Thursday, February 18, 2010

Anxiety vs. Stress in Wedding Planning

Check out this bride to be:

Ever feel like you're going to end up like her?!?

I have been engaged for about 14 months now.  And the wedding is 56 days away!!!  But for 14 months, I have literally been planning, preparing, deciding, organizing, choosing, DIY'ing, ordering, assembling, eating, sleeping and breathing my (our) wedding!  I have had about 2 (maybe 3) wedding nightmares, nothing major...just things going wrong like the reception not being set up correctly or things getting left behind at home.  Nothing unusual or to worry about.

I have actually loved being engaged and planning my wedding.  I wouldn't change the length of my engagement for has been a relaxing, smooth, easy process.  Now of course in the final stretch, I am getting caught up with all the thoughts of all that must be done still.  Trying to keep my head on straight and stay on top of the to-do lists and such.  However, the past month or two, I have suddenly felt a huge amount of...well, something I can't put my finger on.

When people ask if I am excited about the wedding, I say "Of course."  And I am.  However, when I bring up that it's getting to be a little overwhelming, the first word out of their mouth is that I'm 'stressed.' 

I lovingly inform them that I am truly not stressed out about the wedding or all that is left to do.  I know that a lot of brides feel that way at the very end.  They rush to get things done and feel they've taken on too much.  They start throwing ideas and things out the window that they planned to do or incorporate for lack of time or patience to follow through with their dreams.  But not me, I already have the 200 favor boxes assembled and wrapped in their pretty bow with the tags on them.  I already have just about every purchase for our wedding day done and packed away in my house except for the candy favors.  Alterations are well under way and the RSVP's have been rolling in.  And I left myself plenty of time to call guests who forget to respond so I can still get the caterer the final numbers without feeling...well, stressed!

But what I am feeling...UGH!  I hate it.  As I mentioned way back here I am prone to fainting spells, light headedness, dizziness, and just overall feelings of nausea.  And that's what I've been feeling lately when I start to think about the wedding sometimes.  It's not *THE* wedding I'm worried about.  I think it's more the pressure of impressing everyone attending.  Or the fear of knowing all eyes will be on me.  Funny thing is, I am so *NOT* an introverted type person who doesn't like being in the spotlight.  Granted, I'm not a show off or a center of the stage type of gal either.  But I have always loved teaching people, talking to people, basically being up at the front of a class or on the stage of an auditorium sharing lessons or life experiences, etc.  So you'd think that this wedding thing should be a piece of cake for me.

So why the hell do I get so freaking anxious sometimes?  It's even gotten to the point where I went to my physician two weeks ago and asked him to prescribe me sleeping pills and Xanax 'just in case' I can't sleep the night before our wedding or I start to freak out come wedding day.  I have no intention of using them but knowing they are at my disposal is almost comforting. 

So what is it I am feeling?  Merriam Webster defines stress as:
A physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.

And MW defines anxiety as:
An abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it.

I definitely don't worry about things like whether we'll run out of food or if the flowers will arrive on time or if anyone will get embarassingly drunk.  I have most of the planning done and though I am a little overwhelmed and concerned that we may not get me and my daughter moved into Mr Fix It's house in the easy timeline we have set for ourselves pre-wedding, that is something we can always do/finish when we get back from the honeymoon if necessary.  I am not feeling fear about getting married or wondering if I am making the right choice...I have no cold feet or doubts about me and Mr Fix It. 

So what is it?  Am I anxious?  Am I stressed?  Or am I just feeling the normal things all brides feel at some point in their wedding process?  What are your thoughts?  Or what feelings have you been struggling with in working up to the big day?

I should mention that I do not feel this way all the time.  It's just brief moments that come up out of nowhere.


Em said...

Are you in my brain? And can we be friends? Because I always read your posts and find myself nodding in agreement the entire time.

I'm not stressed either (although for some reason everyone thinks I should be?) but I definitely have bouts of anxiety. Honestly, I force myself to push them aside. I have to or else I'd have a legit panic attack (it's happened once before, just not wedding-related). I think through them, figure out why I'm feeling that way, and figure out if it's really worth worrying about. Usually it isn't.

I think what you're feeling is totally normal and I think it's a good thing. The worst thing you could do is keep all of the emotions inside. When you *feel* your feelings, you're much better off. Bottling them up will only result in a HUGE crash at some point (trust me, not fun). But don't let them consume you.

It's gonna be ok, girlfriend. I promise.

SG said...

I can completely relate! I've been so tempted to go to the doctor to get some Xanax or something because my anxiety level has been out of control lately with wedding planning, work, money, life etc. I know the wedding will be beautiful but everytime I think about everything that is still left to do and making sure everyone is happy I start to freak out a bit. I'm having a love/hate relationship with planning right now.

