The 7 Emotional Stages of Planning a Wedding
Planning a wedding involves a host of emotions. I’m about three months out from our October wedding, and I’m starting to get a better sense of the planning process arc and full range of feelings that can be involved. I’ve spoken to a lot of other brides and brides-to-be on the topic, because in all honesty, there were times during the process where I wanted to crawl into bed and not come out for a few days—and I needed to make sure I wasn’t the only one. Is it normal to snap at your mom when she says she wants to invite her golf pro? Am I the only one who felt overly stressed about the color of the RSVP card envelopes? Is being indifferent on the glassware for the cocktail hour a bad sign? Turns out, everyone I talked to could relate to my various emotional stages of wedding planning and even filled me in on those yet to come. If you’re newly engaged, knee-deep in the planning process, or just remember what it was like, the below emotional stages will surely strike a chord.
After the initial shock of the engagement wears off and all friends and family have been alerted that there’s a wedding in their future, the fact that you’ll actually be planning a fantastic party with all of your loved ones, not to mention committing yourself to your true love forever, begins to set in. Bridal magazines are purchased, a wedding style board appears on your Pinterest profile (if it wasn’t already there), and locations and venues are brainstormed. This first stage—before budgets, logistics, and drama rear their ugly heads—is filled with pure joy and raw excitement.
Once you’re ready to get down and begin the planning process, it will start to sink in just how much goes into hosting a wedding, how many different details there are to determine, and how much things actually cost. Watching your dream event get torn apart because you can’t afford every detail you imagined can be a tough pill to swallow. Not to mention the overwhelming feeling that comes with reading about timelines, realizing the amount of paperwork involved to book each of your vendors, building a registry, and the difficulty of selecting a date that works for all of the special people in your life and your favorite vendors.
At this stage, you might be feeling annoyed by everything and everyone. Your mom has a different opinion than you on everything, the costs keep adding up (and there’s still so much to pay for), your favorite band is already booked with another engagement, and you’re not able to sneak away from work to take any meetings. Planning a wedding can feel like a full-time job, and when you’re committing so much of your time to executing your vision and anything goes awry, it can be downright frustrating. At one point, I found myself so overwhelmed with the planning process that I was unable to meet with my planner, Nicole, without getting teary-eyed out of stress. Thankfully, with time, I was able to let go and realize that although this is obviously going to be the most important day of our lives thus far, if we don’t have the exact place settings I imagined or need to cut back on the flowers for budget reasons, it’s not the end of the world, by any means.
I have recently found myself in the panic stage. Our wedding is just over three months away, I feel like there is so much yet to be solidified, and the amount of planning still to be done between now and then is totally overwhelming. Even though our awesome event planner is keeping me in check and assures me we have time for everything, the fact that I will actually be walking down the aisle, in my wedding dress (that I ordered months ago and I hope I still like when it arrives), with all of our friends and family there to witness, is freaking me out! Not in an I’m-getting-cold-feet kind of way, but more like second-guessing if we should have gone with the gold flatware, if we reserved enough chairs, if our shuttle will accommodate everyone, and oh yeah, we still need to figure out and put together the welcome bags, and I need to book my flight for the bachelorette party.
As I’ve said, the planning process can be downright time-consuming—and I’m fortunate enough to be working with a pro! I can only imagine the time researching endless photographers, florists, or rental companies must take if you’re tackling it all on your own. I was beat just going through our planner’s suggestions, looking at inspiration and real wedding photos late into the night, penning piles of thank-you notes, and coordinating logistics for the bridal party. Plus you may be traveling for bridal showers, the bachelorette, and even to conduct meetings if you live in another city than where you’re getting married. Couple all this with the toll stress and panic can put on you, and you’ll find yourself feeling tired pretty quick. Which brings us to our next stage…
Other brides have told me that after they found themselves in a panic about the final details and totally beat as a result, they'd had just about enough to transition into a state of indifference. They delegated decisions to other people because they were either “over it,” didn’t feel like arguing with their family over details anymore, or genuinely had already secured the aspects of the event they thought were most important and didn’t care about how the napkins were folded, what the quartet played in the church while guests were waiting for the ceremony to start, or if their second cousin insisted on bringing his new girlfriend. Getting to the point where you’re willing to let go is a stage I’m looking forward to. I certainly don’t want to go into the wedding feeling crazed or overwhelmed.
So this is finally happening. All of your time and energy are about to be totally worth it when your friends and family arrive ready to celebrate you. The sheer anticipation of the wedding ceremony where my fiancé and I will be joined together is even giving me excited butterflies as I write this. Not to mention the sure-to-be-beautiful reception you’ve planned, the upcoming honeymoon where it will just be the two of you, and all of the other exciting moments the next few days will bring. It’s this feeling—as I’m told and am confident is the case—that makes the months of exhausted frustration and any lingering panic worth it. Because, in the end, planning your wedding really should be the time of your life.
Make the planning process a little easier with one of the below guides.
Did you go through similar emotions when planning your wedding? Share your experience in the comments!