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TRIGGER WARNING: Real talk of my wedding induced anxiety and statements that may worsen your wedding anxiety. If you are unsure if you can deal with that right now, that’s okay. Just do what you need to do to take care of you.

Please note: I am a wedding planner, not a doctor in any way shape or form. I speak from personal experience and not a professional standpoint with research-backed information.

photo from my wedding by Jelger + Tanja Photography

Anxiety likes to show up when weddings are afoot. Some people may not even live with the bastard until their wedding planning starts to take shape. When I first encountered panic attacks, it was before my engagement, so I had some time to learn about my triggers and how to cope – which, of course, went straight out the window when wedding planning started. It’s funny; I have no problem with my anxiety while I’m working (you know, planning weddings) – well, nothing out of the usual, anyway – but when it was my own wedding, my mental health just seemed to plummet. I became more susceptible to the triggers I already had and developed new ones, which were oh so much fun. I am happy to say my anxiety is back to normal now, nearly two years after the wedding, and I’ve learned to navigate my panic attacks much more effectively. 

I only have my suspicions about how this wedding anxiety comes about, but I see it in so many people. More often than not, I see women struggling with it. (I’m not sure if men just have a talent for hiding anxiety or if women are more likely to experience it with wedding planning.) I spend a lot of time with couples before their marriage. They meet me after they become engaged when they are seeking help with their wedding. Sometimes I will meet with them a year before their wedding and others I’ve met with less than 4 weeks before they say “I do”. I feel like my job is to be a support system, which includes helping with stress and anxiety management.

When you’re planning a wedding you’re getting a new, and additional, full time job. You’re not getting paid, you might not know how to plan a wedding so you have to learn on the way, you are unsure what your job description entails, or even what tools are in your hands, you may feel under appreciated for your work, you just know you have one goal: plan a party. A crazy party with everyone you love and hold dear. An absolutely insane gala where your father cries and your aunt can be seen judging the decor on the tables. You feel like your job is to please your mother, keep your in-laws happy with the plan, and stop your cousin from getting into a fist fight with your partner’s college buddy. The worst part beyond the family and social dynamics? It’s so. Damn. Expensive. 

And the stress of knowing you’re spending thousands of dollars that you, or someone you love, worked their butt off to attain can do you in. 

The stress of trying to please all these people who are expecting a crazy awesome party from you might tear you apart. 

Knowing your todo list is a mile long may cause nightmares where your dress rips and people are disappointed in you. 

Statement: Wedding planning can and will cause anxiety and panic attacks and that’s okay. 

Not everyone gets a party where the groom is lifted out of his seat and danced around either. Moment captured by Michele Mateus Photography

It’s okay to break down crying for absolutely no reason. It’s okay to curl up in the fetal position, holding your head, begging for it to stop, even if you don’t entirely understand what “it” is. You are allowed to feel uncertain about your wedding plans and want to throw them out in favor of eloping on a remote mountain where it’s just you and them and someone marrying you. 

A coping mechanism I used (and often still do) was my husband. We’d curl up, skin to skin, and he’d listen to me, offer me tea and a tissue. Sometimes I would feel like he would be uncomfortable with what was causing my panic attack but he took it all in stride and supported and comforted me. This worked for me, but that strategy may not work for everyone. I also found curling up in some thick blankets with a familiar movie or TV show helped, as did a hot bath with the lights turned off and candles flickering. 

Me and my hubby, Jimbo, my own personal anxiety diffuser, on our wedding day. Moment captured by Jelger + Tanja Photographers

You and your partner are responsible for your health; whether that’s your physical or mental or emotional health, this should be your number one concern. If your wedding plans are kicking your ass, if you want to throw it all away because the idea of your wedding no longer makes you happy, just anxious and exhausted, do it. Do whatever you need to do to take care of you.

And if you’re doubting if you can handle it, call me. Text. E-mail. I am on your team, and down the line your wedding should invoke happy memories, not ones of anxiety tackling you to the ground and holding you down.

Moment captured by Will Purcell Photography

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