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The rise of 'Wedding Therapy' speaks volumes about what weddings have become.

Therapy speak is all around us. Bleeding into work Zoom calls, group chats and spurted out in every other TikTok. 

I'm not suggesting this is a bad thing. In fact, I believe it has literally put words around feelings that we've never been able to communicate about before – opening up language in a direction it desperately needed to go.

But when I heard that 'wedding therapy' was a thing, I did stop in my tracks and think: 'Have we gone too far?'

Listen: The Outloud hosts can't agree on these wedding vows. Article continues below.

The concept of wedding therapy is almost exactly as it sounds – counselling sessions tied to the usually joyful milestone of getting hitched and celebrating with your loved ones.

These sessions are run by qualified psychologists who have found that some partners or individuals need more than just regular couples' therapy to get through this period.

At around $260 for a 45-minute session, a cool $6-per-minute addition to any wedding budget feels painful. But if there's enough of a market to drive a whole heap of psychologists to offer wedding therapy then what is going on with brides and grooms right now?

Let's wind it back first.

Weddings, while a celebration, come with a boatload of stress – particularly of the financial and familial breed. 

If you've gotten married yourself, or perhaps seen a close friend go through the motions of planning a wedding, then you'll know that not every point of #wedmin is romantic. In fact, it often involves budgeting, spreadsheets and long, confusing email chains – all things not classically spotted in a rom-com wooing montage.

But beyond the financial and logistical stressors, there can be an overwhelming amount of pressure on brides and grooms alike for a plethora of reasons.

Just a simple poll across the office (which, yes, involved me interrupting people hard at work to ask them what the most traumatising part of their wedding was) drummed up some fairly full-on responses.

"I broke out in a stress rash in the build-up to my wedding, and then was so stressed about the rash I made it a million times worse."

"It's expected in my culture to invite all of your extended family, but we couldn't afford to do that. We were blacklisted by my aunties for nearly a year after the wedding. It took away from the joy."

"My photographer cancelled on me and I had to find another, which ended costing me double. Trying to find $4,000 in an already financially f**ked time nearly ruined me."

"I was advised by my wedding dress designer to order a size down and then spent six months on an extreme diet to fit into my dress."

"I had family flying in from across the globe for my wedding, which was lovely, but essentially meant I hosted a three-week holiday for my extended family."

"My sister and her husband threatened to not attend because they were worried about COVID (even though we were following all the rules), and made my family pick sides. It was devastating."

And that was just a tiny sample size. 

It seems that wedding stress is remarkably common, and comes in all shapes and sizes – meaning that a custom solution is often required. Perhaps someone trained in psychologically unpacking the specific triggers around this time?

Courting a wedding therapist.

So how do you go about, firstly, figuring out if you need wedding therapy, and then finding a wedding therapist to help you with your woes?

Well, it seems that if you're deeply concerned about diving into #wedmin then perhaps reaching out to a counsellor is a good idea. You can book in a few sessions (budget pending, obviously) and walk through the key areas of concern with the therapist.

This doesn't have to be done with a specialist wedding therapist. It can instead can be a couples counsellor or a general therapist with whom you feel comfortable. Which is lucky, because Australia hasn't quite caught up with the trend of exclusive wedding therapists yet, so you've kinda got to DIY that for now.

Going steady with a wedding therapist.

Once you're in a working relationship with a wedding therapist, there are a few ways you can take things to the next level.

Bustle spoke to mental health practitioner Farzana Rahman, from AisleTalk – the USA's first practice to exclusively offer wedding therapy – to ask why the focus on this milestone is crucial in setting up for your happily ever after, too.

“There’s perhaps a misconception about wedding therapy that it’s not serious or needed work, but I want people to open their minds a little bit and think about it not only as therapy while you plan your wedding but also therapy to help you prepare for your marriage and other realms of life.”

She explains that the therapy sessions they offer may be hooked off wedding planning stress, but they always bleed into bigger discussions of identity.

"I’m currently working with a groom who identifies as Indian American and his fiancée identifies as white American. He’s navigating how to include multiple parts of his identity into his wedding, and it’s complicated by the fact that his parents are more religious than he is. What started as a conversation about whether guests should sit in chairs or on the floor at the ceremony, however, turned into a discussion that revealed he was uncomfortable because he had past experiences of being bullied and discriminated against for being a Sikh kid. He shared that he was worried about inviting his white American friends to the ceremony and would just rather have them come to the reception."

Rahman went on to explain that he used the sessions to further unpack why he was feeling this way.

"The session really helped him process the emotional pain he felt growing up and what his underlying worries were. He was so ready to exclude his friends, and it was an important reminder that they are not the people who hurt him when he was growing up. While he still isn’t sure how he’ll handle the ceremony, he’s uncovered something crucial about himself that he can now be more aware of."

After the 'I do'.

Wedding therapists encourage a little post-wedding aftercare to wrap up your thoughts and feelings following the big day. This is often just one or two sessions where you can run your therapist through the day and work through any bits you felt didn't go to plan or feelings that aren't sitting comfortably with you since exchanging vows.

Obviously, if you feel the need for more support following your nuptials then you are well within your rights to continue with counselling. But this will probably slip into a couples' therapy or standard psychology format.

Watch: Mia Freedman talks about her own wedding day. Article continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

While I had reservations around the need for wedding therapy, I can see how we, as a society, have edged our way towards this reality.

The pressure to have the most aesthetically pleasing wedding day that requires you to spend an exorbitant amount of money – all whilst remaining 'so chill, so relaxed' because being a bride or groomzilla is not allowed – is an impossible task. 

And one that probably requires some psychological support to make the bumpy ride just a smidge smoother.

Feature image: Mamamia.

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