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7 Ways to Reduce Wedding-Planning Stress, from a Meditation Expert

If you find yourself feeling overly stressed as your wedding date nears, check out these tips Headspace's meditation expert.

couple sitting side by side on bed and meditating
Prostock Studio/Shutterstock

couple sitting side by side on bed and meditating
Prostock Studio/Shutterstock

If you’re planning a wedding right now, you’re probably pretty familiar with wedding-planning stress. The COVID pandemic has taken anxiety to the next level—according to the WeddingWire Newlywed Report, the most common sentiments while planning among couples who originally planned to marry in 2020 include stress (58%), uncertain (54%), and overwhelmed (47%). Clearly, it’s a trying time for engaged couples.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat wedding-planning stress—and you can absolutely fit these techniques into your busy schedule. We asked Eve Lewis Prieto, Director of Meditation at Headspace, to provide advice on how to stay calm during the most stressful parts of wedding planning. Here’s how to get started.

You’ve just started planning your wedding and are already feeling overwhelmed.
Try: A body scan exercise.

According to Prieto, when you're feeling overwhelmed, you can become unaware of your surroundings, how you’re behaving, or how your body is feeling. A body scan exercise can help bring the mind and body back into alignment. Here’s how it works:

  • Be seated or lie down for this exercise.
  • Take a few deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • As you follow the breath, bring your attention into your body—feeling the weight of your body pressing down, feet on the floor.
  • Starting at the top of your head gently scan down your body to your toes checking in with each part of your body. Notice how you physically feel — aches, pains, sensations, tension, or discomfort.

“In bringing our attention to the body and how you feel in the present moment, we bring mind and body in sync and we can let go of any tension of tightness in the body,” says Prieto. “This is a go-to of mine especially if I am having a stressful day, it also feels really good!”

You’re worried about sticking to your budget.
Try: Mindful communication

Creating and staying on top of your budget can be a major source of wedding-planning stress. Prieto suggests being honest and upfront with all of your stakeholders (people who are contributing financially to the wedding). “Mindful communication here is key,” she says. “It is often hard to talk about money even outside of planning a wedding so being really honest and upfront with each other from the start with what you can and can’t afford will really help the whole process… So often stress builds as we have different expectations of how something should unfold so sitting down and mindfully listening to each other’s point of view can help you come to a place that feels good for you both.” You can also use an online budget tool to help you keep track of your expenses. 

You’re dealing with guest list drama.
Try: Setting boundaries and cultivating compassion

The dreaded guest list—between you and your future spouse, your parents, and your in-laws, there’s bound to be some conflicts about who makes the cut. Prieto suggests setting boundaries early on in the process, telling your parents and in-laws upfront that you can only invite X number of guests due to budget constraints or your venue’s capacity. “If difficulties do arise try not to react in the moment; often tensions can be high and reacting in the moment can also fuel more difficult emotions,” says Prieto. “Pause, take a step back, and remind your family members of your guest list numbers and the boundaries you laid out for them. Doing this will help them to understand your unique needs and feelings. Whilst tensions can be high practicing meditation is a great way to cultivate more compassion and kindness not only to self but to others as well, knowing that everyone approaches things differently."

Family, in-law, or wedding-party drama is taking over your life.
Try: Meditation

Your mother-in-law hates your dress. Your mom is micromanaging. Your maid of honor has totally checked out. Family or friend drama can cause wedding-planning stress throughout your engagement. Prieto’s advice? Try meditation, especially if you haven’t done it before. “Meditation can help you keep perspective and be less reactive,” she says.“Rather than immediately getting upset when conflict arises within your family, try taking a deep breath, in through the nose and out through the mouth, slow deep breathing gets more oxygen flowing around the body and helps to activate the calming centers of the body so you can then respond with clarity and ease.

If you feel like you can’t sit still, Prieto recommends taking a mindful walk outside. “Take in the sights and sounds around you in nature and then return to the conversation,” she suggests. You could also try connecting with other loved ones, whether it be your future spouse, or other family members or friends, for additional support.

You’re feeling decision fatigue.
Try: Enjoying an activity you love and spacing out the decision making

There are so many decisions involved with wedding planning, from the major (“How do we keep our guests safe from COVID?”) to the minor (“Which appetizer should we serve?”). If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the decisions, Prieto recommends taking regular breaks, whether that means enjoying a favorite activity or exercising. "When you can, space out the decisions so you aren’t making too many big decisions in one go, and try where possible not to make a big decision right before you go to sleep,” says Prieto. “Instead, sleep on it and then look at it with fresh eyes.”

You’re having trouble staying organized.
Try: Taking things one step at a time and “noting”

If the to-do lists are becoming overwhelming, and you feel like you can’t keep up with it all, take a step back and focus n one task or one thought at a time. “There is a meditation technique called ‘noting’ that may be helpful in these circumstances,” Prieto says. “This technique involves specifically ‘noting’ what’s distracting the mind, to the extent that we are so caught up in a thought or emotion that we’ve lost our awareness of the breath (or whatever the object of focus is). We ‘note' the thought as ‘thinking’ or feeling as ‘feeling’ to restore awareness, create a bit of space, as a way of letting go, and to learn more about our thought patterns, tendencies, and conditioning.”

The COVID pandemic is causing uncertainty and stress.
Try: Reframe the situation as an opportunity.

“When we are faced with the unknown, it’s common for us to try to seek answers and certainty,” says Prieto. “Rather than feeling down that we don’t have all the answers, see it as an opportunity to be a little more open and accepting to new or different opportunities. This past year has shown us that so much can happen outside of our control. By letting go of certain expectations, we can allow ourselves a little more freedom in our minds and in our relationships.” 

You’re so stressed and can’t sleep.
Try: Put. The. Phone. Away. (And try a wind-down meditation.)

We all know that healthy sleep is absolutely critical for our general well-being. But when wedding-planning stress rears its head, getting that quality night’s sleep can feel virtually impossible. Prieto recommends putting down all devices before bedtime first and foremost. “Try creating a little wind-down ritual at least thirty minutes before going to sleep, that could be having a nice warm shower or bath, playing some relaxing music or try a wind down meditation,” she says. “This will help condition your mind and body to know when it’s time to let go of thoughts and sleep.”

The Headspace app can be super-helpful in this regard, especially Sleep by Headspace, a soothing bedtime experience. You’ll find Sleepcasts (like bedtime stories for grownups), sleep music, wind downs, soundscapes, and guided exercises to help ease your mind into restorative slumber.