Regardless of whether or not you are diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder, it’s fairly safe to say that your wedding day is going to be stressful. The reasons vary for everyone; for some, the idea of being the center of attention is enough to cause a panic attack. For others the details are so complex that they keep you up at night. And of course, there’s the drama. No family is without their issues, but I’ve seen some stories worthy of a screenplay.
Whatever reason you may have for experiencing anxiety on your wedding day, there are ways to manage it. As someone who has severe anxiety, is a wedding planner, AND is married to a psychologist that specializes in helping others deal with anxiety, I like to think I have a bit of insight.
One thing I do tend to tell people is that your wedding is not like any other day of your life. So, if you tend to get anxious at the thought of being the center of attention, realize that it’s not going to feel like a normal day and you very well might be able to get through it without feeling anxious at all! Regardless, it’s always important to be prepared. So, here are a few tips on how to deal with anxiety on your wedding day.
Create Your Alter Ego
This is a trick that I personally use as a wedding planner, though I feel like it could be applied to a lot of different areas in life.
Think about who you are on a daily basis; does the thought of being the center of attention gives you hives? If so, imagine what characteristics you would need in order to make it through your wedding day unscathed.
It’s easier than you might think to just put on a different hat. It’s just one day! Make a list of the type of person you need to be for your wedding, and practice. Are you clumsy and aloof? Perhaps taking etiquette lessons or dance classes may help. Do you just really dislike some of your guests (unfortunate, but it happens). Take that customer service training you got while working retail and just put a smile on your face until you can remove yourself from the situation.
As an actual wedding planner, my alter ego is pretty different than the person I am on a regular basis. I hate confrontation, but I know that it’s just part of the job. I don’t think too much about it, but I also don’t try to avoid it if a vendor (or god forbid, a client) needs to be set straight. My alter ego is great at dealing with confrontation!
This all being said, acting as a different person for an entire day is exhausting. So be sure that you also include some of the other tips on this list to make sure that you don’t get burnt out.
Schedule in Breaks
It is so easy to just go-go-go at your wedding, so it’s smart to schedule in breaks throughout the day. Actually put them on your timeline so that vendors know you need some time. These breaks can be by yourself or with your partner, and don’t have to be long at all! For example:
- Take a few moments after you’ve put your dress on to just be alone to meditate or pray.
- Schedule in 10 minutes after your ceremony to decompress and get a private moment with your new spouse.
- Make sure your photographer includes sunset photos so that you have an excuse to take a break from the reception.
- Enjoy some cake and champagne on the balcony while the rest of your guests finish up their dinner.
Getting these things actually on your schedule is going to preemptively cut down on your anxiety since you know that you have time built in just for you. Just make sure that you have someone, whether a coordinator or bridesmaid, to remind you when you have a break scheduled.
Accept (and Hire) Help
I don’t need to remind anyone why it’s essential to have at someone on the day of your wedding to manage all the little details, and hopefully this person is a wedding planner! A few ways that a planner can help manage your wedding day anxiety:
- They can act as a buffer between you and any guests that might cause you stress.
- A wedding planner can manage any issues that may arise so that you can just enjoy your day rather than worrying about every little detail.
- You and your wedding planner can have a secret sign for when you’re getting too anxious, and they can help you escape whenever needed.
- Your wedding planner will be able to implement any scheduled breaks that you have in your wedding day timeline.
- They can help come up with a plan of action (below) for how you will manage your anxiety on your wedding day.
Having a comprehensive team of professionals that you hired for your wedding day is probably the number one way to reduce any anxiety. You have enough to worry about, so find a team that you can TRUST to make sure that what you want is implemented.
Create a Plan
So, what happens if you do start to have a panic attack? This is a great tip for many aspects of your life, really. That is, make sure you have a PLAN in place.
If you feel panic begin to creep in on your wedding day, what will you do? I actually have a free worksheet included in this post, so that you can fill out what exactly your plan is going to be, whether it’s taking a break from the action or listening to a guided meditation that you already have queued up on your (or your wedding planner’s) phone.
A tip for meditating: make sure that you practice before your wedding day, so if needed, you know exactly what to do! A great app for meditation is Headspace. There are a variety of meditations that you can search through to find the perfect one.
Lean on the Reason
The entire reason you are having a wedding is so that you can commit yourself to another person. That commitment includes supporting one another when needed, whether that’s for an illness or money or career or anything else that can cause stress in life. Communication before your wedding is really essential for a happy and successful wedding marriage, not to mention marriage. Don’t be afraid to communicate what you you will need from your partner in order to get through the day.
Your Wedding is a Choice
Are you ready for some tough love? Because here it is.
You decided to have a wedding. You could have eloped, just the two of you, but you didn’t. You made the conscious decision to invite friends and family watch as you make a commitment to one another. Regardless of what contributed to that decision, it was still a decision. You can plan all you want, but if you suffer from really terrible anxiety, is it worth it to put yourself through something that very well may induce anxiety so bad that you can’t actually enjoy your wedding day? This is important to consider, and you have other options. You can elope and host a big party instead. You can have a short reception, or just invite a few close friends and family.
Having a wedding is a choice, and your mental wellness needs to be a factor when making the decision whether or not to actually go through with it.
There are probably a ton of other tips that I’m missing from this post, so I would love to hear what your thoughts are about how you can manage anxiety on your wedding day!