A wedding day is meant to be a time of joy, happiness and excitement at the prospect of tying the knot with someone we love and are truly committed to being with for the long haul. However, this day can induce an array of other more negative emotions such as anxiety, stress and worry, all of which are natural given the pressure, demands and expectations we put on ourselves (and sometimes by others) to achieve the perfection of it all going smoothly without any hitches – this brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘getting hitched.’
People tend to feel the most nervous during the ceremony, because firstly the person at the altar has the anticipation of waiting for the other partner to arrive and any possible fears of them not doing so for whatever reason can be escalated at this stage. In addition, the partner on the way to the religious building or registry office may feel the stress of ensuring that they arrive on time and feel uncomfortable knowing that their partner and guests are all waiting for this. Both partners may be apprehensive knowing that all eyes are upon them from arrival, during the ceremony and upon departure, and feel overwhelmed by this attention by onlookers whether it is people they know or new people they have yet to meet.
During the ceremony, there is the anxiety of ensuring they repeat their vows accurately and nerves can sometimes take over and errors made; furthermore they may be wondering what the other person may be thinking or feeling, they too may have some panic on whether or not they wish to go through with the marriage and finally, if anyone in the audience could sabotage their union by standing up to say the marriage should not or cannot go ahead. People tend to relax more at the end of the official ceremony and a shift in the anxiety can be alleviated since the initial formal part of the wedding has now taken place.
The first dance may be another time that a sense of pressure to ‘perform’ and expose oneself to the gaze of family, friends, colleagues in attendance can cause additional stress. Not only is everyone looking, but if either partner does not like dancing or feels they are not expert dancers, this can enhance the negative feeling in one or both of them. The song choice may be very personal to the couple and evoke memories which they would prefer to have in a more private setting.
The whole wedding may cause many highs and lows with an array of emotions, from the initial point of proposal, all the planning and organising leading up to the big day, the day itself, the pressure of the wedding night, the honeymoon and the reality of beginning the marriage itself. For some it may be their first marriage and could therefore be more stressful than perhaps for those people who have been married before.
Anxiety has a variety of physical, mental and emotional symptoms which can be manifested in a person’s words, thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Here is a breakdown of them and some simple ways to try to support calming the nerves pre, during and post wedding.
Light headed/dizziness, pins and needles, restless and unable to sit still, irregular heartbeat, increased heart rate, headaches, backache, stomach bloating and other body pains, sweating or hot flushes, sleep problems, feeling tense and nervous, nausea (sickness), difficulty breathing (hyperventilation), trembling/shaking, feeling weak or tired, sense of impending danger, panic attacks, grinding teeth (at night), needing the toilet less or more often and changes in libido (sex drive).
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
Fearing the worst, a sense of dread, catastrophising, constant worrying and overthinking, imagining something bad will happen, losing touch with reality, feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down, low mood, depression, ruminating, paranoia, fear of death, trouble concentrating, low self- esteem, inability to relax, feeling stress and overwhelmed.
1. Talk to someone you trust who will listen.
2. Try to manage your worries by only spending a certain amount of time to focus on them.
3. Ensure your physical health: diet, exercise and sleep are addressed.
4. Breathing exercises and mindfulness exercises.
5. Keep a diary or journal to write the good things happening in your life and to note any triggers or patterns to the anxiety.
6. Join some peer support groups and/or online forums.
7. Talking psychotherapy/counselling e.g., CBT, DBT
8. Self Help books and resources.
9. Complimentary therapies e.g., yoga, meditation, massage, aromatherapy, reflexology and hypnotherapy.
10. Medication via your GP if very severe.
Wishing you all the best for a fabulous wedding and successful marriage. Good luck!
Psychosexual and Relationship
Psychotherapist and Counsellor