Good afternoon gorgeous wedding blog readers – I’m here today with my planning hat on and sharing the latest feature in my wedding planning series. Before I do, I just wanted to say a huge and heartfelt thank you for all of your wonderful comments and feedback about this beautiful real marquee wedding in Surrey that graced these very pages last week. It really does mean so much to me that you loved this wedding as much as I did and that the incredible team of suppliers involved got the credit, recognition and social media love that they undoubtedly deserved. Anyhoo, enough about me, let’s get on to the matter in hand as today, I’m going to be talking about pre-wedding blues. Yep, you did read that right – pre-wedding blues.
The whole idea of feeling down after your big day is well known and often talked about (it’s something I’ve spoken about several times here on Love My Dress and I’ve even written a feature about how to beat / avoid it on Coco Wedding Venues). However, we don’t talk anywhere near enough about the fact that it’s just as easy to feel sad, lost, hurt, confused, alone and unhappy when you’re planning your wedding too. Well, today we are going to talk about it and I hope that if you’ve been struggling with any of the areas I’m going to discuss, that this feature helps you out, even if it’s just a little bit.
If you’re in love, engaged and planning a wedding, you should be blissfully happy, right? Well, no actually.
Planning a wedding can not only be a busy, stressful and emotional time, it can also create financial pressures, family tensions and a list of to-dos that can seem both daunting and endless. There’s also the understandable urge and increasing pressure to create a picture-perfect day so no wonder pre-wedding blues can, do and will strike.
If this, in any way, explains how you feel then let me say two things here and now. Firstly, please please please be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up and instead focus on the big picture – someone loves you and wants to marry you. Secondly, pre-wedding blues cannot and do not in any way jinx your wedding day or your marriage and they’re far more common that you might think. Please believe me, you’re definitely not alone and you’ve absolutely got this.
Now we’ve got that little pep talk out of the way, I’m going to run through a few of the things that can sometimes lead to the onset of pre-wedding blues and hopefully, I can give you a few strategies that can steer you straight through the downs and back to the ups as soon as possible.
- Wedding party woes – Choosing who to invite to join your wedding party can be a decision that’s fraught with stress. With friends and family members jockeying for the prime jobs and you and your partner wondering who’ll be best for each of the roles without causing upset or offense, it’s a tricky time. The best thing to do is not to worry about what your best man, ushers or bridesmaids should be doing but instead concentrate on what they can In recent years, we’ve been very good at shaking up traditions in weddings but we’re still so set on what each member of the wedding party does. Instead, start with a fresh piece of paper, decide who you want (note the word want, not should have) by your side and then allocate jobs accordingly. You didn’t chose friends at school because one day they’d make a great bridesmaid so choose the person and then tailor their role. This is the best way to avoid issues where someone in the wedding party isn’t doing what you expect them to be doing. However, if you’re already at that stage, a chat with the person in question sooner rather than later is the best plan of action and will avoid things bubbling up and even being blown out of proportion. It might well be a simple case of miscommunication or misunderstanding that a non-confrontational conversation can clear up.
- Guest list stress – If this is one of your pre-wedding blues then I know exactly how you feel. From the perennial issue of the ‘plus one’ and the question or whether or not to invite children to the slow rate of RSVPs and last minute drop-outs, guests can and somehow always do make wedding planning so much harder than it needs to be. My advice here is to firstly remember that it is YOUR wedding so invite the guests YOU want to invite and secondly, be as clear and as consistent as possible. If you’ve decided no plus ones or guests under five years old, then that rule needs to apply to all of your guests (with the slight exception of your immediate family and wedding party). Making the odd exception is likely to create bad feeling amongst guests and therefore stress for you as a result. When it comes to RSVPs, make sure that your RSVP date is at least a couple of weeks before you need to give final numbers to your venue or caterers (for me personally, I always allow a buffer of at least a month with my clients and their guests). This will then give you enough time to invite the b-list (!) and chase any late responders without worrying that you’re keeping suppliers waiting. I’d also urge you not to invite more guests than you can accommodate. Assuming that some guests won’t accept your invitation is a risky business and when all the acceptances are rolling in, knowing that you’re going above capacity will not be a calming thought.
- RSVP dramas – This can be one of the biggest sources of planning stress for many couples. You send out your invitations and then… no reply. Or you get a reply but your thoughtful guests haven’t completed the RSVP card properly so you don’t know their dietary requirements or the name of their partner or they’ve added in the name of someone else they’re bringing with them who wasn’t invited anyway (joyously ALL of the above happened to me when I planned my own wedding!). Alternatively / additionally, your RSVP date arrives, and passes, and a number of potential guests still haven’t replied (once again this happened to me, even though I’d included pre-stamped RSVP cards and a wedding website for any guests that didn’t have the time to find a post box!). My best advice here is not to take anything personally. With the very best will in the world, while your wedding is uppermost in your mind, your guests have their own thoughts, lives and priorities. Most people don’t reply not because they don’t care or don’t want to come (in fact, most people who know they can’t come will reply straight away) but instead their tardiness is more likely to be down to the fact that your invitation was received, appreciated and then set down / aside to be temporarily forgotten about. Life gets in the way and I’m sure we’re all a little guilty of deciding to ‘do that later’. If you’re waiting for replies, a quick reminder text ahead of the cut-off date will give guests a chance to reply in time. If replies aren’t clear or there are other issues, contact the guest in question straight away. You’ve invited people that you know so nothing should be insurmountable. The worst thing to do is to do nothing at all and let the matter fester!
