Monday, 5 June 2017

Planning An Anxiety-Friendly Wedding

With just eight weeks to go, the wedding is at the forefront of my mind at the moment, so prepare for a few posts talking about it. Today's is prompted by something a couple of people have recently asked me: how I've dealt with managing my anxiety during wedding planning and how I think I'll cope on the day itself?

It was an interesting question to ponder, because in all honesty we didn't approach the planning from the perspective of making the wedding anxiety-friendly. However, once Thomas and I sat down to think about it, we quickly realised that almost all of the big decisions we've made during planning have been prompted by or related to making it a comfortable experience for us. We have - partly on purpose but mostly by accident - planned the perfect anxiety-friendly wedding.

So, what have we done to make our wedding anxiety-friendly? Here are a few things that have worked well for us.

Staying Local
When we first began talking about a wedding, I was adamant about one thing: I did not want to have it in Leicester. My love/hate relationship with the city I've called home for 20 years is a whole other post, but at the start of the planning process two years ago I was in a 'hate' phase. So we looked, in a vague and noncommittal way, at venue options from Bristol to Glasgow, Leeds to Warwickshire. But nothing felt right, or affordable, or easy.

And then, a brainwave. Where do we feel most comfortable? The Lansdowne pub here in Leicester. Which building do we both think is one of the most beautiful in England? The Guildhall here in Leicester.

Now, having booked both places, I'm very relieved we chose to be have our celebration here. I'm (luckily) very much in an 'I love Leicester' mood of late, and I'm so excited to show the city off to people from around the world who would otherwise have no reason to visit. More importantly, it has made the planning so much easier, compared with trying to pull off a big event in a city we're unfamiliar with. So you can keep your destination weddings: I'm happy to be having a local one.

Saying "No" To DIY
It would have been so very easy for me - creative, imaginative, crafty -  to become completely absorbed in a thousand DIY projects to make our wedding look Pinterest-perfect. I can imagine an alternate reality where we decided to decorate a barn or a marquee from scratch and I spent every evening for the past 12 months sobbing over table centrepieces and hand-sewn bunting.

Instead, we embarked on wedding planning with a strict "No DIY" policy. This was largely for budgetary reasons but also because we explicitly wanted a stripped-back, simple wedding: no favours (which inevitably get forgotten about and left on tables), no elaborate seating plans, no handcrafted centrepieces to fit a theme. In fact, no theme at all. This approach has meant that our energies have been concentrated on the few things - music, clothes, food - that are important to us, and has saved me many a sleepless night worrying about craft supplies.

Making Google Docs Our Best Friend
From guest lists, to keeping track of when people are arriving and where they're staying, to budget and to-do lists, everything is contained on one many-tabbed spreadsheet. And having it as a shared Google Doc means that we can both access it anywhere, any time. Having a 2am panic about unbooked hotel rooms? I can quickly check on my phone without getting out of bed. It's made it so much easier to share the planning and ensure that Thomas - against my instinct to be a complete control freak and drive myself to a breakdown - is able to do his fair share.

Saying "Yes" To Offers Of Help
Chiefly, financial help from my parents. Because, believe it or not, Janet Brown - Fiercely Feminist Independent Woman - is having a wedding almost entirely paid for by my mum and dad. And yeah, that's pretty fucking weird and something both Thomas and I struggled with and debated for a long time. Ultimately, though, we realised that turning down their incredibly generous offer to match the cash they'd given my brother and his wife for their 2015 wedding would have been foolhardy. Could we have paid for it all ourselves? Yes, by scrimping and saving these past two years, during which we were also constantly fretting about Thomas not having permanent employment. But our anxiety levels were immediately reduced the day we deposited those cheques and it's taken so much worry out of the planning process.

Of course, help hasn't only come in the form of money from my parents. So many friends have stepped up to help with everything from collecting jam jars for flowers, to volunteering assistance on the day, to lending cake stands. Knowing people who work in the wedding industry has also been hugely helpful, meaning we got our invitations, cakes, photographer and music all sorted either for free or at mate's rates.

