What to do if wedding planning is sucking the joy out of life

July 3 | Guest post by Kirsten Hansen
Mason Drinking Jars with Flower Lids available here.
Mason Drinking Jars with Flower Lids available here.

Have you been wondering if you're the only one not squeeing every moment about your upcoming wedding or feeling like your inner curmudgeon has come out to play? It's okay. You're not alone.

This wedding planning thing can suck hard. Not everyone loves planning a wedding and some people downright hate it. Drama happens, things go wrong, and planning is a whole heck of a lot of work.

If that's you right now, then maybe we can help make things at least a little better.

Take a break

Seriously. Give yourself time off to do things you enjoy. Even better, do things as a couple that have nothing to do with venue tours or fittings or guest lists. It can be easy to let wedding planning take over your life — but it doesn't have to be that way. Life isn't waiting for your wedding to be over and it will go on after the wedding (avoid setting yourself up for post-wedding blues). Maybe you need a weekend, maybe you need a month. Just know that it is okay.

Simplify

So you may have realized that this wedding thing can be kinda complicated. Or maybe you are just not a planner by nature. Well, then make it simpler. I'm not talking about getting a better spreadsheet. I mean flat out simplify. If you don't need it, then don't worry about it. Letting go of things can be super-freeing. And you know what? Nobody will know. It's easy to get lost in all the amazing details that you could include (paper straws, the ultimate geeky favor, handmade brooch bouquet). Yes, some people do all of this and it is amazing. Some people don't and it is totally okay, too.

Or sometimes simplifying means having someone else handle it. Maybe you have a relative or friend who has been dying to help with something. Well, why not let them? If you're worried about their commitment to your vision, choose something that isn't a top priority for you and just let them do it (or not). It's one more thing that's out of your hair and it can make them happy. Maybe you need a wedding planner or day-of coordinator.

Sometimes simplifying means just cutting it all back. Can you invite fewer people? Can you have cake and punch instead of a full dinner? Can you go with a second-choice venue if it means you don't have to decorate for three hours or arrange transportation? There may be compromises, but if it means life not sucking as much, it's probably worth it.

Make space for quiet at your wedding

For all of you who don't like the idea of being front and centre at your wedding, it can be managed. Maybe you need an intimate ceremony with just a few people and then a big party later where everyone celebrates together. Or how about private vows before, during, or after the ceremony? Give yourself or your partner time to slip away and make sure you have somewhere to go. Even if you aren't worried about being the centre of attention, it can be awesome to have a private dinner or some down time with your wedding party. If you need to have a quick swig of something, then give yourself a few moments to do that.

Focus on your priorities

Sticking to your priorities is important whether it's being eco-conscious, saving money, having all your friends and family present, a chocolate cake with raspberry filling, bitchin' DJ, or eloping. Do your best to make it work. Maybe it won't be perfect, but if you keep your focus on these things then the rest of it can be a little easier to let go.

Value your relationships

Weddings can bring out the crazy in people, but do your best not to let it get in the way before you need to fire a bridesmaid. You may see the best sides of people you hadn't expected, and you might see the worst sides of others. Maybe you're negotiating a new relationship with your parents or you're figuring out how to communicate with your partner. If you want them around after the wedding, try to talk it out (and practice good conflict resolution methods).

Do it differently

When all else fails, it's time to change. Maybe this means eloping. Maybe it means a surprise wedding. Maybe it means getting weddinged later. It could be changing the time or location. But if wedding planning is making you miserable, then make a change if at all possible.

How are you coping when wedding planning makes your life suck? What sacrifices are you making for your own sense of well-being?

  1. I needed this today – my wedding is at the end of the month and I am OVER. IT. There is always someone to call or something to be reserved or something to buy…I can't wait until it's here, but I also can't wait until it's over. This is a good reminder to remember what's really important.

    34 agree
  2. So great. Also is anyone not squeeing, not crumudgeonly but just…not caring? Everyone is asking me details and it's just like "well, we're having a phone call with a potential DJ" and then they get excited and I didn't realize phone calls are so exciting? Or asking me what I'm gonna wear and I just say "a dress?" I just never feel like talking about it because it seems boring to me!

    36 agree
    • I'm on the same boat as you, here. My FH's mom seems to be really thrown by my lack of micromanagement and desire for extreme detail. The wedding is still over a year from now and she won't stop asking me about what I want her to wear, what my mom is wearing (apparently the MOB's dress sets the tone for what the MOG wears? That's a thing? Maybe?), what I'm wearing.

