7 Ways to Keep Wedding Planning Stress from Ruining Your RelationshipWeddings are a team sport.
If you’re reading this, the warm and fuzzy feelings of the proposal have likely passed and you’re diving into an ocean full of wedding stress. Don’t worry—that’s normal. A 2023 Zola survey of over 4,000 engaged couples found that 52% described wedding planning as stressful and 59% described it as overwhelming.
This period of time can quickly devolve into a series of hard-to-make decisions and a lot of money spent on a single day, which, yeah, is stressful and overwhelming. That’s especially true if this is the first time you’re managing an expensive project with your partner—not to mention one that others feel entitled to give tons of unsolicited feedback on, says Amy Shack Egan, the founder and CEO of wedding planning company Modern Rebel.
There’s also the pressure of making the right choices to meet your family’s (or even society's) expectations, says licensed psychologist Miriam Kirmayer, PhD. While that may look like seating chart drama (prepare yourself) or inviting your mom’s childhood friend you’ve never met, it can also include things like being in the so-called best shape of your life or having to discuss your religious views with your partner for maybe the first time ever.
These intensified emotions can make you lose sight of your general well-being, which can impact your relationship, says Dr. Kirmayer. Losing sleep over place cards or forgetting to eat as you slog through Excel spreadsheets can make you feel generally frustrated and lead to an ill-timed explosion when your partner asks, “Are you sure we don’t have the budget for an open bar?” It can become a bit of a spiral for many couples, says Dr. Kirmayer.
While some of the chaos is unavoidable depending on factors like who’s paying, you and your partners’ work hours, and the size of your guest list, there are ways you can make this whole thing less of a stress on your bond.
1. Take care of your basic needs.
Don’t let the depths of wedding planning pull you under. By prioritizing sleep, eating, movement, and time with your people, you’ll have more mental and emotional bandwidth to manage the planning process without burning out.
Maybe that means making grocery shopping a priority above any wedding stuff. That way, you’ll have food in the house to fuel your Pinterest sessions. Or perhaps you make sure to clock that silly mental health walk on the days you’re feeling really frazzled. You can also set up a cannot-miss monthly coffee date with one of your friends. Keeping those fundamentals in place can make this whole thing feel easier, says Dr. Kirmayer.
2. Split the planning according to your strengths.
When your disdain for spreadsheets evolves into resenting your spreadsheet-less partner, the emotional toll of wedding planning is probably becoming too much. Before it gets this far, try to divide up the tasks according to your strengths and your partner’s.
If your partner loves a Google sheet, maybe they should take on things like addressing invites, keeping track of the budget, and keeping an eye on the guest list. If you love details and bringing the vision to life, maybe you select the decor, pick the menu, and create the place cards. It’s a lot of work no matter what, but by doing the things you like or are good at, you and your partner should feel less burdened by the to-do list, says Egan.
3. Limit wedding talk.
While everything can feel urgent when you’re wedding planning—hello, you’re basically competing with every other engaged couple in your area—designating specific times in your week to project manage can protect your relationship from the stress and overwhelm, says Egan.
Egan recommends her clients pick one night a week to talk about the wedding. So, every Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m., you and your partner discuss the to-dos you need to accomplish to put this event together.
If once a week isn’t enough to get everything done, maybe designate a certain time of day or the second and fourth weekend of the month. Whatever the time period, the goal is to contain the wedding admin part of your relationship, so you can enjoy the other stuff you do together. “You don’t want this to become your whole personality. You’ve got an entire amazing life left to live after this event,” says Egan.
4. Compare your priorities.
Most people planning a wedding have financial parameters—and that can make compromising a team sport. Still, sacrificing your seven-piece invitation for a champagne at dinner isn’t always easy. Instead of waiting for choices like that to come up and (maybe, probably) cause a fight, Egan recommends that you and your partner make a list of must-haves ranked from most to least important. Once you’ve completed your list, compare it with your partner’s and try to meet in the middle, forming one list with a ranking of wedding priorities.
Doing this early on in the process will help prevent future heated discussions. But if you and your partner disagree on something major, be open to alternatives and solutions that make you both relatively happy. This can help solidify a good foundation for open communication and conflict resolution for your future relationship, Dr. Kirmayer adds.
5. Check in with each other first—then consult with family.
Obviously, your partner isn’t the only one who might have ideas about how this event should go, especially if your families are contributing money and expect you to use their funds in a specific way. Families often have different expectations for how involved they should be or how much of a say they have. But, before approaching your family to discuss anything wedding-related, like who will be invited or how religious a ceremony will be, Dr. Kirmayer recommends that you and your partner get clear on your own wants, needs, and desires for this day. That clarity can help you stand strong as you go into discussions where others might try to persuade you to go in a direction that doesn’t align with what you and your partner had in mind, Dr. Kirmayer explains.
Ask yourselves what you really want out of your wedding, what your values are, and how you can create an event that aligns with those things. If you’re open to hearing other people’s opinions (assuming that you are), it’s important to emphasize the importance of making decisions based on what the two of you want, says Dr. Kirmayer.
6. Look into counseling.
While some religious groups require different forms of pre-marital counseling (often with spiritual leaders) before your wedding, Dr. Kirmayer says therapy or counseling is something that all couples should consider—especially if they’re feeling stressed during the planning process. “Within that context, important conversations can come up.”
For example, if your partner keeps complaining that you aren’t pulling your weight on this project, it might be a good time to discuss how you delegate other responsibilities and the best way to communicate who does what. That intel will be helpful long after you say your vows.
7. Get excited about something beyond your wedding.
Much like post-vacation depression, some couples can experience post-wedding blues. They’ve spent all this time and effort on one day and then everything goes right back to normal. While this can be a relief (well, once those thank yous are done), the comedown can make you feel sad or even depressed. That’s why Dr. Kirmayer recommends setting things up to look forward to as a couple after your wedding, like a cooking class, regular date nights, or a road trip out of town. Anything that gets you psyched about the future is fair game.
Wondermind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your mental health.