Too Much Choice: How to Beat Wedding Overwhelm!


Struggling to choose what you want for your wedding? You're not alone! In this blog I explain why some choice is good, but more is not necessarily better AND how you can avoid feeling overwhelmed with all those difficult decisions.

Wedding favours...

Unless you’ve planned a wedding before, you may not know what they are. Also called bomboniere, bonbonniere or boubouniere; these are the gifts given to guests to say thank you for coming.

Ok, so apparently an invitation, a nice dinner and the pleasure of being part of the happiest day of your life isn’t enough. You also need to give a present? 

Fine, it’s a wedding, it’s traditional... so, favours it is.

Unsure where to source these little tokens of appreciation, you jump online. Trusty old Google will help you find the perfect thing. 

One “wedding favours” search and 0.60 seconds later, Google delivers...

31,600,000 results!

Fantastic. Surely with ALL these you’ll easily find something you like. Having so many options can only be a good thing, right? Hmmm, perhaps not.

We all know choice is important; it’s empowering. Your choices will make your wedding different to your cousin’s wedding, or your colleague’s… or any other wedding you’ve been to. But in a world already overflowing with temptations and beautiful distractions, is it possible that there is simply too much choice?

What is Overchoice?

According to Wikipedia, overchoice (I swear, it’s a real thing) is “a cognitive process in which people have a difficult time making a decision when faced with many options”.

We’ve all been there... struggling to pick because there are so many choices available.

From the thousands of titles on Netflix to the hundreds of shades of MAC eyeshadow, there is a whole world of endless options to choose from.

The wedding industry is no exception. 

With brides-to-be passionately pinning, tweeting, sharing and #ing everything from hay bales to honeymoons, its no wonder so many couples find the process overwhelming.

The Problem with Too Many Options

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less is a book by American psychologist Barry Schwarz. In it, he explains why too much of a good thing has proven detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being.

 He claims that when faced with too many choices, we often experience confusion, pressure and a fear of making the wrong choice.

We start to question ourselves, “what if there’s something better out there if I just keep looking”? Have you been there? I know I have. Only every single time I enter a LUSH store!

This state of uncertainty can lead to procrastination and inability to commit, when the freedom of choice is replaced by a debilitating condition called over-choice, also known as choice-overload or analysis paralysis. So scared of getting it wrong, we end up avoiding it altogether.

The French have a saying, “trop de choix tue le choix” which basically translates as “too much choice kills the choice”. I feel this most when I'm standing in Baskin Robbins and my kids still can't choose from the 31 flavours... after fifteen freakin' minutes!


Gemma's Dilemma

A perfect example of overchoice is Gemma's story. She's embarrassed about me sharing this but hopes to stop others falling into a similar trap.

A few weeks after getting engaged, Gemma joined a whole bunch of wedding Facebook groups. As you can imagine, these groups are a honeypot for people both buying and selling wedding stuff. Unable to resist a good deal and with so many lovely things being posted each day, she started snapping up bargains. Her plan was to figure out her theme as she went along and just resell any bits she didn't use.

The wedding bag soon became a wedding box. Then a wedding corner.

Ten weeks out from the big day and Gemma called me. She was an emotional wreck. 

Their spare room was full of wedding things but she couldn’t go in there without breaking into cold sweats, sometimes even tears. With so many options, she couldn't choose what to use and how to make it all work together. Poor Gemma was completely overwhelmed.

Afraid her friends would ridicule her first world problems, she was getting more and more distraught as the months ticked by. Even choosing her colours was a nightmare!

Of course it was all fine in the end. A good sort through with a clear picture was all we needed to get her back on track. After that she really started enjoying herself, so much that she is actually training to become a wedding planner herself!

Ok, so Gemma’s case was extreme, however thousands of future brides face similar dilemmas every day. From the dress to the decorations and yes… those oh-so-important wedding favours, trying to choose can be exhausting!

How to overcoming overwhelm

When faced with too many options, most of us have a tendency to try and simplify. Often this is based on cost (choosing the cheapest), or convenience (taking the easiest option). While price and convenience ARE important, they shouldn't be the only considerations when planning the biggest day of your life!

The best way to simplify is to eliminate as many options as you can in terms of theme and style.

My suggestion is create a unique Wedding Concept that you absolutely LOVE.

 Defining your Wedding Concept forces you to think very carefully about what you want, what your wedding priorities are and how you can infuse your personalities into your day. Working from your core values and what’s important to you, use this as the framework for your planning.

Identify what you want and how to get it

Spend as long as you need to figuring out your Wedding Concept because the clearer you are from the beginning, the easier your journey will be. 

I find it baffling, the number of brides who get right into the planning (often spending a fortune) yet still don’t have a definitive idea of how they want the day to be! Like, how can you expect suppliers to deliver your perfect wedding if you don’t know what it is?

Once you’ve poured your heart and soul into your concept, document it. Well. The more detail and effort you put into it, the less overwhelmed you’ll be when all those beautiful distractions appear. If it doesn’t fit with your concept, you don’t need it. End of story.

Armed with your vision, you can easily build a plan to make it a reality, allowing you to enjoy the experience. Just like Gemma... eventually!

If in doubt, stay focused and keep it simple.

Coco Chanel once said “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”. Who am I to argue with that?

Read more about Wedding Concepts and planning your dream day without the drama in my book.

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What issues have you experienced trying to make decisions, for your wedding? Please drop me a comment below, I'll help you if I can.

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