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I Helped Plan My Daughter’s Wedding in Spite of My ADHD

Mother with ADHD is proud as she hugs her newly married daughter
Getty Images / FG Trade

Planning for a wedding can be tricky with Adult ADHD. Here's how Terry Matlen coped.

My ADHD is always lurking somewhere in the shadows. It leapt on me in the grandest of ways when my older daughter announced that she and her beloved were planning to get married.

Was my first thought how happy I was for them? That I’d be gaining a son-in-law? Did my eyes mist over thinking that my baby girl had grown up?

No. My first thought was, "how in the world can I take on a wedding when I can barely plan a dinner for four?"

That’s a bit of an exaggeration. I really was happy for my daughter and her newly minted fiancé.

But shortly after the happy shrieks, backslaps, hugs, and kisses, my mind went straight to the altar. As in, what does one put on a wedding altar? Flowers? Ribbons?

Then it hit me. Making a wedding requires more than flowers. It requires something that causes many of us with ADHD to become hysterical. It’s the “P” word. PLANNING.

My anxiety level started rising as I counted all of the things I’d have to help plan. The invitations. Wait. First, the guest list! No, wait. The venue! Oh no. Before that… the date.

How much time do I have to get all of this sorted out?

The rush of planning details hit me. There’s the dress. No, plural: dresses. The wedding dress, the dress for the mother of the bride, the dress for my younger daughter, the dress for my elderly mother, the dresses for the bridesmaids… and the flower girls!

The sweat was now sparkling on my forehead. Thoughts came hurling at me. Menu, wedding cake, music, photographer, gift registry, hostess gifts. There was more! Bridal shower, hotel for the out-of-towners. And that was only about half of my mental list.

To make things more complicated, I’d been struggling for months with severe back pain due to a herniated disc. I was a wreck. How could I possibly help my daughter’s wedding with ADHD?

Here’s how I made it through.

I let my daughter take the lead

We were in luck. My bride-to-be daughter does not have ADHD.

My daughter’s brain is like a gorgeous planner you see online. Everything is numbered, sensible, accurate, and easy breezy.

She’s a take-charge kind of person. It’s a skill she learned to live successfully with a mom who has ADHD.

I watched as she grabbed a sheet of paper and planned her wedding in 20 seconds. My mouth gaped as she shared her timeline. (“Timeline” is not a word in my vocabulary.)

She was her own wedding planner. She chose the date, florist, venue, menu, and all of the other major decisions that go along with throwing a wedding.

That didn’t get me off of the hook. I still had lots of work. I had to figure out a budget, manage hotel options, find entertainment for visitors, and about 200 other things. I was an ADHD train wreck.

I asked for outside help

I calmed myself down enough to use one of the strategies I’ve written about and recommended to my clients. I got outside help.

I went to the wedding venue’s event coordinator and begged her to assist me with the details. She didn’t charge me for her services. We were already paying her hotel plenty. She suggested food, offered place setting and table décor ideas, and so much more.

I started to relax.

I decided when I was OK splurging

Then more reality hit. The hotel planner couldn’t help us with everything. So, I sold our house (kidding!) and hired a party planner.

Most of you will think this is an extravagant waste of money. But I’ve learned over the years that I must ask for help when my ADHD just can’t manage. We somehow found a way to pay for it.

Ten months later, my daughter had the most gorgeous wedding. Everything worked out to perfection thanks to her creative and organized brain… and our now-empty bank account.

Four weeks after the wedding, I had back surgery. It was a complete success… just like the wedding.

Tips to plan a big event with ADHD

I learned a few things from this experience:

  • Be realistic. Don’t expect your ADHD brain to work better under pressure and in overwhelm mode. It may work worse than ever.
  • Make a list. Take a deep breath and write down what you need to get done and what kind of assistance you might need.
  • Seek help. Find support systems in your life. Lean on the people who are happy to pitch in and don’t judge you.
  • Bite the bullet. There are times when it’s OK to splurge and pay for help if you can find a way to afford it… especially when it comes to supporting your own mental health.
  • Don’t blame yourself. Remember that everyone has difficulties in life: ADHD, depression, family problems, and health issues. We’re all struggling one way or another.

Now sit back and enjoy your special event. You can do it!

The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for ADHD evaluations, management, or treatment. Please consult with a professional who can apply best practices and appropriate resources to your situation.


The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen. 


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