly happen very quickly. The most important things you can do on this day are:
- Take it all in. Literally, pause, look around, and take in the moment. And do this multiple times throughout the day.
- Make a mental note that this is the only foreseeable time in your life that all of your closest family, friends, and we will just call them “loved ones” will be in the same room at the same time. That exact group of people will never come together again (for various reasons). Soak that in; it is very special.
- HAVE FUN! Once all the serious photos are over, have the time of your life!
- Let go of all aspects of control. You have planned everything leading up to the day, and your only “job” now is to get married and have fun. The day really is all about you and your new spouse.
With that being said, it is also perfectly normal to still experience stress, anxiety, jitters, and perhaps sadness throughout the wedding planning process. This is when individuals or couples often seek my help. Other than becoming a parent, for many, there is no greater stressful period than planning a wedding. Just like you might seek help from a professional wedding planner to reduce intense emotions related to the planning process, seeking professional help from a psychologist is just as advised. There is nothing unhealthy about needing and seeking professional help to manage stress during this process; in fact, it is just the opposite.