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Everything I Wish I'd Known About Planning A Wedding With Anxiety

As if weddings weren't stressful enough, planning one when you have chronic anxiety can feel like walking through a minefield.

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"Have you thought about a date?" "How many bridesmaids are you having?" "Are you having an engagement party?"

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There I was: I'd hardly had a chance to give a resounding "yes!" to my boyfriend's proposal, and the questions just started rolling in.

As I tried to answer, like a deer in the headlights, surrounded by my excited friends, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed about discussing my wedding plans. I mean, who wouldn't – there are a lot of things to juggle! As evidenced by any of the hundreds of wedding-themed reality shows out there, it's an incredibly stressful and overwhelming time for most people.

And then there's me: I live with chronic anxiety, which has made organising a wedding even trickier. As anyone who's dealt with anxiety knows, it's incredibly helpful to be prepared, and there's a few things I wish I'd known from the start.

1. As wonderful and exciting as it is, getting engaged can also fuel a lot of worrying.

From the minute we got engaged, I started worrying about things I really didn't need to worry about, much to the detriment of my poor fiancé. Some things were vaguely relevant, others completely ridiculous really.

For instance, I spent the first few post-engagement hours worrying that my best friend would be upset – she was away on a romantic holiday, and I was sure she would be getting engaged too.

All I could think about was that she'd be disappointed that I'd stolen her thunder. Of course I was completely wrong to worry, as I so often am. She was thrilled for me (she's a lovely human), and in fact got engaged the following week, and I was equally thrilled. Looking back, I can't believe that was what consumed my mind on one of the most memorable days of my life. But unfortunately I find it hard to think reasonably at the best of times.

Luckily (or I suppose obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be marrying him), my partner is more than used to my worrying. He often says he can see the cogs turning in my mind. But he understands.

It must be difficult when you've just popped the question and all your new fiancé can think about is friendship woes that don't even exist. I suppose deep down, although happy and loved, I felt really overwhelmed.

2. It can be hard to be positive about The Big Day.

I've always despised being the centre of attention. As a child I'd be adamant that no one could sing me "Happy Birthday", I dread moving jobs in case of any leaving-do fuss, and I kind of hate opening presents in front of people. Clearly I have a problem with group celebrations.

Despite my intense shyness at walking down the aisle, posing for photos, and dancing the first dance with my new husband, nothing causes me more anxiety than the prospect of the speeches. My beloved dad – kind, generous, mad as a box of frogs – is bound to embarrass me in more ways than one, as I'm sure countless fathers of the bride have done in the past. Why this fills me with such intense dread I have no idea. I've already analysed at length how many potential kill-me-now moments the best man's speech will involve – add in the hundred or so guests who will be watching and you've pretty much got my worst nightmare.

The funny thing is, I'll probably be fine on the day. As I said, it's more the prospect of things that gets me fretting. Past experience has proven that my worries are usually unfounded and everything really will be okay – but unfortunately you can't really tell an anxious person to just stop worrying.

3. It's tempting to put off wedding planning rather than deal with it.

Having got engaged in October, I decided straight away that I wouldn't even think about planning until at least the new year. If I'm honest, deep down I was allowing myself to get excited about venues, dates, and bridesmaids – but the anxious side of me didn't want to get bogged down so soon.

If anyone asked me about our wedding plans I would immediately get defensive and end the conversation as quickly as possible. Because I wanted our wedding to be as relaxed and informal as it could be, I suppose I thought playing it down was the best thing to do.

Even on a celebratory night out with my best friends, I worried that I wasn't acting as "happy" as a bride-to-be should – and as my best friend and engagement twin beamed with joy, I tried my best to play down my news.

I hate the idea that I probably seemed a bit miserable during that period – but at the time, not dealing with the problem was preferable to getting bogged down in the planning, and, even worse, becoming the unavoidable centre of attention with nowhere to hide when it all got to be too much.


