How is anyone meant to know what to do when it comes to living through a pandemic, juggle day to day life of work and kids and family, oh and plan a wedding…
There is no point going into how hard this year has been, it’s bleeding obvious, but for those having to constantly find the courage and energy to change and rechange their wedding plans whilst not knowing what the future holds - well that’s been a whole other level of hard that has taken some serious fight.
I have spoken to hundreds of couples now about the impact that this has had on their mental health and wellbeing. We have cried together, laughed together, spoken about grief, taking time out, giving validation to how you feel and that our problems are all relative (yes there will always be someone worse off but that doesn’t mean your wedding day isn’t important). We have had to acknowledge how much emotion and heartache it takes to adjust in a way you would never have imagined and didn’t want to.
So I wanted to write a blog post that gave you, our wonderful couples, some support on how to get through this time emotionally and some top tips on how to protect your wellbeing.
Firstly, I would like to say a big thank you to Mind for supporting me with the resources to bring this to you. They have a huge amount of information available to us, especially around how to cope during a pandemic. Mind give a lot of invaluable tips on how best to look after yourself, some of these include:
They are an amazing charity and I have listed ways you can support them at the bottom of this article.
Secondly, let’s talk about grief. Having to let go of your wedding day is a grieving process, this wedding has been your baby, your focus, your pride and joy for a long time now. You have ploughed hours of hard work into every single detail and now everything that you were in control of and the choices you were making have been taken away from you. Boris is now telling you what your guest list will consist of - it sounds like a Christmas cracker joke before corona hit. For some it is a day that has been dreamed about for years, for others, it holds a lot of importance to be able to move onto the next chapter of your life and for all, it is a right of passage.
In order to be able to move forward with your planning and start to rethink what you want, you may find that there is almost a process you have to go through to be able to accept the future. The stages of grief are described in different ways but listed below are the most common stages that you may be able to relate to:
Feelings of shock, disbelief, panic or confusion are common here. "How could this happen?", "It can't be true".
Our lovely bride Claire (who is a Plan to Postpone original!) said that for her there was a brief period of panic in late March / early April they decided that positive mental attitude would beat the virus.
“I emailed all of our suppliers like ‘yeah we aren’t postponing, we are maintaining a positive attitude and everything will be ok by the summer!’. I had one friend who had the guts to be like ‘er Claire this might not happen’ but I just brushed it off!"
Blaming yourself, blaming others and hostility are all common feelings and behaviours - "Why me?", "This isn't fair", "I don't deserve this".
Claire absolutely related to this,
“After a couple of weeks we realised that this virus was not going away any time soon, I definitely became angry. I was angry at the world - why me, out of all of the people in the history of time to get married, why the year of our wedding. I was angry at my friends for not caring more (forgetting they all definitely had their own problems to deal with!) and I was angry at my partner for not being as upset and all consumed as I was.”
Planning for a baby is an obvious next step for many after having a baby and with a wedding postponement it also means having to readjust major life plans. The feelings of it not being fair reach far further than just a wedding.
“I felt angry that if I did get pregnant as planned, the only person to lose out on my wedding day would be me, and how is that fair? I can of course, now see that this wouldn’t be the case and a wedding day would be wonderful, pregnant or not, I think the dark cloud of this phase was just making everything spiral into a worse case scenario.”
Feeling tired, hopeless, helpless, like you have lost perspective, isolated or needing to be around others - "Everything is a struggle", "What's the point?"
There is so much unknown at this point, as to what money you may or may not lose, what dates will or won’t be available, how long the restrictions will go on for. It can absolutely be all consuming.
Claire definitely found this
“I couldn’t bring myself to play with my son, I would constantly be refreshing the news and googling anything to do with weddings. I was also comfort eating and comfort drinking when they made me feel worse as there was no way I was going to get in that dress!”
Feelings of guilt often accompany questions like "If only I had planned for this...", "If I had only been more organised...".
This one may be a little more tricky to relate to but it is worth exploring, as it may not have been you who felt this one.
"I didn’t feel this as much but after speaking to my fiance he said that this is something that he struggled with the most. Why did we book stuff so early (which led to arguments as I’m super organised!), why did we book so many of the ‘nice to have’ suppliers, why did we choose to book a wedding rather than put the money towards a house.”
This does not mean that somebody likes the situation or that it is right or fair, but rather it involves acknowledging the implications of the loss of your day and the new circumstances and being prepared to move forward in a new direction.
“For us, this acceptance came at the time our venue started to speak to us and we got a bit of control back. We were able to make a plan, speak to our suppliers and get a true picture of the financial situation in terms of losses. From here we felt like we could move on and address how we adjust the rest of our lives to the new normal.”
These stages do not always appear in the same order for everybody, and some people experience some stages and not others. It is common to move forwards and backwards through the stages in your own way and at your own pace - especially when faced with forever changing guidelines and restrictions. Some people may experience grief outside of the cycle altogether. Whatever you are feeling though it is sometimes good to recognise and validate what you are feeling, know it is ‘normal’ and ok. As you go through these emotions it is important to seek support and gradually start to feel present in the world of wedding planning again, when you are ready. There may be some silver linings to take from all of this to, try to reflect on some of the nicer outcome of this year.
