Your wedding might be one of the happiest days of your life, but it's also one that's associated with a lot of stress. You might be worried about all the logistics or how all of the details you've been planning for months (or years) will come together. You might also feel social pressure related to hosting so many people; it's nerve-racking to worry about your family members and friends having a good time and feel appreciated and included. And, on top of all of that, there's the simple fact that you're getting married: You will be forever tied to your new spouse, and your life will never be the same again.
There is good news: Wedding-day anxiety is entirely normal, and there are some simple things you can do to mitigate it. To help you navigate your feelings, we asked Sarah Chancey, founder of the wedding planning and design firm Chancey Charm, and Sherrie Sims Allen, Ph.D., a relationship strategist and certified Myers-Briggs practitioner at The Allen Group, to share their best advice. Here are their top ten tips for handling wedding-day anxiety.
Meet the Expert
Before Your Wedding Day
Plan as Much as Possible
Chancey says many brides and grooms feel anxiety from planning such a big and complicated event. "Things like the appearance of the wedding, guest experience, and how it will all come together can become really stressful for a couple day-of because of the social pressure of hosting so many people they love," she explains.
One way to ease that anxiety is to plan as much as possible ahead of time, ensuring that everything is set and organized well before the big day arrives. "For our clients, we work on a detailed schedule and design blueprint to ease the stress of wondering how it will all come together," Chancey says. "This really helps them feel more calm as the wedding approaches because they see the vision and know there is a detailed plan to make their guests feel comfortable." If you have a wedding planner, you will be in good shape. If you're planning the wedding yourself, make sure you have a detailed plan with each supplier ahead of time so you'll feel calm and assured.
Dr. Sims Allen also recommends planning well in advance of your wedding day. "My advice to combat wedding-related anxiety is to begin planning your big day as soon as you have set a date," she says. "Like any other important event, once the date is set the real event begins. The date will drive what you do and how you do it. Set the date and let the games begin."
Talk Through Your Expectations
Depending on your family dynamics, you might be anxious about how a family member, especially a parent or a sibling, will act on your wedding day. To minimize that stress talk to your family members and let them know exactly what you would like them to do during your wedding. Do you want them to make sure guests are happy at the reception or stay by your side? You can even tell them what you want them to say to you before the ceremony. "We encourage our couples to talk through expectations with their immediate family a few weeks before the big day so that they feel confident," says Chancey.
Spend Alone Time as a Couple
The days ahead of any wedding can be hectic. There are last-minute details to finalize and out-of-town guests to greet. Set aside at least a few hours to spend alone as a couple. That way you can remember the reason you are having a wedding: because you fell in love and want to spend the rest of your life with someone. With that perspective, you will realize nothing else matters.
Along these lines, Dr. Sims Allen recommends that couples keep two focuses in mind at once: the wedding day and the sustainability of the marriage. "Both areas are equally important to lessen anxiety and worry," she explains. "You cannot avoid having these feelings on one of the most important days of your life, but you can certainly limit your discomfort."
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
With all your family members and friends in one place, you might be tempted to party the night before your wedding, but being exhausted on your big day will only escalate any nervous feelings you already have. Make sure you get a good night's sleep so you can really enjoy every second of your wedding day.
On the Morning of the Wedding
It might sound simple, but many couples forget to eat the morning of their wedding. Don't skip this important meal, says Chancey: "We like to encourage our clients to have a healthy breakfast." You are going to need the nutrients to get you through this emotionally and physically draining day.
Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety. If you are someone who feels better after going for a run or hitting the gym, don't skip this activity on your wedding day. Even if you aren't up for a blood-pumping cardio workout, go for a quick walk or do a gentle yoga flow. Exercise will help you feel centered and calm in the morning, which means you can better handle anything that comes up later in the day.
Keep Your Wedding Party Close
Chancey says one of the best things a couple can do the morning of their wedding is spending time with their wedding party. "Their day is going to be very long physically speaking, so relaxing over a cup of coffee with those they trust the most is the best day to start the day," she explains. If you are feeling nervous about anything don't hesitate to tell your close friends. You might feel like you are supposed to play the part of the happy bride or groom, but remember you chose your wedding party for a reason; they are there for you, and they can help keep you calm.
During the Wedding
Outsource the Questions
A wedding has numerous vendors, and each one will have questions on the day of the wedding: They'll need direction on everything from where should they set up to what time they should roll out the food. Chancey says she highly recommends hiring a professional—whether it's a full-service wedding planner or a day-of coordinator—to field the questions. "As planners, we really try to answer all the questions from vendors, and guests for our couples. We try our very best to take the brunt of stress and problems on for them, so they can completely relax," she says. "If you don't have someone in this role, this would be my number one piece of advice for your wedding day. You do not want to be having your first dance and then answering a question from the caterer on your big day."
Take Deep Breaths
Taking deep breaths is not a silly exercise; it's a practice that's rooted in science. When you take a deep breath it increases the supply of oxygen to your brain, which triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to produce a feeling of calmness. That means your brain starts feeling relaxed instead of stressed, anxious, and nervous. Throughout the day you might find yourself getting overwhelmed; take a few seconds to breathe deeply, and you will find yourself feeling better immediately.
Dr. Sims Allen emphasizes just how important taking time to breathe and meditate can be prior to, during, and after wedding celebrations. "The biggest stress management tip I can offer is meditation and deep breathing exercises," she says. "In the world that we live in today, meditation apps and breathing apps are a dime a dozen. Pick one you enjoy months before your wedding and begin a practice of listening to them and creating a practice for your wedding day. Practice deep breathing, sitting in stillness, listening to your intuition, and centering your energy. Give yourself gratitude for the courage to marry the love of your life."
Focus on Your Partner
There are going to be things that go wrong during your wedding. The flowers might not be the exact color you were expecting, or a family member might make an uncomfortable comment to you. If you can, try to minimize all of these things and focus on the love you have with your partner. You are having a wedding because you are getting married, not because you simply want to have a big party. Look at him or her in the eye and know your connection is the most important thing.