At your wedding and reception, you’ll likely be the center of attention among lots of people for many hours, which can be tiring and overwhelming for introverts.
And wedding planning means literally hundreds and hundreds of decisions, which can lead to overwhelm for an HSP.
Decisions like: who to invite, invitations, a color scheme, the caterer, the menu, gift registry, music, the bouquet, centerpieces, photographer, videographer, bartender, bridesmaids & groomsmen, hotel reservations, travel arrangements, the cake, dress, rings, vows, shoes, hair, makeup, nails, rehearsal dinner, seating arrangements, toasts, thank you letters. And the honeymoon.
Goodness gracious, I rattled off this list without really even thinking about it. Within every one of those things is another hundred smaller decisions. Ugh!
All these decisions may lead to one of two things for an HSP: Extreme stress or shutting down.
Just knowing that there were so many decisions ahead of me made me shut down. I didn’t even want to think about wedding planning anymore.
So, I boiled it down to the most basic things I thought were most important.
I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money. We ended up having the ceremony and reception at Jim’s parents’ nice new house on the other side of the country.
I felt strongly about my wedding–that I wanted to do what my husband and I wanted to do. I didn’t care what meaningless tradition dictated. All I wanted was for the most important people in my life to be together and have fun. I believe that’s what we will remember years from now–not a flower arrangement. I simply didn’t have the capacity to care about things that were unimportant to my overall goal.
Jim and I divided up assignments. I did everything involved with the invitations (easy! I can handle that!). Another of mine was to find a company that rented huge tents for parties. I did a lot of research online, but when it came time to to call people and negotiate prices (which I hate), I felt stressed. Jim was understanding and took over the rest of that assignment for me.
Truthfully, I opted out of a lot of stuff. Family members helped us SO much. They bought flowers when I showed no interest in them. They decorated. They used their connections around town to hire a bartender (family friend), DJ (a cousin who did it free), photographer (neighbor), and a caterer they’d used before.
His sister asked how she could help out with the wedding and I assigned her the task of buying the cupcakes (I didn’t want a wedding cake). Once I did that, I didn’t have to worry about dessert again. I let it go, and let her take care of it.
As an introvert, I didn’t yearn to be the center of attention. So, we didn’t do any toasts, speeches, or special dances. We didn’t cut a cake together. I definitely didn’t walk down an aisle with everyone staring at me! The actual ceremony (held on the stairs of his parents’ deck) was probably 10 minutes long. After the little ceremony we joined the party with everyone else. We didn’t sit at a special table at the front of the room. We just sat wherever. I also didn’t wear a traditional, white, fancy wedding dress (It was lavender, knee-length, and from an upscale shopping mall), so I looked like everyone else–a partygoer.
My tips for minimizing stress and “shut down” when wedding planning as an introverted HSP:
- Ask yourself, what is the most important goal of your wedding day? For me, it was having fun with all the people in my life I care about. Then ask yourself: What can you eliminate and still accomplish that goal? What will make this wedding memorable in the ways you want?
- You don’t have to care about meaningless tradition. Do what you want to do.
- If you need some alone time during the party, do it. Go sit in the bathroom and breathe for a bit. No one will freak out if you are gone for a few minutes.
- Let people help you. Delegate! They might be delighted to do help on your special day. Once you assign a task to someone, stop worrying about it and let it go.
What an excellent guide for simplifying the process, Kelly. The way you set one “goal” allows all other decisions (and boundaries!) to flow. ***LOVE THE WEDDING CUPCAKES***
exactly the same strategy I used when I invited all my family and friends to see my new appartment. It took all day long and for me simplicity, delegation and time for me alone made my day!!!
Every hour I sit 5 minutes in my bath alone – just to calm down a bit before again talking to others.
Simplicity and the awareness on what is important to me wins!
A great insight, Kelly – thanks for that!
Oh I feel the same way about this. We got engaged in the middle of last year and I felt so overwhelmed by it that i just stopped planning and decided to have a longer engagement.
