I Have Wedding 'Planxiety.' Now What?
You're engaged and planning your nuptials (congrats!) but in the busiest season ever for weddings. The urgency of securing a venue and date is hitting you like a ton of bricks, perhaps to the point of planning paralysis. For some, it's a stressful time and for others, it goes even deeper to a place of planxiety (planning anxiety).
"There is a mad rush for couples to get married in 2022, and even 2021," says event planner Stefanie Cove. "Planning a wedding is not a great experience when you are stressed the entire time." With half of all 2020 wedding receptions postponed through 2022, your dream venue or preferred date could feel like it's completely out of reach, leaving you jittery about accomplishing even the most simple wedding planning tasks.
"When anxiety rises, thinking tends to screech to a halt," explains clinical psychologist Susan Heitler, Ph.D. "However, anxious feelings can lead to clarification about your underlying concerns, which in turn may lead you to potential solutions. Then, poof, the anxiety dissipates." Here are classic signs you're anxious while wedding planning and steps for how to face planxiety with confidence.
Practical Tips for Tackling Planxiety
Be Flexible About Your Vendors and Timeline
Some couples are hard-pressed about a certain venue or date. Cove, who's planned weddings for Anne Hathaway among other A-listers, says now is the time to be malleable, especially when weighing large financial decisions. "I would take a deep breath and consider other venues," she explains. "Or perhaps, move your date back a little bit so you can enjoy the process."
The Knot 2021 wedding trends noted the rise of weekday weddings given the demand. "This is common. I have several this year," says Mikie Russo, celeb event planner of Michael Russo Events. "You should be open to it."
If you're reaching out to numerous potential vendors without receiving a response, it's possible they're booked out. "Getting in touch with the venues and the vendors is likely the greatest challenge from the planner's standpoint too," explains Russo. "On top of things, many are orchestrating events from last year, this year. It's very difficult… Everyone is overwhelmed."
Russo, who's planned weddings for Dancing With the Stars cast members among other celeb names, suggests alternative outreach tactics. For example, if you're receiving automated messages via email or being sent straight to a full voicemail inbox, think beyond normal means of communication. "Reach out to vendors' social teams on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Treat it like customer care," he suggests. "Make a comment like, 'Hey, I've been trying to reach you.'"
If you live in the area of your chosen venue, perhaps swing by and say hello. "You might get turned away," he says, "but at least you'll get the contact you need. Plus, you might get a full story about availability."
Understand Market Rate
Supply and demand aren't only applicable to the housing market. The wedding industry is also facing the economic impact of labor shortages and the increased cost of raw materials. "Wedding industry demand is causing an increase in pricing," explains Cove. "There is less labor and more demand all at once. Items like wood have risen three times their regular prices post-pandemic."
In other words, be prepared for pricing that's incrementally higher than averages. It's also worth remembering that average costs, even in standard markets, vary according to guest count, location, venue type and other factors. "My only advice for the price increases is to prioritize the 'must-haves' for your wedding," says Cove. "That way, you don't end up over budget."
Some couples feel so pressured to secure a vendor that they will rapidly read through their contracts without cautiously reading through the legally binding agreement. "Stress and anxiety lead to mistakes on contracts," explains Cove. "For example, booking a venue that is too small for your wedding or that has a noise ordinance that is too early for what you are thinking [beyond your wedding timeline]." Work closely with your vendors and, if necessary, hire a lawyer or ask your planner to read through your contracts to fully grasp both ends of the agreement.
Hire a Pro
If you truly feel burdened about planning and you're unable to move forward, perhaps now is the time to invest in a full-service wedding planner. A seasoned pro will help you with even seemingly the most gargantuan of tasks while infusing excitement along the way. A planner will help secure key vendors, execute your dream vision, and even troubleshoot issues along the way. They often serve as confidants throughout the engagement process and they're wired to get things done.
"People are stressed out, which is the saddest thing. This is the happiest time of their lives," Russo reflects. "Even for those who don't want a big wedding, it still adds more layers to navigate." It's worth turning to a professional to help you overcome the planxiety.
Prioritize Your Relationship
During this time, your relationship should be a safe space. If you and your partner are feeling planxiety, seek ways to bond beyond your checklist. "Do something together that you wouldn't typically do, but to do this as a couple," says Russo. "Joint activities that relieve [wedding planning] stress include yoga, tai chi, massages and dance lessons… Or enjoy a staycation or day trip somewhere."
How to Emotionally Address Planxiety
Dr. Heitler, author of Prescriptions Without Pills: For Relief from Depression, Anger, Anxiety and More, offers several tactics to first address the anxious sentiment you may be facing around wedding planning. It starts with setting aside time to comfortably face the root cause of your concern. It's often not the wedding task that's causing anxiety, but deeper insecurities or issues.
"Close your eyes and picture where in your body you feel the anxiety," she suggests. "Notice the size, shape and color of the anxious place. Rate the intensity of the anxiety from 0, no anxiety, to 10, overwhelming." From there, you'll envision an "anxiety dump" where you unload your sources of stress and tension. It could be the wedding budget, family dynamics or communication with guests. "Open your eyes so you can write a list," Dr. Heitler continues. "Jot down or type a list of each thought that makes or feeds the anxiety. Especially note any thoughts that make the anxiety worse. Number each item as you go, with a rating per each anxiety-producing thought."
Once you've located each issue, you'll then want to address the full planxiety list, one bullet point at a time. "Come up with a plan of action. It could be where to get information to help you [tackle] that particular problem. Another option is to come up with a potential calming solution for that one specific dilemma," she explains. "Then, move onto the next item on the list, tackling each concern one by one. Eventually, you'll have a plan of action for each."
This isn't to say all your concerns will dissipate at once. It's important to return to any anxiety-producing feelings or thoughts throughout the planning process. "Focus on anxious feelings in your body that can help lead you to the underlying concern, which then can again lead to finding pathways to solutions," she concludes. "Address those concerns with a similar problem-solving or at least information-gathering plan of action. 'Rinse and repeat' as often as needed."