How to Handle Wedding Planning Stress, According to Science

According to a Zola survey of 500 engaged or newlywed couples, most of you are freaking the eff out about wedding planning—96 percent of you. Having your stress level in overdrive is completely understandable—you still have your job, your family, your bills (you know, a life), plus, you’re spending a lot of money on a party for 120 of your nearest and dearest. No biggie, right?

According to the survey, 40 percent of couples categorized wedding planning as “extremely stressful” while 71 percent thought it was more nerve-wracking than other major life events like finding a new job. “It’s really not as much about the wedding planning as it is about what wedding planning and weddings represent,” explains wedding therapist, Landis Bejar, LMHC. “It’s a life transition for everyone involved, and with life transitions come identity shifts and a sense of loss of who you were before. Meanwhile, all this happens while everyone’s eyes are on you, you’re spending loads of money, and you’re expected to be the happiest you’ve ever been. The culmination of all these circumstances makes wedding planning a pressure cooker for stress, exacerbation of already-strained family dynamics, hurt feelings, and conflict.”

Before you go down the stress-out rabbit hole, there are easy ways to calm those nerves and enjoy this experience with your fiancé. We asked Bejar, meditation teacher Lynne Goldberg, and expert wedding planner Michelle Leo Cousins what you need to do to keep calm and plan on. Here’s what they had to say:


For 35 percent of the couples surveyed, it’s the details that are driving them the most cray. “Decide right now that if you’re going to nitpick every single detail, you’re going to be unhappy,” says Leo Cousins. “If you’ve got a great attitude about your wedding, you’re going to have a great day.”

To help keep things in perspective, prioritize the essentials—those things that are super important to making this your dream wedding. Then refer to your “must” list over and over during the planning process, so you don’t go down a spiral of DIY projects you saw on Pinterest or feel the need to constantly upgrade your flower arrangements. Repeatedly checking in with your initial goals will help you stay on track—and on budget.

“By putting a lot of those key pieces in place right at the very start of the planning process, you’re going to avoid a lot of stress down the road,” says Leo Cousins. “You’re going to avoid overspending on things you decided at the get-go weren’t that important.”


Parents are also the source of some major tension: 53 percent of couples said their parents are the biggest stress-causing culprit, while 33 percent said it’s their in-laws. If mom and dad are contributing to your wedding budget, they’ve bought themselves a say in the planning. Sit down with them right from the start and talk about your vision for the big day and hear what they have to say about the things that are important to them. Then find ways to compromise, so everyone is happy.

“Communication is everything!” says Bejar. “So many of family arguments come down to lack of or miscommunication—we assume people’s feelings and intentions, and we let them fester in our minds. Talking it through with that person almost always alleviates the stress [because] we’re often more aligned than we think, or things aren’t nearly as bad as our imagination would have us believe.” Getting your families on the same page right from the get-go is the best way to avoid butting heads when you’re in the thick of planning.

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