How to plan a wedding when you suffer from anxiety

Planning a wedding is a stressful time. You can be the sanest person in the world and it’ll still make you lose your mind a bit.

But for people who already struggle with anxiety, it’s a whole other challenge.

 

I once had to sit on some stairs in Robert Dyas because I was having an anxiety attack about buying a broom, so planning a wedding is DEFINITELY going to set me off.

(Rest assured, the broom-buying was merely the tip of that particular iceberg. I’m not just weirdly anxious about housework.)

Since I started planning our wedding, I’ve been keeping a close eye on my anxiety levels. So far, so good.

I’ve had moments of stress, but they’re all within normal boundaries. I haven’t started worrying that the venue might burn down yet.

But I have been worried about the prospect of anxiety. I know it’s going to hit me eventually.

So what can I (or you, fellow anxious person) do to minimise the chances of a major anxiety episode while planning my wedding?

I’ve got no idea. But a therapist and a wedding planner have plenty of suggestions.

Is your anxiety rising?

metro illustrations
Just breathe (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co,uk)

‘If we are already prone to anxiety, then something that seems big or overwhelming can trigger more of it,’ says Dr Sheri Jacobson, Clinical Director of Harley Therapy.

She tells me to look out for ‘very illogical or extreme thinking. If you start having feelings of doom, convinced that something terrible will happen at the wedding, for example, your anxiety is out of control.’

Dr Jacobson tells me that you also need to look out for extreme moods (like crying or getting angry for no reason) or physical symptoms, including lack of sleep, changes in eating habits, an upset stomach, or the ‘constant sense of your heart beating out of control’.

If your anxiety is out of control, then seek help. ‘It’s an added cost, but a weekly appointment with a counsellor might be an investment that saves your wedding,’ Dr Jacobson adds.

Why do we find weddings so stressful?

How to plan a wedding when you suffer from anxiety
These both seem like reasonable reactions (Picture: Irene Palacio for Metro.co.uk

Our wedding is supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, so why is the planning of it so goddamned stressful?

Wedding planner Alexandra Merri of The Bijou Bride has dealt with her share of anxious brides.

‘Getting married is a pivotal point in anyone’s life,’ Alexandra says, ‘and let’s not hide from the fact that it costs a lot.’

‘With our very visual media these days we are bombarded with imagery of the perfect body, perfect life and perfect wedding!

‘The fact it’s really a moment to reflect and celebrate your choice to share a life together often gets lost in the ‘insta-worthy’ messaging.’

The closest I’ve come so far to a wedding-related anxiety meltdown was the 20 minutes I spent on Pinterest. I strongly advise un-crafty brides like me to avoid looking at other people’s perfect decorations.

But when there’s so much imagery out there about the ‘perfect’ wedding, it’s easy to feel like you need to live up to it, and you lose sight of your real reason for getting married.

What are the most common causes of anxiety when planning a wedding?

How to plan a wedding when you suffer from anxiety
Family can be a big cause of wedding conflict and stress (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Alexandra and Dr Jacobson agree on most of the reasons people get seriously stressed during the planning stage – and top of the list is family stress.

‘If you come from a close family you love, even if you have an idea of the wedding you want, you can feel pressured by your family’s expectations,’ says Dr Jacobson.

‘It’s important to communicate your boundaries. Yes, you appreciate feedback, but it’s your wedding.’

If you come from mixed cultural or religious backgrounds, that can open up a whole other barrel of family anxieties.

‘I work on a lot of multi-cultural weddings,’ Alexandra says, ‘and fusing elements of different traditions can cause stress among each partner’s family.’

Alexandra also has to deal with many brides who are terrified at the thought of being on show.

‘Having everyone staring at you can be pretty daunting if you aren’t a confident person or don’t relish being the centre of attention.

‘And something that is tied to that is the feeling that you need to look a certain way to be a picture perfect bride.’

Financial concerns play a major part but, at the core of everything, weddings put your relationship itself under a lot of strain.

‘If you haven’t developed good skills of communication and compromise, then it can be a time of conflict,’ says Dr Jacobson.

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