Wedding Planning Stress? Experts Weigh In on How to Enjoy the Experience

Wedding Planning Stress? Experts Weigh In on How to Enjoy the Experience

Planning for the big day can be fun, too.

Marriage and family therapist Yeshiva Davis has a made up word for that feeling you get when planning a wedding: “nercited.” It’s a combination of nervous and excited, and it’s a feeling that she says comes naturally when you’re embarking on something new and unknown, and you’re looking to the future. However, there is a difference between feeling “nercited” and totally stressed out.


Experts advise that when those feelings of stress and anxiety begin to disrupt your everyday life, that’s when you know it has gone from healthy butterflies to something damaging. Telltale signs that you’ve reached this point include sleeping poorly, fighting with your partner, having a short fuse, drinking or eating more, skin rashes, and feeling paralyzed to make any decisions. That’s not what you want when you’re about to host a wedding.


Darryl Moore of D’Concierge Weddings has been a full-time professional wedding planner for eight years—though he’s been planning since 2002 when his own mom got married. In the almost 20 years since he got into the wedding business, he says social media and the internet have changed the space. He calls it a double-edged sword. On one hand, there are tons of resources and helpful sites out there now for couples. But, on the other, there’s a lot of pressure that comes with social media and living up to the expectations you see on your Instagram feed, especially when you’re working within a budget. This is a top stressor for couples, he says.


Budget was a stressor when Sheana Tobey, a licensed clinical professional counselor, planned her wedding earlier this year, but she says COVID was the main challenge. “Our top most stressor was throwing a safe event, which for us, meant changing our wedding date three times and having three different plans for what the event would look like. It also meant decreasing our guest list. That was sad and challenging to do,” she shares.


Wedding planning can be inherently challenging and stressful, which can affect your relationship with your partner and family and friends. “I have worked with clients for premarital work and when wedding planning happens they come back,” shares Davis.


But, at the end of the day, it’s supposed to be a happy and fun time to celebrate the loveyou and your partner share. To help remember that while navigating the stress, wedding experts and therapists offer some words of advice.

Set a Realistic Budget  

“All those things you see on Instagram—beautiful flowers on the ceiling and custom glassware—can cost thousands of dollars. You might think you can have that Kim K wedding look for $15,000, but you can’t,” says Moore. 

Those harsh but true words are something he says he has to often tell his clients who come in with expectations they see online that far exceed their budget. The problem is not knowing how much things actually cost, he says. Fresh flowers, for example, can be a lot more money than people realize. That’s why he advises that the budget be the number one thing that is sorted out. “Sit down and understand what the aesthetic is and vision for your wedding and what’s a realistic budget. A planner can help you decide where you can cut if you need to,” he says. 

Prioritize What’s Important to You 

Experts agree that a good strategy when it comes to setting priorities is for each person in the couple to write down the things that are most important to them in the wedding process—flowers, food, wedding gown, photographer, venue etc. Any elements that don’t align will be areas where compromises and agreements will have to be reached. Moore advises couples give themselves nine months to a year for planning and start with the “big ticket items” first, which he says are venue, photographer, flowers, and menu. “Everything else will fall into place” after you’ve booked and set a dollar amount to those expensive items, he says. 


“Don’t try and do the impossible; focus on things that are really important to you and partner—the must-haves,” adds Davis. “If the dress and food are most important, maybe you don’t have the hydrangeas. Don’t sweat the small stuff.”


Moore also stresses that it’s important to spend your money on things that bring you joy rather than on things you think you “should” have. For example, one of his couples had apple pie at their wedding instead of cake because that’s the dessert they love. “Why spend money on something you don’t enjoy? Create something that shows your individuality,” he advises. When I got married it was all about how me and my husband would entertain at home—how we would have welcomed guests.”


Tobey agrees that a wedding should align with the couple’s values and individuality. “A wedding or commitment ceremony can look all kinds of ways—give yourself space to make it your own where you can,” she says. 


Don’t Strive For Perfection and Have a Plan B 

They say nobody’s perfect, and the same goes for weddings. Experts agree that perfection is impossible to achieve. And, Davis says it’s also unnecessary. “Good enough is good enough,” she says. “Also, remember that guests aren’t paying nearly as much attention to the details as you are,” adds Tobey. 


So, when planning your wedding, try and remember not to “sweat the small stuff,” as Davis says. One strategy for this, says Davis, is to always have a plan B so you have peace of mind if things don’t go as expected—or when they don’t go as expected. “Things will go wrong, that’s just the nature of living and the nature of life,” says Davis. 


Tobey encourages couples to be open and flexible to pivots, as she had to with her own wedding. “Take it all just a little less seriously,” she says. “It can be easy to get caught up in feeling as though we need to create the ‘perfect image; of a day or moment to post on social media. When in reality, a ‘perfect image’ I use that term loosely as there is no such thing as perfection—is one that reminds you of the way you felt on the day and the love and joy that was shared between you and the people you were with.”


Simplify Your Menu 

“You can’t please everyone and you’re not supposed to,” Davis reminds couples. Part of this means not worrying so much about everyone’s dietary preferences and needs. Ashlee recommends having a meat, fish, and vegan option to cover your bases, but outside of that she says to focus on what you like and what’s in your budget. For Moore’s wedding, he shares, “We had this amazing chicken dish in New Orleans and I was like ‘everyone in the world should try it,’ and I brought a chef in to make it. If you didn’t like it, I don’t care.”



To minimize stress, Ashlee is seeing some couples serving a plate with multiple protein options at once, that way people can just eat what they want. She is also seeing a move towards protein and vegetables being the stars of the plates while starches have been minimized, usually to a puree style underneath the rest of the dish. 


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