Slipping into her stunning strapless wedding dress and twirling in front of
the full-length mirror, Annamaria Whittaker felt a familiar rush of
anticipation. Then, overwhelmed with emotion, she collapsed on the floor,
For Annamaria wasn’t an excited bride-to-be. She was a has-been bride. In
fact, since her £25,000 white wedding eight months before, she’d been an
emotional wreck. The reason? She was suffering from ‘post-nuptial
Annamaria is one of a growing number of young women who, once they tie the
knot, find themselves trapped in a deep depression, simply because their big
day is over.
“I’d spent years organising my wedding,” says 32-year-old Annamaria. “It
filled my thoughts 24 hours a day. Then it was all over and my life felt
In recent years, weddings have become big business. Gone are the days when all
you needed was something old, something new, something borrowed, something
blue, and some friends and family in the local register office. These days
it’s castles, stately homes, limousines and horse-drawn carriages. There are
dedicated TV channels and magazines all telling you how to have the biggest
and best wedding day. Ever.
And it seems we’re suckers for a big ‘do’. Perhaps spurred on by celeb-packed
events that are sold to the highest magazine bidder, the average British
wedding now costs £20,000 – and brides-to-be are throwing themselves into
ensuring their day surpasses all others.
Modern-day weddings are planned with military precision, and the intensity of
getting everything right often causes some women to turn into bridezillas –
those who will stop at nothing to make their wedding day perfect.
Some spend months, even years, planning every little detail, so once it’s all
over there can be a huge comedown and they can feel a sense of emptiness.
British experts have dubbed it post-nuptial depression and estimate it
affects one in 10 new brides. It can even lead some women to seek medical
In a survey carried out by Fabulous and wedding website Confetti.co.uk, 42 per
cent of new brides admitted to getting the blues after their big day.
“People put so much into their wedding day, only for it to be all over in a
flash,” says chartered psychologist Jane McCartney.
“Remember that flat feeling you had as a child when Christmas Day came to an
end? Well, for these women it’s as if a lifetime of Christmases have come
and gone in a day.”
Annamaria, an office supervisor from Nottingham, is typical of the new breed
of depressed brides.
“The biggest day of my life went in the blink of an eye, and there was nothing
to look forward to,” she says.
“I wanted to do it all over again. Every day I’d stand in front of the mirror
in my wedding dress and break down in tears, wishing I was at the altar
Annamaria married Chris, a 33-year-old engineer, at Beaumanor Hall in
Leicestershire in August 2005.
“Every day after Chris proposed, I’d researching cakes, dresses and flowers
instead of working,” she says.
“I had a mountain of wedding magazines hidden in my bottom draw which I used
to pull out when my boss’s back was turned. As soon as I was home I’d be
planning and preparing – it was all I could think about.
“Before the day itself, I took several days off work to ensure everything was
“The ceremony was everything I imagined it would be.
My favourite moment from the whole day was saying my vows. I was so happy to
be marrying Chris, I just didn’t want the day to end.”
A few days after the wedding, the newly-weds jetted off on a month-long,
round-the-world trip. But not even the beautiful scenery in Queenstown, New
Zealand, or the beaches of Fiji could make Annamaria shake off her sense of
“We would be lying on a beach or walking round an amazing temple in Thailand
and I’d turn to Chris and say: ‘This time a few days ago, we’d almost be at
the church.’ Every day, I’d bring up another memory until Chris finally told
me to give it a rest,” she says.
“Within hours of arriving home, I was miserable. I felt there was nothing to
look forward to. I was distraught that the wedding photos and DVD hadn’t
arrived, and before I’d even started unpacking I was on the phone chasing
Things got worse when Annamaria returned to work two days later.
“Being back in the office really brought home the reality that it was all
over,” she says.
“I lost all motivation. I couldn’t be bothered to cook or clean, stopped
washing my hair and didn’t put on any make-up. I looked a wreck. At weekends
I wouldn’t even get dressed. I’d just wander round in my pyjamas like a
zombie. And I was always bursting into tears.
“I didn’t want Chris to know how upset I was so I’d lock myself away in our
bedroom, flicking through my wedding folder. I’d organised the whole wedding
myself and I had a section for every part of the day. I began to pull out
the sections one by one, reorder them and add new pictures I’d cut out from
“Chris was really worried,” she adds. “He’d tell me I needed to look to the
future – but I just didn’t want to.
“One evening he walked in on me trying on my dress again. He told me to let go
and move on, but I couldn’t. I’d lie in bed thinking about how it was all
over. I had to muffle my sobs so Chris couldn’t hear.”
When the DVD of her big day arrived two months later, Annamaria watched it
daily for weeks. She knew she was depressed, but was too ashamed to confide
in her mum or friends, or talk to her doctor. She was worried they’d think
she was being ridiculous.