If you're planning a wedding and someone offers to help, it's always worth considering it carefully -  I've heard nightmare stories of parents thinking that giving money entitles them to control over the guest list, for example - but if you're comfortable with what's on offer, I'd say go for it.

Planning Time Together On The Big Day
I appreciate that for many people, getting ready separately and seeing each other for the first time as one of you walks down the aisle is all part of the magic. But for Thomas and I, the worst thing we could imagine was being apart until the ceremony. There's a reason we're getting married, after all - he's my person, the one I want by my side when I'm feeling anxious or nervous - and so it felt completely counter-intuitive to be apart during the build-up.

Instead, we'll both spend the morning at a family brunch before returning to our hotel to get ready together. And when the time comes, we'll travel to the Guildhall together ready to meet and greet people as a team. Taking the decision to do away with tradition and spend the whole day together was an easy one to make, and I am so glad I'll have Thomas by my side for the whole experience.


  1. It sounds wonderful. When planning ours I always kept in mind that it was our day and we could do everything the way we wanted to. It can be a stressful time but I think most of the time, most of the stress can be avoided by being flexible. Sadly, it's usually only after the wedding that you realise how little many of these wedding trappings actually matter. I had fun choosing bits and pieces to go on the tables at our reception but on the night, I barely even looked at them :) I wouldn't have changed them but they wouldn't have been worth stressing about. I took ages choosing the buffet menu too, neither Andy or I even saw the food (we have one photograph with it in the background as proof that it was actually served), neither of us ate any! So these things just don't need to be stressed over. It sounds like you've managed it with ease - bravo! And now I'm rambling - a common occurrence when anyone reminds me of our wedding ;)
    I hope you have an awesome day, I can't wait to see photos! :)

    1. I am SO determined to eat our meal as the menu looks bloody amazing (even guests who aren't vegetarian keep commenting on how great the 3 course vegan spread sounds). And it's good to hear that I won't miss the little things. I'm so details-oriented that it's come as a surprise to me that I'm super chilled out about those little extra details - we'll have what we have and what we don't, we won't miss!

  2. Epp, not long now! How exciting! I look forward to reading more about you and Thomas's lovely day xx

    1. It's going to go so fast, I have to admit to a tiny bit of panicking now we're getting close!

  3. I love that you're spending the day together before the ceremony. Jonny is probably the only person who can really calm me down, so it would have been such a good idea to have seen him before I walked down the aisle (and avoided my full body shaking that he then had to pretty much hold me up through!) I can't wait to hear more about your big day; I bloody love a good wedding!

    1. I know I'd get into exactly that kind of state if Thomas wasn't with me, and we also both hated the idea of a "grand entrance", having hidden away while guests arrived (as we were always planning on walking down the aisle together." So it was SUCH a relief to come up with the solution to get there early together and be there to greet everyone. I think it will help us both stay calm.

  4. It sounds like it will be wonderful, you have planned a day that is specific to your needs and that does seem oddly uncommon, many folk seem to get utterly swept away by the idea of what it should be like as opposed to what they really like. The crafty/Pinterest bride idea made me laugh, there is an episode of Crazy Ex Girlfriend (unfortunately titled as it's actually pretty astute with mental health examination) anyway she gets carried away with trying to DIY her whole wedding with Pinterest ideas, it's a bit disastrous! Anyway good planning all around, wishing you all the best on the dat!

    1. Thank you! Yes I especially think that if you get married a bit younger, it's easy to sort of go along with what everyone says you "should" do. The fact I'm older and (kind of) wiser has made it far easier for me to put my foot down and assert myself with friends and family.

  5. Love this. We ended up with a similar outlook - we didn't set out to make it anxiety-provoking but ended up doing lots of things to make it that way (even then I wouldn't exactly say it was anxiety free in my case, but it was better than it could have been)! No DIY was a big one for me, along with keeping the guest list small and having an informal reception venue. A relatively comfortable dress also helped a lot!
    Hope the final plans are going smoothly - not long to go now!

    Liz x
    Distract Me Now Please

    1. Yes, the informal reception venue (our fave pub!) is a big part of what's made it relaxed, we know who we're dealing with and vice versa.