Having been a bride-to-be for nearly 6 months, I have definitely had moments of despair and disbelief, especially in the last month or so which proved more challenging in ways I could have never expected. First it looked like my mum suddenly wasn’t going make it because of requiring surgery. My maid of honour had a car crash and injured a disc in her neck. My custom-ordered wedding dress turned out to be a disaster and I struggled for almost a month to get a refund. I fell when running and smashed my face on the pavement, spending 2 weeks swollen, badly bruised and a nose like a sweet potatoe. When my new dress maker seemed to have vanished into thin air with my deposit and precious bridal fabric, I was on the verge on a “bridal breakdown” for sure. I was ready to cancel all wedding plans and elope.
Luckily, all the things above got more or less resolved eventually. But I am still struggling with the anxious aftermaths, difficulty to sleep some nights, fatigue and my lips have taken a beating as I can’t seem to stop nibbling on them.
So what it is that happens to us when we are planning a wedding? Why are brides susceptible to anxiety? Why can the months of engagement easily turn into months of stress, and sometimes even dread?
Now with this unfortunate hands-on-experience, it is time to dive deep into the subject and unravel the causes – and cures- of wedding panic.
In the research from popular wedding articles on online wedding blogs, everyone is taking about “BRIDEZILLA”.
If you ask me, this term is extremely unfair and judgemental!
I want to tell all brides out there, that we have every right to “go mental” as brides-to-be. Being engaged and planning a wedding is SO charged of various and contrasting emotions:
On the one hand:
Extreme happiness. Excitement. Looking forward to an incredible special day. Waiting for a life together with the love of our life. Getting to choose between fantastic dresses, décor, music, all things related to wedding conceptualizing and design. Looking forward to spending time with family and friends. Fun preparations together with your wedding party.
On the other hand:
Anticipation – easily turned into nervousness. Complex emotions about what lies ahead – marriage is a pretty big commitment right?
Indecisiveness – there seems to be an infinite of big and small decisions to be made- after about 50 decisions it gets pretty muddled as of what is relevant and irrelevant. (Napkin colours – do you know what I mean?)
The prospect of being centre of attention can frighten some – me included.
The prospect of coordinating and getting all the details to fit together into one smooth and seamless event – we want it to be amazing on top of that.
Family and friends from all walks of life in one place can be joyful but also overwhelming.
Juggling bridesmaids personalities and making decisions as a group.
Deciding on their dresses – and the big one: deciding on YOUR DRESS, shoes, hair, makeup and accessories – hello! I can take 1 hour getting ready for an evening with book club and I know others that are similar or worse. For a day when one is going to be the most photographed EVER, one can easily develop anxieties about ones appearance, not to mention ones figure. Especially when there are millions of dresses and shoes etc to choose from.
There is already a lot of pressure on women to look good just in everyday life, on ones wedding that pressure is amplified beyond what many women are comfortable with. A common description of the typical wedding day as PERFECT – no wonder at all that brides-to-be are yearning for a perfect wedding day too, which includes perfect appearance, perfect details and perfect everything. This is why, my dear readers, brides-to-be often come across as “perfectionists” – and it opens every single possibility of immense insecurity.
Many women getting married have no problems with the above and take wedding preparations in their stride, or just hire a wedding planner. But for any one who has even the slightest inclination towards anxiety and self-doubt, this is definitely one of the more challenging times a woman will ever be going through. (Ok, raising toddlers and teenagers might be worse)
So will everyone PLEASE stop talking about bridezillas now, and simply have some understanding and compassion of what it is like? Brides are often accused for being “Divas”, Neglectful of others (including fiancés), Aggressive, Irritable, Perfectionists, Obsessed, Attention seeking and the worst: Irrational.
All these behaviours are merely symptoms of the extreme stress, anxiety and the overwhelming phase we are going through. Have some mercy on brides, man!
Instead of the bride being constantly asked to monitor her behaviour, being kinder to bridesmaids, being more grateful, humble and serene, how about her near and dear ones stops mocking her and instead showing a bit compassion and understanding? If she is attention seeking – maybe you haven’t given her enough attention? If a friend of you is getting married and you find her worrying about centrepieces – just stop for a sec and realize that this is a woman in distress, and she is not intentionally being relentless or “irrational”, but only experiencing insecurity and confusion whether to please her grandma or her uncle in the choice of flowers.
It is not a conscious decision by brides to act this way– it is rather that we are under attack by wedding demons, way beyond what we can control ourselves. Our bridezilla diva tendencies is not a choice – it is a result of too much pressure from every direction. Because we have looked forward to this special day for a long time, and now it is fast approaching – surely that is reason enough to get hyper-excited about everything about it – even the flower girls basket?
We have never done this kind of thing before – so it is obvious why one is going to feel insecure and bewildered, all at the very same time.
