Planning a Wedding When You Suffer from Anxiety: Two Real Brides Tell Their Stories

Planning a wedding can seem overwhelming if you struggle with anxiety - but it is possible. We spoke to two brides about their experience

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If you suffer from anxiety, wedding planning isn’t just stressful; it’s loaded with potential triggers which could make your mental health much worse.

Whether it’s the thought of all eyes on you when walk down the aisle, budget stresses, juggling everyone’s opinions or having to match up to a Pinterest ideal, if you suffer from an anxiety disorder you’re likely to feel all the pressure of planning a wedding even more intensely.

Wedding anxiety

So how do you plan a wedding when you suffer from anxiety? We talked to Anxiety UK about the causes of wedding day anxiety and some solutions, and we spoke to two real brides about how they planned their weddings.

Read on for their honest answers on what they found most triggering, how it affected their relationship and the methods they found to help cope with their anxiety. If you're just starting your planning journey, these tips could be invaluable.

Stacey Brown, 24, from Leicester, married her partner Matthew in October 2017. She has suffered with anxiety for 11 years.

Stacey Brown

Stacey and Matthew on their wedding day. Photographer: Peter Madjan

What Triggered Your Anxiety Most During Wedding Planning?

Being centre of attention for the day. I am highly self-conscious and have very limited self-confidence so the thought of being “The Bride” for the day was very daunting. I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to find a wedding dress that looked right and that made me feel special. I tried on at least 15-20 wedding dresses of all styles until I found the one.

The thought of having to organise a bridal party and choose bridesmaids and a maid of honour was too much hassle for me. It also stemmed from the fact that having bridesmaids means asking people to dedicate their time to you for dress fittings and rehearsals and I guess I don’t feel like I have the right to expect that of others.

I felt guilty when looking at hair and make-up vendor options too because I felt that my booking wouldn’t be worth their while. It was the same when looking for a photographer. I found I was asking each photographer very nervously if they had ever photographed a “small wedding” and almost tried to justify the fact it was going to be a “fairly short occasion”. I was absolutely petrified that they were going to judge me for going against the conventional and a small part of me was worried I was missing out because of my anxiety.

READ MORE: How To Reduce Stress While Planning Your Big Day

Did Your Anxiety Affect Your Relationship?

When I am struggling most, I have a tendency to go into myself and become quite distant. I would sit at night turning a million decisions over in my mind, getting more and more worked up and anxious. My then-fiancé, now husband, was genuinely invaluable at this time.

He is possibly the only person who can truly recognise when the internal battle is on. What helped me was the reassurance from him that it is our day. It was just about the two of us and even if everything went wrong - if someone dropped the cake, or if the photographer was ill and my make up got smudged - as long as we were together as husband and wife, it would be perfect.

Wedding planner book

Image: Not On The High Street

What Were The Best Ways You Found To Cope With Your Anxiety?

A wedding planner book - I bought myself a wedding planner. I had pages for everything from doodling ideas for decor through to timetables for completing different tasks. I found that by writing everything down, I could clear my mind (to an extent) because that way I knew I couldn’t forget anything.

I sought out reassurance - I kept in constant contact with the events team at the venue. I emailed the registrar to confirm our booking a few months before the wedding, then a few weeks before and then the week of.

I was organised - I quite literally drew the entire day out and packaged it alongside written instructions to send to the venue. That way, I knew that everyone was on the same page and there was less chance of anything going wrong.

READ MORE: What to Write in a Wedding Card

What Tips Would You Give Other Brides-To-Be Suffering With Anxiety?

  • If you are doing something only because you feel that it is expected of you, don’t. I didn’t have bridesmaids or ushers. I didn’t have dancing and a disco that stretched on until the early hours because those things trigger my anxiety and make me feel uncomfortable. Instead of a big, all day affair, we had an afternoon tea-style wedding for close friends and family followed by a small reception with tea, cake and chatting.
  • If you lack self-confidence, talk to your photographer. As I am so self conscious, I didn’t want to have to pose for photographs so I found a photographer whose style of photography fit in with that. He took natural photos by blending into the background. I was completely oblivious to his presence the entire day and the result is that I now have some truly lovely photographs of our special day.
  • Remember why you are planning the wedding in the first place. A wedding is just the beginning of your marriage. When you take a step back and realise that its one day to start a whole lifetime together, it suddenly doesn’t feel quite so all-consuming.
Wedding afternoon tea

Tell Us How Your Wedding Day Went

The real anxiety came when my groom headed to the venue and I was left waiting for the car to arrive. I felt light headed and queasy, I thought I was going to pass out on the car journey to Chatsworth House.