Claire realised this came in many different forms.
“Covid in many ways has helped us slow down and re-evaluate our lives. My fiance has spent more time with our son than he would have ever been able to, and due to him being home I’ve been able to retrain and start my own business.
Wedding wise, it has given us more time to save for some extras, more time to get creative and when the day does come everyone will know what we had to go through to get there and the celebration will be amazing!”
Throughout all of this though, you need to look after your wellbeing. This wedding won’t be just how you want unless you are in a good place to make it happen. Research undertaken by the New Economics Foundation has shown there are five steps to improving your wellbeing. The five steps are listed below and there are different elements that could relate to your wedding planning and some that can just apply to life in general, either way, I hope some of these steps help you to move forward in a more positive way;
There is a lot to be said for human connection and how this can improve us in mood and spirit. If we feel valued by people we are able to move through day to day life with our heads lifted just that bit higher. So how can you feel connected to those around you during lockdown and with your wedding plans? Call or Zoom your suppliers when making plans rather than email, have a proper chat. We are all human! Maybe take some time out to call your auntie that you haven’t spoken to in a while and tell her all your plans so far. Speaking to someone new about wedding plans often ignites that’s enthusiasm and spark again for what can be an enjoyable time as well as give you fresh ideas. And don’t be afraid to reach out to another bride or groom you may know and ask how they are doing. Set 15 mins aside to call them, have a cuppa in hand and give them the space to offload.
It is very well documented that physical exercise improves our moods, our wellbeing and our confidence.
When it comes to lockdown, we are encouraged to go out and exercise and there is a reason for that! It will help you. This is hard though, for many it doesn’t come easily - especially when loungewear is so comfy and it is so cold and wet outside! However, some fresh air, a moment for you, a time to clear your head and a chance to take comfort and joy from the simpler things in life can bring a lot of perspective to some of the bigger decisions you may be needing to make that bit easier. It brings inspiration - different colours, different textures - especially now in autumn with all the rusty oranges and muted pinks that are so on trend.
As well as taking in the world around you, It makes you talk. Go with your other half take some time away from Netflix and discuss how you are both doing, where you are at with the wedding, and listen to each other's thoughts to help put yours into perspective.
Being present and taking notice of your environment at that time helps to ‘savour’ the moment and gives you the ability to think more clearly about what your priorities are. Right now lots of big decisions are having to be made in a forever changing environment, so taking time to ensure you have heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations.
Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you and you know why, because this is really good practice for the big day! Your wedding day goes so quickly, you think you will remember it all but honestly, you don’t! All the little details you obsessed over for years could be missed but concentrating now on being present and in the moment will definitely help you when you are in a wedding day bubble.
There is so much good that can come from learning to do new things. It improves our self-esteem, gives us a sense of achievement and gives us more social interactions - something we all need more of right now! So start with the basics...write a wedding planning to do list that allows you to tick things off once done so you can clearly see what you are achieving. Then looking at that list, what on there do you think you could learn and enjoy doing yourself? Maybe it is calligraphy, maybe it is baking your favours, maybe it is making your invites. Reach out to suppliers, look at YouTube videos, buy a starter kit, join online networks of people doing the same thing - whatever it may be, go all in and take the time out for yourself to achieve something that you can be proud of on your wedding day.
It’s a simple one but by helping others you will have a greater sense of purpose and therefore overall happiness. Committing an act of kindness, regularly, is proven to improve our wellbeing.
Is there a way you can help other couples right now with sharing information or knowledge you have gained at this time that helped you with your wedding planning? What great blogs have you read recently that you could share to support others (like this one!). Giving back to a community, to loved ones, to your neighbour, to your partner will in turn give back to you.
As well as these 5 steps to improving your wellbeing, just know that simple things like eating well, sleeping well and finding that valuable time to relax will all help you to find the strength needed to face the daily challenges we never knew existed back in February. And when it comes to your wedding, there is a huge network of people there ready to support you whether that be in your partner, family, friends, Facebook groups of fellow brides and grooms, your venue and your suppliers - we are all here to ensure you have the wedding you deserve.
If you need more help and support with your mental health then please do reach out to your GP and charities that can you be there for you right now:
As mentioned, Mind are a fantastic charity and with more demand on their services than ever before, the effects of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health will be long lasting so if you can, please do support them.
If you’re able to make a donation every penny will help make sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone. You can do so here - mind.org.uk/donate and mention ‘P2P Wedding donation’ in the tell us more about your donation section.
When the time is right you could also consider supporting Mind at your wedding through sunflower seed or pin badge favours, or asking for donations in your wedding list. Find out more about making a difference on your special day here mind.org.uk/weddings.
So, however you are feeling, whatever you think, no matter how your wedding turns out, remember that you need to look after yourself first. You need to ensure that your wellbeing is also on the to do list to ensure that you have the wedding you want and deserve.
Sending a lot of love, strength and positive wellbeing vibes,