Planning at wedding is hard at the best of times, but during a global pandemic it can be even harder. I planned my wedding 5 years ago now, and whilst some bits went smoothly others were an absolute disaster. As someone who spent 5 years installing large events at a theme park I thought it would help me to plan my wedding. Whilst in many ways it did, what I hadn’t banked on was how much it would affect me trying to plan something that was so incredibly personal.
As a designer I actually found my wedding dress the hardest choice of all. I put so much pressure on myself to have the ‘perfect’ dress and it took me a long time to realize i'd never find ‘the one’. For me now the phrase ‘the one’ when finding your wedding dress is actually something I hate, and I feel like it puts unnecessary pressure on brides to find something that might not exist for them.
For mental heath week I asked my friend Dr Naomi Middleton a Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Teacher, about how to approach planning your wedding to help ease any feelings of anxiety, stress and depression that can often show themselves when planning one of the biggest events in your life. Here’s what Naomi had to say -
'Planning a wedding invites a number of different emotions to show up, it’s normal to experience both stress and anxiety alongside excitement and joy! One of the things that often triggers stress and anxiety is getting swept up in everyone else’s idea of what your wedding should be. Added to that, right now we also are living in a global pandemic with a lot of uncertainty surrounding social contact. This is bound to increase any feelings of stress you might already have!
So what can you do to help manage any wedding related stress and anxiety?
1. Remember that anxiety is normal and inevitable. A wedding is a big deal right? It is important and matters deeply to us. Where there is anxiety, there is excitement. Where there is love, there is pain. It’s like two sides of a coin, we can’t have one without the other.
2. Breathe. If the stress or anxiety start to feel overwhelming, take 3 deep, slow breaths. Our breath is an anchor to the present moment. Anxiety often shows up when our mind starts racing to the future, imagining all sorts of different scenarios. Being with the breath helps to keep you focused on the here and now.
3. Reflect on your values. Spend some time thinking about why your wedding is important to you. What qualities would you like to embody on your wedding day? What matters to you most about your wedding? Love, joy, celebration, connection, romance, tradition or non-traditional...? It’s your wedding, so let those values help guide your decisions. If there is a lot of uncertainty around your wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic, keep coming back to your values. The actual day may look a little different, but the underlying values remain the same.
4. Share how you are feeling with people you trust. One of the biggest challenges I had was finding the right dress. I felt deeply uncomfortable trying on traditional wedding dresses. Fortunately, my mum and best friend were great allies when dress shopping. They knew it wasn’t for me and helped me to explore other options that felt right to me.
5. Practice acceptance of what is. Try as we might, there are may things that are beyond are control when planning a wedding and on the day itself. Change what you can and accept what you can not. Regular meditation practice can help you to practice acceptance and reduce stress. Try an app like Headspace or Calm to help get you started.
6. Let go of perfectionism. Nothing will ever be completely perfect. It is so easy to get stuck going round and round making decisions and striving for perfection. You are perfectly imperfect just as you are. So is your wedding.
7. Take care of yourself. It’s easy to get caught up spending all our time on wedding plan. Remember to take regular opportunities to take care of yourself, however, that looks for you. You could try an yoga class or listen to a relaxation track.
8. Connect with your partner. The stress of wedding planning can sometimes put a strain on your relationship. Remember to communicate how you feel with your partner. Spend quality time together, go for dates. After all, a wedding is about celebrating your love.
9. Move your body! Moving your body is a great way to de-stress and manage anxiety. Even better if it’s outdoors in nature. Movement and nature are natural ways of boosting our happy hormones. Whenever stress or anxiety feel overwhelming, get out of your head and into your body. Dance, run, jump around, walk in a forest. Your mind and body will thank you for it!'
I hope that Naomi’s words can really help you during this time.
The biggest thing for me was to not put pressure on myself to have ‘the best day of my life’. So many phrases like this are thrown around when it comes to weddings. The expectation to follow traditions; the (sometimes unwanted) input from family and friends; pressure from magazines and social media showing perfect visions of weddings, whilst giving wonderful inspiration can also add to the fear of not creating a perfect wedding. The most important thing is that you have a day that celebrates your love and its as you as a couple want it to be.
If you’d like to hear more from Dr Naomi Middleton you can find her on Facebook and Instagram. She does some fantastic yoga practices, meditations and gives regular advice on looking after yourself and your body that have been invaluable to me during this time.