5 ways to cope with depression while planning a wedding

February 22 2016 | Guest post by Shannen Kuest

Trigger Warning: depression and self-harm

Photo by Lovesick Inc
Photo by Lovesick Inc

My future husband proposed two days after my first ever self-harming incident. Thus, a time that was incredibly exciting, joyous, and meaningful was also confusing, alarming, and difficult. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder about five years ago, and while I knew plenty about depression, I didn't know anything about how to deal with it while planning a wedding.

You can find a thousand and one articles that debate the merits of chiffon vs. satin or tell you how to pick a good caterer, but there's not much out there that tells you how to reconcile wedding planning with severe depression. With that in mind (and knowing that no two cases of depression are exactly the same) these are a few things that have helped me balance the two…

Talk to someone you trust

Making sure that someone I trusted knew about my struggles with depression and self-harm was key for me. That person could be your spouse, a close friend, or a licensed therapist. For me, it was my fiancé, and it was extremely helpful to know I didn't have to hide what I was feeling from him. I didn't have to make excuses on the days it was difficult to get out of bed; he knew why I had feelings of guilt I couldn't explain.

Take advantage of the good times

When we started wedding planning, I knew I couldn't be productive every day. My own mental health dictated that, sometimes, just getting through the day was the priority — leaving no time or energy for designing place settings or looking for DJs. So when I felt happy and content, I committed to getting as much done as possible. On good days, I was a tornado of wedding planning efficiency, which gave me some leeway on the not-so-good days.

Find the fun

Everyone enjoys different aspects of a wedding. For some people, it's fantasizing about The Dress; for others, it's creating the perfect menu. For me, it was dreaming about flowers. Glorious bouquets, lush centerpieces, creative arrangements. Le sigh. I focused on the things that made me happy. My Pinterest board filled up with images of dahlias and ferns, I visited local nurseries, and chatted with anyone who would listen about the pros and cons of DIY-ing my wedding flowers. I enjoyed it, and focusing on the parts of wedding planning I liked helped to keep the cloud of depression at bay. Of course, there were things I didn't like, which brings me to…

Delegate

People want to help you. So when friends offer to help with aspects of the wedding — let them! If you don't care about the cake, let a friend bake it for you. If writing your own vows makes you squirm, let your officiant handle the script. I had issues with catering. Just thinking about how we would feed 150 people on our budget sent me into panic attacks. So I washed my hands of it. My fiancé was willing to take on the responsibility of finding a caterer. I didn't know if that meant he'd do it himself or we'd hire an outside vendor, but ultimately I had to trust him and let go of the feeling that I had to do it all myself. Put your trust in your future spouse, your friends or a wedding planner, and know that it's okay if you don't do it all on your own.

Remember, you are not alone

Depression is quite common, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 90 percent of people with severe depression reported difficulty with work, home or social activities. Struggling with wedding planning because you're depressed is nothing to be ashamed of. Most importantly, when it comes right down to it, your future spouse loves you and accepts you the way you are — depression and all. That's probably why you're marrying them!

What are YOUR tips for wedding planning with depression?

  1. Thank you for posting this today on fb todaymy wedding is in one week and one hour exactly and it's quickly falling apart. We rented a house in Salem MA and invited about 10 people more than half in the past two weeks told us they can't come(invites went out over a year ago). Then some of those who are coming have decided not to participate in the activities we have planned. I feeling so unloved and worthless my medication isn't working as well as it should with the extra stress. Btw all we asked of people was to pay thier way to get there and even that we were willing to help with. All food, the house, and activities are being taken care of by us.

    1 agrees
    • Thanks for posting this. I suffer from depression and often feel guilty and pressured about not being thrilled all of the time as we plan our wedding.

      Sarah, I'm so sorry that people in your life are being such flakes! I've noticed that weddings tend to bring out the self-centered side in loved ones (e.g. Congrats! So, will the wedding date/location be convenient for me???). It sounds like your partner isn't one of the causes of your concerns leading up to the wedding so the most important person is with you on this!

      2 agree
    • So sorry to hear that Sarah! I hope you can have a wonderful day with your partner at your side. I know how disappointing it can be when people behave like this. People sometimes suck but the people who are there with you are worth twice as much as the ones who let you down. Big hugs!

      3 agree
  2. Thanks so much for your honesty! It really gave me a 'thank god I'm not the only one' feeling!

