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First comes the engagement, then comes the planning!

How much does a wedding cost? Let’s put together the budget! Where are we going to get the funds to pay for all of this?! Stacy says she hates her bridesmaid dress and refuses to wear it. My mom hates the flower colors we selected. OH MY GOD… the wedding is one month away and we still have to get champagne flutes, cakes knives, menu cards, oh goodness… we have to start creating the seating chart. What if the guests won’t dance. What if auntie hates who she is sitting with?!

As a planner, former bride, and many times a bridesmaid, I’ve heard it all. Weddings bring stress even when you don’t think they will. So don’t keep telling yourself that you’re going to just keep things simple because even then, simple may bring chaos. During this time, you may see a side of yourself that you have never seen before, which may lead you to cause commotion between your fiancé, family and friends. The last thing that you want to be doing is arguing with the best people in your life. What better way to resolve your problems than by seeking out a specialist that can make your life at ease. I’m not talking about a wedding planner, I’m talking about a therapist! It’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your fiancé. Talking to someone who has the expertise on communication and relaxation will make your wedding planning and day of the wedding so much more enjoyable.

Sincerely, Magdalena L. had a great privilege to have a one to one interview with mental health therapist, Rachel Benson, discussing the topic “What to do to have a stress free wedding day”.

Before you read the interview, here’s a little background about Rachel Benson from Rachel Benson, LCSW:

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (License # 75165) in the state of California, and I’ve been providing therapy to individuals, couples, and groups since 2007. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in International Business from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 2001, and my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from New York University (NYU) in 2007. After earning my MSW, I began practicing long-term family therapy with high-risk families struggling with issues such as attachment, relationship problems, financial concerns, managing extended family members, mental health issues, and high-risk behaviors.  Within this work, I saw family members individually, as couples, as families, and in groups. Since then, I have continued to work with these populations in a variety of settings in New York and California. I have also become involved in the birth community, both teaching natural childbirth classes and running postpartum support groups. I currently have a private practice in Tustin, CA.

You can also learn more about what is exactly a licensed clinical social working by checking out Rachel’s blog on her website. 


Photo Credit: Wasio Photography

Here is the exclusive interview we had with Rachel Benson:

  1. Is there anything a bride and groom can do before their wedding day to prepare their mindset?

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!  The bride and groom should both be talking about what their needs and wants are, not only regarding their wedding day, but for the months leading up to it!  Don’t assume the other person knows what is most important to you. If you feel anxious about something, let your spouse-to-be know about it and work together to find a solution.

2. Is it usual for couples to come see you during wedding planning?

Yes.  I see couples for two main reasons during wedding planning.  The first reason is for pre-marital counseling. In this role, I work more as a guide for the couple, helping them think about their relationship, their future, and what expectations they have for their life together.  I help to strengthen their communication skills and allow them to think through potential problems and how they will resolve any conflicts that may arise. The other reason that couples come to see me is that wedding planning is a time of heightened emotions.  Couples may find that they feel overwhelmed, that they are fighting more often, or that feelings of guilt, hurt, and anxiety are cropping up as they attempt to balance their individual desires with the wants of their spouse-to-be and other family members. In this case, I step in to improve communication skills, teach people how to be assertive vs. aggressive or passive, and to prioritize what’s most important to them and their future.  I also specialize in an evidence-based technique to reduce anxiety, and this can be very helpful for wedding-planning couples.

  1. There are many nerve-racking moments in a wedding day, one of which is the first look between the bride and groom. What are some techniques that they should know about to help them stay calm?

There are some great ways to stay calm.  One is to BREATHE! To take a deep, calming breath before a nerve-racking moment, and to really focus on your breath as you do so.  Another technique is positive self-talk. Speak to yourself (inside your head) in the same kind and encouraging way that you would speak to a close-friend who was feeling anxious.  Focus on the positive things that you are able to control.

  1. If the bride and groom are having a stressful wedding due to any reasons that might happen (family drama, bridal party drama, vendor issues, etc.), what is the best thing for them to do at that very moment? Should they remove themselves from the situation? If so, what should they discuss?

It is always stressful when things feel out of your control or are not matching your expectations.  One of the best things to do is to ask yourself the question, “So What?” How does this issue really impact you beyond this moment?  Then, find a piece of the situation that you can control. Maybe that is delegating the issue to someone else to deal with it, so that you can remove yourself from the situation.  (Which is one of the reasons why having an event planner is so helpful!) But even if you don’t have a hired person, you can still ask for help from another family member or friend.  Everyone loves to help the bride and groom on their big day, so phrasing it as, “it would mean so much to me if you could help me resolve XYZ” will make everyone want to pitch in. Practicing gratitude during stressful moments can also help.  Yes, Grandma didn’t get her corsage, but consider how grateful you are that Grandma is here, and that you will always have the memory of her presence at your wedding.

5. I’ve attended a few weddings where there was a hired event planner, but I still noticed the brides were acting frantic. At one of these weddings, I approached the bride to say “Congratulations” and she just started hyperventilating even though everything was running smoothly, on time, and looked beyond perfect. If I were to go back in time, what could I have said to her at that moment?

As I mentioned before, weddings are emotionally-charged events.  Usually these are positive emotions, but because of the gravity of the day, all emotions are heightened.  In the scenario you described, I may have said, “You seem upset/worried about something. What is one thing that you wish was different about the way things are going that would help you relax and enjoy yourself?  Maybe I can help make that happen.” Sometimes brides are so focused on what is going wrong that they can’t see all the wonderful things that are going right. So another tactic may be to compliment the bride on what a wonderful job she did putting together the wedding and point out a few parts of the day that you have really appreciated and loved.  

Photo Credit: Chloe Atnip Photography

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Interviewer Name: Rachel Benson
Company Name: Rachel Benson, LCSW
Title: Mental Health Therapist/Owner
Address: 218 W Main Street, Suite 202B, Tustin, CA 92780
Phone Number: 714-468-3685
Email: info@tustincounseling.com
Website: www.tustincounseling.com
Preferred Method of Contact: Phone, Text, or Email are all great!
Instragram: @tustincounseling
Facebook: Rachel Benson, LCSW

Fun Fact About Rachel: My two favorite things could be viewed as polar opposites – I love the ocean – I find the sound and the movement to be so calming and to bring me peace.  I also love rollercoasters! The faster and twistier the better! I love how you can experience feelings of fear that transform into fun and excitement!