The 6 Stages of Wedding Planning

Updated 03/12/15

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*Allison Moir-Smith, MA, is a bridal counselor, creator of *How Brides-To-Be REALLY Feel videos, and author of Emotionally Engaged: a Bride's Guide to Surviving the "Happiest" Time of Her Life. Here, she breaks down the most common stages of wedding planning.

He pops the question. You head to Pinterest. Let the wedding-planning fun begin. But if you're knee-deep in planning your own wedding, you know first-hand that the Pinterest-only stage just doesn't last. In my 12 years as a bridal counselor (and as a bride myself way back when), I've identified six discrete emotional stages of wedding planning most brides go through. What stage are you in?

Stage 1: Pure fantasy

Anything is possible! Pinterest is amazing! "Yes, I can totally DIY that elaborate project!" Should we get married barefoot on the beach or on skis, on a mountaintop? In first this stage, all you want to do is click, subscribe, follow and dream — big. (Our advice: let this stage continue as long as humanly possible.)

Stage 2: Reality hits

The fact is: Nana and PopPop really can't fly to a beach in Curacao. Your budget is actually $x. That Pinterest may in fact be above your crafting skill level. "Your mom wants to invite HOW MANY people?!?" This second stage can be brief but brutal as the reality of people, places, and prices sink in.

See More: 5 Things No One Tells You About Wedding Planning

Stage 3: Decisions and execution

You now have two full-time jobs: your career and planning your wedding. You choose a venue, buy a dress, have a tasting, select flowers. You're keeping pace with the online prompts of your to-do list. All is under control. This is the longest stage of wedding planning. You are busy — crazy busy — but have an underlying sense of "I've got this."

Stage 4: "My f#!@ing wedding."

You're done. Done with being embarrassed and pissed off chasing down RSVPs. Done with the to-do list prompts reminding you just how behind you are. Done with the prices, the people, the planning. Done with the DIY craft. (It now lives in the garbage can.) This stage slowly sneaks up on you and casts a pall over planning. You have moments of being so over it.

Stage 5: Frenzied finale

You spend months (years?) planning this thing, yet the final week is a wreck. You're handing off projects at work while doing the seating chart, packing for the honeymoon, stuffing goody-bags, writing vows. And still chasing down RSVPs. This final week before the wedding, you have a ton to do. Rest assured, you'll get it all done, as best you can — because you have to. It doesn't have to be pretty.

Stage 6: That first cocktail at the rehearsal dinner

Take a sip and note your body finally relaxing. There's no more planning, no more doing. Your wedding celebration has begun, and will have a mood and spirit all of its own. You're finally living the fantasy you've worked so hard to create. At this stage, there's NOTHING left to be done except to enjoy, have fun, be present, and go for the ride. Oh, and get married to your wonderful man.

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