How to Practice Self-Care During Wedding Planning

“How is wedding planning going?” is both the most asked question I get these days and the most dreaded question I get these days. I don’t know how to answer it; usually, I choose to fake a huge smile and say something along the lines of, “oh, it’s not that bad!” Depending on the day, you might get a more honest and vulnerable response of, “eh, it’s just not my thing.”

self care during wedding planning

But the truth is, it’s in a grey area. There are plenty of fun and exciting parts to planning a wedding (hello, dessert tasting), but like many people, I don’t love making so many little decisions all the time – not to mention the stress of spending so much money on an industry that is, at best, a total racket that preys on fears of imperfection.

The problem with wedding planning, for me, is that it comes with way too many expectations.

Things I expect on my wedding day include, but are not limited to: looking like the best version of myself that has ever existed in both my real life and in dreams; having the best song playing at the perfect moment when walking down the aisle; crying a little bit – but only in a cute and loving way that doesn’t mess up my mascara; flawless photographs that do not show my awkward hand positioning or that little fatty area by my armpits; guests telling me several times over that it is the very best party they have ever been to in their entire lives; floral that is both over-the-top and very affordable; professionally written and performed speeches that have been practiced and perfected over the past several months; and everyone in attendance (even +1s we haven’t met) to feel incredibly moved.

Admittedly, I’ve never had a healthy relationship with expectations. Expectations get me into trouble. They make me forget to enjoy things as they are, to live in the now, and to appreciate what I have. I get anxious when I have expectations.

Despite this relationship with expectations, I’d claim I’m a pretty chill person most of the time. I have learned – mainly the hard way and through lots of time – that I am not in control of a lot of things. This realization has been good for me. When my friends started getting married, I told myself, “when I get married, I’m going to be a cool bride. I am not going to be so stressed. I don’t get what the big deal is.”

Well. I was wrong. This wedding stuff gets stressful for everyone. It doesn’t discriminate. The decisions, the (sometimes-way-too-involved) family and friend dynamics, the budgets, and the expectations – it’s a lot to manage.

Thankfully, the self-care movement is alive and here to stay. With that in mind, I’ve tried to come up with ways to incorporate self-care and mindfulness into this crazy mess of wedding planning over the next few months.

Here are some practical ways to incorporate self-care during the months leading up to the big day.

Feel your feelings.

It is okay to accept when you are stressed or upset. It is okay to admit how you are feeling and be aware of your emotions. There are no “right” or “wrong” emotions, they are states that happen to all of us. You can be stressed and upset here and there and still be a cool bride, I promise.

Drink water.

Listen, you’re going to want to drink some (maybe more than some) wine. And that’s totally okay to do. But you’re also going to (maybe) be freaking out about making sure you have perfect ~glowing~ skin on your big day. Before you shell out the big bucks on facial appointments, specialty treatments, or getting your face completely redone by some fancy schmancy dermatologist, may I suggest you have a glass of water? Stay hydrated, my friends. You’ll look great without all the fancy lasers and new creams*, I promise.

(*If these things make you feel good and are part of your self-care, don’t feel guilty about indulging a little, too. Still… drink the water, too.)

Work out to feel good

The double whammy of the new year and Facebook knowing I’m engaged has caused me to be inundated with advertisements telling me how I should feel about my body and why I need to sweat for the wedding. As Ashley reminds us, sweating for the wedding can be great, but it can also take over your life.

Kelly took an athlete’s approach to her wedding planning, reminding us to use exercise as a way to relieve stress and feel good. Sure, we all want to look good on our wedding day – but try to focus on exercise that makes you feel good physically (and mentally) instead of exercising out of pressure to look a certain way. Trust me, you’ll look good and you’ll be much happier if you have a positive relationship with exercise!

Eat foods that make you feel good, too.

I’m not saying to avoid pizza and donuts, because there will always be room for those in my life (and at my wedding). But I am saying that certain foods help make us feel our best, and we should be mindful about choosing foods that make us feel good.

