Wedding Fear Factor – Get Your Nuptial Nerves Under Control With Our Expert Advice
Wedding Fear Factor
Is anxiety about being on display at your wedding giving you stage fright? Get your nuptial nerves under control with our expert advice ~ By Marianne Makdisi
Just before my wedding, I dreamt that an oversight by the dressmaker meant my gown didn’t have a skirt. To my horror, I saw myself standing at the top of the aisle with my bare legs on display. As everyone turned to stare, I blushed bright crimson and became rooted to the spot, painfully aware that all eyes were on me in a half-dressed state.
My bare-legged bride nightmare served to remind me how anxious I was about being the centre of attention on our special day. I talked to some friends who’d already got married about my dream and discovered I wasn’t alone: my fear of being “on show” was powerful, prevalent and perfectly normal among brides to be.
I was convinced that I’d get up to the altar and not be able to say a word, or blurt out something really stupid,
confided one friend.
My biggest worry was that I’d trip, burst out laughing or get my fiancé’s name wrong,
Pre-wedding jitters can be similar to the performance anxiety experienced by actors, whose bouts of nerves can cause them to shake, sweat or feel dizzy before going on stage. Stage fright (which most commonly appears as a fear of public speaking) is one of the top phobias – feared more than even cancer or plane crashes. So it’s no surprise that the performance aspect of a wedding can send a bride’s worry levels soaring.
The good news is, however bad your anticipatory anxiety gets, when the actual moment comes, it won’t feel as daunting as you expected. “It’s hard not to have pre-wedding jitters, especially if you’re nervous about appearing in front of your guests,” says Masha Cain, wedding planning consultant and managing director at Dubai-based Fabulous Day Weddings & Events JLT. “However, it always turns out to be the most beautiful day and all the stress and anxiety is just energy wasted.”
12 Steps to a Fearless You
If you are overly nervous about your nuptials, there’s a lot you can do both before and during the day to keep calm:
1. Think Positively: In the weeks before your wedding, change your thinking patterns from pulse-boosting scary thoughts (“I’ll fall flat on my face”) to more useful, calming suggestions (I’ll be fine”). The moment you begin to think negative thoughts, redirect the way you talk to yourself. Tell yourself it’s normal to worry, that everyone feels the same way and that you WILL get through it.
2. Be Prepared: Host a rehearsal if you’re worried about the service. “I am a true believer in rehearsals and always encourage our couples to have one before the big day,” says Masha. “Whether it is walking down the aisle, a vow exchange or a speech, it is all about being prepared and knowing what to do or say.”
3. Try Hypnotherapy: One option for the very nervous bride is a series of relaxation sessions with a certified hypnotist. S/he can give you a subtle post-hypnotic trigger signal – something like tapping your fingers together – which you can use at any time during the preparation, ceremony or reception to bring feelings of calm, ease and confidence.
4. Use Relaxation Cues: You can also rehearse several self-help techniques by yourself to lower your fear factor. Go to the room of the event and find a place to look at, perhaps a window, door or special feature, and tell yourself that when you look at this ‘safe anchor’, you’ll take a deep breath and become very relaxed. With practice, relaxation cues can be very helpful. You could also buy a good relaxation CD and use it as a stress buster every day for two weeks before the wedding.
5. Start Slowly: On the morning of your wedding, try to relax. “Don’t do too much,” advises Clare Ebbs, wedding planner and founder of The Perfect Moment in Dubai. “It will make you stressed and then time will run away from you. Enjoy your time with your bridesmaids or mum.”
6. Eat Brekkie: Make sure you have a good breakfast in the morning. “The last thing you want is to feel faint with hunger, in addition to being nervous,” says Masha. Before everything begins, envision a stress free and peaceful day. “Try to think about all the happiness the day ahead holds – and smile. “It’s all about getting your head in the right state of mind.”
7. Distract Yourself: Ask a close friend to sit in the back row at your ceremony so she can give you a warm, reassuring smile the moment you enter. You could also have someone tell you a funny joke just before you walk in to take your mind off your nerves and send you on your way beaming.
8. Release Tension: Slower, deeper and more conscious breathing is key. When we are tense, we tend to hunch our shoulders and tighten the muscles around our mouth, eyes and forehead. Dropping your shoulders a few inches and loosening the key facial muscles is an important first step in relaxation.
9. Send Panic Packing: As well as taking deep breaths, drink plenty of water, adds Clare. “A way of avoiding a panic attack is to breath into a brown paper bag a few times. Compose yourself, then go and marry the love of your life!”
10. Concentrate on Him: “Focus on your groom and try not to think about the other people looking at you walking down the aisle,” suggests Masha. You could even pretend it is only the two of you and the guests are just props.
11. Hire Help: “If the logistics of the day are a worry to you then hire an ‘on the day planner’ who can manage the supplier set up, guest management and make sure everything runs smoothly,” advises Clare.
12. Don’t lose perspective: Above all, always remember, your wedding isn’t a performance. “Even if you say the wrong thing, trip down the aisle or miss a step on your wedding dance, no one will notice as they are all looking at a beautiful bride on her special day,” says Masha. You’re standing in front of your loved ones and they’re all rooting for you, so relax and enjoy the moment.
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