The seven emotional stages of planning a wedding.

There are people who enjoy wedding planning. They’re the kind who have carefully curated Pinterest boards, Excel proficiency and get special tingles when they hear the word ‘expo’.

And then there are the rest of us.

But no matter how efficiently you approach the process, there’s no escaping the seven stages of emotional turbulence that come with it.

Stage 1: (Misplaced) enthusiasm.

Oh, the love bubble. There’s champagne and hugging and excited phone calls and more champagne. Maybe even some cake.

When you think about what lies ahead you jump straight to the good bit, which right now is haloed pastiche of all the best movie/TV/celebrity weddings you’ve ever seen or read about. Because no doubt you will be wearing Kate Middleton’s dress, have Keira Knightly’s face and Stevie Wonder will be providing the entertainment.

Enjoy this bubble. Care for it. Treat it like the shiny, delicate, transient thing that it is.

Stage 2: Guilt – Part 1.

The ring has barely started forming a groove in your finger flesh, but already there are folks shining a fluorescent lamp in your face and shouting questions (OK, so maybe it just feels like shouting).

“It’s only been 19 hours,” you respond, wiping sweat from your brow. “So, no, I have not set a date or chosen a venue or picked the bridal party or found a dress or rung Auntie Cheryl yet.”

Stage 3: Shock and denial.

This is generally closely tied to the receiving of the quotes. This means hiring an ASIO code-breaker to decipher the brochures and pricing sheets, and find the inevitable hidden costs. ‘Oh, you want people to be able to sit down? Well, yeah, chairs are obviously extra.’


You then delude yourself into thinking that eating two-minute noodles twice a week and skipping the odd coffee will somehow mean you can afford said costs.

Literally everyone who attempts to soothe you during this stage will utter some variation of: “Once you find the venue, everything will fall into place.” Which is meant to be encouraging, but in your stress-addled mind translates to “This is the most difficult and important decision you will have to make, and you should probably make it now.”

Cake tasting is really the only highlight here.

Stage 4: Pretending everything is under control and running away with your friends.

This, on the other hand, is stage you can really look forward to. It might be a civilised weekend away in wine country, a champagne brunch, or it might be a tiara-wearing, penis-straw sipping, topless-waiter-ogling night on the town.

Regardless, spending time away from all the emails and spreadsheets and budgets and choices is pretty damn delightful.

Stage 5: Bargaining (a.k.a. Guilt – Part 2).

Not with the vendors, because that’s not a thing. More with yourself. Because while you really want to marry this guy/girl and are looking forward to having what everyone insists will be the best day of your life, you would also rather not make a decision about tablecloths right now.

This is when the planning process becomes your own private game of ‘Would You Rather?’

eg. Eloping vs. enduring your mother-in-law’s snarky side-eye for the next 40 years; Auntie Cheryl’s coriander “allergy” vs. the cost of a special meal; Your relationship with you cousin vs. hers with the plus-one she met on Tinder two weeks ago.


At this point, you will likely start wondering if you could put the whole wedding thing off for long enough that people might just… forget.

Is it appropriate to outsource the writing of your wedding vows? We discuss, on Mamamia Out Loud. (Post continues below.)

Stage 6: Acceptance.

And then it happens. You realise that contrary to what everyone has been telling you, it’s not just ‘your day’. It’s also for the 96 other people you’ve chosen to share it with. That’s why you care about that damn table cloth, or whether there are chairs for your Nan, or coriander in the roaming canapés.

This stage may come weeks out from the ceremony, or it may come that morning. And while it doesn’t mean you won’t still suffer the odd last-minute panicky thought about cuffllinks or something else entirely unimportant, it means those thoughts won’t last long. Because you’ll realise the moment is finally close, and that all your family and friends are as happy about that as you are.

Stage 7: Recovery.

All those knowing winks about your wedding night, they’re not about what you think. The fact is, every married person is in on a big joke: your wedding night will not be the bodice-ripping love fest you presumed.

Instead you will be so exhausted (see all the bits above) that it’s highly likely you will collapse in said bodice, your head spinning with all the faces who came to celebrate with you, music and well-wishes ringing in your ears.

And then you will wake up the next morning and see your spouse’s beautiful, slightly hungover face staring back at you, and it will all be worth it. Every little bit.