Managing Wedding Planning Stress: The Complete Guide

Managing Wedding Planning Stress: The Complete Guide

Being engaged can be a whirlwind. First, there’s the initial celebration and the calls to friends and family. But soon after, the reality sets in: There’s so much to do. Before you know it, the wedding planning stress can begin. ”Where do we start? How much should we save? How are we going to keep up with all of it?!”

For starters, don’t panic! As you’ll read further down, wedding planning stress (literally) happens to just about everyone. So to help you along this journey, we created this in-depth guide, which includes tips, tricks, ideas, expert advice, and much more.

Learn how to manage wedding planning stress

We know the feeling. Planning one detail — like booking the venue or choosing a photographer, for example — seems to create a plethora of other tasks for your to-do list, and the process can quickly become overwhelming. Keep reading to figure out ways to combat it all.

Identify the source of your wedding planning stress

A big part of managing wedding planning stress is understanding what’s causing it in the first place. Once you’ve identified the source, you can take measures to minimize it.

While it’s a good idea to regularly check in with your partner and anyone else you feel comfortable with who may be involved in the process, we also recommend regularly checking in with yourself — especially if wedding planning is causing you to feel overwhelmed. Ask yourself the following questions to pinpoint the root cause of your stress:

  • Are you trying to do too much?

  • Are you feeling rushed or like you don’t have enough time?

  • Have you gone over your budget?

  • Are friends or family putting pressure on you?

  • Are you experiencing “cold feet?”

  • Do you simply not enjoy the planning process?

The months leading up to a wedding are extremely busy. With so much going on all at once, it can be difficult to identify exactly what’s stressing you out. If you’re struggling to figure out exactly what’s got you on edge, that’s OK! You’re not alone.

Don’t worry: Wedding planning stress is totally normal

There may be times when all the appointments, reminders, and deadlines become too much to handle. If the stress of wedding planning ever makes you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders or like you’re ready to just elope already, keep in mind that almost every single engaged couple goes through the same thing. A recent Zola survey showed that up to 96% of couples experience wedding planning stress. And, for what it’s worth, Zola said they “think the other 4% lied!”

Take some advice from the experts

Perhaps no one understands wedding stressors better than wedding industry professionals. Their lives revolve around weddings, executing the most specific requests, and working with overwhelmed engaged couples.

Here are three pieces of expert advice that may be helpful:

  • "Take a step back and prioritize — what's most important to you? Keep this in mind when planning your budget and allow the other items to fall around it.” - Jacin Fitzgerald, Jacin Fitzgerald Events

  • “Planning a wedding is like climbing a ladder. You have to take it one step at a time. And, like dominoes, one decision impacts the next. Having a master checklist is helpful, but within that checklist, set realistic goals and timeframes to complete tasks.” - Jessica Sloane, Jessica Sloane Events + Experiences

  • “With so much to think of, planning a wedding can be really stressful. It’s easy to forget to enjoy the journey. For instance, if you’re having a dress fitting, meet with your entourage for afternoon tea or bubbly afterwards.” - Maria-Antonia Greenhill, White Door Events

18 ideas for managing wedding planning stress

Stress management is key if you want to balance the intricacies of wedding planning without feeling constantly overwhelmed. Even if your free time is extremely limited, it’s of the utmost importance to keep your mental health in check.

1. Take care of yourself.

Don’t allow wedding planning to get in the way of maintaining your overall health. Be sure to eat well, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep. Poor sleep, dehydration, or general lack of nutrition can fuel feelings of stress or discomfort. Don’t believe us? Take it from wedding planner extraordinaire Mindy Weiss, who advises couples to “be kind to your body and mind” during the planning process.

“This isn’t the time to push yourself until you feel completely burned out, especially when you may be worrying about more than your wedding planning,” Weiss wrote on her blog. “After all, you want to be healthy and radiant on the big day so you can enjoy every moment! Take care of your body by getting regular exercise (lots of home workouts are now available!). And if you haven’t already, try a meditation or mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace. Take a social media detox when you need one. Most importantly, listen to your body and what it needs before wedding planning stress catches up with you.”

2. Talk it out.

You’re not in this alone, and you don’t have to keep all of your stress locked inside. Discuss your stress with your friends, family, and especially your partner. Depending on the level of your stress, we also recommend talking it out with a professional or consulting online support groups.

The newly engaged are a vocal, supportive group, so reach out! Not only will they be able to offer support, they’ll likely have a few hacks or cheap wedding ideas to help save time and cut costs.

3. Get organized.

Set aside a day or two where your sole goal is to get organized. You know what organization tools work best for you. Whether it’s making a “to-do” list, creating a color-coded calendar, organizing a binder, or building a filing system, use the methods that have worked best for you in the past.

4. Make a list.

Create a separate to-do list for each wedding planning category: The venue, invitations, food/alcohol, entertainment, decorations, dress, etc. Outline the tasks that need to get done for each category and rank them based on priority. Start working on the highest priority items from each category to get started.

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5. Prioritize tasks and create a wedding planning timeline.

Once you have a comprehensive to-do list, create a wedding planning timeline. What needs to happen first? What can wait a little while? Note items that may require additional time. After finding your dress, you may need to get it altered. Allocate plenty of additional time for potential delivery delays, overdue RSVPs, or other potential issues. Mark deposit due dates and cancellation deadlines on your calendar as a reminder to follow up. Don’t wait until the last minute!