You sound totally normal to me but from what I can tell you are in great shape with your planning so I'm sure everything will be wonderful.

PartyPlannerGal said...

I still have 8 months to go, but I think I'm going to feel the same way you do come crunch time. Not so much because I'm worried about getting everything done, but because the wedding is the big day that you have been planning for 14 months! It's a lot of work, even though it's fun, and it's normal to expect a big payoff. I think you're doing everything right, and you're so far ahead of the game, you deserve to sit back and relax a bit.

Rhonda said...

I think you're totally normal, but totally suggest you sit down and just freeflow journal (i.e. just start writing about what your feeling and see where it takes you.) Just be sure to address the real issues because meds alone will only be quick fix and mask the true feelings. I'd say even bring this up in your pre-marital sessions. And don't let people dismiss it away.

One more thing (then I'll hush...) do yourself a REAL favor. Do not take anything just prior to your wedding that you have never taken previously (just like we're told with make-up and hair products :-). Please don't ruin your wedding day/week/month because of unexpected side effects. It would be a terrible shame.

Born to be Mrs. Beever said...

Rhonda...thanks. I actually already know that :) I have horrible reactions to side drugs so I definitely would try something at least a month or so before the wedding to be sure. And I should clarify. I am definitely not trying to mask anything. I am not one of those people who believes medications can solve everything. I know that some people truly need them and I would never be so callous as to throw around their use without serious consideration. I just know that I have a tendency to feel super anxious and I am prone to fainting spells when I get super worked up mentally. So my doctor suggested that taking 1/2 a Xanax on the day of my wedding might be a good way to calm any nerves since I do not drink alcohol at wine to relax :) Anyway, thanks for the concern and advice. Great idea to bring up with the fiance. He already knows about this to some extent and is always there to 'catch me when I fall.'

Bicoastal Bride said...

I think it’s totally normal to feel this way at the end of the process, especially since you’ve put so much time and hard work into the wedding. When June gets here, I’ll have been engaged for 14 months, too, and I’ve loved every minute of it, including even the sometimes challenging aspects of wedding planning. But I think it’s important to try to let go of some of the pressure to impress everyone. I feel that way, too, sometimes. But I try to remind myself that my family and friends will be there and love the wedding no matter what, because they love us and just want to share the joy of the day. I think that once I can start to let go of some of those worries, it really helps me relax.

Chocolate Lover said...

I think this is all totally normal too. Not pleasant, but normal :) I think you can call it what you want, be it anxiety, stress, being overwhelmed, but at the end of the day I think its part of the bridal package. Sometimes when I think about our day I feel sooo excited, and then other times I get totally overwhelmed. And like you said, it has nothing to do with commitment or Mr. Milk, but more to do with how long this has taken to plan and the importance of the day. I think you were smart to get your prescription. At least you have it there if you need it. Hang in there lady! :)

very married said...

hahahaha! LOVE it the commercial. i think you're doing fab - nerves, stress, etc whatever you wanna call it - it's normal. it's a big step in life!

Morgan said...

I'm starting to feel the same way as you, and I still have a little less than 4 months to go! Thank you so much for posting this, I really like your take on it though, it's not stress, it's something else. And seemingly a pretty normal thing for brides to experience. Sending happy, anxiety-less vibes your way!

platothefish said...

My daughter got married recently and she stumbled across some great free guides to dealing with the stress of weddings. She got them at Just thought they might help. Good luck in 56 days time.

Mrs T said...

You are doing so well Stacey. These feelings are so normal. Don't let yourself worry about it too much. Just enjoy the last part of being a fiancee as best you can, and make sure to get the last minute things done well before the last minute (that was our biggest stress).

I have no doubt that come wedding day, you will be super chill bride!

Mrs T said...

P.s. That ad is hilarious

Davanie said...

Do you have something that you typically do when you're feeling a bit stressed/anxious? It might be good to figure out what works for you now so you'll know what you can do in the future when you need it. Ever try yoga? I think doing a few sun salutations with some deep breaths feels awesome and calming- or you can just stretch whatever feels good along with breathing in and out deep and long. It helps to bring you back into your body and out of your brain a little bit. Maybe a hot cup of peppermint tea while looking at old photos or letters. A walk in the woods or a park - things like that.
Glad to hear you don't typically rely on medication - so many are addictive and have unwanted effects.
Hope you can find something that works!

buhdoop said...

That video is freaking hilarious. I feel you on the anxiety/anxiousness about the wedding. I remember you saying a while ago that you were pretty zen. I think it's only normal to go through this anxious period.

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