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How to Survive Your Wedding Planning Stress

'Til stress do us part? How to let go of perfection and embrace each other.

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Planning a wedding is a pretty big deal, right? You’ve got to pick the photographer, your flowers, your napkins, the right font for your invitations, and all while trying to figure out how on Earth you’re going to deal with your embarrassing uncle Lenny.

It’s enough to make a bride or groom break out in hives! And despite all that you see in bridal magazines, wedding stress and panic isn’t just for anxious brides-to-be, almost one in four men say that planning for their wedding was one of the most stressful experiences of their lives.

As if the stress and sleepless nights aren’t bad enough, wedding planning stress can also place some serious strains on a new relationship.

So I spoke with Jocelyn Charnas, PhD, a Manhattan psychologist who specializes in helping couples navigate the stresses and strains of engagement, wedding planning, and early marriage. She shared her thoughts with me about how to survive your wedding stress for a recent episode of the School of Psych podcast. Here are some highlights:

Everyone’s feeling it

Dr. Charnas shares a story from attending a bridal shower and quickly being struck by when everyone started trading stories about how many times they almost broke up during their engagements. Her conclusion? “Everyone is feeling it and no one is really talking about it.” But she acknowledges that “every bride has her own particular brand of horror.” Knowing that you are not alone can help, but also knowing your unique stresses and strain points can help you better prepare for what’s to come.

Lesson: Know thyself.

Where expectations are, anxiety is sure to follow

“Unrealistic or too lofty expectations of perfection are what get us into a lot of trouble,” Dr. Charnas says. Weddings come not just with a hefty price tag, but also with some pretty lofty expectations. Forget trying to have the picture perfect Instagram wedding. Know your values and remember at the end of the day, it’s a celebration of love and togetherness, not wedding cake toppers.

Lesson: Imperfections are part of your story together. Embrace them fondly.

Connection is key

It’s easy to get lost in all the details of your big day and big event, but remember that it’s about connection with your partner, with your friends, with your spirit, and with your community. Dr. Charnas shares that the best part of her wedding experience was sitting in a diner having grilled cheese sandwiches with a rabbi who cared more about her and her fiancé as a couple than about what kind of cake flavor they like.

Lesson: Strengthen your bonds not just with your partner, but also with people who are friends of the marriage.

If you want to hear more about how to survive your wedding planning stress or about Jocelyn’s own journey to counseling couples and being hailed by New York Magazine as “The Wedding Doctor”, take a listen to our full interview on the School of Psych podcast and remember to subscribe on iTunes!

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