6. Delegate tasks.

It takes two to tango, as they say, and both partners should be sharing the weight of wedding planning. Even when splitting tasks, however, some couples still struggle to find time to get everything done. Ask for assistance when you need it, but try not to put unfair expectations on or ask too much of those around you. Give each member of the wedding party a task to help with, but be reasonable and fair in your requests. Depending on the situation, your bridal party and friends and family may actually want to lend a hand! So let them.

7. Have a backup plan.

Most of the “worst-case” wedding scenarios are weather-related. Are you having an outdoor wedding and you’re worried about rain? Does the venue have an indoor option if this happens? Can you rent a tent to keep guests dry? Have a Plan B, just in case, and check out our Rain on Your Wedding Day post for more.

8. Take advantage of free apps.

There are tons of free wedding planning apps you can take advantage of, and we highly recommend that you do so. Apps like Pantone Studio allow you to explore color palettes and can help you settle on your theme. Other apps like iWedPlanner are designed to help you keep track of all your vendor information in one place.

9. Allow yourself to take breaks.

Every once in a while, turn off your email and phone notifications. Step away from your devices and take a break from all of the screens. Rest your eyes, stretch, or go for a walk. Walking is a fast, easy way to relieve stress (62% of people find that walking helps reduce their anxiety).

10. Schedule more time than necessary for appointments and tasks.

Prevent putting yourself in a time crunch by over-blocking time in your calendar for wedding appointments. Rushing will only cause more stress and make the experience less enjoyable. By giving yourself an extra hour or so, you’ll be prepared if a fitting runs over or a venue tour starts late.

11. Consult a wedding planner.

It’s one of the most common questions asked by couples: Should I hire a wedding planner? While the answer depends on your situation and your budget, we’re here to say that there’s absolutely no shame in hiring one. If we didn’t need them, they wouldn’t exist. They can help tremendously.

12. Hire a day-of coordinator.

Day-of coordinators are an excellent resource for couples who’ve put a lot of work into planning their wedding and want to be able to really enjoy the day. With a day-of coordinator, you can rest assured knowing someone is there to handle any issues that may arise.

13. Have a laugh.

You don’t want frown lines in your wedding photos, so don’t forget to have some fun! Look at wedding planning memes or watch a silly movie. Don’t let wedding planning become so overwhelming that you forget to enjoy being engaged.

14. Breathe.

Research continues to show that breathing techniques are one of the most helpful and universal de-stressing activities. Powerful tools for fighting anxiety and insomnia, deep breathing techniques are one of the quickest ways to decompress. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

15. Go out of town.

Be careful not to dedicate all of your free time to wedding planning; you still have a life to live! Take a spontaneous road trip to a bed and breakfast nearby, make a day trip to the beach, go camping, and so on. Allow yourself to unplug and reset occasionally or risk getting burnt out.

16. Break out of your comfort zone.

Wedding planning can put stress on relationships. Ensure that spending quality time with your partner is a priority. Do something unexpected, just the two of you. Take time to truly enjoy being engaged. You’ll be married before you know it!

17. Set aside time for yourself.

While spending quality time with your partner is important, so is spending quality time with yourself. Running yourself ragged will only compound your stress. Take time for self care. Run a bubble bath or get a manicure. When wedding planning starts to take its toll, treat yourself to lunch at your favorite restaurant. A little quality alone time may help you re-center and catch your breath.

18. Take a step back and remember what it’s all about.

In wedding planning, in marriage, and in life, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the little things. Remember why you’re getting married in the first place. Think about the future you want to experience with your partner. Be grateful for what you have; be thankful for your partner.

Don’t allow the little things to get in the way or make you forget why you’re getting married in the first place. Don’t allow outside pressure to cause you to overextend your time or budget either. You don’t have to honeymoon with a pile of debt waiting for you at home. When you get right down to it, a wedding day is just that — a day.

Frequently asked questions about managing wedding planning stress

What is the most stressful part of planning a wedding?

It varies, of course, but many people agree that finalizing the guest list is the most stressful part of wedding planning. Often surrounded by the opinions of others, many soon-to-be-weds find it difficult to balance advice with growing expenses, all while trying not to offend or leave anyone out.

Why is wedding planning so stressful?

Wedding planning takes a lot of work! Communication issues, thinly-stretched schedules, and financial discussions are all common sources of wedding planning stress. Dealing with parents is another large source of tension for engaged couples, especially if mom and dad are helping pay.

How can I manage wedding anxiety?

Getting organized, delegating tasks, and asking for help — both with the planning and your mental health — are all ways to help curb wedding anxiety. Consider hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator to help shoulder the burden as well.

What are signs of wedding planning stress?

Difficulty sleeping, anxiety, panic attacks, nervousness, headaches, and stomach problems are all common symptoms of stress. If you’re experiencing these issues and think the stresses of wedding planning may be to blame, sit down and have an honest conversation with your partner. See if there’s a better way to balance the workload and try to map out the next steps.

Put this guide on managing wedding planning stress to use today!

Remember, every wedding — and every couple — is different. What works for one person or couple may not work for the next. While the above guide is a great place to start, some of the advice may not work for you — and that’s OK! As long as you put the well-being of you and your partner first, everything else will fall into place. You’ve got this.

Up next, check out 10 of the best wedding planning books on the market and our list of 25 wedding experts you should follow on social media.

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