Wedding Brain: A Disorder That Affects the Cerebral Cortex

I'm sorry, where was I?

Wedding Brain noun [ˈwe-diŋ ˈbrān]

a disorder that affects the cerebral cortex causing anxiety, stress, procrastination and the inability to stay focused… Ooohh I wonder if Etsy has any vintage brooches from 1950?

My friend told me the average bride-to-be (or groom) spends about forty hours* a week thinking about their wedding. Looking at the extremely scientific diagram above, it’s clear to see why.

This would be fine if I had an extra forty hours a week to spend farting around on the internet, but I’m an adult and actually have things that need to get done. It feels crappy when The Fiancé comes home and I have to tell him, “Sorry the dishes are still dirty and the living room is a mess and I haven’t showered in two days, but I got trapped on Pinterest looking at nail art.” To be fair, my nails DO need to be their prettiest on my wedding day.

This is also really frustrating when you work from home (or near a computer) but can’t seem to get any work done because wedding thoughts keep popping into your head. God forbid you don’t look it up IMMEDIATELY or that idea will either be gone forever or plague your thoughts until you do give in and research it.

So what can you do?

  • For starters, maybe cut back a little on the coffee (helllooo over-active brain). I’m already an extremely hyper, anxious person so caffeine is awful for me. Deliciously awful.
  • Next, read the book A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene. Seriously. Go now. I’ve already read it once and I’m on my second go. I’m also having The Fiancé read it and when he’s done it’s going to my mum. In a very short summary, it gets your focus back on the important things about the wedding (why you’re getting married) and off of the silly stuff (the font on your monogrammed napkins).
  • Designate specific days during the week for wedding planning and on the other days wedding talk is off limits. To be honest, the latter didn’t work too well for me. I found myself sneaking around my own rules and emailing photographers. Oops. But this at least helps with not bombarding your partner with wedding talk. If you’re obsessive like me, you might want to write up a daily schedule to give yourself specific time allotments that are assigned for wedding stuff.
  • Keep a notepad with you at all times. If an idea pops into your head, write it down and research it later during a designated wedding planning time. Fight the urge to drop everything and look it up on the spot.
  • And last but not least, breathe. Relax. Take a break. If you feel yourself on the verge of a breakdown then do something to take your mind off of it. Go to the gym, read a (non-wedding related) book or take a nap. Or just elope and get it over with.


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  • Taylor

    What? No. I totally am not on APW at work right now, and I totally didn’t come here because I was stressing out about color schemes all morning. Not at all.

    Also, don’t tell anyone, but I have this thing now where I keep forgetting to eat dinner until like 10 pm because as soon as I get home from work I start looking up reviews for florists, and pinning table number ideas, all while swearing up and down that I’m a SANE bride and I know that the details don’t matter.

    Thanks for the wake up call. I hereby declare Friday Wedding Planning Day. Catch y’all later.

  • ha i love this. with my wedding in just ten days, i have definite wedding brain. but your book did help, meg :)

  • Alexandra

    The number my wedding planner gave me was “350 hours spent planning the wedding.” Given my current rate of wedding stuff consumption… I think it’ll end up reasonably accurate.

    On the other hand, how on earth do people measure “How long someone thinks of a topic?” Like seriously, I just picture this researcher following around brides going “And now what are you thinking about?” in 5 minute intervals.

  • Megan2

    *I tried to google this statistic and found almost nothing, — That’s ok, 40% of all statistics are made up on the spot ;-)

    Keep a notepad with you at all times. If an idea pops into your head, write it down — This helped a lot in the beginning! When it was all just ideas & maybes, everything went into my shiny pink book. Most things are written down 3 times, but it helped to get it OUT of my head! Just to dump it all on paper & feel like something had been “handled.” Holding onto that book felt like I had “something,” when nothing was real yet.

    Next, read the book A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene. — Check! I’m going thru the past in the blog, recently. I enjoy seeing someone else go thru the highs & lows, I feel more sane that way! One day it’s all peace & fun times, the next day I’m freaking out about shoes, or hair, or his outfit, (all the worries are really about money though) … when it matters, but it really doesn’t Matter. Thank You for this site, Meg!

