A couple of weeks after Anne Whitaker got back from her honeymoon in Mexico and California, she called her mom in tears. She’d just had the most amazing December wedding in Manhattan (think winter wonderland vibes in Central Park) followed by a beachy week of bliss to end 2017. She thought she would be ecstatic. Instead, she felt depressed.
“It was surprisingly hard to settle back into normalcy after being on such a high for so long,” the 29-year-old recalls. “There had been so much build-up, from the bachelorette party to the bridal shower to the constant phone calls with my mom and my wedding planner, and then it was just... over.
“I felt bored and nostalgic and missed all the excitement. It felt like a whole fun phase of my life had just ended.”
TBH, this kind of “wedding comedown” isn’t rare. In a 2018 study of 152 women, 12 per cent reported feeling depressed after they tied the knot.
“The whole process of getting married can be one of the biggest highs in the world, from the proposal to the planning to the party,” says relationship therapist Diana Kirschner, PhD, author of Love in 90 Days. “That high can be so intense that when your wedding ends, it can cause a giant and unexpected emotional crash.” That sudden bummed-out mood can also make you feel guilty, like you’re an ungrateful monster for not being a hundred per cent psyched about your wonderful celebration, and – oh yeah – your new spouse. (Pause that spiral, girl. It’s gonna be okay.) Understanding why this slump happens to even the most in-love newlyweds might help you figure out how to enjoy the whole ‘Oh, we’re actually married!’ thing. Here are some reasons why you might catch those post-bliss blues – and how you can get over them.
You’re married – now what?
While some brides hate dealing with little details (place cards, why are you such a big deal?!), many, like Kaity Roberts Bandura, 27, are all about that life. After her now-husband proposed in September 2017, they booked her dream venue in the Poconos for the following June. For eight and a half months, she was laser-focused on all the planning minutiae.
“During that time, I was working toward a single, steady goal,” she says. But after she actually got married, depression hit. “I found myself thinking, ‘What am I working toward now?’ I even Googled: ‘What to do when you’re sad after your wedding’ because I didn’t know what to do
with myself.” To get through the slump, Bandura, who works in PR, set two huge objectives at work (to revamp her website and to get two more clients) and one in her personal life (to teach more yoga). Making and crushing those goals (which she did, natch) helped her channel that energy into her future.
You miss planning time with bae
Ashley Riggs, 33, felt similarly disoriented after her October 2018 wedding, a 70-person destination event in the Dominican Republic. She and her husband spent a year and a half working on the celebration. Throughout the process, they developed a Sunday routine: Wake up, run errands, make popcorn, and plop down in front of her laptop to work on wedding-related Excel sheets. Coordinating the whole hoopla became a ~thing~ that actually brought them closer together, and they didn’t know how to deal once it was all over. “We’d been working on this project together for so long that it felt like backtracking if we just went back to the way things were when we were dating,” she says. The best way to combat this missed time? Lean into your first year of marriage by not making another huge decision, like buying a house, right away. That’s how Whitaker and her husband kept their bond electric post-wedding. “Spending such quality time together on vacation and with family before we took any other big steps really helped me appreciate what marriage is all about,” she says. Admit it – you love the attention. For other brides, the wedding comedown might be caused by missing the spotlight. “A lot of brides divide their lives into ‘before the wedding’ and ‘after the wedding,’ and ‘before the wedding’ can seem more fun because it’s all about the party,” says Kirschner. Without that, leading a hype-free existence might have you freaking out. Plus, people who were checking in on you regularly (oh hi, #bridalbesties) may not be hitting you up on the reg. “When I first started feeling this way, I was like, ‘What the hell is wrong with me?’ I felt so selfish for wanting the attention back on me and my husband,” admits Bandura. But once she commiserated with another bride about how they both felt so sad – and guilty about feeling sad – she became much more grounded.
Reality is way less glam
Getting married can also put other parts of your life into perspective. That’s what happened to Sarah Crasden, 30, who got married in October 2017. While on her honeymoon, she got so bummed thinking about returning to her corporate desk job that she actually burst into tears on the last day of their trip. In the Maldives. Overlooking an infinity pool. (Hard times, indeed.)
It felt like a whole fun phase of my life had just ended. “There I was, in the most beautiful location ever, just sobbing,” she says. At the time, she had a job in sales, but working on a large-scale event made her realise that she loved having an artistic outlet and didn’t want to stay at her gig. “Knowing I had to then go back to the ‘normalcy’ of my job, which was not creative in any way, made me so depressed,” she says. But Crasden didn’t go back to her normal life. Instead, she rethought her entire career and started a side hustle planning wellness events. Eventually, she left her job to run that business full-time.
The good news is that, unlike your actual relationship, the post-wedding comedown only lasts a couple of months, says Kirschner. In the meantime, you always have your insanely gorgeous photos – and of course, your marriage.