Nobody ever talks about this – but it’s ok not to be ok when you’re planning your wedding

Published by Claire Gould on

We read this article over on 166 Photography and were bowled over by its refreshing honesty and helpfulness. It’s kind of alarming how none of the wedding media seem to prioritise mental health in their messaging, and that needs to change. Studies have found that 70% of engaged couples or newlyweds described the process of planning a wedding as “extremely stressful”, and identified the top 5 emotions while planning a wedding to be:

  • Excited
  • Happy
  • Stressed
  • Overwhelmed
  • Anxious

So let’s start by saying if you’re feeling any of this, you are far from alone. Wedding planning puts our mental health under pressure, and most couples go through some or all of this. And that’s ok.

This blog will show you ways to prioritise your mental health during wedding planning, allowing you a little space to enjoy the planning experience and look forward to your big day.

All images in this blog post are by Carl at 166 Photography in Lincolnshire

Carl at 166 Photography spoke to Jonathan from Garden Room Counselling for this article. Jonathan owns the beautiful intimate Lincolnshire wedding venue The Elm Tree, and is a trained counsellor and mental health specialist.

Wedding planning isn’t easy

Be kind to yourself and remember it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Planning a wedding is a big deal. It’s normal to feel a range of emotions that impact your mental health. It’s almost like adding another full time job on top of everything you’re already juggling in life. And that’s hard – so set realistic expectations for yourselves – you’re only human.

You might feel like everyone is watching and waiting to hear all about your big day. With worries about your loved ones’ opinions of your wedding, and that oh-so-subtle pressure from every wedding blog and social platform showing you their perception of “perfect” weddings, it’s easy to see why so many couples are majorly stressed out by wedding planning.

From the outside, it seems everyone else just sees the “happy and exciting” side of wedding planning – so you might worry about what they’ll think if you show any sign of frustration or upset during the process. You shouldn’t have to bottle those negative feelings up inside.

Jonathan says instagram and Pinterest can mean people lose sight of the most important things. “Social media pressures can leave people feeling they ‘have to’ or ‘ought to’ do something; they see what in their eyes is this perfect wedding, whilst they are forgetting the fact that the most important part of their own wedding is the union of two people.”

It’s normal to feel stressed, anxious or depressed about wedding planning

I’m guessing everyone’s told you how exciting planning your wedding will be… but I wonder if even one person’s asked how you’re feeling? If no one asks about your mental health, you might assume it’s not normal to be feeling overwhelm, anxiety or worse. But it really is. You shouldn’t have to hide your feelings – and you don’t have to.

From the initial excitement of saying ‘yes’ when you agree to marry each other, stress triggers can come rushing at you pretty fast. Looking into wedding logistics with dates, venues, suppliers and finances can cause major overwhelm. It’s not uncommon for a sense of dread to creep in – what if something goes wrong? What if we choose the wrong venue / photographer / time of year?

Without meaning to, friends and family can overburden us with well-meaning (but unsolicited) advice. Too many opinions can lead to overwhelm (and arguments). Jonathan has this advice:

“People, family and friends, are not mind readers; they might notice that you are getting stressed, but help them understand what it is like for you right now. Rather than them telling you what you need to do, ask them to use phrases such as ‘What is it you need right now?’ Or ‘What would you like me to do?’ Rather than them giving you more instructions and therefore contributing to the feelings that you are out of control, instead, it makes you feel supported.”

The hardest parts of wedding planning

Guest lists are a gateway to family political dramas, and can often lead to upset or arguments. Talk through who to invite as a couple, before even mentioning your guest list to family and friends. Standing strong together on this will serve you well.

Carl says, “I wish there was some magic formula here. A simple couple of paragraphs in this blog post that will solve your dilemmas. Unfortunately, there isn’t. Not inviting people to weddings can lead to arguments and upset… The best advice is to be mindful of others’ feelings but be assertive. If your family has ideas of who you should invite, you should find time to sit down as a couple and talk with them.”

Guest lists are more than just a list of names: they’re the key factor in how much your wedding will cost – and budgets are one of the hardest aspects of wedding planning. Especially during the current cost of living crisis, weddings can take up a huge chunk of your earnings or savings – and this affects all the non-wedding things in your lives. It’s natural to worry, it’s normal to argue, and it’s ok for either or both of you to struggle with financial stress.

How to spot the signs of stress

There are 3 key warning signs that you may be suffering from stress when planning your wedding:

Physical symptoms: headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

Emotional symptoms: anxiety, irritability, or depression. These symptoms aren’t always easy to spot, but if you’re procrastinating, or dreading wedding planning tasks, this could be why.