    I’m going to hang that brain up on the regular-non-wedding inspiration board, so I can look at it when I feel crazed & then simmer down! Wedding Zen, please come to my house

  • Totally honored that Offbeat Bride was included! :)

    • kyley

      OBB and APW (and ESB) are the only wedding blogs, in my opinion.

  • I’m totally pinning that image to keep track of my brain.
    I seriously have a master list of lists, and they have outlines, bullets, et cetera. Sketch books with drawn-to-scale tables. Really. Separate notebooks for the choosing of the rental company, music selections, and guests. All in a shoebox, cause, you know, I’m trying to keep it simple.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I think we should get worried when our “wedding brains” no longer resemble our “normal brains.”

      There’s nothing wrong with being very prepared and very organized, if that’s how you are in “normal life.” It’s when you feel pressure to morph into an analytical, organized, princess-y person that we need to worry.

  • daynya

    Yes. I definitely read the book, twice. I now have it as a reference for freak outs. I would agree with this whole diagram, pretty much. At any given moment, there is usually one or two of these items that take up a much larger portion than the others, but it’s ever-changing. The ‘designate time to plan’ thing totally hasn’t worked for me. When I get excited, I get excited, and I’m ready to roll right now. No seriously, we have to research every single option ever for handmade earrings. Right. Now. The taking a break has been my biggest help. Walking away from reading every single wedding related blog post that I wanted to, walking away from answering incessant questions from my mom, just walking away. Leaving it go, and knowing that no matter what, it’s all going to be fine because I’m getting MARRIED, has helped tremendously. I keep myself occupied, and now only focus on wedding related tasks as they come up and I have to handle them. It has helped me go from completely planning crazy, to pretty much sane with a dash of crazy. :)

  • Caitlin

    YES!! Read the book, the book, the book!! I’ve completely lost my mind in the past two days because since being engaged since last November I “haven’t been allowed” to start planning until now (I’m in grad school, he’s worried about my ocd anxiety organization to begin with but now I’m completely bored with summer vacation). I bought Meg’s book last week and read it in one sitting. Though I’ve followed the blog for nearly a year, the condensed wisdom of the book completely changed my perspective on what I’m doing. Now, after 3 years of knowing the day was coming, we set a date and all I can think is WEDDING, venue, catering?, music, I-need-a-fascinator-veil!! I’m feeling confident that no matter how much wisdom y’all throw at me I’ll still be in wedding brain for quite some time. Thanks, though.

  • Erin with an E

    Aaaaaaahhhhh the hours of my life searching for the perfect antique necklace to wear on my wedding that I never bought and never missed! Honestly, the internet is both a blessing (smart blogging communities, independent designers, google docs) and a absolute curse (image overload, decision fatigue, feeling like there is a perfect thing out there if I just search long enough) when it comes to wedding planning.

    I know this doesn’t work for those planning in rural or remote areas, but the best piece of advice I have for those couples planning a wedding is to go to local stores and make decision based on what they have. If you have a specific thing in mind already, the internet can be very helpful; however, if you are just browsing for ideas or looking broadly at stuff it can turn in a giant time suck where you actually don’t really accomplish anything. Or, for example, if you are looking at thank you cards, you can browse the handful of providers on APW, find your top three options, compare prices and styles with your partner, and choose one. So much better than searching through pinterest, etsy, major companies, major indie companies, new indie companies and then getting overwhelmed and giving up. Everybody wins!

    • I love the local store idea!

      Not only would you be supporting local businesses but you could avoid getting lost on the internets and its endless options. I think I’d be more likely to remember that “perfect is the enemy of good” if I were in a store rather than on websites.

    • Rachel Wilkerson

      GREAT idea!

    • Taylor

      Fantastic advice. I’m thinking in particular of all the time I have spent looking for the perfect nail polish color (and I’m a girl who doesn’t even WEAR nail polish! Ever! how did I decide that I *had to* for my wedding?). Then my mom took me out for a mother/daughter mani/pedi last weekend as a surprise treat, and I just picked an unobtrusive pink off the shelf in the salon, and you know what? It worked just fine.

