Stage fright has nothing on the fears you can experience as you make your way up the aisle as either bride or groom for your wedding ceremony. So much time and planning has gone into your big day, and emotions are high all around. Of all the moments you will experience during your wedding day – and there are many memorable ones – the one you will remember most clearly is when you say your vows to each other. Everyone you love and care about is gathered around watching this fantasy moment in time as you tie yourself to the most important person in your life.
Deep breaths – even writing it can bring on a case of missed heartbeats. What I’m saying is that not only is it perfectly normal and natural to have fears about your wedding ceremony, it’s also possible to get past them. I promise that if you work with your fears you won’t have a repeat performance of that time your senior year where you passed out in front of your classmates. After all, you’re not being graded on your performance – you’re pledging your love. It’s simply a matter of speaking (as well as you can) what’s in your heart.
Being well-prepared and armed with your wedding vows is the best way to start overcoming your fears. Practice your vows every time that you feel a niggling bit of worry in the back of your mind (even recite them in your head), and you’ll start finding that those moments come less and less.
Beyond preparing what you’ll say a while before the big day, you can learn some techniques that will help you make the ceremonial exchange of vows as smooth and magical as you dream it will be. We’re going to look at the five most common fears – yup, seriously common – and think logically about them. In just a few minutes, you’re going to see that there’s nothing that can spoil your ceremony.
Common Ceremony Fear: Drawing a Blank
When you’re nervous, your brain works overtime. So, yes, it is possible to “draw a blank” – but if you realize that you have a tendency to do this, getting overly nervous and then forgetting what you’re supposed to say, you can work on getting past that fear right now. To stop yourself from becoming so nervous, create a copy of your wedding vows on a stylish sheet of parchment paper or pretty index cards – they make some that are floral, without lines. Print out your vows in very crisp, neat handwriting that you can read easily even if you’re nervous. Then, place your copy of the vows in a small wrist-bag (if you’re the bride) or in the front pocket of your tux. This way, you will have a back-up if you’re too nervous during the ceremony, and that back-up will look as clean and crisp as if it was intended to be part of the ceremony itself. You won’t have to hesitate to use them if you’re feeling nervous when you begin to speak; and after all, many couples rely on printed vows during the ceremony. You won’t be alone, and no one will think a thing of you using them.
Common Ceremony Fear: Freezing Up
Freezing up is another side-effect, a little trick that your brain plays, when you become overly nervous. Basically, you’re sending so much worry to your brain that it gets overloaded and “paralyzes” you with your fears. It’s important to spend some time learning calming techniques now, if you realize that you have a tendency to freeze up when you get nervous. In fact, it’s a good idea to learn calming techniques whether you do it often or not – if you’re worried about it being a possibility, set the possibility aside by taking care of it. Learn breathing techniques that will help you concentrate on breathing smoothly, regularly, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Several books have been dedicated to the subject of calm through breathing, and there is a wealth of information online. Get your hands on the knowledge and then practice in advance. You’ll be surprised at how often this little skill comes in handy – from the irritation of rush hour traffic to approaching your boss about a raise, breathing techniques will help you keep your cool in any situation, including the ceremony.
Common Ceremony Fear: Blushing, Dry Mouth, Shaking
Have you caught the thread of idea that nervousness actually affects you physically? When you’re nervous, it does things to your brain that you have to work with. Blushing, dry mouth, and shaking are overwhelmingly common responses to nervousness and having to speak publically. By using those breathing techniques we just talked about, you’ll see that the physical symptoms of nervousness begin to fade as you bring calm to yourself. Beyond calming techniques, try to concentrate more on the vows and the love you have for the person you’re pledging them to – and remember, seriously, that no one will think a single thing about the fact that you’re blushing or trembling. As long as you’re pouring your heart into what you’re doing, you’ll see that the physical things go away by themselves quite quickly.
Common Ceremony Fear: Being Judged
This is a fear that many couples have, and unfortunately it’s often a fear that you won’t even realize you have until it sneaks up on you during the ceremony. With all those people sitting out there watching you, it’s easy to think that they might be judging the way you look, the way you sound, or the person you’re marrying. If this fear assails you, though, try something very simple: look out into the gathering and lock eyes with someone you love. Your mother or father, a sibling, or a great friend; hold their gaze for a moment and the happiness you see shining back at you will be all the answer you need. The people who have come to your wedding all know you, like you, love you, and sincerely are there to wish you the very best. They want to see your wedding go beautifully, and if they are thinking anything beyond the beauty of the moment, it’s nothing more than how well you’ve done in finding a love to spend your life with.
Common Ceremony Fear: Jokesters
Personally, this is one fear I never would have considered. When a good male friend of mine was getting married, though, he admitted to me that his one overwhelming fear was that someone would turn the day into a joke by saying something along the lines of the awful toasts on “Runaway Bride”. After assuring him that there was no way anyone would do this, I actually thought on the fear for a long time and found that many of my friends have had the same worry. The simple truth is that we don’t live in movies, thank goodness. Just remind yourself that everyone is there with you because they want to be part of a magical day. They want to share in the love you and your future spouse have for each other, and are probably nervous right along with you.
Prepare for your wedding by taking time to write down your vows, learn some deep breathing techniques, and you’re going to find that the fears you have melt away the moment you take your partner’s hands in your own.