Behavioural symptoms: avoiding social occasions so you don’t have to do wedding chat, drinking more as a coping mechanism when you’re planning.

Perhaps reading this will help you recognise these signs early and look after yourself (and / or your partner). Consider taking a planning break or talking with a close friend or family member. You may even want to speak with a neutral third party, such as a counsellor.

“I always say to my clients, notice what changes are happening within the body” Jonathan says, “sadly no behaviour is isolated and there is always a reason for it.”

“Are you struggling to concentrate? Are you becoming more snappy or irritable? Do you find it hard to sit still and become more restless? Are you lacking in energy? Feeling yourself getting more headaches? Are you feeling sick or lacking in appetite? All of these can indicate you are starting to struggle and it is really important that you notice these changes and try to act before they become overwhelming.”

Newlyweds hold sparklers as they smile at the camera. LGBTQ wedding with 166 Photography

Can you minimise the stress of wedding planning?

The things that happen can be out of your control, but there are some simple but powerful ways you can help yourselves.

Practice Mindfulness (make this a regular thing – try apps like Calm or Headspace)

Turn off Insta (because it’s full of high-budget, picture perfect and unachievable wedding inspiration – and too much can be a bad thing.)

Plan Non-Wedding Time With Your Partner (Remember why you’re getting married – a little perspective goes a long, long way)

Talk to Someone (perhaps someone who isn’t invested in your wedding, or a professional)

“If you are feeling the joy and happiness of planning the wedding is ebbing away, then talking to a neutral party can always help. As with all therapy the importance of a relationship is key – you have to feel comfortable. Remember, nothing is ever silly or daft. If it is bothering you then it is important!

“There is a great directory of therapists called counselling directory – does what it says on the tin! On here you can find therapists that are near to you and you can usually have a free initial chat with them before starting to see if they are going to be the right fit for you!” ~ Jonathan

How to mentally prepare for your wedding day

Before Your Wedding Day

1 Talk With Family Members About Their Behaviour

If you are concerned about the behaviour of a family member, sit down and talk with them. Be honest and open and tell them why you are worried. Communication can really help.

2 Have an Anxiety Action Plan

Have an ally who understands – it could be your partner, sibling or friend. Together, come up with an action plan for if you do become overwhelmed. (A way to escape for 5 minutes of peace if you need it, or a little hug and a quiet “you got this”)

3 Drink Plenty of Water & Eat Good Food

Your body needs clean, healthy fuel! Hydrate and nourish yourself with 5 a day good stuff.

4 Limit Alcohol the Night Before

You want to wake up feeling good – a hangover isn’t a good idea before a 16+ hour wedding day!

On Your Wedding Day

1 Make Time for Breakfast

Something to kick-start your metabolism will help your physical and mental well-being, preparing you for the big day ahead.

2 Stay Hydrated

You can’t go wrong with water! Don’t overdo the Prosecco or pre-wedding beers! Save them for later – you’ll be glad you did.

3 Breathe

Familiarise yourself with some breathing techniques to calm you when overwhelm or anxiety strike. Check out the technique for box breathing on Carl’s blog post here.

4 Make time for Mindfulness

If you have been practising mindfulness on the run-up to your day, taking 5 mins in the morning can be a powerful way to help reduce on-the-day anxiety.

5 Spend a little time together

Weddings go by in a blur. So many couples we’ve featured on English Wedding say they took a little time out, just for the two of them, and they were so glad they did. Your photographer can be your ally here, if you need someone to whisk you away from the party.

Real petal confetti shot of a groom and bride. By 166 Photography


Remember, it is OK for you to feel overwhelmed and anxious when planning your wedding.

You can do this and we promise you, your wedding day is going to be amazing! Both before your wedding, and on the day, take time for your mental health and be kind to yourselves – both of you.

Here are Carl’s six top tips for looking after your mental health when planning your wedding.
  1. Remember it’s OK not to be OK.
  2. Listen to your body.
  3. Be assertive and communicate well.
  4. Take a break from social media.
  5. Drink water and eat well.
  6. Almost every couple feels uncomfortable having their photo taken (even those who say they don’t) – and that’s ok!

And if something goes wrong? Nobody will notice and it will not ruin your day. Practice your inner Elsa and let it go.

We wholeheartedly recommend reading Carl’s original article about wedding planning stress – there’s much more in there to help you. Share it with your partner too – talking to each other about the stress of planning a wedding is an important first step.

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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