4. And once you do get started, it can be predictably overwhelming.

On top of suffering with anxiety and OCD, I am hugely indecisive. It's a frustrating trait to have, particularly with wedding planning, because there are just so many choices. Where to have the ceremony, what type of venue we should choose, how many bridesmaids, how much should we spend, who should we invite, when we should have it – these are all general decisions you have to make when planning a wedding.

For me, it often feels too much. Even in everyday life, I can spend days agonising over things that don't even really matter, worrying that I've made the wrong decision. It was no different when it came to wedding planning: After deciding on an outdoor ceremony – subject to sunshine – I spent a whole afternoon fretting about how upset I'd be if it rained, despite the fact I have no control over it.

While the most common advice I get about wedding planning is to do it on your own terms and not to worry about anyone else, I find myself constantly worrying what other people think and how my decisions affect them. Who will I upset if I don't choose them as a bridesmaid? What music will everyone enjoy?

I have to remind myself that it doesn't really matter. When I look back and remember the things I've fretted about during this process, I can't believe I wasted my time over it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing when it comes to anxiety, as I've said before.

5. You wonder whether you should plan your wedding around your anxiety.

Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed

The thing is, a big part of me wants that beautiful wedding that my Pinterest-fuelled dreams are made of. And yet the other part of me tells me not to do anything too fancy – I'll be overwhelmed. What if I have a panic attack? What if everyone hates what I've organised for them?

Early on, we decided we'd love to hold our wedding reception in a converted barn, so we found the ideal place and booked it earlier this year. But since then I've wondered if I should cancel it all and opt for something much smaller, to take off the pressure and keep it more casual. That decision in itself caused me a great deal of anxiety.

Then there's the part of me that would happily run away and get married in an intimate ceremony for two if I could. Surely everyone would love to do that if they feasibly could? Or is that just me?!

Over time I've learned that all I can do is choose something that suits us both as a couple – which is a happy, relaxed celebration with our family and close friends. I have to remember that being surrounded by people, when they are people that you love and love you, is one of the best things in life, not the worst.

6. There's a lot of second-guessing involved.

Terri Pous / BuzzFeed

Why am I worrying? Have I chosen the wrong thing? Am I being too extravagant? Am I being difficult? I constantly second-guess myself.

The trouble is, I never know if what I'm worried about actually is something to worry about or just my mind making things 10 times worse. Am I ridiculous for agonising over whether we should have an outdoor ceremony or not? Possibly. Am I worrying far too much about what other people think? Most likely. Am I wasting time worrying about something that's supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life? Definitely.

That's the thing – once I'm over whatever it is, I get so annoyed with myself. I don't want a fuss over the wedding, yet I'M THE ONE FUSSING OVER THE WEDDING!

Often, I'll feel terrible for not feeling happier about it when it's supposed to be one of the best days of my life. But the worry comes in waves – sometimes I'm so calm, and excited, then others I feel so stressed about it I just want to call the whole thing off (I can be very dramatic).

7. But the most important thing is taking care of yourself and your relationship.

I should probably stress at this point that the idea of spending the rest of my life with my partner has never once scared me. I can't wait to marry him and call him my husband. The most frustrating part of it all is that I know I'm getting worked up over one day in our lives. In the grand scheme of everything doesn't really matter. I just wish I could enjoy the process more.

And as a creative person, I really do love the idea of planning a day that's special, unique, and personal to us, that everyone can enjoy and be a part of. So really, I don't want to shrug it off as something that doesn't matter. Planning a wedding really is a lot of fun – I just forget that when I'm lost in worry.

Funnily enough, even writing this is therapeutic and pretty eye-opening – documenting your feelings and behaviour is actually really helpful. The last thing I want is for our wedding day and preparations to be marred by my issues. So I'm taking each decision as it comes.

No, I'm not the most willing bride at times – but I'm a willing wife, and I suppose that's the main thing.