I am an anxious person. And despite being very in love with my partner and wanting to spend forever with him, the thought of a whole day spent with me as the center of attention made me want to curl up in a ball and go back to bed. Even though we were having a relatively small wedding (80 guests), I was still uncomfortable with everything being “all about us” and people possibly telling me that I’m not bridal enough or offending me with some stupid traditional wedding saying (we were relatively untraditional compared to our families) and therefore ruining my entire experience (yes I know this is wrong, and no it did not happen). How do you calm wedding day anxiety?
It seems kind of silly, but a lot of people, including many of my clients, feel this way about their wedding day. They’re excited for the marriage and to celebrate their love for one another, but they’re also a little overwhelmed by all of the people who will be surrounding them on their big day.
It’s okay to feel this way. Weddings are kind of a spectacle in our culture so it’s normal to be a little anxious about the day itself (if you’re anxious about what comes after, that’s for another post…) and all of the expectations that come with it. It’s usually those expectations that set us up for this type of anxiety.
As a former anxious bride, I found some coping mechanisms along the way. If you are suffering from anxiety over your wedding day, I feel you and want to show some solidarity by sharing what worked for me. Calm wedding day anxiety starting with these tips from a former anxious bride.
Do a first look.
I’m a big fan of throwing tradition for tradition’s sake out the window. If you have just always wanted to have the down the aisle moment, that’s cool, but the thought of all that build up and emotion in front of my guests made me sick to my stomach. Plus, it’s weird to me that the whole day is supposed to be about the couple and yet traditionally you spend no time alone the entire day.
Having a moment away from everyone to see each other looking amazing, to breathe, to read letters, to just have 15 peaceful minutes, helps by leaps and bounds to calm wedding day anxiety. Plus, (selfish moment) it makes for the best photos. My favorite wedding photos are usually from this part of the day.
And if you’re not convinced about a first look and worried about not having that down the aisle experience, I will tell you that before I walked down the aisle, I had a mini panic attack and the whole 2 minutes was filled with lots of emotions anyways, despite having spent the three hours prior with my husband.
Do timeline plan.
Though you cannot control the weather on your wedding day, or if someone falls down, or if your dress rips, or if you spill your drink, you can usually control your timeline planning. As my wise softball coach once said, “Control the controllables.” Your timeline is a controllable. Take the time to think it through and control it. This should be a must for everyone, but for anxious people, it’s a must-have-want-now. Having a well-thought out timeline is probably the key to calm your wedding day anxiety.
If you’re already worked up about the day, having a plan in place and instructing everyone on when to be where only soothes you. It may seem like a lot of upfront work and requires putting on an advance/logistics team cap, but when you move smoothly through the day because you thought about timing ahead of time, you’ll find yourself relaxed.
I encourage my couples to spend time on their timeline. I encourage them to ask me for help determining how long photography takes. Your photographer should be able to give you lots of samples and help, but make sure you talk to other vendors (especially hair and makeup) to ensure you’re allotting the time needed. I’ve been at weddings where a timeline was never constructed or communicated and the stress escalated. I’ve also been at weddings where even though we were thrown some weather, the timeline helped ease tension.
Do throw out traditions you don’t like.
A lot of tension that comes from weddings is managing expectations of those involved alongside your own. Many times finances are involved and it’s difficult to maneuver the waters between what (usually) parents want and what the couple wants. Don’t worry. This comes up so often. Mom asks if you’re wearing a garter, you reply no, fight ensues about what you have to do because it’s a wedding.
I’m here to remind you that your wedding is supposed to be about you two. By the law, you have to agree to a few statements and sign a legal document, but that’s really all that’s required of a marriage, unless you are religious and are celebrating marriage in a religious way. Otherwise, there’s really no requirements.
If something makes you uncomfortable or anxious, throw it out. You don’t like embarrassing single friends with a bouquet toss? Get rid of it. Don’t want to dance in front of everyone? Then don’t. If people ask, just shrug. Most likely, they’ll be having too much fun celebrating that they won’t even notice or care. We often believe people care more than they do. Let me remind you: no, they usually don’t pay mind.
Prep and pack ahead of time.
Half of my worries stem from not being prepared when I need to be or forgetting something. My advice here is simple: spend time preparing ahead of time. If you’re leaving for your honeymoon right after your wedding, then pack the week beforehand. Need to bring a bunch of stuff to the venue? Gather it in boxes and keep it all in one place. It’s simple advice, but you’d be surprised how many people create more wedding day anxiety by not preparing properly.
Wedding planning is time consuming and can be stressful. No matter your level of anxiety, take time to try to enjoy the season of engagement. This is one of my largest regrets. I was so excited to become engaged, but once I was, I was so consumed with wedding planning that I wished I would have taken a breath and just enjoyed the anticipation that comes with the season of engagement. It’s such an exciting time! So make sure that in the middle of it all, you guys do a date night, spend some time just away from all things wedding to remember why you’ve invested so much time in this event in the first place.
Did you calm wedding day anxiety? How?
Have a wedding question or tip about how you managed anxiety during your engagement? Leave your tips for other couples in the comments!