Photos by Tanya Isaeva
Wedding planning, or planning anything for that matter, will never appear as an example of R&R under its Urban Dictionary definition, we know this, but, here’s an industry expert’s guide to endeavoring a smooth and serene process, and truly enjoying all the little details along the way.
As the owner of a feminist wedding planning company, I am constantly looking for ways to make my company more inclusive of people at every intersection of identity from race, gender, sexuality, ability, and -- in this case -- mental health status.
We’re all pretty familiar with the idea of “wedding stress,” but it isn’t just the wedding planning that’s stressful. also Underlying it all are the financial, interpersonal, and emotional challenges that go along with the planning. And these stresses can be even more intense for someone with mental health challenges.
As a naturally high-anxiety person (Yes, I’m a wedding planner with anxiety issues), I experienced fairly intense stress navigating the interpersonal challenges planning a wedding when I planned my own wedding three years ago. Unsurprisingly, I dealt with the normal stress of managing the logistics of wedding planning -- keeping a budget, creating a timeline, designing the ceremony and reception spaces -- and I loved every minute of it. But when it came to dealing with my own challenging family dynamics, feeling vulnerable as I shared incredibly intimate vows with my partner in a very public setting, and hosting out-of-town friends in my tiny one bedroom apartment -- I was stressed out of my mind.
So whether your stress arises from social anxiety, organization anxiety, an anxiety disorder or just the general stress of planning and coordinating a giant event, I’m bringing you five tips to de-stress your wedding planning.
1. Reframe your perception of the ideal wedding day.
For many engaged couples, the anticipation and excitement in the months and years leading up to their wedding can create an expectation that the wedding day must be perfect. While your wedding day is sure to be a special celebration of your love for your partner, it’s not the end-all-be-all of your life. Bride centrism in the wedding industry, and in society in general, can make women (particularly in heterosexual relationships) feel like their wedding is the pinnacle of their life.
I’m all for creating a beautifully designed and celebratory atmosphere, but try to take a step back and release the pressure of perfection. Dr. Ben Michaelis, a PhD, encourages couples to “normalize the experience”. Remember that, although this day is special and one for the memory book, you have many more wonderful days of marriage to come after. This day is just the start of a new adventure with your partner.
2. Self Care & Support
Think ahead to your wedding day and identify the challenges that might be anxiety-producing on that day. In addition to all the logistical finagling, consider your capacity for sustained social interaction, potential family conflicts, your appetite, and parts of your daily routine that might help bring peace and restoration to your big day.
Set aside time for exercise, eating, and relaxation on your wedding day. Think about how long you need to be “on” and how long you can be “off” (Mackey, 2017). Of course you want to take in the day fully and not miss a moment, but that will be easier to do if you’re not maxed out physically and emotionally by 5pm.
Remember to breathe throughout the day. Breathing helps calm your nervous system when you’re stressed by altering blood pressure and dampening the flow of stress hormones. I use the Calm app to remind me to breathe and meditate for short chunks of time throughout the day.
3. Hire pros to do the heavy lifting - and PLEASE, for the love of God, hire a coordinator!
The best thing you can do to eliminate stress on your wedding day is to over-plan, to over-communicate, and to hire vendors that you can trust to run the show. Consider choosing a venue that handles the largest components of a wedding -- the space, the rentals, and the catering -- so that you have less to coordinate.
Hire a wedding planner, and, if you can’t afford it, please hire a month/day-of coordinator! This might sound like a plug for my own business, but I fully believe that there would be no “bridezillas” in the world if every one of them hired a wedding coordinator to manage the final logistics the month- and day-of the wedding.
While a full-service or partial service wedding planner helps with vendor selection and planning for months and years leading up to the wedding day, a day-of or month-of coordinator will typically manage the timeline, setup, and floor plan for the event beginning one month prior and communicate those details to and liaise with all your vendors in the weeks leading up to the event. Hiring a coordinator ensures that you’re not working on your wedding day. You can find one that suits your needs by “Google”-searching with keywords, asking for recommendations from friends, family, or other wedding industry service-based businesses, scrolling through wedding blogs, and looking on social media.
4. Less is more.
If a big wedding is stressing you out, go small. Elope or have a microwedding. A smaller wedding is typically less expensive and easier to plan. Plus, you get to focus all your social energy on a smaller crowd of your nearest and dearest on your wedding day. Read all about my argument for the microwedding here.
Apart from inviting fewer guests, you can also eliminate some potential stress by having a private wedding ceremony prior to a full reception, having an intimate wedding party of 4-6 people or by hosting a more casual wedding in a restaurant or other nontraditional venue (be careful though -- sometimes nontraditional venues can actually be more work for a larger wedding because they are less experienced with planning and setting up for weddings).
5. Remember why you’re doing this - your love for your partner.
This seems too obvious -- but really. Consider spending some time alone with your partner on your wedding day to ground yourself. Whether that might be getting ready together in the morning (despite all those superstitions!), having a first look with your photographer, or sneaking off for some time alone during the cocktail hour, these moments can help you be present throughout the day. On my wedding weekend, I felt the most happy and relaxed when my then-fiancé and I were able to sneak off during the rehearsal dinner to spend some time alone. A sneak peek photoshoot between you and your partner before the ceremony doesn’t take away from the romance of the day -- in fact, it will be a treasured memory that you get to share intimately.
Apart from all of these strategies for wedding stress relief, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a mental health professional, if you need a little help. Psychology Today has some incredible resources for finding psychological help.
Here’s to wishing you the best of luck with your wedding planning and to an incredible wedding day! Happy planning, friends.
Photographer: Tanya Isaeva
Planning & Design: Together Events
Officiant: Once Upon a Vow
Venue: Studio 225BK
Rentals: A-Z Party Rentals
Florist: Rosewood Floral Co.
Suit: Black Lapel
Earrings: Alyson Nicole Bespoke Bridal
Catering: Surfish Bistro
Violinist: Eliya Siani