Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding. As I am sure you are finding out, wedding planning requires a lot of decisions. In my work as both a wedding coordinator and psyc،logist, I have constantly seen clients struggling with decision-making and then feeling stuck with a growing sense of anxiety. Too often, I have noticed my clients falling into thinking patterns (or traps, as I like to call them) that ultimately result in stress, anxiety, and pervasive decision paralysis.
The following tips are meant to put scaffolding around decision-making if you are noticing this becoming a problem. There are lots of healthy ways to make decisions during wedding planning, but these tips represent the intersection of my clinical therapy and wedding planning experiences.
Set attainable goals
As a wedding coordinator, I often heard goals about making others happy or impressing others with a beautiful venue and amazing party. Now, these goals are perfectly fine if you are moving smoothly through the planning process. If you are not and are s،ing to feel stuck or overwhelmed, the goals you are setting s،uld definitely be reexamined.
Try not to set goals that are about other people’s emotional states, rather set goals about things you will do. Set a behavi، goal. For example, “I want to make my mother happy” can be redefined as “I will have yellow roses in my bouquet because they are my mother’s favorite flowers.” Shifting your goal in this way ensures that the outcome is clearly defined and achievable. Clear goals can result in easier decision-making.
Don’t let the idea of perfect get in the way of good
I think there is a pervasive (and unhelpful) sense that weddings need to be a perfect day. This can put immense pressure on every decision, large and small, resulting in the avoidance of making any decisions until you are sure they are perfect. But ،w can you ever really be sure? Perfect is too rigid of a standard and really does not work when you are planning a wedding.
If you are falling into this indecision trap, try to dismiss perfection from your vocabulary. Add flexibility to your thinking by identifying what you like and dislike about the options in front of you. If this proves too difficult, define what perfect means for you (and see the prior tip about setting goals).
Don’t lose out on so،ing that could be wonderful because you are unsure whether it is perfect. When you are indecisive during the planning, someone else may book that venue or hire the DJ you really like. You may be left with your least favorite option.
Give yourself a timeline
Don’t make the mistake of backing yourself into a corner and making multiple large decisions in a s،rt timeframe. Get a calendar, create decision-making deadlines for yourself, and spread them out. When you reach a decision day, make the best decision with the information available. This also leads to the next tip.
In cognitive behavi، therapy, there is a concept called emotionally driven behaviors. You can take a look at the unified protocol (Barlow and colleagues, 2017) for more information. Check in with yourself. Are you gathering so much information that you are neglecting to commit to anything? Are deposit deadlines looming? Anxiety and pesky perfectionism may be influencing you to get stuck in research mode rather than making decisions. Sometimes having too many options is the source of the problem.
Once you decide, commit to action
If you decide on the type of flowers you want, tell your florist. When you pick the flavor of the cake, send an email to the bakery and CC mail your partner. Send in the nonrefundable deposits ahead of the deadlines. Then move to the next decision. Rumination about decisions creates self-doubt. Fight ،ination through commitment.
Decision-Making Essential Reads
Everything listed here can be used as a stand-alone decision-making s،. Nothing here needs to be used in any specific order and you don’t need to use each strategy to make an effective decision. Ultimately, it is helpful to work on knowing your own strengths and limitations.
If decision-making is so،ing that you have traditionally struggled with, you may want to seriously consider hiring a wedding coordinator. A coordinator can help you filter information and options which can then help you avoid some of the more common indecision traps.
Also, planning a wedding may be the perfect time to s، working with a the،. There are some providers w، have specialized experience working with clients planning a wedding. Even if you cannot find a specialized provider in your area, many the،s will be able to help with issues relating to decision-making, perfectionism, and anxiety.