Wedding planning can become stressful for a variety of reasons, including the merging of finances, visions, and opinions from family. “With so many decisions that need to be made, this is really the first major decision they will make regarding their future,” says marriage therapist Beverley Andre, LMFT of BeHeart Counseling Services. “Emotions are heightened, and with the ongoing strain to ensure their wedding aligns with their vision, couples will sometimes get lost in the business of wedding planning.”
So it makes sense that virtually every couple experiences some degree of stress or conflict while planning their nuptials. But with stress an expected component of wedding planning, how do you know when you’ve gone from normal levels of tension to needing to take a break?
We consulted with experts across the industry who shared 9 signs that you and your future spouse should consider taking a break from wedding planning in order to reset.
1. Arguments left unresolved is the new norm.
If you and your spouse-to-be are having an increase in heated arguments that are consistently being left unresolved, Mara Mazdzer of Fuse Weddings and Events in Salt Lake City, Utah, says that is a red flag in her experience that wedding planning stress is having a negative impact on a couple’s relationship.
2. There’s a lack of excitement.
If you’ve gone from feeling excited and inspired to plan the wedding to feeling dread at the thought of discussing it, Mazdzer says this is also a sign it’s time to take a step back and put a pause on planning.
3. You’re struggling to compromise on anything.
Having multiple elements that you’re not able to compromise or make decisions on is an indication that you both may need to take a minute. Use this time reflecting on what your priorities are and why you’re not able to be flexible in an effort to move through these decisions. “When the wedding planning process is resulting in arguments, guilt trips, or digs at the other it’s clear that both will need to reevaluate and come back to the process prepared to participate in the planning with a give and take mentality,” says Mazdzer. “Neither person can expect to have everything exactly the way they want it.”
4. There’s a communication breakdown.
Another sign that wedding planning stress is negatively impacting a couple's relationship is the start of unhealthy communication styles. Meagan Prost, a licensed clinical counselor who specializes in couples therapy, explains that this can include:
- Critical attacks: "You're so cheap."
- Defensive reactions: "I'm cheap? Well what about that time when you....you're the cheap one!"
- Stonewalling: A complete shutdown from communicating.
- Contempt: "Why do I have to give up on wedding dreams just because you didn't save enough money? I should be marrying someone else.”
“Contempt is the most toxic communication style because the message and delivery usually includes disrespecting your partner,” she says. This can be verbal or non-verbal with looks of disgust, eye rolling, or mocking facial expressions to name a few.
5. You or your partner are displaying signs of anxiety.
If the stress starts to have an effect on your or your partner individually, it can also impact your relationship too. Individual signs of stress according to Prost can include feeling completely overwhelmed, not being able to make decisions (analysis paralysis and decision fatigue are real!), desire for isolation, trouble sleeping, increased or decreased appetite, loss of interest in activities, or wanting to give up.
6. It’s consuming you.
When a couple begins to feel consumed by the wedding process and it's become the primary conversation in your relationship, Jennifer Teplin, LCSW, founder of Manhattan Wellness, says the planning stress is taking over. Couples have endless things to discuss and worry about before getting engaged so when your wedding becomes the primary conversation or primary main source of stress, that's a key signal that the stress is taking over. “It's important for couples to ensure that they are remaining true to themselves during the wedding planning process therefore wedding planning should remain a part of your relationship and conversations but not all consuming,” she adds.
7. You and your partner are starting to withdraw from each other.
If the planning isn’t fun anymore and you can no longer speak freely about the details of the day with your partner, it can be a sign, explains Loren Petrowski of Marry You in Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii. If instead of speaking excitedly about what you’d like with your partner, you find yourself having these conversations more with your wedding party or planner, “then you may want to take another look at the stress and how it’s impacting you and your partner.”
8. You feel like you and your partner are on different teams.
“Another key sign that wedding planning stress is impacting a couple is when they're no longer seeing themselves as a couple but more individuals on different sides,” says Teplin.
Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events in Los Altos, California can tell this is starting to happen with her couples when one starts to complain to her, their wedding planner, about their partner. “Because no matter what the situation is, they are a team and should always be a team especially through things that are hard, which certainly can be wedding planning sometimes,” she says. “So if they’re complaining about their partner and don’t want to consult them about something, the stress of the wedding is definitely impacting their relationship.”
9. It’s impacting you physically.
According to Lizzy Liz Chan of Lizzy Liz Events in Huntington Beach, California, look out for signs of stress such as losing sleep, breaking out in a rash, and losing hair. Other physiological symptoms can include headaches, change in sleep patterns, and low sex drive. While a vendor, such as a planner, can help lighten the load from a wedding-planning perspective, it also may be necessary to consult with your general practitioner or a mental-health professional to help evaluate your physical health and help you manage stress.