It happens to the best of us brides-to-be: We do everything we can to ensure that the big day goes perfectly and then, seemingly all of a sudden, we turn into a giant ball of stress ready to crush anything—or anyone—in our path. Hey, no one said planning a wedding was easy, they just said it would be worth it when you finally walk down the aisle into the arms of the love of your life. But the planning process? Not quite as blissful—although it sure has its moments. It’s pretty much a full-time job on top of the one you likely already have, which, in and of itself, is stress-inducing.
Bottom line: If you find yourself stressed AF at times throughout your planning process, it’s totally OK—and so, so normal. But if you feel like you’re starting to drown in the unchartered waters that have become your wedding plans, you might want to take a breather, or, better yet, a vacation. Here are some major signs that you’re wedding is causing you unnecessary stress—and what to do to find your calm.
Planning is taking over your life
If you’ve stopped doing things that you love and that make you happy, whether it’s exercise classes, spending time with friends or even taking long baths, because of wedding planning, it’s time to dial things back a bit. “The best way to address this is to realize that wedding planning needs to fit into your life, not the other way around,” says Angela Thompson, sociology professor at Texas Christian University. “If your entire lunch break is devoted to wedding planning instead of socializing with coworkers or you’re on a date with your fiancé and constantly on your phone looking at wedding decoration, you’re doing too much.”
You’re trying to do it all
Maybe you don’t have a wedding planner—and that’s perfectly fine—but you shouldn’t be the only one riding and steering the ship when it comes to your big day. If your spouse-to-be can’t be of help, hopefully you’re able to rely on your bridesmaids, family and friends—after all, that’s what they’re there for! “Trying to do it all is a recipe for disaster,” warns Lindsey Sachs, a wedding planner and owner of COLLECTIVE/by Sachs in Boulder, Colorado, and Minneapolis. “Focus only on the items that excite you the most about planning your big day and delegate or hire a professional to manage the rest—you won’t regret it!” This will allow you to actually enjoy what you’re doing and have more fun in the process.
You’re no longer enjoying the process
First thing first: The engagement period should be one of the most exciting and enjoyable times in your life together as a couple. If you feel like it’s anything but fun and relaxing, your stress level is probably too high. “This often happens when a bride is consumed with pleasing everyone else and stops enjoying the process and the time with her significant other and closest circle,” Paulette Kouffman Sherman, Psy.D., director of My Dating & Relationship School and author of Dating from the Inside Out. She recommends taking a giant step back so that you can start to create fond memories of this time rather than stressful, even painfully emotional, ones.
You’re procrastinating a ton
When we have a long and seemingly endless to-do list that we don’t particularly care to start checking off, we tend to push items off until the last minute. But, as Thompson explains, unlike procrastinating in high school where a person may be able to cobble together a last minute paper that is passable, most people do not want the memories of their wedding to be barely stitched together. “Given that vendors are often booked months in advance, procrastinating can really work against brides when it comes to creating their dream wedding,” she says. To help address procrastination it is best to delegate wedding planning tasks to keep the planning process moving forward.
You’re constantly under the weather
We forget that stress cause actual physical reactions such as headaches, stomach aches, muscle pain or tension, low energy, reduced sex drive, grinding teeth, insomnia, chest pain and nervousness. “Don’t forget that stress reduces your ability to fight off things like colds and the flu as well,” warns Maggie Hoop, LPCA, NCC, therapist who specializes in relationships. “Pay attention to what your body is telling you—if it’s trying to tell you to calm down and chill out, maybe you should listen to it before it does it for you.”
You’ve set unrealistic expectations
When it comes to the day you’ve been dreaming about since you were a little girl or boy, it’s hard to accept that it won’t go perfectly, from beginning to end, but, such is life! Nothing is perfect, including your wedding. It will have the very same unexpected bumps and twists and turns (just hopefully a whole lot less) than any other event that has occurred in your life. “There is no way to please everyone, including yourself all of the time, so aim for excellence rather than total perfection,” suggests Dr. Sherman. “This will help you relax on the regular and soften your expectations.”
You and your fiancé are constantly fighting
Fighting happens, especially when you’re under the kind of pressure that comes along with wedding planning. But if you and your partner are bickering back and forth more often than you have peaceful exchanges, your planning might be over the top. If you’re hardly feeling the love anymore with this important person you’re about to spend the rest of your life with, hit the reset button, stat. Schedule a date night where wedding conversations are totally off limits. This way you can enjoy each other’s company and remember why you’re getting married in the first place.
Eloping doesn’t sound like a bad idea
If you decided to elope in the first place, good for you! But if you’re in the midst of planning your wedding ceremony and reception and are considering throwing the whole thing off and going to city hall to save your sanity, it’s time to chill out. “See the smiles on the faces of your guests, the intimate moments shared with your fiancé throughout the day, the love felt from your bridal party and your first dance before a room of your biggest cheerleaders,” says Sachs. “Before giving into the idea of eloping, channel your original idea and get excited!”
You’re constantly annoyed by everyone around you
It’s not always easy to tell when you, yourself, have turned into this monster of a wedding planner, but it’s worth keeping a close pulse on the potential that you’re getting close. If you’re on edge each time the topic of your wedding arises and can’t seem to relax when others give their two cents on a matter relating to your big day, you’re likely too stressed out, according to Sachs. She recommends re-centering your focus on why you’re getting married in the first place and trying your best to see the bigger picture.
You’re falling back on unhealthy behaviors
If you’re starting to turn to negative coping mechanisms, such as drinking or smoking too much, you may be at the end of your rope. This is the time when Hoop recommends getting help, stat. “Hire a wedding planner or find that friend who lives for organizing and delegate responsibilities to your loved ones, even if it’s hard to let go of that control,” she says. “You don’t want to restart a bad habit and then have to go through the work of changing that when you can be focused on being a happy newlywed!”