The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Anxiety and Depression While Planning a Wedding
Let’s chat about something hella uncomfortable.
The topic of anxiety and depression while wedding planning is very near and dear to me. I’ve written a blog about pre-wedding depression, which is quite popular. However, a single resource isn’t always enough, which brought me to create this ultimate guide to dealing with anxiety and depression while planning a wedding. The way you feel is entirely normal, even if no one wants to discuss it. So let’s get this mellow and tuned-down party started!
Accept your feelings
One of the aspects of living in a society that ignores mental health, it’s difficult to say, “this is okay that I feel this way.” After all, the wedding industry has claimed for a hundred years that you must be HAPPY. You found your one true love—to feel anything but gratitude and joy is selfish. There are people out there crying into their melted ice cream, wishing they had a partner. You’re ungrateful! Except you’re really not. Your brain chemistry doesn’t wait for the memo of, what an exciting time! I’m going to start producing serotonin again! That’s not how it works. Sit down with yourself and focus on making peace with this feeling.
Wedding “blues” are not normal.
I’m not talking about depression. I’m talking about the deep dread some people feel about their big day. While this would be nearly impossible to prove, I’m a strong believer that the term, “cold feet,” comes from way back when to the time when women were sold as chattel to the highest bidder. Who the hell wouldn’t be panicking?? Fast forward to the last seventy years or so, when love matches became more acceptable. So many people (more women than men) would be judged if they passed on a perceived match that would be good. The guy has a job, he’ll provide for you, and he courted you so well. Except that those three things do not mean someone is your person. Why wouldn’t cold feet come into play then? In my experience, if you have doubts about marrying someone, don’t marry them. Seriously. Your instincts are trying to tell you something, even if you don’t want to listen because society tells you it’s normal. Wedding blues and cold feet are not normal.
Hire a wedding planner
If you have read many of my blogs, you know I’m a massive fan of (most) planners. No, I don’t mean your aunt, who means well but has no experience. I’m not even talking about day-of coordinators. I’m talking about actual wedding planners that help collect vendor quotes, keep lists of things for you to focus on, make the day run smoothly, and puts your experience/comfort at the forefront. If you’re confused about the difference between coordinators and planners, make sure to check out this blog that breaks down the difference between wedding planners and wedding coordinators. When you’re trying to deal with anxiety and depression while wedding planning, a professional will really ease that load!
“If they love free food, they can go to Costco. If they want to shake their booty, they can do it in their living room. You, however, are more important than their wants. Period.”
Create a checklist to narrow down your focus.
Okay, let’s start simple. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my top three most important aspects to the day, i.e., photography, food, DJ, dress, venue, etc.?
- What are my least important aspects? Make these the lowest priority, or don’t even spend money on them even if people tell you that you absolutely need an extra cake or have to do the first dance. You don’t have to do shit.
Once you answer these questions, then ask yourself the following questions concerning your top three:
- What is my budget for these individual items? — This will help break down exactly what vendors will work for you or not.
- How many steps will it take to book this vendor? — For example, you need a DJ. First, you want to talk to them. Then you ask questions. Then you book them. Then you create a list of your top songs (to keep it simple, list less than 20 and trust them to do their job). Ask them what they need to be successful that day. Then you give their contact info to whoever is running your day. The DJ should actually help you with a reception timeline if you don’t have a planner. Each of these steps can be broken down into daily goals, less than thirty mins for most if you have to break this down into emails over the course of weeks, who the hell cares. I assure you, vendors deal with more insane shit.
Then make a list. Now, for some people, lists are extremely stressful. It looks daunting. However, if you find it stressful, you’re probably putting too much pressure on it. This brings me to the next point…
Complete one small task a day
Once you have that list going, then do ONE thing from the list every day. Or when you feel like it. Even if it’s responding to a single email or sending out an inquiry, sometimes that task is just self-care like a nap. In fact, feel free to put napping on the list. Or eating. Or avoiding the list altogether. BUT go to the list and cross these “tasks” off. Every single item crossed off, literally with a pen, will feel satisfying. Took a nap? Scratch that off. Took a shower? Sweet. Cross that shit off. When depression is kicking you in the gut, it’s important to celebrate the tiny, tiny victories. Don’t go too big picture if you don’t have to.
Scale down the wedding
Look, you probably have family or friends that think you should have a huge event. I mean, what guest doesn’t love free booze and food? An opportunity to shake their booty? However, when you’re just focusing on literally surviving day to day, their experience does not matter. If they love free food, they can go to Costco. If they want to shake their booty, they can do it in their living room. You, however, are more important than their wants. Period. Does the idea of spending so much money stress you out? Then cut your budget. Don’t want to invite Aunt Karen because she’s always drama? Don’t invite her. She’ll cause drama either way, so it might as well not be in front of you. And if someone gets upset with your boundaries, don’t invite them either.
