Aditi Srivastava, a 29-year-old IT professional based in Delhi, resigned from her job six months ago to focus all her energies on orchestrating her elaborate Indian wedding. While she was prepared to manage the intricate details of planning the wedding, what she wasn’t ready for was being affected by overwhelming emotions at every step of the way.
“I was already struggling with an anxiety disorder and the wedding preparations have only aggravated it. There are moments where I feel lost and my hands trembling,” she admits. What Srivastava is experiencing are emotional symptoms of wedding stress, which according to many reports is a common problem among prospective couples. A 2018 survey of 500 married couples by American wedding e-commerce platform, Zola, found 96 percent of them claim wedding planning to be a stressful experience. While 40 percent of the couples described it as “extremely stressful”, 71 percent thought it was “more nerve-wracking than other major life events like finding a new job”.
Wedding planning takes a physical and emotional toll on brides and grooms and the reasons for it are wide ranging. From family dynamics to managing finances for the grand day - everything becomes a stressor. And in the midst of errands like designing a wedding card, finalising the menu or deciding on return gifts for guests, self-care often takes a backseat.
The rising cost of matrimony
Financing the wedding is a major cause of stress for young couples. It’s easy to see why when you realise that the average cost of weddings has seen a dramatic surge in the past five years. In its most recent report, multi-channel events platform Eventfaqs estimated that over 3.5 million weddings were expected to take place between November 23 and December 13 in India. The survey projected the total expenditure, during this short 23-day period, to be approximately Rs.4.25 trillion. It was Rs. 3.75 trillion last year.
While expenses mount, there is also an increasing incidence of youngsters wanting to fund their own weddings. A survey conducted jointly by Betterhalf.ai, an AI-based matrimonial website, and IndiaLends among 2100 respondents in 2022 found that 40 percent of the youth were willing to invest up to Rs. 10 lakh on wedding-related expenses.
Pankaj Sahoo, financial advisor with the State Bank of India in Delhi, has observed an increase among the bank’s women customers availing loans to fund their own weddings. “As per bank records, 57% women aged between 26 and 30 years, appear to have availed the loan.” While he attributes the behaviour to an attitude of self-reliance and self-awareness among the younger generation, he admits to having some clients express concerns about the mental stress associated with managing wedding expenses. It is a paradoxical situation where the need to finance their own weddings and mounting expenses has youngsters grappling with budgets and anxiety. The cost of the wedding dress may spill into a few extra 1000s or the cost of catering may suddenly shoot up.
The first step to addressing the issue is to have a strict budget that’s agreed upon by the couple. But besides that, it is critical that they establish frank and forthright communication lines with vendors and family members as well. It is perfectly okay to ask for discounts. And if required, seek external help from finance experts or therapist.
The social media strain of the picture-perfect wedding
From meticulously planned haldi-sangeet ceremonies and receptions to curated hashtags, the pressure to create flawlessly documented weddings is a major cause of heightened stress among prospective wedding couples and their families. Neha Wadhwan, who is a wedding planner, designer and co-founder of The Doli Diary in Mumbai, has seen how this pressure plays out all too well among brides and grooms
Social media has cultivated a culture of people only wanting to showcase the highlights of their life particularly their relationships, careers, and weddings,” Wadhwan says. Alluding to the unrealistic standards that platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have set for couples, she says, “As a wedding planner, I see a familiar scene playing out too often. It’s where the ceremonies have just culminated and the bride is in a hurry to upload images on to her social media. It’s almost as if the authenticity of the matrimonial event hinges upon the speed with which she shares the photographs!”
Whether it’s worrying about sticking to the budget or getting an appointment with their favourite makeup artist, during a wedding, every little detail can appear to be a make or break. And so, recognizing the signs of overwhelming stress and seeking support from loved ones is crucial for brides and grooms who are navigating the intricate landscape of wedding planning.
“Wedding stress is common for both the groom and the bride but the extent to which they experience it can vary,” says Mumbai-based therapist Gunjan Adya. While brides tend to feel the pressure of expectations, elaborate preparations and looking good for the big day, grooms may experience stress from the thought of ‘losing their independence’. “Prioritising self-care and seeking support from family are key to navigating these emotions,” says Adya even as she underlines one crucial point: “Brides and grooms need to acknowledge that imperfections are a natural part of significant events like weddings. Being flexible about the entire process can help them approach their special day in a more balanced way.”
Transitioning into married life
The honeymoon period after the wedding is painted to be dreamy, which is why when the post-wedding blues hit, the experience leaves newlyweds feeling lost. Doctor Sujatha Rajamani, consultant psychiatrist at KIMS Hospital, Hyderabad points out that the post-wedding period, often referred to as post-wedding blues, can be stressful for the bride and groom for several reasons. For starters, “the transition from the busy-ness of wedding planning to everyday mundaneness can feel abrupt,” says Rajamani. Beyond that, “adjusting to new roles and responsibilities as a married couple can be challenging. Couples will have to face newer, bigger expectations from both sides of their families,” she adds.
Then, of course, the realisation of their lives merging hereon and that they are going to be making joint decisions about everything can hit like a ton of bricks. “The period after a honeymoon requires a lot of physical and emotional adjustment from the newlyweds. What’s required to navigate this transitional phase is open communication and mutual support between them,” Rajamani says.
5 ways for self-care
Mumbai-based therapist Gunjan Adya lists out five self-care practices that can ease wedding jitters:
Morning Mindfulness: Start each day with intention. Engage in a morning ritual, be it a gentle yoga flow, a meditative walk, or simply enjoying a quiet moment with a cuppa of your favourite tea.
Breathwork: Practice deep breathing exercises. They help centre our thoughts and reduce stress. Even a few minutes can realign your focus and infuse clarity into your day.
Keep a journal: Writing can be a therapeutic tool, allowing you to process your feelings, capture moments, and articulate hopes for your future together.
Restorative massage: Schedule regular massages. The power of touch is healing and can help ease muscle tension and calm the mind in the midst of wedding planning.
Evening unwind: End your day with a relaxation technique. Whether it’s a warm bath or listening to gentle music, find a routine that signals to your body that it’s time to rest and rejuvenate.
Tanisha Saxena is a Delhi-based independent journalist. She writes stories on the intersection of art, culture and lifestyle.