Friday, January 30, 2015

Planning a Wedding with an Anxiety Disorder

 I thought about my someday-wedding a lot before I got engaged. I pictured the tables and chairs, the dress, the inevitable tears, the music, the photos. I looked at a lot of wedding blogs/videos/photographers and felt I had a good idea of what the perfect day would look like. What I didn't picture was the planning process that goes into creating that perfect day. I didn't envision a year of detail-oriented tasks. I didn't visualize myself and my overactive brain as key players in the process. So here I am, under two months away from "the big day" and the stress stomachaches have begun (and will likely continue for the next 58 days). 

When anyone (read: everyone) asks me if I am getting nervous or excited about the wedding, I shrug and laugh and say "ugh, that?!" I recognize that this is mostly to diminish the panic that's boiling inside, an out of control lava flow of emotion. If I'm actually forced to engage with the subject, it brings me to immediate tears. And they're not tears of happiness. Though I'm thrilled to marry Ben (that's not the anxiety inducing element of the wedding), I can't wait to be done with it all and just be married! And so, on this Wednesday, January 28th, at the sixty day mark, I started feeling nauseous.

I've discussed my anxiety on the blog before and those that know me know that my generalized anxiety disorder coupled with panic attacks can be severe. For those that don't entirely understand a an anxiety disorder (and are inclined to say "don't worry! We all get anxious!") - an anxiety disorder turns regular situations that cause some people minor discomfort or worry (and even situations that don't cause discomfort or worry in regular people) into massive black holes of doom and gloom that can swallow you whole. That might sound dramatic, but that's quite literally what anxiety feels like. For me, knowing that the wedding is only two months away, causes me to spend the majority of my days trying to stay seated in my chair. I have to steady myself to keep myself from running away. Literally. I want to get up and run away, as far as possible, and then cry, and lay down, and say nevermind. Fight or flight is not just a catchy phrase. It's real.

Though I haven't yet actually gotten married and gone through with a wedding with an anxiety disorder (I do plan to!), I have some tips for those of you that share my neuroses. I didn't see a lot out there about this (just those obnoxious Wedding Bee forums) and know that anxious people, like myself, love to read others stories and feel a sense of solidarity out there. So here are my tips:

1. Plan a long engagement. If you have anxiety or panic disorder, it's probably not a good idea to get married within a few months of getting engaged. I personally went for a 14 month engagement. I knew I'd want well over a year to secure a location, photographers for one specific day, caterers, etc. 14 months has been perfect. I literally take 1 month breaks from planning and have never felt pressed to get anything done.

2. Keep it small! If New Year's Eve parties, networking events, or crowded malls make you nervous, it's safe to bet a 300 person wedding may throw you off the deep end (that's 300 favors/meals/invitations to make perfect). Though I'd personally recommend a mountain elopement for two with a great vacation (for two) afterward, most people actually do want weddings. Try to limit the number of guests to a size that doesn't make your eyes/tummy/brain wig out. For me? That was about 35-40.

3. Keep it simple! Weddings are surrounded by tons of hoopla and fanfare. When you get engaged, there's a giant list of to-dos - "proposal" to your bridesmaids, setting a date, engagement party, bridal shower(s), couples shower, bachelorette, rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony and reception, post-wedding brunch. The list goes on and on. Choose the ones that're really important to you. For us? A wedding shower for both of us and the actual wedding are as much as we can handle. We even opted to have our shower at a close, low-key brewery.

4. I know this term is foreign to you, but, let it go. If the flower arrangement coordination is driving you insane? Forget it. Commit to not obsessing about tiny details that will only drive you mad. If there are four ranunculus instead of five, no one will notice, no one will care. All flowers are gorgeous, so you can't go wrong with having any flowers. If you're worried the caterer won't show up and dedicate precious anxious hours to worrying about this, rest assured that this is 100% out of your control and if it does happen to you, you can lean back and get ready for a) a refund and b) a future-hilarious story to tell the children.

5. Accept help. This was the hardest for me. I'm an anxious perfectionist that wants to do everything myself. I was worried that if I didn't plan my shower, it'd go terribly. That if I didn't write my own wedding ceremony, it'd sound trite and corny. And these items were giving me an anxious stomach like you wouldn't believe. Finally, I let my maid of honor just do her thing and guess what? The shower was ultra-low-stress and perfect. I also let my mom take over the ceremony script planning and she found a beautiful one within five minutes of googling. It's also perfect.

6. Remember the end goal. The end of the entire nightmarish planning process is getting married to the person that's hopefully not only a best friend, but also a fantastic partner that supports your anxiety disorder (as obnoxious as that might be, at 2 a.m., when you can't sleep or think you have a weird illness you googled). They're likely to be your best tool in combating the anxiety and can sit you down and go through your breathing exercises with you!


  1. All great advice, no matter the situation! Beautiful bride inside and out xoxo

  2. Wow, the 2 month mark! I hope this post reaches other brides out there and calms and grounds them with your excellent points about being able to let go, remember the end goal, and especially asking for help! And it's better to ask for help sooner than the last week before the wedding!

  3. I would have done so many things differently - but I can't go backwards now! Great advice!

  4. Great post, very interesting read and great advice - thanks for sharing! <3

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  5. Good luck with the wedding planning. It sounds like you'll be just fine. :)

  6. It sounds to me that you are doing an amazing job planning your wedding and trying to keep you anxiety at bay. Fantastic tips for anyone who deals with anxiety and is planning a big day!

  7. This is great advice! Keep it simple, stay organized, and take it one day at a time. Before you know it, the big day will be a fond memory! Good luck with the rest of the wedding planning, and congratulations!

  8. Great tips, Kelsey! I imagine you must be feeling a lot of pressure from many sides, and that alone can make wedding planning uncomfortable, not to mention if you're already anxious! On the bright side - it's probably going to turn out great, since you've invested so much time and thought into it.

  9. I have some form of an anxiety disorder, too. I took medication for it for a decade! I have it pretty well checked (except for the hypochondria part), but having a small, no-fuss wedding was still the way to go! My husband dealt with most of the planning, which was a huge help! For me, what worked, was actually doing everything very impromptu! We got engaged, got married a week later, then had a potluck reception 3 months later. Splitting up the events really made sense for us. We rented a community space at one of the parks and I was just really firm when it came to any decisions I had to make. I didn't let myself change my mind at all! I still can't believe how firm I was about it, haha. Don't second guess yourself! Sometimes just the decision making is enough to send your nerves into a tailspin. Do what feels right and stick with it!

  10. Good messages! I was a pretty high stress person back when we got married, but the day went by so fast and was so fun that even I was pretty relaxed about most things! A few things went wrong, but no one but me noticed. I did have a lot of great help working with me, was grateful for that!

  11. Yes, keep your eyes on the goal and you'll have a great day. Best of all, you'll be married. :)


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