Kinship Collaborative: 3 Strategies for Staying Sane During Wedding Planning

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Expected the Unexpected

Prepare yourself for some unexpected things to arise.  Unexpected emotions in yourself, unexpected reactions from family members, unexpected dynamics among friends, etc.  (Not to mention unexpected external factors, like pandemics.)  The unexpected can often arise during wedding planning because this major life transition is so fraught with expectation, and can carry unanticipated emotional significance (not only for you, but to everyone in your life!).  Many of us have received messages about what this time in our lives should look like from the time we were young, which creates tremendous internal pressure to have a picture perfect experience.


Then, because weddings can mean infinitely different things to different people, it can produce strange, unexpected reactions in some of our most loved ones, including parents, friends, siblings, etc.  Parents might be unconsciously fighting their impulse to feel like they are “losing” their child who is getting married and starting a new family, resulting in surprising behavior.  A dear friend might suddenly seem competitive, over- or under-involved, or otherwise act in ways that feel disappointing.  This is all part of this journey!  When these things arise, ponder to yourself, “What might be going on underneath the surface and causing this unexpected reaction?”  And, importantly, try not to take these things too personally, as often it has more to do with them than with you!

Get Comfortable Having Uncomfortable Conversations 

One of the most life-changing and wedding planning-changing skills that can be developed is the capacity to tolerate having uncomfortable conversations about difficult subjects.  When you can tolerate having difficult conversations, it enables you to ask for what you need, to say no and set firm boundaries, to ask questions that may be plaguing you and causing stress for you and your relationships.  (Did anyone ever avoid bringing up the dreaded “what are we?” convo with someone you were dating, which only worsened anxiety about the status of the relationship or prolonged an inevitable outcome?)

During wedding planning, you will inevitably encounter sensitive and even awkward topics, such as managing money, asking some people (and not others) to be a part of your wedding celebration, and declining some loved one’s opinions and requests.  And, these sensitive situations will involve people who (presumably) you are invested in cultivating a positive long-term relationship with.  Strengthening the courage to have a hard conversation will empower you to get what you want on your wedding day and in your relationships, decrease the stress that avoiding these conversations brings, and will transform you into a strong, badass agent of change in your life.

Notice If You Become Inflexible & Obsessive

It is likely that since childhood, you have come into contact with many messages about what your wedding day is supposed to look like - through the media, through fairy tales, through cultural norms.  It is so easy to get swept up in this societal pressure that many brides-to-be suddenly care about things that might have never cared about before, and become very inflexible about aspects of the wedding fantasy.  Some brides-to-be become so convinced that if these particular details do not play out as envisioned, the wedding day will be a major disappointment, and the pressure of executing everything perfectly causes incredible stress and is a setup for eventual frustration.  Furthermore, this inflexibility also prevents us from experiencing other emotions we may be unconsciously feeling - fear, anxiety, or anger - and we obsess about these details as a way to avoid those harder feelings.  

To work with this, remain open and curious when you notice yourself becoming inflexible and obsessive.  Ask yourself, “What have I convinced myself about what this particular aspect will make me feel?” “Why do I care about this detail so much, and is it worth the pressure it’s creating?”  and “Might there be any other feelings I am avoiding by being so consumed by this detail?”

Elizabeth Wellington is a psychotherapist, newlywed, and founder of Kinship Collaborative, an online community that empowers spouses-to-be, their partners, and family members to thrive during one of the most special yet challenging periods of life—the engagement and wedding planning process. Through therapeutic services, community programs, and online educational courses and content, Kinship Collaborative empowers clients with the critical information and practical skills needed to navigate powerful emotions and relationship dynamics during this transitional time.  Learn more at:, and follow us on IG: @KinshipCollaborative!

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