Repeat after me: My wedding will not be perfect, but I will have a good time.
Talk to your partner.
Alright, this should be at the top of the list but let’s be honest: depression is so lonesome. It’s a solitary experience, even if your partner knows what’s going on. Of course, you SHOULD talk to them. In fact, if you can’t talk to your partner about your anxiety and depression, don’t marry them. I feel really confident in this declaration. Are you going to spend the next thirty years hiding your pain? I sure as hell hope not. Maybe they can help take the load off. Assign them some items from your list. Ask them to help you eat. Or cuddle you! Or leave you alone. Sometimes alone time is just the ticket.
Drink it. Just do it. In my experience, anxiety/fatigue can often be fixed by drinking some water. Seriously. Our bodies try to tell us things, so let’s try to listen!
Go to a doctor
So this one seems like a no-brainer, but medical care is a privilege in America. Not everyone can meds, let alone check-ups. On top of that, the mainstream medical system makes diagnoses hard to come by. Another common misconception is that if you take meds for anxiety or depression, it’s long-term. This isn’t true. Sometimes, you need a helping hand. You would grab someone’s hand if you were drowning, right? Just look at meds like the saving hand you need not to drown. Once you’re on land, you don’t need that hand, right? I hope this metaphor works…either way, ain’t no shame if you can afford it (ain’t so shame regardless).
Delegate, Delegate, DELEGATE
Your person of honor (maid of honor, dude of honor) is in charge of more than you are willing to give, most likely. Of course, sometimes choosing a person of honor has zero to do with competency and everything to do with avoiding hurt feelings. It’s an honor, though. It’s LITERALLY in the name. Make those people EARN that title. Some people think having a person of honor means you need a whole wedding party—you do not. I have had plenty of clients have one special person on each side. That’s normal (even if it isn’t, who cares) and totally fine. However, make sure this person knows what they’re signing up for. Things you can ask your person of honor to do:
- Research vendors and come up with a good amount of options.
- Run errands for you.
- If applicable, plan your bridal shower and your hen/stag/bachelorette party.
- Go to cake and food tastings with you.
- Help you pick out your outfit.
- Be the point of contact before and on the day.
- Mediate conflict if you have a wedding party.
- Keep track of gifts received.
- Keep you hydrated.
- Help with DIY projects.
- Talk you down from the ledge when it all becomes too much.
Doesn’t all of that sound amazing? It’s why you should definitely get a person of honor!
BEWARE: All yee abandon the concept of perfection past this point
When was the last time you planned something, and it was utterly perfect? Personally, I can think of meals, dates, trips, goals, and Facebook posts that were intended to go one way and derailed somewhere along the way. Life isn’t perfect, so expecting it during one of the biggest (if not the only biggest) parties of your life with millions of moving cogs to be perfect is unrealistic as hell. In fact, I encourage you to repeat after me: my wedding will not be perfect, but I will have a good time. That’s right; it won’t be perfect. And that’s really okay. Is the party more important than the commitment to the love of your life? No. It isn’t. Few things will be, and I assure you, wedding cake does not even come close to how much you love your partner. Or anything else for that matter (unless you have babies). Keep that in mind as things run late, or Aunt Karen threw a fit (I told you not to invite that bitch). The wedding day will pass in the blink of an eyelid, so focus on enjoying it.
You’re a superstar, no matter what. Depression and anxiety is a hidden daily battle that is worthy of knighthood or something. At least a good meal, right?
It isn’t easy dealing with anxiety and depression while wedding planning. Existing and adulting are hard enough without having to be concerned about the right hairstyle or the color of your uplights (I prefer vibrant ones). You deserve to have a wonderful day, and negotiating with your inner turmoil is vital to that journey. I sincerely hope you find some peace and happiness during this journey, but it IS better when you’re happy. We can’t expect happiness, but if you can incorporate even a few of these suggestions, hopefully, it’ll lighten the emotional load and help you smile more genuinely.
If you are feeling thoughts of suicide, experiencing intense ideation, or just need someone to listen, please call: 800-273-8255 or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline for more information. Your life and experience fucking matter, okay? No wedding is ever ever ever ever ever worth your own mental wellbeing. I’m also open to listening to literally anyone because I’ve been there—a few times. Sometimes we just need to be heard, and I’m ready to listen. (I am not a trained professional, whatsoever).