With variants and cases on the rise, how can engaged couples stay sane when it feels like everything we’re right back where we were a year ago? Wedding Therapist, Landis Bejar, LMHC weighs in.
1. Acknowledge, observe, don’t judge.
Start by acknowledging the incredibly difficult situation you’re in and don’t judge yourself for any feeling that comes up as a result. So often, pain and suffering is extended when we dismiss or invalidate our own feelings. Self-talk is the way we speak to ourselves and has been proven to have a direct impact on the way we feel. If we are not kind to ourselves, how can we expect others to give that to us?
Next time you find yourself getting overwhelmed by covid wedding planning, try responding to yourself like this: “It’s okay if I feel stressed or overwhelmed about how to “get this right” - the landscape is ever-changing and it’s hard for government and health officials to keep up! Not only that, I’ve now gone through this twice (three or four times, perhaps?)! It’s emotional whiplash. I can cut myself some slack here.”
2. Identify your support squad!
Now that you are being kind to yourself, find others you can count on to do the same! Take inventory of the people around you who are supportive, understanding, and empathetic... and surround yourself with them! These are people who get that this is a hard situation to be in and only offer advice when it’s solicited. Set boundaries to put distance in between those people (and their opinions) you have identified are not helpful, supportive, and solicited.
3. Set boundaries around information and opinion consumption.
We live in a society where we could ingest information, opinions, and news (fake or real) at every second of the day and never get anywhere near the bottom of the pile.
When you’re going through a global trauma like pandemic, it’s important to set boundaries around media and information consumption. It is not healthy nor helpful to be consuming a constant stream of information. Limit your info intake to what is necessary to plan and exist healthfully in this world.
Start to pay attention to how your mood changes as you consume information. Is there a point at which you start to feel more anxious and depressed? Sometimes it has to do with the source, the amount or the frequency. Try to get in touch with what is the minimum amount necessary to live your life and stick to that.
You’ll also want to limit the opinions you take in to a core group of essential, trusted people/sources. When it comes to needing information to make wedding decisions, Identify a few key players and information sources you trust to make your decisions, e.g. (1) CDC, (2) state/local gov (3) wedding planner, and (4) fiancé. And stick to those people as guides to making the “right” decisions. Anything more than that will start to feel overwhelming and unproductive.
4. Know that at the end of the day, you cannot make everyone happy.
There is a burden right now on engaged couples to both “keep everyone safe” and “make everyone happy.” Let’s be honest: this is actually impossible.
While it is important to be connected to updated information about hosting in-person events and make wedding decisions accordingly, you cannot appeal to everyone’s individual comfortability and safety preferences. It is important to be able to distinguish between those two things!
Your responsibility is only to make the best decisions you can with the information you have (from the people you’ve identified in #3) and COMMUNICATE* that to your guests so that they can make their own informed decision based on their personal preferences of circumstances.
*note that communicating the information to guests does not (and should not) mean individual conversations with each guest. It could be a message or FAQ section on your website, a general informational email, and/or assigning some members of your support squad to act as “COVID info point people” that can receive some people who have questions.
You are only human and if you want to make yourself and your fiance happy (which is challenging enough in normal times), Not being able to appease or comfort every guest does not say anything about your wedding or your marriage. It is merely a symptom of a community/global trauma we are all actively living through.
5. Grieve the losses.
The last 18 months have been all about grief and loss. And not just talking about the death toll. I’m talking about the moments we have lost along the way--the vacations, time in school, the trips, the concerts, the celebrations, and of course the weddings that we have been altered as a result of this pandemic. Not only the events themselves but being able to have them play out in the way we expect them; the way they were supposed to be. The joy and excitement, the confidence that they will happen -- things we used to take for granted. Now, we don’t just worry about whether they’ll go smoothly, we worry about whether they will happen at all! And whether everyone will be able to make it, and whether we’ll be able to dance with our friends and family. That used to all be a given; and we’ve lost that confidence and so many other things.
It is imperative that we acknowledge our feelings and our grief around these losses (all of them, not just the big ones). Grief-related feelings can include: shock/denial, anger, sadness, or bargaining (feelings related to sense of unfairness or injustice). It’s important to make space for these feelings if we want to move toward acceptance. If we ignore or minimize these feelings they will only come up in other (usually bigger) ways when we are least expecting it.
6. Work toward Acceptance
Acceptance isn’t an overnight thing. It usually takes time to get to, and is an ever-evolving process. Time helps. Self-reflection helps.
Take solace in the fact that you did the best you could with the information you had at the point in time we are in this world. You didn’t and couldn’t have all the answers, and you didn’t and couldn’t have had a crystal ball. You did your best.
For better or worse, this will be part of your wedding story and your life story. In it there will be moments of hardship and moments of pride and strength. As all good stories have. Honor all the moments and revel in the ones where you were strong, adaptive, and intentional.
AisleTalk is a therapy and coaching practice devoted to supporting brides and grooms through wedding stress. Whether it’s related to COVID19 or other factors, we are here for you! Reach out if you think our team can help you navigate this weird time.