A Mental Health Guide for Pandemic Brides

If you’re a bride who was supposed to (or still is) getting married in 2020, you’re probably feeling the emotional burden right now. Full disclosure: I say this as a pandemic bride myself, so I feel your pain. No one prepared us for the emotional rollercoaster that has been preparing for a wedding in the midst of a pandemic, and, if you’re anything like me, you’ve shed your fair share of tears about it all. Here are some things that I’ve found helpful in navigating this process, so I hope this helps you too.

  1. Grieve. We all grew up dreaming of our wedding day – the dress we’d wear, the venue, the flowers, the champagne toasts, the tears, the laughs, the dancing, the pure joy and celebration of love. If there is one thing I have struggled with the most, it is that the pandemic has taken away the celebration of the love my fiance and I share. People who were invited to our wedding were (rightfully) concerned about the safety of attending a large gathering, which led to us postponing until next year. While I understand these concerns, it took the focus away from us and our love for each other. I have been grieving the loss of celebration, the loss of the joy that others would feel for our marriage, the loss of our special day going as planned. Although I am still getting married on my original date, I’m grieving the fact that it will be significantly smaller, and not at our venue. I’m grieving that I won’t wear my dress for that ceremony because I want to be able to share that with everyone. I’m grieving for myself and for my fiance, that our special day will always have the shadow of the pandemic over it. And what makes this difficult is that I feel guilty for grieving! Society is telling brides that we are selfish for thinking about ourselves and our fiances on our wedding day, so I have been very selective on who I let into this grieving process. While this makes it difficult, and at times more lonely, it has been a crucial part in my ability to accept the impact of the pandemic on our wedding and my ability to move forward and be flexible with a new plan. 
  2. Set boundaries. Since the pandemic hit in March, many of my loved ones have given me their opinion on what we should do for our wedding. While well-intentioned, I found this to be difficult to sit with because it added to the aforementioned guilt of wanting to move forward as planned. When we made the decision to postpone, we still received a lot of feedback and opinions from others. What I have learned from this is that setting boundaries is important. Ask people to refrain from giving their input. Don’t answer that text that leads you into a shame spiral. Let your loved ones know how their words and actions make you feel and how you will practice self-care so that you do not carry their emotions along with your own. This is particularly painful when it comes to close family members and friends, but I truly believe it is necessary in order for relationships to stay intact. 
  3. Feel your feels. As a therapist, I am always helping clients identify and then lean into their emotions. While I tend to be competent in tolerating my own emotions, I have found that planning this wedding has tested my ability to do this, as the emotions feel so overwhelming, strong and difficult to navigate. When I really sit and think about the hurt, sadness, disappointment, anger, frustration, and helplessness, I feel my chest tighten, that pit in my stomach grow, my heart beat a little bit faster, and, yes, I will admit – this feels very uncomfortable. In these moments, I have found it incredibly important to either write down how I’m feeling or talk to some of my supports who I know will validate how I’m feeling. Right now is not the time to go to that friend who will “tell it like it is,” but to find the people who will truly empathize and validate the complex emotional experience of being a pandemic bride.
  4. Enjoy the little things that go as planned. Even though most of this process has been derailed, there have been a few pieces that have exceeded my expectations. Last month, I still held one of my bridal showers – a small group of loved ones in an outdoor space with plenty of social distancing. I was so nervous it would be weird, but it actually felt like the most normal thing I have done during this pandemic. It renewed my faith that people had not entirely forgotten about the union of two people and made me more excited for our “minimony” in the fall. The shower helped me reframe some of my thinking and accept that even though everything looks different than I originally envisioned, it does not mean it will be a disaster.
  5. Go to therapy. Having my own therapist to go to during this pandemic has been a life saver. This was the one place where I had someone who would validate how I was feeling, hold back her own opinions, and let me cry about everything I felt I had lost. She helped me process so much over the past six months and I truly think I am a better professional because of it. If you were not already in therapy to help with the pandemic, then you absolutely deserve one to support you emotionally as you postpone your wedding. 

To all my pandemic brides out there: I know this has pushed you to the edge, put a whole new level of stress on your relationship, and brought you to tears more times than you can count. But I refuse to think that we deserve anything less than our dream weddings. Lean into your emotions, ask for help from your supports, and know that how you are feeling is very real and it absolutely matters. In the end, you will marry your person. Two will become one.