- Supplier issues – I’ve written several features about selecting the right suppliers and working with them to get the best for your wedding. For the best relationships with your suppliers, then open, honest and timely communication is the way forward. If there’s something you’re not sure about or something you’re not happy about, address the issue as soon as possible with the supplier in question. Do however be realistic in your expectations. You aren’t their only client and suppliers can be out and about at meetings and working at weddings so there might well be occasions when they can’t take your call or answer your emails straight away. Of course, if you always seem to be struggling to get in touch with a supplier then listen to your gut as you might well have a point! If you find that you’re changing your mind about one of your chosen wedding professionals, for whatever reason, then do speak to them, however hard that might be. Clearing the air is always the best policy as waiting and not making a decision will only raise your stress levels.
- Dress dilemmas – I can’t think of any clothing purchase we make in our lives that is more complicated! I don’t mean complicated in terms of the actual process itself but rather it’s complicated because buying your wedding dress is wrapped up with all kinds of emotion. But you can make it easier on yourself. Check out the boutiques that you’re going to visit so you know that the gowns they stock will be in your price range. Don’t take too many people with you, two trustworthy confidants are more than enough. Ask questions up front about alteration costs, timescales and anything else that’s been bothering you. Stop yourself from taking photos of yourself in ‘the dress’ (these are NEVER the most flattering photos) and once you’ve found the one and placed your order, STOP LOOKING!!! Most dress wobbles are caused by overthinking the decision so once it’s made, do try to move on. That said, if you’re not loving your dress, this feature is an invaluable read.
- Money worries – Weddings can be expensive and finding the money to pay for everything when the invoices start rolling in can definitely be a catalyst for pre-wedding blues. This is why it is so absolutely crucial that you set your wedding budget early on in the planning process, apportion your funds and stick to your budget. Remember that overspending, even just a little, in a few areas will mean that you need to address spending elsewhere or you’ll be left having to find more money than you thought was feasible. Including a 10-15% contingency in your budget will give you some breathing space and keeping track on all the payments due will help you avoid any nasty surprises. It’s also unbelievably important to be frank with your suppliers about your budget from the outset. Going too far down a path with someone that you know you can’t really afford isn’t fair on you or the supplier and will certainly create anxiety. So, it’s time to be totally un-British and start talking about money!
- Juggling wedding planning with life – Let’s be honest, all of us are pretty guilty of cramming our lives with too many things at the best of times and then adding in the job of planning a wedding on top of all of this is sure to create an issue or two. The best and simplest fix to feeling swamped is to get organised. Keeping on top of emails, budgets and paperwork is essential to avoid missing things or letting a huge pile of wedmin overtake you. Taking an ostrich approach to deadlines or queries will not solve anything and will, in fact, create more emails, more calls and more stress. If you can get everything in order and be sure where you are with every aspect of your planning, then you’ll still be able to live your life. Don’t cut back on time with friends and family, don’t dump clubs and hobbies and please don’t let planning get you into trouble at work because that certainly will create even more serious problems.
- Wondering if you’re doing the right thing – Those pre-wedding wobbles when you wake in the night, wondering whether getting married is a good idea, is the most serious form of pre-wedding blues but also more common than you might think. It’s also completely understandable because marriage is a big deal and seeing it in this light is actually really helpful. In most cases, this is a natural reaction to planning pressures and the impending life transition. Of course, persistent niggles in this area might need some more careful consideration so with this one, I’m going to have to trust you to find someone you love to talk to. I would just say a few things – marriage is not a magic wand that automatically fixes issues in your relationship but wedding planning can make people behave uncharacteristically. Only you know where you are with this one I’m afraid so please be gentle on yourself.
So, there you have it and I hope that there’s something in this feature that’s helpful. Even though it’s been four years since my wedding, I still remember how all of this can feel and how overwhelming it can be. I was so anxious about the thought that things wouldn’t be perfect and that my guests had such high expectations for my wedding that in the final few weeks I resorted to white wine to help me sleep. Yes, it worked but in hindsight it probably wasn’t the best solution. I also took up running to clear my mind and whilst that’s better than quaffing white wine, it still wasn’t a solution to the underlying cause. What I’m trying to say here is that you’re not alone and if you have the time then please don’t follow my example as covering up or ignoring feelings isn’t necessarily the best solution.
If you’ve got something bubbling away or something that’s giving you a touch of the blues, then I can heartily recommend the closed Love My Dress Facebook group. I’ve never come across such a supportive, non-judgemental and helpful group and everyone is welcome. Do post your queries, questions and problems and you can be sure that you’ll get great advice from others who are in a similar situation.
In the meantime, look after yourself and have a lovely (un-blue!) Easter.
Katrina Otter is a national award-winning wedding planner who specialises in beautiful, timeless and minimalist luxe weddings throughout the UK. Katrina is a regular contributor to Love My Dress, the resident wedding planner for Coco Wedding Venues and co-founder of Coco & Kat, a creative consultancy for wedding venues and beyond. Visit her webpage at katrinaotterweddings.co.uk.