Have you ever found yourself spending more than 20 minutes in the cereal aisle of a supermarket trying to decide what breakfast cereal you want? There are simply too many brands to choose from, alluring packaging, concepts of what is good for you or not, in the end of it you don’t even know what you like anymore. Do I like cranberries or raisins more? Do I prefer granola or flakes? Gooseberry/ almond or cashew/ fig? What about my fiancé, what does he like again – maybe this sports blend? In the end, you might pick up something that you really didn’t like, or walked out of the aisle empty handed.
Even a normal person can find this detailed decision making too much. Multiply that feeling by 10.000 – that is what it is like to be a bride. Do you follow? Stress and too much choice can make any normal human irrational. It is not fun.
Ok, so lets stop ranting and rather take a quick look at what can be done to support a bride you know going through this, or if you are a bride, how you can help yourself feeling this confused way. Because maybe you like me is just sick of spending everyone waking hour thinking about your wedding, debating endlessly with yourself if you want a block heel or a stiletto for your wedding shoe, how much to spend on the dessert buffet, associating everything in your surrounding to your wedding (it is not pleasant im telling you – when I go for a “relaxing” run I cant stop thinking about greenery garlands, and that is most likely why I tripped and bashed my face into the pavement)
Maybe you are sick of finding yourself absent minded and distracted (I have found mittens in the freezer) because your mind is full of possible vendors, leaving you unable to concentrate on everyday tasks.
The main objective is:
To calm the bride/ you down and find some healthy distance to the issue – try watching a lighthearted movie (not about weddings), go for a walk in nature, or visit a friend who is not in your wedding party ( do NOT talk about weddings)
To understand that the bride/ you are not going crazy, she/ you are going through a stressful time, and everybody does sometime so it’s okay
To realize the bride/ you are not a wedding “freak” and this is really normal (hence the numerous articles on the subject)
The bride is/ you are not acting this way by choice, she is/ you are temporarily taken away by feelings that are outside of her normal personality and she needs gentle treatment to come out of it – not making fun of, brushing over, or abandonment
To understand that the wedding is only the brides/ yours and your fiancés – not some bridal blog or wedding magazine. Peer pressure and comparing with other weddings can leave one feeling “not good enough” But the most important thing is that you create your day your way, not anybody else’s.
How to deal with yourself/ a bride you know in times of wedding worry before it leads to acute bridal distress
It is important to get some wedding “off”time and plan some time away from wedding planning. For example, try to have a few wedding free days per week
As a wedding planning human being, you are going to have 100s of ideas coming to you at random times. Instead of trying to have all your wedding ideas and thoughts in your head, put it somewhere like in your phone. Me and the fiancé share a list where we jolt down what we come up with, just to get it off our minds, and can look at it later. (We have ended up scrapping most of the ideas already)
Limit wedding related social media time – if Internet was ever accused for being information overload – Pinterest is inspiration overload.
Have a friend – who is not in your wedding party- you can talk to about your wedding who isn’t personally involved. It can be especially helpful to talk to an older, already married woman. They will help you get some healthy perspective and realistic view points.
Try to solve other things in your life as a distraction – perhaps time to reupholster that sofa? If you don’t keep up with your “normal” life at the same time as wedding planning, you are almost guaranteed to feel empty and sad after the big day – a.k.a the “wedding blues”
Adopt a cheerful motto such as “Everything is going to be fine in the end – and if it is not fine, it is not the end” or similar for a bit of self-reassuring as needed
Try to limit the amount of alcohol you consume – it makes sleeping much harder, it exacerbates anxiety and endless worries, and is a depressant which could kill motivation.
Don’t crash diet – very bad for your mood and energy levels. Eat balanced, nutritious and stable diet – a bit of this and a bit of that, no deprivation because it tends to backlash in the end.
Have a stable and sensible exercise routine, don’t try too hard or you might burnout or loose the willpower
Pick out 3 – max 5- segments of the wedding to focus harder on, such as the ceremony, dress and the food, and let the other segments of the party be less important (napkins, flower girl baskets etc). That way your attention will not get spread too thin.
As soon as you are engaged, people will LOVE to tell you everything you should and shouldn’t do. Just smile, say thank you very much, mop up one or two ideas (or none) and then move on. It is your wedding so create it from your heart and your individual circumstances. Know what you love and what you don’t – it will make deciding much easier. No two weddings are ever going to be the same. You are not arranging somebody else’s wedding – your and your grooms only. There is no right or wrong way. Realizing that will take a huge bundle of stress of your shoulders.
It’s hard not to get caught up in all the attention and excitement, and most of the time in is FUN. There’s nothing wrong with being eager about your wedding and gorging in all the details – no matter how serious or silly they are. So try to just relax and have a good time, keep your happiness and motivation level as high as possible, be sensible for your own sake and enjoy the process! You are most likely only going through this time once in your life, this time will fly by quickly so be as “bridal” as you feel like and hopefully your surroundings will be understanding enough for you to keep up with your wedding enthusiasm 🙂
image sources: hello may // joel allegretto // hey wedding lady // magnolia rouge // my wedding guides