Some people spend their whole lives dreaming about their Big Day, when all eyes are on them. Others become filled with wedding anxiety and couldn’t be more terrified of the attention. Whatever your level of social anxiety, weddings can be filled with draining, uncomfortable experiences. Help manage the stress with these tips from Alanna Gardner, a therapist with marriage and family therapy collective Philadelphia MFT who specializes in anxiety disorders.
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Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert or somewhere in between, weddings are action-packed events. It’s a life-changing moment — and you’ve got everyone you’ve ever known together in one room. So yeah, a little wedding anxiety is totally expected.
Everyone is looking to you to run the show. This may sound like anxiety-inducing pressure, but it should also be empowering. Telling yourself that you’re in control can have its own calming effect.
Share exactly which social situations make you nervous, then establish roles. Let the person who’s more comfortable with chitchat take the lead on talking, and be sure to set up a signal for mid-conversation rescues in case your wedding anxiety gets the best of you.
Wedding weeks can be a marathon of socializing, but they don’t have to be. Can you welcome your out-of-town family at the rehearsal dinner? Skip the wedding-party meet-and-greet? Work with your partner to figure out your list of must-do social engagements, then try to stick to those.
There will be certain times when all eyes are on you; that’s unavoidable. If the idea of the father-daughter dance gives you jitters, ask your DJ to cut down the song — you’ll still get the moment (and the photo!), but with less time in front of the crowd. Terrified of a big entrance? Skip the wedding-party announcement at the reception, and swap the order of your ceremony and cocktail hour so you can transition naturally from mingling to marriage vows, no dramatic walk down the aisle necessary.
If the prospect of never-ending small talk sounds scary, designate a member of your wedding party or your planner as your muscle, to step in and let talkative friends and family know you’re needed elsewhere. Keep things impersonal by focusing on the schedule — guests know that weddings run on strict timelines, so they’ll understand if the cake-cutting requires you to scurry away.
It’s okay to step away from the party for a minute to collect yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Take five to 10 deep breaths and allow yourself to appreciate the magic of the day. Don’t worry — your guests will assume your absence is all part of the plan.
Published as “Spotlight Fright” in the Summer/Fall 2018 issue of Philadelphia Wedding magazine. Get your complimentary copy here.
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