      And yeah, meetings with potential vendors are not exciting. If anything, they're somewhat excruciating and sometimes they're even really boring.

      7 agree
  3. This is totally true! I had to step away for a month after ending up in tears! It did not set me back one bit whatsoever and I'm glad I took a break!

    5 agree
  4. This is great! T-minus 17 days and holy balls am I ready to be DONE with wedding planning. I am pretty organized by nature and we kept things small and very low budget, but it was WAY more work than I ever thought it could be. It's incredible how much other things get pushed aside because of wedding planning, like cooking, we have ordered pizza so many times in the last few months it's not even funny.

    12 agree
    • I'm glad it's not just me who's noticed a suspicious upsurge in the amount of take-out we've been ordering as our wedding date has been drawing nearing!

      4 agree
  5. So glad it's not just me. I am so over this wedding planning bullshit. So tired of thinking about it and fooling with it. I think we're just gonna gather up the essential people and elope. I just don't care about so many parts of it – venue, officiant, you know, the important, gotta-have-it stuff.

    11 agree
  6. Oh wow, this came at the exact right moment for me.

    We've only been engaged for 2 months, but we wanted to get our venue and photographer booked in ASAP, as we live in a small town and venues get snapped up years in advance. Unfortunately, most of our friends are already married, and have used most venues for their weddings, so we were trying to find somewhere unique. Ha. We've finally narrowed it down to three places, one of which friends of ours DID get married in, only to have FMIL look at them (why we allowed her to, I'll never know) and declare her hatred of two venues, "But it's your wedding so do whatever you want".

    This is on top of a close family member declaring A WEEK AFTER WE GOT ENGAGED that he wouldn't be present at the wedding if we invited his stepfather, before we'd even considered a guest list or venue or anything, and one of my friends declaring herself a bridesmaid even though I a) haven't planned that far yet and b) wouldn't be asking her anyway as she is incredibly selfish and would make our day her day.

    I'm not a wedding-crazy girl, and my fiance is doing most of the work at the moment when it comes to venue and vendor searching. I figured our planning would be very laid-back, like we are, and hadn't counted on our day maybe being everyone else's day too. So thankyou for this article, which has appeared right in the middle of a very stressy week! Once the stupid venue is sorted I'll be taking a wee break from the whole thing, and maybe getting some enthusiasm back after that!

    8 agree
  7. I had a fabulous dream the other night that my wedding had already happened, and I was incredibly relieved. I told my mother how I felt and she gave me permission to stop planning, and just start making it happen. She's been amazing at constantly reminding me to prioritize the things that I want. If not for her and my fmil I'd be bonkers for sure right now. I'm glad I'm not the only one so totally over this mess.

    9 agree
  8. I agree with the second response, for sure. I am looking forward to my wedding, but I feel like I've been much more lackadaisical in my approach in the past week or two. I'm in the final stretch (my wedding's on August 2), and I feel like I'm just kind of throwing everything together. Normally I am a plan-everything-a-year-in-advance, must-have-everything-perfect type, but frankly, I have kind of become the exact opposite for my wedding. We are only having 7 guests (my mom, dad, and brother, his mom, dad, and niece, and our daughter), and I feel like these people know me well enough that if everything doesn't go 100% perfectly, who cares?! These people love me already, and I love them already. That's the main reason we're having a small wedding. I felt like if we invited all of the people who are invited to more traditional weddings (extended family, friends, possibly coworkers), I would be stuck planning a wedding where I had to prove how "in love" we were by having crazy elaborate (and expensive!) decorations, venue, etc. I feel like scaling back has done wonders for my stress levels.

    0 agree
  9. YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES. So relevant to me. Enjoying the wedding for me has come to mean: a very small ceremony, a simple dress, and a simple brunch. (With a big CASUAL potluck party a month or so after). Initially I was going DIY all kinds of projects and invite oodles of people… but really, being quietly present with my dearest is what will bring me the most joy and the richest experience.

    1 agrees
  10. I cannot stress enough how you should LET SOMEONE ELSE DO THE THINGS! The only way I got through it was delegation, delegation, delegation. If I didn't care enough to do it myself, then either someone else did it or it didn't get done. And nothing was "missing"…it all went swimmingly, we got rave reviews, and everyone who wanted to help felt like they were helping. Yeah, my wedding was maybe a bit more traditional than it would have been if my mom's wedding-planner friend hadn't been in charge of dressing the tables, but I sure as hell wasn't going to do it the night before the wedding, and they looked lovely. This has been my advice for any other bride who's asked for it… if it's not vital to your vision, let someone else do it!