      I definitely do think that the abundance of options out there does make decision-making so much more difficult.

    • One More Sara

      I bought a Groupon for invitations, and the website “only” has about 45 designs. It has been such a life-saver. There is enough selection that I feel like almost anyone could find something for them, and fonts/colors are customizable. Before I found that Groupon, I was searching tons of websites with what seemed like millions of options. It was SO GREAT to limit myself to the 45 designs from the Groupon. (And also saving tons of money!) (It’s if anyone is interested)

  • Rachel Wilkerson

    Ya know, I killed approximately 4 hours on Sunday researching nail art and it wasn’t even wedding-related (though my nails now do show how much I love ‘MERICA!)…I don’t even want to think about how much time wedding nails (or hair omg) would suck out of a day.

    I try to avoid the wedding rabbit hole by distracting myself with other topics that feel bottomless — home decor, especially fabulous home offices, and yoga blogs work well for me. Once I’m burned out on these, wedding shizz feels like a welcome break.

  • I wrote about bridal brain before my wedding!

    it is a real thing, I swear! :)

  • Wedding is two months minus two days away. Before the page loaded, I was thinking (whining) – maybe APW will have just what I need right now (currently feeling weepy out of nowhere over rsvp declines/planning over-drive/razor burn). Um…UNCANNY. That’s a snapshot of my brain. EXACTLY. Just what I needed. Oh Universe, you feisty vixen.

    • I totally use APW as my therapy when I’m having freakouts too :]

  • M

    Great ideas! I was wondering, is there an e-book version of A Practical Wedding? I live abroad and it would make things sooo much simpler than shipping. I love the idea of having my “importants” (ie fiancé, MIL, sister, etc) read the book, we could all be in the same frame of mind. Genius.

    • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

      There is, Kobo has an e-book version for sure.

  • I found that keeping a ‘To Do’ list was invaluable as well. I tried doing it on my phone but went back to a good old lined notebook :)

  • Kristina

    Wedding brain? Let’s see. It’s three o’clock in the morning. I’m getting married in four days and need my sleep (especially since I am coming down with a cold). But sleep is nowhere to be found. I crept out of a warm bed with a warm, sleeping man to come downstairs and have a glass of wine and try to calm down. Because the fabric I ordered weeks ago for cap-sleeves on my sleeveless dress hasn’t come in from Hong Kong, and it is time to give up and accept that the cap sleeves are not happening. But what about the armpit fat??? And the fact that I am not a sleeveless kind of person? Please note that I am a feminist and almost 40 and a highly-accomplished woman and cannot believe that I am losing sleep over armpit fat. Oh, and also over the fact that I took a full week off from work be get ready to get married and I am freaked out about the stuff that may be falling apart at work right now. Talk about getting hit from both sides. Anyway, I will shortly go back to bed and hold onto my wonderful man who loves me regardless of armpit fat, and will try try try to sleep. Because I’m almost 40 and not getting enough sleep really shows…. And that, my friends, is wedding brain at its worst. Over and out.

    • Kara

      I lost my mind about back fat. It’s ok. I assume you’re already married by now and I assure you that you were BEAUTIFUL. Even with armpit fat.

  • Also very important to remember to enjoy being engaged. It’s a new and exciting relationship realm for you, and you need to soak it in.

    • Good point! I need to do this more often. That first week of being engaged was BLISS. Maybe if I take time every day to remember that feeling my wedding brain will feel better.

  • Hannah

    I’ve actually said to people that one of the things that I’m grateful for, post-wedding, is getting my brain back. :-) Because wedding planning took up an incredible amount of cognitive effort, that’s for sure.

    And agree about the book! Two things it convinced me of, which saved my sanity: 1) Have a “stage manager” for the day-of (it was so freeing to finally hand-off my binder to my best friend and say, “I’m done. You’re in charge now.” 2) Make a decision and let it go. Wedding brain would’ve been so much worse if we’d continually re-visited and fretted about choices made.

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