I had a horrible experience with my wedding planning, it caused me so much stress being so obsessed about little details that I had to cancel my wedding, I didn´t know i was HSP so I thought how I managed my feelings those times were okay, I just kept obsessed about everything and had no help.
Great article! I’ve been yearning for something geared toward HSP brides. This really speaks to me (and many others, I’m sure.)
Yay, I’m so happy it was helpful!! congrats on the wedding 🙂
So glad to have found you Kelly. At least now I know I’m not the only bride to be who cares less about wedding planning than most people do. Dare I say that my own wedding organizer cares about it more than I do. I was at the point where all I wanted to do was shut down and not care about the texts and e-mails and then just say OK to everything. We have TONS of wedding traditions in the Asian culture, and my fiance’s parents and mine are pretty flexible about it (which makes things more daunting because they can’t decide on which to continue and which need not). Whenever I put my finger on something, they would bring up those things and I told them why not they decide everything instead of me. And i’d get the usual lecture on how i should care more about this and decide this for myself because it’s my wedding …
I guess i poured a bit too much here. I’m just really, really glad to know i’m not weird and there are tons of overwhelmed non-bridezillas like yourself 🙂
When I got engaged, I was nervous about being overwhelmed with all the decisions of wedding planning. While I loved looking at beautiful photos of other people’s weddings, there was no way I was going to be able to handle the stress of planning something like that…or be able to handle the amount of attention if a large number of people attended the wedding. We were able to find a lovely historic bed & breakfast for the location. They handled the food, flowers, cake, and wedding setup. We invited 30 people total. The night before, we had our family members and friends who had traveled from out of town stay at the B&B with us and were able to wake up the next morning, eat a wonderful breakfast with our friends & family that the B&B owners prepared, and then calmly get ready for the wedding. Had a brief wedding, then came in to eat lunch–nothing super structured: come in, eat, we just sat at the regular tables with everyone else. After that we had cake, and then everyone went home. A couple weeks later we had a reception to invite other friends from the town we lived in to come to and had a BBQ dinner, had some photos up from the wedding, and just got to enjoy hanging out with friends & extended family. Definitely not the traditional way to do it, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
I absolutely love your blog, recognizing myself in every article) When I was planning my wedding, I soon felt exhausted of all to do lists. The thought of been in the centre of attention made me nervous, and the idea of spending a whole day carrying about everybody’s comfort was overwhelming.
So we decided to make a wedding just for 2 of us, and it was the best decision ever! There were only us and my friend photographer, and right after we registed marriage we went to the aeroport for our honeymoon.
And only after we returned we went to a small cafe with close family to celebrate.
It was the most comfortable and happy experience! But still almost nobody understands, because in my country there are strong traditions of big weddings with lots of people in a restourant 🙂
As soon as you have picked a date, start to look for hotels in a wide variety of price points. Many hotels allow you to reserve rooms for guests under a special wedding block and a reduced rate. You can then release any unbooked rooms a month prior to your wedding. If the hotels you contact insist upon contracts with cancellation penalties, just say no — you don’t want to be responsible for rooms you can’t fill.
JEEZ Kelly. THANKS for stealing another one of my brilliant ideas for my nonexistent blog that will never be created. 🙂
I did the same exact thing for my wedding. We got engaged and married in 3 months. We felt very strongly about eloping, so when we decided we’d have a wedding for all the sissies who were into that kinda stuff (namely moms, grandmas, romantics, the whole world), I just kept telling myself “No matter what you do, they have no right to criticize and you have no reason to feel any type of pressure because they are lucky that you are even HAVING a wedding”. so that helped but eventually my perfectionism just killed all that positivity.
