It’s a real thing. And I’m not talking the jitters, those butterflies in the belly that all people get before they say their I Do’s. Oh and it’s not those wedding night nerves either (according to a survey by WeddingWire last year, less than 40% of couples sealed the deal on their wedding night).
No I’m talking the kind of worry that can paralyse you because of the guest list, or the fear that the colours won’t match and everything will be a disaster. Or that you will trip and fall whilst having your first dance. It’s overwhelming, keep-you-awake-at-night, panic that just will not go away.
You may have read articles about bridal anxiety but I think it’s unfair to suggest that men don’t suffer with it too. Anxiety doesn’t discriminate. Oh and one person’s worries and anxiety will not necessarily be the same as another so don’t brush it aside if you think you ‘don’t fit’.
My own story
On reflection I suffered with my own form of wedding anxiety. With a background in planning events and as a lecturer in events management I felt under immense pressure to get it ‘right’ which is hilarious really as we wanted it on our terms, doing what made us happy. Even so I wanted the attention to detail to be perfect. From the bespoke trays my dad designed and made to replicate old cinema ones, to working with staff at the old Sheffield theatre we married in to get the lighting perfect for different moments during the ceremony. We spent the day before the wedding hanging dozens of paper lanterns from the ceiling of our reception venue and the theatre. This was only achieved by the immense support we had from family and fabulous friends. I can only imagine what a highly strung nightmare I was that day.
I would lie awake at night going over and over again in my head the schedule for the day. Who needed to be where when. I listened to the track I was walking down the aisle to literally a hundred times so I would know at what point my beautiful bridesmaids should set off. As I write this I am cringing. How did I let myself get that stressed and anxious? And d’you know what? It’s so true what everyone says, on the big day itself I wouldn’t have noticed if anything went wrong because I was so damn happy! I absolutely loved every second of our wedding day (we got legally married two days earlier) and if you check out my beaming smile you’ll see just how happy I was.
As I said earlier though, anxiety is a real thing. It can be crippling.
Recognise what is important
We need to give ourselves a break. That’s why the hashtag yourdayyourway, becoming synonymous with our merry band of celebrants is so important. We need to spread the message and remind ourselves and you planning your special days – focus on the important stuff. We packed all sorts into our day, none of which I would change, but the one thing that we had more comments in was our ceremony. We had a celebrant (Kate Gee) and she told our story beautifully with lots of laughs and captured the essence of us as a couple. The highest praise I can give to celebrant-led weddings is to say that later this year I will be marrying two friends who said they couldn’t stop thinking about our ceremony and so when they got engaged it was a priority to have something similar. I can’t wait to be their celebrant and support them to make sure it is as stress-free and smooth as possible.
‘So what do I do to stop myself overthinking?’ I hear you cry. Well, I’m not an expert obviously but I always think life experience counts for quite a bit. So here are my top tips:
- Keep a notebook by your bed. If you can’t sleep write down what is bothering you and then tell yourself you’ll take another look at it in the morning. Hopefully when you wake up perspective will have kicked in and you’ll probably know what the answer is.
- Take some time out for yourself. Okay, not as easy necessarily as just typing it out. Whether you are busy with work or maybe have kids at home that demand your attention, you still need abit of space. Meet up with a mate, have a massage or go for a swim. I am particularly guilty at not doing this in general.
- If your anxiety is giving you panic attacks, stopping you from sleeping or overwhelming you so much it is affecting your daily life do not be afraid to go to the doctors. Whether you have experienced anxiety before or your wedding planning has triggered it for the first time, the important thing is to acknowledge it and find coping strategies.
- Meditation. This has become more popular with
- apps such as Headspace available to take you through the basics.
- Talk. To your other half, to your celebrant. Just tell someone how you are feeling. As a celebrant we are there to support, to give guidance and advice where applicable.
You are not alone.
Images: Key Reflections, Kate Burden