The fear was a mixture of things from the rational to the irrational. I was scared to get out the car and risk drawing attention to myself, I was very conscious of the fact I might faint and there was also the nagging fear that I was about to be told the groom had gone AWOL.

For me, the turning point was when I walked into the ceremony room and Matt turned around to look at me. He looked so calm and composed and it was in that second that something clicked. I locked eye contact with him and completely forgot there was anyone else in the room. I wasn’t self conscious anymore because it was just me and him. From that point on, my anxiety didn’t surface for the rest of the day. I was just genuinely happy and, for once, happiness won over anxiety.

Zean Maskell, 29, from Suffolk, married her partner William in January 2017. She was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder 9 years ago.

Zean Maskell

Zean laughing as she trips on her vows during her wedding to William. Photographer: Dion Gallichan

What Triggered Your Anxiety Most During Wedding Planning?

My anxiety was triggered by problems with the hotel where we had booked our wedding. We originally booked for the 16th December as we wanted a Christmas wedding, we paid the deposit and were very happy. Then we went on holiday and whilst away, they rung us and told us we couldn’t have that date anymore as someone had booked us in when they shouldn’t and we couldn’t have any December date. Having already paid the deposit and told family and friends the date we were very annoyed.

Fast forward to the day before the wedding, when we arrive we are told we can’t access the dining room in the morning because a well-known football team have their yoga lesson in there! I was very upset, as we had paid a lot of money to hire the room and be able to prepare and set up the decorations in the morning. This added to my anxiety considerably as it meant my parents would have to miss part of my wedding to go set the room up which I was extremely unhappy about. The hotel sorted it eventually but it caused a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

READ MORE: How To Overcome Wedding Speech Nerves

Did Your Anxiety Affect Your Relationship?

My anxiety only really affected my wedding planning when it came to dealing with the hotel and making sure people sent their RSVPs back to us. This is because I am very anxious with dealing with people, especially in, what I consider, awkward situations. I think it frustrated my partner a bit as I used to moan and worry a lot about people’s thoughts and if things would get sorted, but then ask him to contact people or send emails in his name (which he was okay with).

To be honest, I am very lucky that I have such an understanding partner and, well, I wouldn’t have married him if he didn’t understand and help my anxiety. He allowed me to talk through my worries and stresses and was there with me every step of the way and we dealt with everything together which took the strain off a lot.

Yoga class

What Were The Best Ways You Found To Cope With Your Anxiety?

I self-referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) through the NHS earlier on in the year and luckily the sessions were in time with my wedding, so I had a lot of help through them. The lady was amazing, and although I'd had CBT previously which hadn’t worked, this lady was great and it really helped. 

I also mediated and practised yoga which helped calm my mind. Talking things out with close family and friends also really helped.

What Tips Would You Give Other Brides-To-Be Suffering With Anxiety?

  • Don’t spend what you can’t afford. It isn’t worth it for one day and can cause problems further down the line if you get in debt. Some people use spreadsheets; I didn’t as I found it too stressful and I couldn’t keep being bothered to look at them, but I had a clear idea of finances in my head that we stuck to.  
  • Make sure you pick a good venue, if there are initial problems it may be better to relocate if you can!
  • Practise meditation, yoga and get plenty of exercise; a lot of people don’t realise just how much this can help anxiety!
  • Try not to drink too much. My anxiety is always so bad the day after drinking and it can make everything seem unbearable or too much.
  • The most important thing is you are marrying the love of your life. As long as you achieve that, there is nothing else to worry about (that was my mantra!)
Mindfulness

Tell Us How Your Wedding Day Went

When it came to the part where I was about to walk down the aisle I was hit with a panic attack, but luckily I was surrounded by my dad and my bridesmaids and I managed to just carry on somehow (not gonna lie, I think a glass of prosecco did help here!)

I was very anxious whilst making my vows and messed up the wording a little bit but thankfully everyone saw the funny side and we got there in the end! Looking back it wasn’t as bad as I was thinking at the time. Overall, I had an amazing day and was very happy!

READ MORE: Tips For Managing Wedding Day Nerves

Thank you to Stacey and Zean for sharing their experiences. The truth that a lot of brides don’t admit is that it’s OK not to enjoy planning your wedding. But the stories of these brides should hopefully give confidence to anyone worried about their anxiety during wedding planning that it is possible to get through it and that the day itself is more than worth it!



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