Where to Start if You’re Overwhelmed with Wedding Planning

A couple sitting in their living room stressed out about wedding planning.

The day you’ve dreamed of is finally here. The love of your life has gotten down on one knee (or staged a flash mob, or unfurled a huge banner from your apartment window, or simply asked you over breakfast) and asked you to marry them. Congratulations! You’re probably feeling a lot of emotions right now: joy, excitement, love…and maybe just a little bit of stress.

First of all, you should know that it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed, and even a little afraid. After all, getting engaged means planning a wedding—and most of us have watched enough episodes of Bridezillas to know that this process could go sideways a million different times before you get to the honeymoon. But if the thought of choosing a venue, finding a dress, and tasting plate after plate of cake samples has your head spinning, we’re here to help! Here are a few things you can do if wedding planning is leaving you overwhelmed.

Make a List

A young woman making a list for wedding planning on her laptop.

By the time a couple becomes affianced, both parties usually know a little something about what it means to have a wedding. They’ve seen friends and family members tie the knot, and they’ve probably been in a wedding party or two along the way. But here’s the truth: no one, and I mean no one, knows just how much goes into wedding planning until they’re in the thick of it.

This is why I suggest making a list before you do anything else. Consult wedding websites (hey, you’re already on the right track), bridal magazines, and wedding planning apps to learn more about what goes into a wedding including venue types, necessary vendors, and smaller things like favors or printed programs. Getting everything down on paper helps you see the big picture more clearly so you can prioritize and get organized!

Decide on a Date

A February calendar with a date circled on it and an engagement ring next to it.

Choosing a wedding date is one of the simplest decisions you’ll make during the planning process. It’s also the linchpin that holds this baby together. Your wedding date will help you find available vendors and venues, and it can even determine who from your guest list is available to attend! For this reason, it should be one of the first decisions you and your partner make for your wedding day.

To start, just grab a calendar and mark out a few weekends that seem suitable. Don’t worry about setting the date in stone; flexibility is better when you’re working with vendors, anyway! Simply take some time to decide roughly when you’d like to get married (In the summer? Winter? On a weekday?) and jot those dates down. Just like that, you’re on your way to planning a wedding! That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Set a Budget

A plastic bride and groom standing on piles of $100 bills.

As you plan your wedding, you and your fiancé will be faced with lots of decisions. Should you have a large wedding or a small one? Do you want to say traditional vows, or will you write your own? Should your tablecloths be cobalt blue or Columbia blue? If you don’t have any parameters in place, all these options can give you a serious case of decision fatigue, and that can make the whole process feel like a chore.

Thankfully, there is an easy way to avoid this fate: set some boundaries. Your options will narrow down the moment you put a few limits in place, and one of the most powerful limits out there is the almighty budget. Sit down with your partner (or your parents, or whoever is bankrolling the big day), and have an honest discussion about how much you expect to spend. Not only will this check one major item off your to-do list, but it will also help you pare down your exhaustive list of options.

Clear Your Head

A young couple and their dog camping and sitting outside a tent in front of a fire.

Planning a wedding shouldn’t be overwhelming; it should be fun! And sometimes, the best way to shake off the planning stress is by stepping away—just for a little while. Instead of bogging yourself down with checklists and vendor brochures and every wedding Pinterest board on the planet, take a step back and get away from everything wedding-related.

Go take a walk at a local park. Visit an art museum. Watch your favorite movie with your fiancé. A few simple hours away from something that’s stressing you out can give you a whole new perspective. And who knows—your bouquet might be inspired by a flower you saw on that walk through the park, a painting you see in the museum could help you decide on your dress style, and the soundtrack to that movie you’re watching might contain your first dance song!

While wedding planning can feel all-encompassing, it’s important to allow yourself moments to be yourself, not just the “bride (or groom)-to-be.” This will help you avoid becoming overwhelmed from the moment you say “I will” to the moment you say “I do.”

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