Why Destination Wedding Planning Can Be Less Stressful Than Planning a Local Wedding

Wedding stress has nothing to do with a far-off location

Updated 12/12/18

Seth Mourra / Stocksy United

My fiancé and I are getting married in New Delhi, India, and we’re having one of those traditional Indian weddings—there will be henna, sparkles, sarees, lehengas, Bollywood dancing, and, yes, he will come in on a horse. I know what you are probably thinking:

“An Indian wedding in India, wow! You must be sooo stressed out. I’ll bet you are going crazy with all of the planning. I can’t even imagine how overwhelmed you must be right now.”

Are you ready for some surprising, potentially shocking news? I am actually not that stressed out about my wedding. Sure, I’ve gotten riled up a couple times here and there. And to be fair, my fiancé grew up in New Delhi, and we’ve gone to visit his family four times since we’ve been together, so we know the city well. We also have a wonderful team of wedding planners on the ground there who have made this process significantly easier. But even when we tell people this crucial set of facts, the common response is still, “True, but it’s still India.

You’re still planning a wedding halfway across the world, still herding a bunch of Americans all the way to India. That must be seriously stressful no matter what!”

Really, I swear to you, it is not. But recently, everyone’s, “I’m sure you must be bugging out” comments finally started to get to me, and I began to wonder why I wasn’t stressing. India is undeniably far away, after all, and we are bringing 65 Americans over for the celebration—so why wasn’t I more overwhelmed? To get some answers, I called one of the ultimate authorities in wedding psychology, New York City–based relationship psychologist Jocelyn Charnas, Ph.D., who has been dubbed “the wedding doctor” by outlets like The New York Times and the Washington Post.

Her analysis was, I must say, a little surprising. Contrary to what many people may think about international weddings, she told me, the number of miles between you and your venue is actually not proportional to your level of stress at all. And that’s because wedding stress has little to do with the various logistics, and almost everything to do with the people involved.

“A lot of people think that destination weddings are more stressful than weddings that are closer to home, but the reality is that the experience of wedding stress is less related to the circumstances of the celebration and more related to the individuals themselves,” Charnas explains. “So if you handle stress well in other areas of your life—which I’m guessing you do—then you’re probably just experiencing your wedding in relatively the same way.”

To help me determine just how well I handle other stressors in my life, Chandras suggested I ask myself some questions: How big of a support system do I have? What is my relationship to the idea of control and micromanaging? What is my relationship with money? What about my family? And how communicative and self-reflective am I?

“The answers to those questions are a lot more primary in how you experience the process of planning a wedding than the details of the wedding itself,” she explains.

There I was, wondering why I wasn’t as stressed as people thought I may be, when the truth was right in front of my face all along: I actually don’t get all that stressed about most things in life. My “life plan,” if you can even call it that, has always been to simply come up with a plan, and that plan has worked out pretty well for me so far—so it makes sense that it would work during the wedding planning process, too.

That said, while some other brides I spoke with agree that their easygoing personalities definitely helped their destination wedding planning process go smoothly, they also cited some other logistical reasons that contributed to their calm vibes.

“What I loved about having my wedding at a hotel in Mexico is that there weren’t that many options to choose from,” says 33-year-old Megan Taylor, who lives in Miami. “The hotel does destination weddings all the time, so it was very cut and dry—they have it down to a science. They mailed us a brochure with about three options for each thing, and told us to just pick one. I didn’t have to tell anyone what my vision was, or anything like that—it was all just so easy.” And while that lack of choice may not be for everyone, for Taylor, it was perfect.

“We got to keep the focus on just hanging out with everyone. We had 65 people there for four days, and on the day after our wedding, we all just hung out on the beach and in the swim-up bar in the pool. It was so relaxed.”

For Margie Sernik, 26, who lives in New York, it wasn’t as much about the limited options as it was about the diversity of them. She just had her 380-person (!) wedding in Bogota, Colombia, where she lived until she was nine years old, and loved exposing her guests to her Colombian roots. “I consider myself a pretty chill person, and I’m definitely not a perfectionist, which helped a lot during the planning process,” she says. “But I think my biggest reason to not stress came from the fact that guests’ expectations are often different with destination weddings.

It’s different music, different food, a whole different regimen from what they’re used to—so I knew that most of my guests were pleased simply because it was such an experience.”

And it was an experience they likely had a fair amount of time to plan for, a fact that Shalah McDonough, 36, who lives in Massachusetts, says helped calm her nerves while planning her 50-person wedding in Ireland. “Time is typically on your side with planning a destination wedding, because most people give their guests lots of advance notice about the trip. That means that while you may have more events to plan, you also have more time to plan them, so it’s not as stressful,” she reasons.

My fiancé and I have been planning our wedding for a year and a half, so it’s been sort of a slow build—and we’re certainly ready to celebrate more than ever. But before we do, I want to leave you with this: If you’re thinking about getting married in a faraway place, don’t let FOL (fear of logistics) hold you back! As you now know, your wedding will be what it will be regardless of where you have it—so if you’re down with that travel life, you may as well do it up.

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