Planning, communication and self-care are keys to managing wedding stress

by Erica Peterson

Planning a wedding can be stressful in and of itself, but doing so during a global pandemic can add a whole other layer of anxiety. That’s why it’s especially important that couples take the time to clearly document and discuss their expectations and boundaries before making plans, said Lisa Borchert, a licensed clinical counselor and owner of Avenues of Counseling & Mediation.

“Some of these things we would do normally when people are preparing a wedding, but now it’s critical that we don’t skip these steps,” Borchert said.

She suggests couples first clearly identify their boundaries in general concerning the pandemic. “They should ask themselves are they OK doing indoor dining? Are they OK having a bonfire, and with how many people?” she said. 

The exercise will help them realize what, exactly, they are and are not comfortable with, which they can then share with their partner in planning the wedding.

The next step is to determine their vision and expectations. Borchert recommends grabbing a notebook that both partners use for communicating about the wedding, writing down ideas and questions that come to them while they brainstorm.

Writing it all down will help alleviate unease, she said.

“Stress and anxiety are exasperated by unknowns. And that’s our life right now; we don’t know certain things,” she said. “But we do know a lot of things.” The notebook will crystalize those.

“Carve out time for the discussion piece, a specific time on a specific topic and for a limited time,” she said. “You don’t want to talk about the wedding 24/7. No one does well with that.”

Anxiety comes through focusing on things out of our control, Borchert said. By creating a clear vision, partners can focus on it and craft a meaningful wedding.

Couples should expect to go through many drafts of their plan as they consider the limitations caused by the pandemic, as well as their budget.

“Finance is a huge trigger for stress and anxiety,” Borchert said. “If I know that I have $500 for flowers, I’m not going to look at calla lilies flown in from Africa. Don’t break your heart.”

Through the draft process, couples gain clarity, adjust their vision, drop some dream items and focus on what is essential for them.

“At the start, I may really want those calla lilies. But by the fourth draft, I may decide anything cream with a lot of greenery works,” she said.

Some may choose a much smaller wedding than they originally pictured, and others might postpone.

Borchert suggests couples keep the ultimate details of their wedding to themselves. “The influence of other people can be very overwhelming,” she said.

Also, people have a lot of opinions, especially during the pandemic. “You have to go back to the two of you,” she said. “What do you believe to be true?”

Both partners also need to take time for themselves, to stay grounded. That could mean taking a bath, binge watching a TV show, going on a run or a hike, shooting some hoops – whatever is restorative.

“It’s critically important to keep that routine of things that I do for myself,” she said. “Otherwise, the wedding becomes all-consuming.”

Above all, Borchert said, keep the ceremony in its proper perspective. “The wedding is just an event, where your marriage is a journey,” she said.