Four lessons I learned about wedding planning with anxiety
I’ve had this post in my head for a long time waiting to get out, but I've been a bit scared to write it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved our wedding day, and I love being married even more, but there were definitely things about the day and the planning process that I didn't enjoy. That has been really difficult for me to admit as someone whose work revolves around weddings, but I think it’s important to share both the good and bad because if that helps one of you that’s struggling with the same issues then that will be worth it.
Here are four lessons that I learnt the hard way during our wedding planning process, that will hopefully help you if you are finding things difficult:
1. It’s ok if you really didn’t enjoy wedding planning.
This is something that I felt a LOT of shame and guilt over. I love planning and styling details for other people’s weddings and it’s something that comes really naturally to me, I really feel like I have the best job ever. So of course planning my own wedding is something that I always looked forward to, and when we got engaged I couldn’t wait to get started. However it quickly became clear that planning our own wedding was going to be a completely different ball game.
I have always lived with anxiety, which has come in peaks and troughs throughout my life. With all of the decisions to make, family opinions, and the thought of being centre of attention for the day, planning our wedding was definitely a peak in my anxiety. I spent pretty much the whole time feeling panicked, and then on top of that I felt an extreme amount of guilt that I wasn’t “making the most” of being engaged. I was obsessed with the thought that I would only get to be engaged once and only have one wedding day, and I thought I was wasting it by feeling anxious and not enjoying it. This is a catch 22 situation, the more anxious I felt the more guilt I felt, and the more guilt I felt the more anxious I felt. The guilt lasted for months after the wedding, and if I’m truthful still comes up in waves occasionally (but I’m a lot better at dealing with it now).
What I’d like to say to my past panicky self and to any of you that share these feelings is that it’s ok. It’s ok not to enjoy planning your wedding, it’s even ok not to enjoy your wedding! It doesn’t make you a bad bride, groom, husband or wife and it especially does not make you a bad person. Wedding planning is not a breeze for everyone, and I just want you to know that you’re not alone, you are not a failure if you don’t feel happy and excited about it all the time.
2. Don’t focus on it being the best day of your life.
This was the killer for me. I don’t know why, but I really held onto this idea with such a tight grip. I think part of the problem is that weddings are talked about in the media with such hype and not much of the negative aspects are shared, which is part of my motivation to write this post. Also because I think and talk about weddings every day for my job, I was so saturated with the industry and my own expectations that I put an insane amount of pressure on the day being PERFECT. People say that comparison is the thief of joy, well perfectionism is its partner in crime.
I think if we weren’t all so fixated on having the best day of our lives on our wedding day, then we might have more of a chance of it being so. I had an amazing day at our wedding, and I know our guests did too, but I definitely caught myself a few times thinking “I need to appreciate this more, is this the best day of my life??” which totally took me out of the moment. It’s also nice to think that we have a lot of other “best days” to look forward to in our lives, and it’s not all down hill from the wedding day.
This of course is not to throw any shade at anyone who genuinely had the best day of their lives on their wedding day, I love that! But I think trying to force the feeling is a problem a lot of brides in particular face.
3. Wedding blues are real, but not always in the way that you expect.
I fully anticipated wedding blues. I thought I would be so sad that the day was over and that I’d want to do it all again. I know this is true for many couples, but for us we had blues of a different kind. We had a very low budget DIY wedding, and took on almost all of the work ourselves, so we were super relieved when it was all over and we could enjoy being married.
In the days after our wedding we were both really happy and giddy that the whole thing had gone so well and now we could rest, but as time went on it was like I’d forgotten all the good parts of the day and started to have feelings of disappointment. This was of course met with more guilt. How could I be so happy to be married but feel disappointed with our wedding? I felt ungrateful and pretty ashamed honestly. I realise now that this is a very normal feeling, and it’s just another form of wedding blues that’s spoken about less often!
Luckily these disappointed feelings mostly faded away, especially after we edited our wedding video and I could remember how great the day actually was (there’s a case for investing in a videographer!). I think the important thing to admit is that sometimes there are parts of weddings that are a disappointment, and that’s ok. I just want to encourage you that if you are feeling any form of disappointment after your wedding then you are normal and it’s nothing to be ashamed about.
4. Being married really does feel different to being engaged.
I couldn’t imagine feeling any different once we were married, but I can say one year on that it does - in a good way! It’s obvious that I love weddings, but I’ve always had some reservations about marriage as an institution. I obviously believe in marriage (otherwise why would I get married), but I don’t like that people who choose not to get married, or people that are happily single are pressured with the ideology that marriage is the pinnacle of existence. For us getting married was always more about celebrating with our family and friends rather than the legal title. That being said I love being married way more than I expected to. I love wearing my wedding ring, I love calling Jake my husband and it genuinely does feel like we are more of a team than ever.
I hope that this post hasn’t come across too negatively. Part of the reason for waiting this long to share my feelings about this is that I wanted to feel like I could share a bit of hope for people feeling the same way, and there were points where I wasn’t sure if I would get to that place. I love working with couples to create their dream weddings, but I also feel like it’s important to cover the whole story. I’d like to be a source of pretty wedding inspiration for all of you brides (and grooms) to be, but also a source of support too when things don’t feel so rosy. Plus, I know that when you are able to deal with the difficult emotions around wedding planning it makes the fun stuff like picking out all the details a much happier experience.
Thank you lovelies for reading. If this has struck a chord with any of you, please feel free to share in the comments below, or over on instagram @rachelemmastudio - let’s get talking about these issues so they are not so scary to share.