    3 agree
  11. Thank you! Yes, it is officially 99 days until our wedding and I am so over planning it, I'm just ready to have it already.

    1 agrees
    • Hey we have the same wedding day! I'm not over the planning part yet (I really like planning things, I guess) but I AM completely over talking about it with other people. And then I feel like a jerk because they seem way more into it than I am.

      8 agree
      • Totally! I cringe inside every time that someone asks me how wedding planning is going.

        4 agree
  12. I've only been engaged for over two weeks, and I'm already feeling like I'm on the verge of being overwhelmed. (All I really want right now is the venue, damn it!) So, my mother… who knows very well that I can easily get in over my head and don't like to ask for help… convinced me that I should consider a wedding planner. So, I sucked it up and met with a few, and I'm pretty confident that one is one that I am willing to work with and hand the reins over to.

    It may not be a huge sacrifice to some, but for me it is because I am generally skeptical of others' help… but I can already feel pressure being relieved from me by simply knowing that someone else will handle the logistics of all of the vendors!

    2 agree
  13. So timely, this post. I'm at T-61 days today…and in the last week, my FH and I had our first wedding argument – and over something silly and my FH lost it last night when trying to create a new audio file for the walking out music. So…it's not only getting to me (he's 1,000 miles away & it's really bothering him that he can't be here to help.) I have to say that I'm VERY lucky to live where I live…I have one neighbor that's acting as my wedding day of coordinator & she put her foot down & told me that "no, you should not only be not making your own 4 different types of cupcakes – you will not be relaxed enough the last week to make your cupcakes at all." And quite honestly, I'm relieved that she said it. Sometimes we just need someone else to point out the obvious & stop killing ourselves with all the DIY crap. I have not said no to any help or gifts offered (one neighbor has offered to buy fireworks to set off & another wants to buy flower petals), and that has been a lesson to me – not feeling like I'm imposing if someone is offering. I cannot wait until the day before – when I hand the list over to my lovely neighbor & I wash my hands of anything other than enjoying saying my vows & getting married.

    2 agree
  14. I am forever creating grand visions that are near-impossible to accomplish. Our wedding was amazing, and planning it was one of the most stressful things I have ever done. My husband advocated elopement from the start, and resisted many of the crazy details I was so excited about. In the end, it was the details that made it so special though, and the elaborate ritual of the day drew us much closer than an elopement might have. We both love what we created for our wedding and are so glad that we chose to make it a grand community event. It fit who we are and what we are creating in our lives.
    Here's what we did right for our wedding:
    We hired a trusted friend as our event coordinator who understood our vision and could keep us motivated and sane.
    I made lists of the people in my life who could potentially help me with specific tasks.
    We eliminated the wedding party. We had absolutely no Wedding Party Drama. I didn't have to worry about matching dresses, bitchy friends, hurt feelings, or suffering through an endless string of pre-wedding parties that would have also had to be planned and paid for.
    I made sure that we ate a healthy, home-cooked dinner and lunches most days. I would cook large amounts and create several meals at a time. Eating healthfully is one of the best ways to keep my stress level low.
    I let go of visions that just were not working. I had to change my vision many times to meet the reality of our space, budget and energy. What we created was perfect for us, and the things that did not work out weren't that important.

    I originally advocated an adventurous, (expensive) road-trip honeymoon in a rented RV. We ended up spending five days at a friend's cabin in the temperate rainforest here in WA, and hiking pristine wilderness trails amidst some of the tallest, most amazing trees in the world. Our honeymoon cost us nothing out of pocket after all of the gifts to our honeymoon registry and the gift of the friend's cabin. It was delightfully stress-free and totally magical and romantic. We didn't have to rush anywhere or buy anything on credit, and we saved a ton of money on gas. When we were out there alone on the trails, hiking past waterfalls, the sun shining golden on old growth trees dripping with moss, I asked my husband to remind me of this moment the next time I get stuck on an impossible fantasy. Then I can relax and let things unfold in an organic way, let the magic happen.

