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What Your Wedding Dreams Really Mean

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Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham/BRIDES

Bizarre wedding dreams are almost universal among engaged women. BRIDES magazine got experts to decipher the most common scenarios and symbols.

Scenario #1: You're naked at the altar.

A dream that you're in the buff or wearing something embarrassing may indicate that you're nervous about being the center of attention. It can also mean that you're still coming to terms with the changes marriage will bring. "This dream is typical of someone who's embarking on an enormous change," says Gillian Holloway, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of The Complete Dream Book of Love and Relationships. "It can reflect that you're feeling vulnerable." If your dream-self isn't embarrassed about being naked, though, relax. This can mean you're at peace with both the attention and the upcoming life changes.

Scenario #2: You're missing something.

When a bride dreams that something critical is absent at the wedding, it often means that something's missing in her life, says Robert Waggoner, president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. Ask yourself, "What does that thing that's missing in the dream symbolize?" If the musicians don't show up, for example, and music is a major source of happiness for you, the dream may be trying to tell you that your hectic schedule has cost you some joy. If your fiance is MIA in the dream, it may be a sign that you need to spend more time together.

Scenario #3: You're marrying the wrong guy.

This can be a particularly upsetting dream, but—breathe a sigh of relief—it almost never means you think you're marrying the wrong person. "Whether you're marrying your fiance's best friend or Simon Cowell, I wouldn't read too much into this one," says Holloway. "It's likely your brain's way of coming to terms with the whole gamble of marriage."

Scenario #4: You're late!

Nightmares in which the wedding date has changed and no one shows up, or you're rushing to make it to the church on time, are "pretty straightforward anxiety dreams," says Waggoner. Since they symbolize that you're feeling overwhelmed by details, take them as a reminder to delegate some chores to others and to set aside time to relax.

Decoding the Symbols

Not every wedding dream involves a walk down the aisle. Here are some symbols that you may see while you sleep, along with common interpretations, from I Had the Strangest Dream, by Kelly Sullivan Walden. To determine what a particular image in your dream probably represents, think about the emotions and associations it brings up for you personally.

Hills, mountains = struggles and challenges
Ring = permanence, partnership, and unity
Teeth falling out = insecurity and powerlessness
Cake = reward for your hard work and accomplishments
Long hair = an increase in personal power
Short hair = fear of losing your power
Falling = loss of control and confidence
Father = support, protection, and heroism (or lack thereof)
Mother = unconditional love (or lack thereof)
Water = healing, cleansing, and sexuality
Aisle = order and a need for symmetry
Flying = freedom and joy

—Miranda Crowell, BRIDES magazine

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