The 5-Second Wait: What It is and Why You Must Do It

Ceremony & Vows, Etiquette
The Five Second Wait

Photo: Lauren Fair

You've fantasized about walking down the aisle in your gorgeous gown, surprising guests with creative goodies, and slipping your toes into warm sand on your well-deserved honeymoon. Now imagine this moment: Your officiant has just announced you and your groom as "Mr. and Mrs." and it's time to walk back down the aisle.

But wait. You and your groom hold court for a few seconds, still up at the altar, looking out at your friends and family, soaking in the pivotal moment while your photographer captures the freshest moments of your marriage.

We dub this "The Five Second Wait" — and it's one of the best pieces of advice you should remember while wedding planning. Instead of turning toward everyone and charging down the aisle...wait.

"This moment will be a signature event in what psychologists call your 'autobiographical memories,'" says Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., a Cornell University gerontologist and author of 30 Lessons for Loving. "These are very positive memories that can help you be happier for a lifetime. In the future, as you look back on the day, it will trigger a cascade of positive emotions associated with it. The memory of that moment after you say 'I do' and turn to face your guests is one that can benefit your relationship life and your happiness long after."

See more: 23 Creative Wedding Exits

With all the overwhelming emotion and excitement in those fleeting seconds, it's important that you and your groom agree on the pause in advance. And then seize that fresh period of time as a brand-new married couple by utilizing this technique that Dr. Pillemer describes as "savoring."

"You're going to be in the flow of the moment, which is what you need to be," Dr. Pillemer says. "But you can take a lesson from the science of savoring, which means consciously directing our awareness to the positive experience and positive emotions involved. The goal is focus on savoring what, in that moment, you would like to remember."

Dr. Pillemer, who has spent the last five years interviewing hundreds of long-term married couples, goes on to suggest mentally documenting the moment. "Don't rush it. Take a few seconds to focus on what you want to recall decades from now. Studies confirm that consciously looking for positive features of experiences make a great difference in your emotional life. What better time to do so than immediately after you made a lifetime commitment?"

So trust us on this one: The 5-Second Wait is worth it. (And don't forget to smile!)

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