    I've been suffering from depression since I was a teenager. Good therapy and medication has really helped me and I am in a good place. We're getting married in april and want to start a family. So after 13 years of Effexor, I started to wean off in december . It's been three weeks without any medication now and boy…it has not been easy. All sorts of "old" feelings of insecurity and feeling not good enough have started to come back. Plus the physical side effects aren't a picnic either. Even though I know I'm strong enough to beat this, it's hard. Planning our wedding gives me such joy but some days it creates a lot of stress. Will I look alright? Won't I look ugly/big/less than someone else? What if I take a look at the pictures and can't see past my flaws and insecurities?

    I'm so lucky to have a wonderful fiancee and can't agree more with your last sentences: at the end of the – wedding – day it is all that matters: the two of you continuing your lives together as a couple! This has been and will continue to be my mantra.

    Lots of love and good luch with your wedding planning! Your approach sounds great: do what you can, when you can and ask for help when needed. I'm gonna try to be nicer to myself and take your advice!

    Love from the Netherlands

    • I'm so inspired by your positivity. I'm thrilled if this was helpful to you in any way! I feel like so many people don't talk about depression under regular circumstances, let alone in the context of wedding planning. Dealing with depression can be isolating, specially during a time when everyone is telling you how happy you should be. Most of all, I wanted people to know they aren't alone!

      • It certainly helped! I suddenly realized I'm not a bridezilla towards others but more of a bridezilla towards myself 🙂 So maybe it's time to kick my inner bridezilla out of the wedding party 🙂

  3. Sometimes I had to focus on the fact that the issues that were contributing were not happening to me but around me. It didn't make it hurt less but it did help me detatch from toxic relationships temporarily until I was stable enough to digest and handle the issues larger than myself.

  4. I wish this had been around when I was still working on my wedding, but I'm glad it's here now. I had a very hard time while planning my wedding last November, both with depression from bipolar and also from greif.

  5. Thank you thank you thank you. For me, it's mostly been the 'you are not alone' that I need to hear again and again. The fiance's family are all… very southern proper and snooty, so there's not a lot of wiggle room for having friends just do stuff (hell, the fact that me, my bridesmaids and mother all still work and therefore couldn't just do a ladies brunch during the week was a shock to their system). Remembering that other got through it one way or another is great, especially when there's so many expressing their horror that I'm not all giddy and excited about the final planning. "Well aren't you at least excited about…" No, I'm not. It's a giant pile of necessary items to check off a list. I'm excited to get to be married, but no, I was advocating for elopement with a party later, he wanted the big white wedding. Yes, printables are running late – that's what happens when you still have doctors appointments 3-ish days a week (super fun car accident with head trauma that started a whole level of depression I'd never dealt with before) in between 2 deaths in the family and my mother in the hospital for over a month at the beginning of the year.

    Knowing I can say these things and not be the first to say them (though the first to say them to my future in-laws) is extremely comforting.

  6. Every little detail pertaining to the planning of the wedding has killed me a little bit more and more everyday. Just when I thought things were finally falling into place, something else needs to be planned or prepared. If I had been doing this all by myself, I definitely would not have been as stressed and as a result depressed. But having to plan everything with my mom and dad, because “I’m their only daughter and I’m the first to get married and this is big deal.” And so, that means this is not my wedding, it’s OUR wedding, according to my family, so they have to approve every detail and be a part of planning every detail. It’s driving me insane. The wedding is in less than a month and I’m more depressed than I have ever been in my entire life and it’s gotten hard to get up and face the world. Your wedding shouldn’t leave you feeling depressed, it suppose to be the best moment of your life, but literally, at this point, I regret even having gotten engaged. Like for what? All I want to do is elope and I can’t even do that but damn does that sound so much better than going through with this stupid wedding. I hate it because planning it has caused me so much depression and anxiety rather than excitement and joy. I should be very grateful and excited because my wedding is at a great location with great vendors but it’s the external factors that I have to deal will to get to the point of greatness, totally kill my joy and excitement and it just shows me that none of this is worth any ounce of feeling anxious or depressed and if it’s making me feel this way then I just need to run away and elope. I should have had a court house marriage from the beginning. Getting married isn’t about the flowers, lights, or the drapery, it’s about you and your fiancé solidifying your love through the establishment of an eternal bond. Idk where I’m going with this anymore but yeah I’m not excited for my wedding, like at all. I cannot wait for it to be over with and I regret wanting to have a wedding, definitely worse decision I’ve ever made.

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