Weddings are a performance art. Beautiful scenery, stately wardrobes, and romantic tales for the ages. The main event and the days of prep leading up to it are exciting, and sometimes that excitement leads to the jitters. We’ve gathered our experience and that of the some of the couples we’ve worked with to share tips on how to dial down your nerves and rock your wedding day.
Makeup, hair, clothes, and jewelry. There’s a lot to get ready before the ceremony, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be surrounded by your best friends. Some like to kick it back with adult cocktails and let the fun flow, but even then, as the hour approaches, the ability to focus on the jokes and funny stories dissipates as the brain starts running through what’s about to happen. Palms get sweaty, a knot forms in your stomach, and your mouth dries out. It's like being back in Speech 101.
Stress and anxiety are very natural reactions to high stakes situations. Take comfort knowing you’re in good company with many other brides- and grooms-to-be who are feeling the same way. In fact, our first suggestion for handling the pre-ceremony jitters is admitting you’re experiencing it. Name it to tame it! Name your anxiety and say it out loud to yourself or grab your maid of honor by the hand and tell her. Just get it out there.
Another suggestion is to play your favorite music. Let the songs create an environment that helps set you up for success.
As wedding photographers, Bobby and I try to stay very aware of how our clients might be feeling. We spend a lot of time at weddings, so we understand the rush of the day, and always bring a calm and confident presence to help put you at ease.
Your ceremony might be short and whimsical, or it might be a marathon. There’s a lot to think about when you’re at the front. Sure, you’ll be gazing lovingly at your partner as you exchange sacred vows. But, many of you will also be thinking about the massive crowd (or even the tiny one) watching you on stage for the duration of your service. Expectations run high. And if you’ve placed a lot of effort into the meticulous planning of your wedding day, you may worry that the judgment is on you and all of your endeavors.
Hold steady during the ceremony by finding comfort in the plan. You’ve planned and whether the details are meticulously listed down to the minute, or it’s just notes added to a piece of scrap paper, the coordination has already taken place. Everyone knows their roles and will adapt if they must.
If the wave of anxiety is reaching its crest during the ceremony, then use some behavior controls to help distract your brain while simultaneously easing the anxious buzz. Clench your hand that is on the opposite side of the audience. Hold it for five to 10 seconds and release. Try doing this two or three times. Or, try this technique with your partner and discuss it in advance. Three hand squeezes = I love you; four squeezes = something else personal.
Don’t forget to breathe. Imagine you and your partner are alone together somewhere else, as in slipping temporarily into a happy memory. Let the sensory experience of that happy memory (sounds, smells, a feeling on the skin) ease your stress just enough to finish the ceremony in style.
Take in the magic of this moment. As you look into the eyes of the person you love most, try to Be Here Now, and cherish the present. Take a deep breath and smile, for this exact moment in time will never happen again.
Receptions are full of fun; right? However, sometimes it’s making sure you’ve checked all the boxes--greeted the people, said the "right" things, and taken the relevant photos--that leads to the highest stress levels.
Trust your vendors. A team of professionals who have a vested interest in doing what's best for you and your guests will be with you. Furthermore, your photographer should help eliminate some of the burdens. A great photographer is by your side, capturing all the candid moments as they happen, as well as the essential photos, like those of your family.
To ensure you get the family-member pictures, make a list with your photographer ahead of time, so she knows exactly which family groupings need photographing. Bobby and I love shouldering this stress for you. We also “plan our photo route,” whereby we map out in advance the best spots for pictures at each venue. If it helps puts you at ease, we can do this together, so you don’t have to worry about missing any key locations.
Cat and Bryan, two of our clients, smashed the reception jitters before they started by choosing a fun wedding theme that was unique to them. Featuring Star Wars as their theme kept planning enjoyable. They confidently strolled into their reception knowing it was going to be a spunky atmosphere, primed for a great night.
Ultimately you can’t make everyone happy. Instead, start by making yourself happy, and the rest of the chips will fall into place.
Weddings are going to bring forth tension. Even if you love to be the star of the stage, worrying about the details, the money, your image, your family, and hoping everything goes perfectly according to plan might agitate the hardiest brides and grooms.
Anxiety is natural and can even be helpful. Recognize that it’s going to happen and use techniques to keep the tension wave a ripple and not a tsunami.
Have a method for dealing with wedding jitters? How do you “not sweat the small stuff”? Share it with us!