There’s a lot to be said about intuitive eating on the internet (and on this site), and I think it’s a good (and mentally healthy) place to start for a bride-to-be.

Get some sleep.

Planning a wedding on top of whatever else you have going on in your life is very time-consuming, but make sure you make time for getting in your ZZZ’s. Finding it hard to sleep? Here are some tips we have on getting more shut-eye.

Limit your exposure.

Set aside certain days or times of the week as a safe-zone from all things wedding. There will always be more you could be doing, and you’ll feel behind at times, but make sure to give yourself planned time and space away from the wedding craziness.

While it’s nice to get ideas from Pinterest and Instagram, lately I’ve found myself logging in less and unfollowing (Konmari-ing?) a few of the wedding accounts and hashtags that no longer bring me joy. I highly suggest it.

Ask for help.

At ASweatLife, we live by the mantra that #everythingisbetterwithfriends, and this includes wedding planning tasks. Get your bridal party involved in helping with those seemingly tedious DIY projects, finding great vendors, taking your engagement photos, or helping with design ideas. If anyone in the bridal party recently got married, he or she may also be a great source for recommendations.

Consider premarital counseling ahead of the wedding

In many religious ceremonies, partners often go through premarital counseling as part of the process. In non-traditional ceremonies, prewedding counseling may not be mandated, but it is certainly still available. A quick internet search of “premarital counseling [city here]” or “couples counseling [city here]” should bring up local therapists available to you and your partner. This can be a good environment to talk through values, finances, and stressors (especially those that have come up during the planning process), and learn communication techniques that you can use now and take with you far beyond your wedding day.

Find planning resources that get you; ditch the bridal magazines.

When I first got engaged, I was given (very lovely, generous) gifts of traditional bridal magazines. While the pages were beautiful and displayed extravagant florals, designer wedding gowns dripping in sparkles, and impressive, multi-tiered cakes that looked more like art sculptures – most suggestions were way out of my price range and made me feel like my budget and taste was inadequate.

Trying to find something more my speed, I rented Wedding Planning for Dummies from the library, only to find an author who was interested in very formal and proper invitations (read: not my style) and ice bars (yes, bars made of ice). It felt outrageous to me.

Wedding websites like The Knot can be very helpful, but also staggering as they attempt to cater to every type of bride, and every article feels a bit like an advertisement (because every article kind of is an advertisement). I realized that other places on the internet, such as Budget Savvy Bride, were more targeted towards my style and the functional guidance I was looking for.

As you are looking to hone in on the resources that work best for you, I’d do some Googling and ask around your friend group and those who know you best. Several recently married friends recommended the BrideChilla podcast, and I’m a huge fan. It’s practical, open-minded, and speaks to a wide audience of brides and grooms. The host also has a lovely accent and throws in a few cuss words now and then, which I appreciate greatly. This pack of wedding planning books in a colorful tote bag is my new favorite gift idea for newly engaged couples.


How did/do you use self-care in wedding planning? Share your wealth of knowledge in the comments with us!

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About Cass Gunderson

Cass hails from the southwest suburbs as a proud White Sox fan and a graduate of University of Illinois. By day, Cass is a full-time student at the University of Chicago's Booth Graduate Business School. Before deciding to throw away all her money to go back to school, Cass worked for a private equity firm that buys technology companies. Raised as the youngest in a family of older brothers, Cass grew up a tomboy and remains active in sports. To her mother’s satisfaction, Cass learned how to embrace her feminine side in college and has developed an interest for fitness activities that require spandex as opposed to knee-length basketball shorts. In her spare time, she runs a lot because it is cheaper than paying for real therapy. Cass has completed four marathons and one ultramarathon (she claims she'll never do this to herself again, but that's TBD). She can still be found on the basketball courts in Lincoln Park wearing knee-length basketball shorts.