Wedding Ceremony Anxiety and How to Deal with it

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (17/05/2021)
Categories: | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Planning  |
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Bouquet of white and various shades of pink
                    peonies with gum leaves on a page with a magnifying
                    glass enlarging the word AnxietyIt is the very rare bride or groom who doesn't develop some level of wedding ceremony anxiety in the lead up to their wedding.It's common, it is temporary (we are not talking about clinically diagnosed social anxiety), and it can be managed by understanding what it is, why you need to feel a little anxious about your wedding, and why you might be feeling more than a little anxious.

IMPORTANT: This blog post is general advice about what might be regarded to be "normal" anxiety. If your anxiety is overwhelming, and goes beyond worry about what could go wrong with your wedding, please seek professional advice.

What is Wedding Ceremony Anxiety?


Wedding ceremony anxiety is a complex mix of three things:
  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear of stuffing up in some way
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO)
How much each of those fears contributes is a pretty individual thing that can depend to some extent on external factors like how tight your budget is, the personalities of the people who surround you and their attitudes to weddings, and your focus.

Some anxiety is good. It has a practical use. It keeps us responsible. Weddings, like much of life, come with deadlines. If you're planning your wedding you are also having to deal with legal requirements with important deadlines, and most vendors have deadlines. A little bit of anxiety makes sure that deadlines are met.

Unpacking fear of being judged

One thing that there is absolutely no shortage of when you are planning a wedding is advice! Both the internet and the shelves in newsagents, bookshops, and libraries are full of it. And they all have one thing in common - "this is how you should do it".  All usually based on outmoded ideas and etiquette. There is a simple fact about publishing. The process in itself is time-consuming so it means that whatever is on the page is already behind the times. It's the "authorised" version, usually offered in the guise of "tradition", or what is (read was) socially accepted in circles were social acceptance goes hand in hand with social status.

As I often ask my couples, have you ever gone to a wedding and sat there thinking I hope you stuff this up big time. I hope you make complete fools of yourselves? And the response is always a shake of the head. A sheepish smile. And a clear No. No-one does. We don't invite those sorts of people to our weddings.

I also point out that most of the so-called must have's and must do's around weddings are down to peer pressure from dead people. Queen Victoria in particular!

Unpacking fear of stuffing up

There is almost nothing that can royally stuff up a wedding if you've complied with the legal requirements (that's where I come in) and done some contingency planning aka asking yourselves how could this possibly go wrong? and taking steps t either avoid it happening or put alternatives in place. A great plan B is everything.  And so is recognising that fear of stuffing up, of making the wrong decisions, is what drives procrastination!

Unpacking fear of missing out (FOMO)

Engendering FOMO is a tried and tested sales technique. And it is one of the major reasons budgets blow out. FOMO drives booking or buying, and then, when the dust settles, a change of mind can happen, meaning money wasted. That's all that needs to be said on the matter.

Anti-anxiety strategies

I'm not going to suggest you carve huge chunks of time out of your day to meditate or self-care. You've got a wedding to plan. So what can you do to reduce your wedding ceremony anxiety to the point where it is no longer a burden, but a motivation?

Simple strategies that help deal with the sources of wedding ceremony anxiety:
  • Talk to your celebrant. Make sure you understand what you have to do, both in terms of ticking all of the legal boxes and input into the whole process of developing the ceremony and deadlines for each step. Make a list in date order and work through it. Celebrants are always happy when you have all the legal boxes ticked early.
  • Talk to your best-beloved. Make sure that you are on the same page about the ceremony.
  • Carry a notebook, or have the notes function on your phone at the ready so you can to jot down ideas, phrases, and questions that come to mind when you are doing something else and then get back to what you were doing
  • Create a response or two to trot out without having to think - for when someone offers you unsolicited and unwelcome wedding advice

On the spot responses that will help reduce anxious feelings

  • Breathe! Specifically, take half a dozen deep, slow breaths. Experiment with different types of slow deep breathing to find which one works for you. My fav is pursed lip breathing because it is not only calming, it ups your oxygen saturation and is therefore energising.
  • Send a happy meme or quick message of appreciation/thanks to someone who is supportive of you and your plans. Or just pause for a minute to think about them and something nice they've done for you. Feel-good hormones will flow.
  • Look at your to do list and do the one you find hardest first. It is always tempting to go for the quick and easy tasks because we can knock a few of those off in a short time to give ourselves a (short-lived) sense of accomplishment. But that leaves the anxiety-engendering task hanging over our heads. The sense of accomplishment getting that one done will deliver a sense of accomplishment that will fuel the next few tasks on the list because it will be so much easier to totally focus on those as you tackle them.
  • Write the following: Whatever happens on the day,  when the clock strikes midnight I'll be married to the love of my life. (Yes, that strategy of writing lines works to rewire your brain and mindset.) It's not a punishment. You might even make a ritual of it, using a nice notebook and different pens, or a whiteboard/blackboard that you can photograph as a keepsake).
Thanks for reading!
Jenny xxx Let's talk
                      soon about how you can have the best ceremony
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