Anxiety, Perfectionism, and the Average Bride
Updated: Jan 18
Whenever I'm asked how it is that I came to be a Wedding & Event Planner, I just smile sweetly and say something to the effect of, "Oh I've just always been really organized." And while yeah, that's not wrong, the much more accurate answer is really this:
"I'm a perpetually recovering perfectionist and this career path has given me the opportunity to harness those negative attributes and channel them- mold them- into something much more useful."
(See why I usually go with the first one?)
I was listening to Episode 52 of the Smartless podcast on my way to a job last summer as they interviewed Ryan Reynolds. Ryan (can I call him Ryan?) talked about how his father had been a "landmine of a person," and suggested that when you're dealing with the unpredictability of a landmine person (or other past personal trauma) you start continuously creating situations and scenarios in your head in which you try to predict the future.
It's exhausting work, predicting the future. And that exhaustion is compounded when the inevitability of it is this: you're just not always going to get it right.
So, what's a person to do when they struggle with anxiety, feel the need to achieve perfection, and also find themselves immersed in the world of wedding planning?! Let's get into it...
1. Give Your Mind a Break
Schedule time for your mind to be...empty. You may have just audibly scoffed when you read that, and I don't blame you one bit. It's so much easier said than done. Anxiety causes us to obsess, overanalyze, and overthink, right? Apply those principles to the anxiety of wedding planning and you're just out here obsessively consumed by your upcoming wedding on a daily, no, no....hourly basis. Having fun? Yeah...didn't think so.
If you're like me, I used to constantly fill my mind with noise. The more noise, the more productive, right? Umm, yeah...no. Do something that will take your mind out of that place of worry and into a place of quiet. Maybe it's meditation. Maybe it's a tough workout. Maybe it's a super engaging conversation with a friend over a cup of coffee. Whatever it is, you should walk away with the feeling of, "oh wow! That was refreshing! I was so engaged that I didn't even have time to worry." Now, Rinse and Repeat.
2. Have a (Manageable + Flexible) Plan
Go into the week with a plan. Write down (yes, physically write down on a paper planner) 2-3 things that you want to check off your Wedding Planning Checklist by the end of the week. (I also transfer everything into my virtual Asana project management software, as well. Just for the satisfaction of ticking off those To-Do buttons.) Why only 2-3 things per week? Because quite simply, you still have a life to live outside of wedding planning.
If you did 2-3 wedding-related things PER WEEK leading up to your wedding, I promise you, you'll be in way better shape than you think. You absolutely don't have to have it all done today (or even yesterday.) And here's the simple truth of it: If you hired good vendors, they'll know what info they need and when they need it...and they'll be in touch with YOU! Relinquish a little bit of control, friend.
3. Ask for Help
Delegate. Yep. The 8-letter word that anxiety-ridden, perfection-chasing people like you and me hate to hear. Why is that? Why are we more comfortable wallowing in our own anxiety about something not being perfect than actually just asking for help from someone? Well, this is your cue to stop. Stop acting like you can't do it all, and that no one else can do it, either. Maybe you hire someone like me, a Wedding Planner and Coordinator. Maybe you ask your best friend to help you out. Maybe you delegate a few tasks to your sister. Maybe, just maybe, you give your partner a Wedding To-Do List.
And it bears repeating, relinquish a bit of control, friend.
4. Embrace Imperfection
Breath it in, and let it go. Your girl has spent lots, and lots (and lots) of time practicing letting go and embracing imperfection. And truthfully? It's kind of fun. In like a naughty, What-If-I-Got-Caught-Not-Being-Perfect sort of way. (Hey, I never said I was cool.) If you can master the art of being able to say, "this isn't what I envisioned, but it is what it's supposed to be," you're going to set yourself up for success, not just in wedding planning, but in so many other aspects of life.
If something doesn't go the way you envisioned it would, it doesn't mean it's a failure. It just means that it was meant to go a different way. Things happen as they are supposed to happen, even if we don't understand the "why" in the moment. Check out our previous post, Sorry, Your Wedding Isn't Going to Go According to Plan for more on this.
5. Think Big Picture
Remember what your Wedding Day is actually about. It's not about what your frenemy thinks of your centerpieces, or what your ex thinks of the way you look in that dress (which, btw, is hot.)
Reminder: Your Wedding Day is actually just about the love between you and your partner. Literally. That's it.
Now, I'm not saying you don't deserve to have a beautiful, well-planned and wonderfully executed Wedding Day. I'm merely pointing out what other experts in the industry don't like to admit: we can't always predict the future. It's a losing game. Things might not always go the way we envisioned them to go, and when they don't, we're presented with a couple of options. We can either let it wreck us mentally and emotionally, use it as an excuse to lash out at loved ones, and throw ourselves into a pit of despair OR (and I highly recommend the “or” here) we can learn to harness that anxiety, those worries, and that fear, and we can shape it into something completely different and way more useful. We can turn what made us miserable into our power. We can practice mastering our anxiety and using it in a positive way to achieve our goals. And when it comes to wedding planning, we can try to remember that at the end of the day, all of the work we’re putting into planning is solely to celebrate the love between us and our partner.
x | k
Easing anxiety is a practice. Some days will be better than others. That's okay. If you find yourself struggling with severe mental and/or emotional trauma, intense feelings of anxiety, and/or other forms of distress, please consider seeking professional support. I am not a therapist. This blog post is not in any way intended to take the place of therapy or other forms of professional mental help. However, I can say from first-hand experience that there can be immense benefit from finding a trusted, licensed, well-reputed therapist. Here are some resources:
Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Local Therapy Service:Flourish Couples & Family Therapy