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How wedding planning impacted my mental health

22 Jun 2022

Norwich make-up artist Hollie Neve shares her mental health journey while wedding planning and offers her advice for brides-to-be

Have you ever had a morning where you’ve woken up and wanted to stay in bed because you just can’t face the the day? What if that was your wedding day?

Generally speaking, when it comes to our wedding day, we hope for things such as good weather, to have reached our goal weight so our perfect dress fits perfectly, no one laughs if we make a mistake during our vows, everyone appreciates all the effort we’ve put in, the list goes on…

But do we ever consciously wish for a good state of inner peace and wellbeing? No. Should we? Yes. If you read the list above, all of those points are underpinned by a state of anxiety, pressure and stress.

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Weddings are a happy occasion, right? Yes, of course, but it truly is okay to allow yourself to feel emotions other than ecstatic joy and happiness when you think about your wedding. Low mood, anxiety, fear and even grief under some circumstances are all not only valid, but also very common feelings that couples may endure.

For example, I am, by nature, a very anxious person and always have been. Planning ahead makes me especially anxious. I hate it when people wish me a happy new year. I hate booking a dental appointment six months ahead. I hate booking holidays in advance. All down to my anxiety and ultimately the fear of death. It sounds extreme but is very often the driving force behind anxious thinking. So booking a wedding two and a half years down the line was something that felt a little uneasy for me.

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What I learned while planning our wedding is that you have to be prepared for change and not be too rigid on having things go exactly to plan. If you can manage to relinquish some control, then in turn your feelings of stress should lessen and you’ll do just fine.

I’m a perfectionist so putting hours and hours of effort into planning made sense to me. However, I can assure you (and what I often say to brides to try and reassure them too) is that all the teeny, tiny details that you may worry and stress incessantly about really do pale into insignificance on your wedding day once you’re surrounded by the love of your other half and all the guests you care deeply about.

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Speaking of guests, I fully appreciate how difficult family dynamics can be; that subject can be brutal. From distant family members demanding an invite, to that one person you just don’t like who your partner says is a definite ‘yes’ to attending the entire day. It’s hard.

Luckily, my husband Chris and I agreed on our guest list but believe me there were a few disgruntled people that I had honest conversations with to explain why they weren’t welcome to our wedding. It seems a little cowardly but I could only manage these conversations via messaging... but you know what, that’s OK. Their previous thoughtlessness and hurt towards me didn’t warrant my face to face time anyway.

I had a motto which was: ‘I don’t want anyone at our wedding that doesn’t make us happy’ and I stuck to that. It’s amazing how much happier and in control I felt.

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Planning a wedding, they say, can be as stressful as buying a house or going through a divorce. This seems ironic, doesn’t it?! The pressure of planning the ‘happiest day of your life’ could, in the lead up, make you feel downright miserable?

I’m a perfectionist, so I found the pressure of planning our wedding to be exhilarating and exhausting in fairly equal measure, and it’s the same when I’m creating make-up looks for brides and their bridal parties under strict time constraints on their wedding day. It’s so exciting but I’m definitely ready to set my brushes down and take a breath once I’m finished. I’m sure any make-up artist would tell you the same. 

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If you start feeling that the pressure of wedding planning becomes too much to bear and it creates a stressful state of mind, which starts overflowing into other areas of your life, then it may become an issue. Ask yourself: are your stress levels manageable? If the answer is no, then it’s certainly worth considering seeking some support. Maybe talk about your feelings with your partner, someone close to you (who isn’t likely to pass judgment), or perhaps your GP who may be able to signpost you further if necessary.

Whether this is your first wedding or you’ve been married before, I’m fairly certain that you feel your partner is the one. So just remember the abundance of love you have for each other, which is the very reason you’re getting married in the first place. Communication and compromise are key; both will set the tone for a happy wedding day, and ultimately for a strong marriage where it's okay to talk openly and honestly about how you’re feeling, for better or worse.

Images: Sarah Kingston Photography

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