The Longing Lab

"The Wedding Doctor," psychologist Jocelyn Charnas on how longing for the "perfect day" prevents focusing on the relationship

July 31, 2023 Amanda McCracken Season 2 Episode 14
The Longing Lab
"The Wedding Doctor," psychologist Jocelyn Charnas on how longing for the "perfect day" prevents focusing on the relationship
Show Notes

Episode 14: Known in New York City circles as "The Wedding Doctor," Dr. Jocelyn Charnas describes how she helps clients navigate wedding planning and maintain the focus on their relationship/marriage while wading through decision fatigue, feelings of loss, and the unrealistic expectations set forth by social media.

Dr. Jocelyn Charnas is a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City. She treats adults with depression, anxiety, interpersonal difficulties, relationship and adjustment problems, phase-of-life issues, and maladaptive behaviors. She works both with individuals and with couples at a variety of relationship phases including dating, engagement, marriage, divorce contemplation, post-marriage, and co-parenting. Dr. Charnas’ work has been published in several journals including Training and Education in Professional Psychology, GROUP, International Journal of Testing, and Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice, Training. She has been interviewed for The New York Times, Women's Health, Elle, Glamour, The Huffington Post,,, and Weddings Illustrated.


Connect with Dr. Charnas through her LinkedIn profile

In this episode, (in order) we talked about…

*How and why she started her business catering to brides and engaged couples

*The pitfalls of idealization that come with Pinterest and Instagram when wedding planning

*Normalizing the idea of disappointment and the inevitable letdown after the wedding

*How to keep the focus on the relationship and marriage during wedding planning 

*How to deal with decision fatigue and all the cooks in the kitchen during wedding planning

*How she teaches her clients to be critical thinkers and not get sucked in by marketing

*The mix of emotions at a wedding, an event that naturally involves loss


“The attainable part (of longing) is what’s interesting to me because it makes longing an endless loop.” 

“This idea of perfection is baked into even the most fundamental primary concept of a wedding that it’s supposed to be the best day of your life. Even just that notion puts unrealistic expectations on it”

“It (social media) makes us feel that if we don’t achieve that beauty or perfection, not only are we failing, but we aren’t as good as everyone else who seems to be achieving it.”

“We have to throw out the idea that it’s possible to avoid disappointment…Feeling it is ok. It’s normal to feel deflation after any important milestone in our lives that we’re dedicating a tremendous amount of energy and emotion and time to.”

“This concept of the wedding as the goal or the end—think about how many fairy tales, Disney movies and rom-coms end with the wedding…when that’s such a distortion. The wedding is the beginning of a marriage and life together. I spend a lot of time with my patients trying to reframe it that way.”

“It’s impossible to please everyone, but when we zoom in and think about the things that please ourselves and please our partners and satisfy our needs it’s a smaller scope. It’s such good practice for marriage.”

"I spend a lot of time with couples to uncover and tune into what about the wedding is a representation of you two. That seems to help with decision fatigue."

“They (the industries that fuel the wedding industry) have a vested interest in keeping us longing.”

"The pandemic shrunk people’s world...It gave an interesting window into what happens when we have less access to the outside world, and we are more tuned into what we feel inside and what’s important to us.” 

“Any life transition, any phase of life change, any milestone always has an associated element of loss…because we are leaving something behind.”