    Here's what I would have done different for our wedding:
    * Started planning a year in advance.
    * Hired my event planner/coordinator months earlier than we did. There was a mess of details to untangle by the time we hired her.
    *Scaled back a bit. Our wedding decorations were lovely, but not nearly as necessary as I thought they would be. Our event was outdoors at a gorgeous state park, and the scenery was more than enough to entertain our guests. Of over 1000 photos taken by our guests, only a small handful were of the decorations we had so painstakingly made. Most of the photos were of us! That's what people are coming for.
    *Made sure I had enough *me* time to balance the stress of planning and making stuff for the wedding. I run a business and a small home farm, so the last few months were extremely hectic with wedding stuff on top of my already full schedule.
    *I wish I had scheduled time at least once a month at the ladies-only day spa in the area. And massages. Anything to totally pamper myself and relax.

    1 agrees
  15. Yea My wedding is in October and all I've done is send out save the dates…everyone is always asking me how everything is going, and that they want every minute detail…I have a hard time not rolling my eyes! A lot of people become bride zillas, and i think i am finding out I am the exact opposite. I would rather not worry about every detail, and just be excited to spend my life with the new hubby. Am I the only one that's totally unmotivated or doesn't care how it all turns out?

    5 agree
  16. I'm pretty sure this was posted on the FB feed just for me today. Last night we sat down to seriously look at our finances and figure out a budget/timeline and I about lost it. I finally begged the Fiance to just stop talking about it until after Christmas. It seems planning an imaginary wedding (where you don't have to look at a price tag and convince yourself you can have exactly what you want and it will basically be free) is way more fun than a real wedding you actually have to pay for!

    4 agree
  17. *hugs OBB website*
    Bless you, OffBeatBride, for knowing to recommend this for me LOL :P

    I am sooooo over a lot of planning and soooooooo tired of people pushing me on stuff that can't be rushed (gee, sorry I haven't found that particular and non-essential element *just* yet, I was a little busy planning the funeral for the sudden death that just occurred in my family last week -_- )…and at this point, I'm just going to put my foot down. If I don't want it, it's not happening.

    I'm already bitter enough because the Boy and I wanted a small and simple ceremony but due to the major drama with a super-interconnected family (45 relatives on his side alone!), it's not worth getting what we want if it means trading for a lifetime of hinted guilt-tripping and cold shoulders at every major family event…*deep sigh* gosh I need to get off the comment section all this ranting and raving is best left for the journal entries!

    It's really comforting to know that this is normal, though.

    3 agree
    • I'm sorry for your loss. I had a very similar situation where my grandmother was placed in hospice care on Thanksgiving then we buried her the Saturday before Christmas. I couldn't handle talking about the wedding at the hospital and funeral but I sucked it up because I realized it was a "happier occasion" to talk about for other people.

      Yesterday was our RSVP deadline and about 10 different people needed to be contacted and they all replied with "sorry, things have been crazy lately". Well unless you've been planning a wedding, funeral, grieving, working a full time job, and trying to keep it together mentally and socially then please don't justify your rudeness with "crazy lately". We all have things going on but people had over 2 months to RSVP and we provided an online method that took 15 seconds as well as traditional reply cards…don't make the bride feel like she's begging you to come to the wedding.

      I completely understand how you feel as well as the guilt of admitting how you feel. Stay strong sister!

      1 agrees
  18. Thanks to this article! Im starting to be annoyed with my husband because of the frustration I'm having with all the planning, scouting and all.

    0 agree
  19. Glad this article came my way today. Totally needed it. Only a week into being engaged and already overwhelmed with drama from people I didn't even expect drama from. Why do weddings change people so much?

    And yes, my favorite thing so far is everyone being very upset about a particular thing we're planning, then saying "but it is your day – you should do whatever you want". Right.

    3 agree
  20. i am so so grateful for this site, btw. i HATE planning, i HATE details, and i HATE forced opinions. My fiancee and I are soooooooooo at our wit's end with everything and it's all become so one side vs the other that we've chosen to get our marriage license, call up our friend who's ordained and doing it OUR way with no one else present. and then, about a year from now we will plan an awesome fun wild celebration. As you can see, I am NOT traditional, i'm covered in tattoos, and half of my head is shaved — to say i've received appearance suggestions is an understatement. BUT guess what? my amazing fiancee loves every ounce of my curvy self. Cannot wait to do our own thing and TO HECK WITH THE REST@!!!!!! :) Offbeat bride most certainly indeed xoxoxxo ;D LOVE THIS SITE!

    1 agrees
  21. No need to worry. Just remember to plan your wedding at least a year in advance of the big date. Please don't procrastinate. I've seen couples rushing in setting up the reception party one week before the actual wedding!! Congratulations to you.

    0 agree

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