Anyone planning a wedding knows that while it's the most exciting time, the lead-up to the big day can be filled with obstacles and stress. When my own wedding planning began in early 2020, I went in expecting the usual ups and downs: trying on gowns, staying within budget, things of that nature. Then COVID-19 hit, bringing with it a whole new set of hurdles and ultimately leading us to postpone our wedding.
The world was faced with a deadly pandemic, and I couldn't help but feel sad about the wedding I could no longer have. But how could I possibly be sad when so many people are experiencing real loss? When so many people are losing loved ones, fighting for their lives, getting laid off, and taking a risk just by going to work? Feeling guilty and ashamed for being so selfish, I kept the grief to myself and carried on.
Then I was introduced to AisleTalk, a therapy practice specializing in helping those coping with the stresses of wedding planning. While I wasn't struggling with wedding planning stress in a traditional sense, I was in need of someone impartial to talk to. After connecting with AisleTalk's founder Landis Bejar, it became even more clear that her services—individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, coaching, and premarital counseling—offer a safe space not only for brides like me but for everyone.
Meet the Expert
Landis Bejar is the founder of AisleTalk. She pursued her graduate studies at Columbia University and graduated with masters degrees in counseling psychology and mental health counseling. She also earned her license as a New York State Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).
Working with Bejar felt like a big exhale after months of holding it all in. She helped me to process my emotions honestly, reckon with my guilt, and find acceptance. How? With these five resonant lessons.
It's ok to grieve a postponed or canceled wedding.
COVID-19 has taken so much away from us—health, time, normalcy, security. "There is no value system [in a crisis like COVID-19]," says Bejar, and everyone has permission to feel what they need to feel about it. It's important to make space for grieving the loss of the wedding, because if I don't make space for it now, it could lead to more distress later.
Don't give in to toxic positivity.
Toxic positivity is a false sense of optimism that can be detrimental to you and your relationships. An example of toxic positivity could be when someone says, "your wedding might be canceled, but at least you're healthy." While it's important to keep perspective, it's also important to honor that this situation sucks. I can be grateful for my health and also feel sadness, disbelief, and even anger about my wedding—at the same time.
Weddings mean something for everyone involved.
"Wedding therapy ends up being a lot about family dynamics," says Bejar. That's because as much as the wedding is about the couple, it's also about the couple's families. Families, notably parents, are emotionally, mentally, and often financially invested in the process. Remember that the wedding is fulfilling a want or need for everyone involved, not just you and your partner.
Speak to someone outside of your immediate circle.
"Any person in our lives has a bit of unconscious bias," explains Bejar. This includes even those closest to us. Their advice about what they might do in the situation is entirely subjective, especially when it comes to something with such high stakes. Talking to someone outside of your immediate circle can offer clarity on feelings you're having, decisions you're making, and even your outlook on the circumstances as a whole.
Be reflective and slow down, but keep going.
Because of this virus, we have been confronted with our own helplessness. Our lives have been stopped in their tracks, providing an opportunity to pause and reflect. "But we have to keep planning," says Bejar. "That's our hope, resolve, and strength as humans." That's why while weddings and parties may be canceled, love cannot be. We will gather again, we will celebrate again, and we will be stronger than ever before.