It is supposed to be the happiest day of your life – but many brides (and grooms) struggle with the lead up to – and enjoying – the wedding day of their dreams.
Wedding stress and anxiety can start to build up weeks and months before the big day. Unfortunately, it may show up in physical or emotional symptoms, including obsessing over every detail, sleep disturbances, constantly worrying, being angry or on edge, sweaty palms, tightness in the chest, butterflies and more.
At its extreme, anxiety can lead to panic attacks that can take a terrible toll on the bridal couple, and can be enough to turn what you have been looking forward to into something that creates terrible fear and stress.
Things that affect brides and grooms leading to stress, anxiety and even panic attacks include:
• The need for everything to be perfect
• Feuding relatives or wrangling relatives to make the day work
• Social anxiety – being the centre of attention or being uncomfortable in crowds
• Stressing about things not coming together
• Wanting to look their best but struggling with weight, bad habits or addictions
• Worrying about what it means to be ‘married’
• Living up to expectations
• Fear of flying (for the honeymoon) or public speaking
It can be so much better when you can face the big day being calm and relaxed, with confidence and the capability to really enjoy every moment.
But I shouldn’t feel this way!
You may be surprised how many brides feel anxiety and stress in relation to their wedding. A recent survey* showed that:
• 7/10 brides suffered from nerves before the wedding, and 9/10 brides suffered from nerves on their wedding day.
• 2/3 of brides reported that their nerves got so bad that it affected them in the lead up to the wedding, and negatively impacted their enjoyment and performance on the big day.
• 1/5 brides reported that they had one or more panic attacks before or during the wedding.
It’s not only brides!
Grooms, attendants, parents and relatives can also be affected by fears, phobias, stress and anxiety. Research* shows how much grooms are impacted by Wedding day nerves:
• 9/10 grooms suffer from severe nerves at some stage before or during the ceremony.
• About 1/6 grooms have panic attacks at some point before the ceremony and 2% have reported having a panic attack during the ceremony.
• 1/3 grooms are so nervous that they forget their own or their brides’ name during the ceremony
• Almost all grooms said they were nervous about the speech, with 1/12 not even getting up and do it because of their nerves
• 1/7 grooms froze at some stage during the speech.
With these statistics, it is clear that most weddings involve cold sweats, rather than cold feet!
What can I do?
We often confuse ‘excitement’ and ‘anxiety’, because we often feel them in the same place in our bodies. If you want to work out it your feelings are excitement or anxiety, check and see if what you are imagining is positive, or if you are asking yourself ‘what if’ questions and imagining the worst happening. The first is excitement – enjoy it! – whilst the second is anxiety and may be worth getting some help with so you can enjoy your big day.
A good place to start is to ask yourself what you are feeling anxious about. Then you can ask yourself some clarifying questions:
• What about that thing or event am I really worried about? (clarify and specify your fear)
• Is it reasonable to worry about that?
• What are my expectations – are they realistic, or are they overly positive or negative?
• Is it something that is in my control, or out of my control? (the weather is out of your control, you cannot change it, but you can have a ‘plan B’ if you are planning an outdoor wedding). Focus on what you can control.
• What is the worst that can happen? (and, could I live with that?)
• What could I do to change it? (take control of your responses)
• What would another bride do in that circumstance? (expand your thinking)
• What is the next action I need to take? (action destroys anxiety!)
Unreasonable fears and phobias that you identify can be addressed by speaking with a professional. There are proven approaches and therapy that can rapidly shift anxiety (check them out here).
It is your big day. Being excited, and well planned can really contribute to making the day special. However, allowing out-of-control anxiety to ruin your lead up and the big day itself is something that can be avoided. Isn’t it much better to focus on having a wonderful time, and to creating wonderful memories?
How are wedding nerves, anxiety and fears interfering with your wedding plans?
(*source: survey of 299 brides. http://fearcourse.com/Wedding-Nerves-The-Bride.html, http://fearcourse.com/Wedding-Nerves-The-Groom.html