We had a 4 guest city hall ceremony (lucky for me SF has the most beautiful city hall! And for $75??) and I wore a $35 (that includes shipping!) beautiful bcbg dress I got on eBay, followed by a 36 person (that’s including the bride and groom) reception the next day at a small but very fine dining restaurant, and the only “traditional” thing we did was I had my slightly more extroverted hubby do a thank you speech on our behalf! And then afterwards all the “young” people went to a very nice but lively lounge where we had our own booth and table service. And everyone got smashed. But in the good, slightly classier, kind of way 🙂
I was very self conscious and nervous that people were going to be dissapointed or bored because I had been so adamant about not having a “foofy” wedding but the response I got was farrrrr from that. To this day my girlfriends and their boyfriends tell me how they want to have their wedding just like ours and how much they enjoyed our wedding. I get teary just typing that right now :*). The moment I knew I had done the right thing was when I saw my bestie talking to and hugging my mother in law. Most weddings would never have that level of interaction!! But because our party was small and the space had JUST enough room, right everyone got to meet EVERYONE. I loved everything about my wedding and I’m so glad I worked through all my self doubts to have a very very special and authentic day that I, nor my guests, will ever forget.
I wanted to share a few tips, just ideas that ended up working really well for me:
1.) Skimp on EVERYTHING (yes, even the dress you will wear for a few hours and the invitations that everyone will throw away. Which btw I did electronically to save trees in the forest and the trees that make all that money I would have blown on them) except for THE FOOD AND THE PICTURES. The food is the one thing that all the guests will always remember, and it is your single greatest oppurtunity to express your gratitude, as well as impress them. The pictures are the ONLY thing (besides your eternal love and commitment to your hubby/wifey) that will last past the day. I hate taking pictures (especially in public!!) with a passion, but I hired two different photographers and did hours of posing and I seriously had to tell the photographer “okay buddy. That’s enough, we are done” but am so glad I did. And my friends to this day say the filet mignon they had at our reception was the best they ever had. No one ever mentioned the placecards, the favors at the end or the playlist that I spent hours arguing with my hubby about!
2.) I hate speeches. Everyone does. We hate giving them and listening to them. We just want to eat! But if you’re like me and still want to recieve some well wishes and advice, put an “advice card” at their place setting and have a box for them to turn it in to by the gifts. I put the appropriate ones in my photo album :).
3.) Being a modern girl in the modern world who had lived with her bf/ now hubby for 4 years prior to marriage, I literally could not think of anything for a gift registry except for a new futon and a mini vacuum. What I really wanted was the attendance of my guests and maybe a little moola to help pay for some wedding expenses. Thank god for Honeyfund! Honeyfund.com is an online service that sets up a site where you and your fiancé can list things or services at varying prices so that guests can pick which they want to gift to you. Examples of things I put on there are room service on the honeymoon, a shuttle ride to the airport, hiring movers for my stuff, and a romantic dinner for 2. The site links to your PayPal account or even provides a card the guest can print to give with a check at the reception. We included the link on our electronic invitation and our guests loved it, as did we.
I would also like to STRONGLY agree with your advice asking for help. We are inherently perfectionists and that means we live by the saying “if you what it done right you have to do it yourself” but even with my bare bones wedding, it was literally impossible. And I ALMOST missed out on a piece of enjoyment because of that. Really, nobody cares about all the little things. And those who do/may are not worth your concern anyways. You can have a tears of joy inducing wedding just like mine once you free yourself from that pressure. And really the whole wedding thing is just an obstacle standing in the way of the REAL amazing stuff… YOUR MARRIAGE! So just get it over with!!
Great comments! I agree that the food and photos are the most important details. (Unfortunately, our food ended up not being great, but it was ok.) People won’t remember most other things. Like flowers, for example–ok, there’s ONE wedding I’ve attended where I remember seeing gorgeous flowers, but I don’t remember them at any other wedding. Who cares!!
I’m happy to hear you followed your heart and did things your way–and had an amazing wedding!!
These are great tips! Taking a breather is important. Letting other people help can be difficult sometimes, but it relieves you in the end.