Many brides have puzzling or mysterious wedding dreams before the big day—so we decided to get to the bottom of this natural nighttime occurrence. We asked eight brides to share their wedding dreams with us, which we then had analyzed by two top experts: Gayle Delaney, Ph.D., Mill Valley, CA–based bestselling author of In Your Dreams, and Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, Tampa-based author of Cracking the Dream Code and founder of
. Here's what the pros we consulted had to say. (Their insights will surprise you!)
Fast and Furious
Jane Mason (name has been changed), Cleveland
"At least once a week, I have a dream in which my wedding is tomorrow, but I haven't picked up my dress, made hair appointments for the bridesmaids, ordered flowers, selected clothes for the groomsmen, or had a rehearsal of the ceremony—everything is in absolute chaos. I end up searching through my closet for a dress while my mom attempts to do my hair. When I show up at the ceremony, I'm completely overwhelmed by the huge number of people there, because I hadn't even sent out invitations. Most of the guests end up leaving the reception early, bored out of their minds. At the end of the wedding I'm sitting there guilt-ridden, thinking about how awful it all turned out. My fiancé agrees and blames me! I usually wake up in a panic."
Expert Opinion: "Many brides-to-be have this type of dream in response to their wish for the perfect wedding in spite of limited time, money and organizational skills," Dr. Delaney notes. "Interestingly, this bride seems not to have let the stress of the wedding pollute her relationship with her mom; but her groom's blaming her suggests that the wedding chaos may be stressing that relationship. Yes, dreams do exaggerate to get your attention, but they always spring from real stressors in life. My sense is that the event plans may have become too complicated for Jane to handle, causing her to lose some joy in the wedding."
Amanda Lazaro, Boston
"I've been having a recurring dream in which I'm in a bridal salon trying on dresses. I can't find anything that fits me, so a sales associate brings out a tutu. My mother and sister are all about the dress, so I end up purchasing it, even though I don't love it. When I walk down the aisle, everyone is laughing at me. Once I even cried in the dream! The thing is, I love the dress I'm actually getting married in."
Expert Opinion: "Amanda should think about the feelings toward her mother and sister that she has in the dream, and whether they remind her of any she's been having in real life. Does she frequently give in to family members?" asks Dr. Delaney. "Agreeing to wear a tutu for her wedding suggests she would do well to establish firmer boundaries in these relationships. Also, the fact that the dream is recurring says that the issue continues to bother her and remains unresolved. Since she loves the actual wedding dress she has bought, the dress in her dream is essentially a metaphor to help her understand her conflict." reason to think her parents have not entirely changed their feelings toward her choice of a spouse," Dr. Delaney says. "I wonder how they'd respond if she were to tell them about this dream. My guess is that at the time of the dream, they had not yet transformed their feelings about her choice of a partner but were trying to be agreeable, and Simone sensed this. The stress she felt in the dream showed her concern over her parents' level of acceptance of José."
Alys Adamski, New York City
"I had some dreams that involved my fiancé, John, casually strolling into the wedding two hours late. He never seemed to have any idea why I was so upset. Sometimes I would wake up crying, feeling a lot of resentment. But he'd react so nicely, always reassuring me that he would show up to our wedding and be on time. In real life, he is always on time and I know the wedding is important to him, so I'm not sure why I was having those dreams."
Expert Opinion: Running late or arriving late in a dream is a common theme and is usually caused by feeling unprepared for a deadline, Loewenberg points out. "However, in Alys' dream it is her groom who is running late. So the actual deadline she's stressing about may not be the wedding deadline, but rather a self-imposed marriage deadline," she says. "Alys may feel that John was either late in proposing marriage to her or that marriage came a little later for her in life than she had hoped; and up until the moment the vows were exchanged, she may have had an underlying fear that it would not actually happen."
Sophia Gibson, Philadelphia
"I had a dream about all my guests showing up in the same dress as my real-life wedding dress—and I was in sweatpants and a T-shirt. My mother was dressed as a widow, wearing a long black veil. Instead of the beautiful church I'm supposed to get married in, the wedding was in a warehouse, and there were mice! For the reception, we were all carted off to a Burger King–type place for dinner."
Expert Opinion: "What bride doesn't want to outshine everyone else in the room?" Loewenberg asks. "The pressure Sophia may be putting on herself to have everything just right is the cause of this dream. She might fear thaome may not be so impressed." The mice, Loewenberg notes, represent all the little annoyances that can "infest" the planning process: "This is why Sophia is in sweats and a T-shirt; her mind is telling her to relax' about it. Her mother is in black because Sophia may sense that she's mourning the fact that her little girl is all grown up and gaining a new identity as a married woman. Weddings are often a bittersweet affair for the parents. This dream is a heads-up that Sophia should be sure to give Mom the kudos she deserves for raising such a fabulous young woman."
Shannon Godfrey-Johnson, Hackensack, NJ
"I'm in a hotel room in an old building on a huge property where all of the buildings look like cathedrals. My girls and I are there getting ready. The lighting is bad and there's old stuff (antique lights, worn couches) all over the place. My girls leave to line up for the wedding, and I realize my hair and makeup artists never showed up. I try to do what my stylist was going to (in real life she's one of my dear friends), but my hair won't curl and won't straighten. I call her, use the F-word at least six times, and hang up on her. I put some water on my hair but it looks a mess. Then I put lipgloss on my lips and eyes. Yes, my eyes. All of a sudden, two friends come strolling back in, and I ask if the wedding is over. They say, No, everyone is waiting on you.' Then I realize I forgot my veil, but one girl says, Surprise! I knew you'd forget it, so I brought you one.' It's really short with a huge bow. I say, Great!' and put the veil on my ugly hair and leave. I finally get to my wedding and it's so quiet—everyone is half asleep, leaned over with their fists on their chins."
Expert Opinion: The old hotel, lights and couches all suggest Shannon may feel something is starting to "get old," and the stress from planning a lavish affair may be the culprit, Loewenberg says. "While having the perfect hair is important to all brides, there is another reason for this nightmare: Hair, to the dreaming mind, symbolizes plans and ideas because, like hair, plans and ideas sprout from the head. It seems Shannon is having difficulty straightening out' her plans and having everything fall into place just right. The lipgloss, as with anything having to do with the mouth in a dream, is about the ability to communicate. Putting the lipgloss on her eyes means Shannon needs to better communicate the vision' she has for this wedding to those who are helping her. All those sleepy guests are merely a reflection of how tiresome this whole ordeal has become. Nothing worthwhile comes easy!"