Her dark moods began to lift when, six months after her wedding, her cousin
Louraina, 33, asked her to be a bridesmaid.
“I threw all my energy into helping her choose dresses and pick colour
schemes. Although I wanted her to have the most amazing day, I was also
jealous because it wasn’t my day. Deep down, I hoped her wedding wouldn’t be
as grand as mine and discouraged her from looking at stately homes like we’d
had as a venue,” she confesses quietly. “In the end, she chose a hotel.”
Then Annamaria started planning her first anniversary. On the day, she put on
her dress, Chris wore a suit and they danced in their living room to their
first-dance song, Endless Love by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, before
watching their wedding DVD together. Afterwards they got changed and Chris
revealed he was taking her for dinner at their wedding reception venue. He
was desperate to see his wife happy again and thought his surprise would
make her smile.
“I’d been dropping hints, but I didn’t think he would do it. I was speechless
when he told me, and I had tears in my eyes as we drove up to Beaumanor
Hall. All the memories came flooding back.”
Her husband’s thoughtfulness made Annamaria realise she needed to move on from
the past and start enjoying married life.
So she packed away her wedding dress and banned herself from looking at her
album of pictures more than once every other day. If she had times when she
started feeling low, she’d watch her wedding DVD.
However, as her second anniversary approached, she insisted they celebrate in
exactly the same way.
It was only last May, when she discovered she was pregnant, that Annamaria
turned the corner – she finally had something new to organise. She went from
wanting to be the perfect bride to planning the perfect birth.
“I spent my weekends going to baby shows, shopping for clothes and prams, and
getting the baby’s room ready,” she says.
Baby Reece was born last January, weighing 7lb 9oz.
“I feel so much happier now,” says Annamaria. “I can’t believe how obsessed I
got. Saying that, I’ve warned Chris we’ll be renewing our vows on our 10th
His wife’s happiness has come as a relief for Chris. He admits: “She just
couldn’t let go. It really worried me when I found her in her wedding dress
– I knew things were serious. I’d taken over the cleaning and cooking at
home – all she wanted to do was sit there.
“I’m so glad she’s back to the happy, bubbly woman she was before we married.”
Sadly, Annamaria is not alone in being afraid to seek help for post-nuptial
“A bride’s wedding is meant to be the best day of her life, so how can she
admit to a doctor that it made her ill?” says Jane McCartney. “Many also
feel they won’t get much sympathy, especially from older relatives, who may
have helped to pay for the wedding in the first place.”
For some brides, like 25-year-old Laura Mason-Byers, a PR manager from
Birmingham, the bridal blues can set in before the big day has even arrived.
“I remember feeling upset after my hen do, which was three weeks before our
wedding,” she admits.
“I was gutted it was all over, and that made me worry about how I’d feel after
the wedding itself.
“Just as I feared, I was miserable afterwards. I’d spent so long obsessing
over every detail about the wedding that even now there’s this huge void in
my life with nothing to fill it.”
Laura married Colin, a 26-year-old coffee shop manager, in August with a
£28,000 extravaganza at Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire.
The day took four years to plan – and everything, down to the tiniest detail,
had been plotted with military precision.
“Before the wedding I spent every spare minute visiting venues or planning,”
she says. “Once it was all over I thought: ‘What do I do now?’
“I felt as though I had nothing to look forward to. I didn’t want to do
anything or see anyone, I just wanted to wallow in my own misery, so I moped
around the house.
“I comfort ate and put on over 7lb because I didn’t have the wedding to slim
for any more.
“Colin didn’t really understand, and his patience started to wear thin.
‘Why can’t you be happy that we’re together and have our whole future to look
forward to?’ he’d ask.
“I felt guilty and selfish because I wanted to share his happiness, but
instead I just felt a sense of loss.”
Slowly, Laura is getting over her blues. She’s trying to fill up her diary
with trips to see her family and romantic breaks. But she has a word of
warning for any new brides.
“It’s hard,” she says. “You put your heart and soul into your wedding and it’s
over so quickly. You’ve spent all this time looking forward to it but you
never realise how you’re going to feel once the fairy tale is over.”
PSYCHOLOGIST LINDA BLAIR SAYS: “In everyone’s lifetime there are
four major events – birth, death, marriage and children. The last two are
the only ones we do have a choice over – so we put a great deal of
emphasis on them.
With any major event there’s always a huge build-up and a comedown afterwards.
Feeling low after a wedding is normal, but people can experience guilt if
they’re sad following a happy occassion.
This can’t be avoided, so the best thing to do is put it into perspective and
accept that this feeling won’t last forever – just ask your married friends!
It’s important to be realistic and not let your emotions spiral out of
control. Allow time to recuperate and relax then enjoy being a newly-wed.”