How to Avoid Ugly Crying During Your Wedding

by Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant  © 15/01/2021)
Categories:  | Vows | Wedding Ceremony |
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Baby ugly cryingMarrying the love of your life is going to be an extremely emotional  experience. It should be. After all, this is the moment when you put your heart on the line and promise forever. What's a wedding without a bit of welling up and some happy tears? 

There's nothing wrong with shedding a few tears on the big day. But I definitely get it that you don't want to be sobbing like a two year old whose sandwich has been cut in squares when they wanted triangles! And no-one who red eyes or mascara tracks down their cheeks.

If you're nervous about ugly crying during the most emotional parts of the day (the ceremony and the speeches), here are my top tips about ways in which you can make sure you feel the emotions but avoid the ugly part of the crying. Actually, even if you are not nervous, best to prepare. You might be surprised at your reactions on the day.

Talk to your makeup artist


This is mostly for the gals - but there is no rule against guys wearing makeup. Actually, I don't know a MUA who doesn't use really top-notch waterproof mascara and eyeliner. But you might want to consider having your eyelashes dyed or wearing discreet false eyelashes as an alternative. Discus all the options with your MUA and take their advice. You won't regret it.

Pro-tip: Make sure you have a touch-up kit with you on the day, just in case - but also to deal with make up melting if it is very hot.

Choose your music carefully


Music has a strong influence over emotions. It can trigger emotions as well as memories. For walking down the aisle go for the upbeat, rather than something that you know always makes you well up. Save that emotional song for when you're signing the certificates, or cutting your cake, or for your first dance. Actually, there is no reason why you shouldn't go for a medley - switching from emotional/sentimental to upbeat and back again. That ticks all the boxes without triggering the tears.

Go easy on the booze, and don't forget to eat


Alcohol lowers inhibitions. That's a given. So it can make it harder to control emotions. Yet everyone will ply you with it while you're getting ready regardless of the fact that your celebrant can't marry you if you're drunk. Drink plenty of water instead, and make sure you have something to eat that's nutritious and will take a bit of time to digest.

Work on your vows together


  • Negotiate your vows
    Yes, I know that what we see in many weddings is the couple fishing out bits of paper on which they've each written their personal vows - as a surprise. And the things that are most likely to make you ugly cry as things that are common to such vows. All of the "this is how you make me feel" statements. There is a reason for this approach to vows. When the ceremony is a fixed one, everyone gets the same, "personal" vows are the only place that such statements can be made.  That's not the case in Australia, or with me. So, keep your vows to promises about the way you are going to behave to one another during your marriage, and you have discussed and agreed on those things beforehand (healthy for your marriage!) and then you promise those things on the day, you'll avoid some of the triggers for ugly crying. We can make sure all of the "how you make me feel" feels are integrated into the ceremony in other ways.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice
    Don't worry, you won't wreck the moment. Saying them on the day will always feel different, emotionally, to saying them when you're practicing them. But being so familiar with the words that you could virtually say them off by heart makes it much easier to avoid crying.
  • Say your personal promises in unison
    There is something very powerful about hearing your best beloved say the same words, promise the same things, at the same time as you are saying them. High emotion, yes. Ugly crying? It won't happen. You'll be smiling ear to ear!
  • Stick to saying the legal vows only
    You have to say the required legal vows, but there are no rules about personal promises. Your celebrant can ask you "Do you promise ..." and you can just answer "I do". Or you can keep those promises private

Incorporate a private joke


Challenge one another to come up with something that (as a surprise) will make you laugh when you meet one another at the altar, or just when you're about to walk down the aisle. Just keep it subtle. The guests don't have to be in on it, or even notice. All they'll see is joy.

Use your safe word


And no, this is not a 50 Shades of ... suggestion. But if you and your best beloved have a word or little saying that always lightens the mood, makes you laugh, or brings you back to earth (and most do), now's the time to use it.

Do a first look


While not everyone wants to do a first look, most couples who do one agree that it takes nothing away from the moment they see one in the aisle. So they get to double-dip on that powerful feeling, but are less likely to cry when they see one another in the aisle - and there is time for a makeup freshen up before you walk down the aisle! Just make sure you invite your photographer to capture the moment.

Walk down the aisle together


In many countries, this is the way a wedding always starts. Walking down the aisle together keeps you grounded. Yes, it feels different. But good different. Very good different.

Stand side by side, facing your guests


While you will turn to face one another to say your vows, starting the ceremony standing side by side, holding hands, is hugely nerves-settling and confidence building

Plan for tears as a photo op


Carry a very nice white hankie. Both of you. Then, if either of you starts to spill tears the other one should whip out their hankie and tenderly dab away the tears while whispering a few words of encouragement.

Talk about it


Don't keep your emotions bottled up, particularly on the day. Talk about how you are feeling with your I Do Crew, with your photographer, with one another, and definitely with your celebrant. We will all listen and reassure you.

If you feel that you're about to get really emotional


  • Press your tongue to the top of your mouth
  • Take deep, slow, breaths (four seconds in, four seconds hold, four seconds exhale)
  • Wriggle your toes or subtly change your weight from one foot to the other
    Both of these can be imperceptible to the guests, and they get the blood moving and the oxygen flowing to the brain

PS You are NOT going to Ugly Cry no matter what because ...


Actually, Ugly Crying , while a description that often gets bandied about (and something that TV and movies really capitalise on because it is easier to fake than more realistic crying), is something that just doesn't happen on a wedding day (except maybe by a flower girl or ring bearer who decides to have a full-on tanti). And here's why. It is all about the anatomy:
  1. Ugly crying is at least two-thirds lips
    Apart from a quiver, what you do with your lips and mouth is easy to control. To ugly cry you need to collapse both lips and at the same time pull them wider
  2. Ugly crying requires clenched and furrowed brow
    Who does that on their wedding day?
  3. Ugly crying is enhanced by chin action
    Are you starting to get the picture?
  4. Ugly crying is usually punctuated by saying something really "sad" - in all senses of the word

If you aren't convinced by now that you won't ugly cry on your wedding day, regardless of how anyone cuts up your sandwich, go watch a couple of movies (Diane Keaton's ugly crying in Something’s Gotta Give (2003), is something to see) or borrow a small child and cut their sandwich the wrong way.

Thanks for reading!

Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you can
                  have the best ceremony ever
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