Nervous that you'll feel nervous on the big day? Don't worry. Wedding-day anxiety is nothing to freak out about (that will only make things worse!), but it may put a damper on the day and keep you from fully enjoying this magical moment. So we talked to the experts, and they were able to share these tips on how to handle your nerves before you head to the altar.
1. Let Go of Perfection and Accept the Imperfect
Easier said than done, right? However, doing so will reduce stress. "It is important to remember the wedding day is the beginning of your married life together and not your entire life," says Lisa Brateman, psychotherapist and relationship specialist in NYC. "Truly recognizing that 'perfect' is an unobtainable goal will combat the building stress. Perfection is an illusion. Acceptance early on that something will not go as planned will correlate to how much stress one feels."
Jean Fitzpatrick, a relationship therapist in Manhattan, also emphasizes that brides should accept that something will go wrong. "A bridesmaid will hold her bouquet too high, your father will sneeze too loudly during the vows, a family member will behave badly at the reception. Your wedding day is sure to be imperfect, but it will still be beautiful, and at the end of the day you and your groom will be married."
2. Make a Plan
"It is helpful to anticipate that stress may occur and make a plan to manage it," advises Brateman. "Self-awareness of how you experience stress will determine the degree."
As part of this plan, have some stress-management techniques lined up. Brateman suggests recognizing the anxiety as it's happening, accepting that you can't control everything, and realizing that no one notices what you might perceive as a mistake or fault in planning.
3. Employ Breathing Exercises
Yes, they actually work. "Tune in to your breathing. You don't need to be a meditation expert, and don't hyperventilate," says Fitzpatrick. "Just notice your exhale. That's all. When you're feeling anxious, pay attention to your natural exhale. It's very calming."
She suggests sitting down, kicking off your shoes, and feeling your feet against the floor while imagining breathing into the soles of your feet. "Feel your soles warm and your whole body relax," she adds.
4. Use Your Bridal Party
Your bridesmaids aren't there just to assist with the planning process and help you decide between a lace mermaid or satin A-line. They're also there to support you. Remember, you picked these girls for a reason. Use them when you need them most. "Utilize your bridal party to calm you," says Brateman. "Seek out the one person who is a calming presence to talk to instead of keeping it alive in your head. I call this expressing your feelings and then disposing of them."
And find a way to laugh with them! She adds that laughter is the best way to interrupt anxiety.
5. Feel the Present
Remember, things are out of your control—so nothing good can come from dwelling on what may happen. "Focus on what's happening in front of you in the present moment," advises Fitzpatrick. "Instead of letting your thoughts race to the next planned event—the vows, the kiss, the chocolate fountain—remember that every moment of this day will happen only once. Slow down and let yourself experience them with all your senses."