As your wedding approaches, you probably feel mostly excited—but it’s completely OK to feel nervous, too. It’s a big day, a big decision, and you’ve probably put in a lot of work. But are nerves always something to be expected or can they mean something more? “Wedding jitters are very normal,” relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein says. “In addition to making a lifetime commitment to someone, you are also throwing the biggest most expensive party of your life! It’s a stressful time for sure. However, sometimes your ‘wedding jitters’ are a sign that you aren’t making the right choice and should maybe reconsider.”
Now, don’t panic—because this will only be the case very rarely. But you need to listen to your gut and be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling. Some people are in a rush to get married and get so swept away in the planning that they don’t realize that the foundation of the marriage (the relationship) isn’t right. Maybe it’s a fundamental incompatibility and it’s actually the wrong person or maybe it’s just that you haven’t given the relationship enough attention recently. In either case, you need to take a long hard look.
So how do you know if your jitters are normal or if they mean something more? Here’s what you need to know.
Is Everyone More Positive Than You Are?
In a way, it’s good news if your friends and family are bursting with excitement for the wedding, but that only works if you share that excitement. ”If you are finding that everyone around you is much more excited about your wedding than you are, it’s not a good sign,” Hartstein says. If you can't get yourself as hyped up as your wedding party, it’s time to think about why. It may be that there’s been a feeling that you’ve been ignoring or a worry that you’ve tried to put to the side. You need to pay attention to those.
How Do You Feel About the Day?
“If the entire wedding scenario is filling you with dread and anxiety, that may mean that you need to give a little more thought to your wedding plans,” Harstein explains. Now, if you’re just freaking out about your stepmother being seated too close to your mom or whether Uncle Thomas is going to get drunk and make an impromptu speech, that’s probably fine. In fact, it’s probably just practical. But if you’re feeling anxious about giving your vows or have a knot in your stomach about what it means to actually go through with it, that might be a problem. While you may be nervous to get married, you probably shouldn’t be nervous to be married.
How Are Your Friends Responding?
This late in the game, your friends probably won’t want to tell you that you’re making a mistake. But if you start voicing your concerns, see how they respond. If they immediately tell you that everything’s fine and all the reasons why you should get married, that’s a good sign. But if they encourage you to keep talking and start to point out larger issues, you may want to start listening. They may be trying to get you to come to a decision yourself, because ultimately it’s all down to you.
How Do you Feel About Your Relationship?
If you’ve been caught up in the wedding planning, when's the last time you thought about your relationship? “If you find that you’d rather do anything than spend some time alone with your fiancé, there may be a problem,” Hartstein says. You need to take a step back and remember what this event is all about. Think about what being married and starting your life with this person means. If that’s the source of the jitters, it’s time for some soul-searching.
Don’t Assume the Worst
OK, so this has been a lot of big fears—but if you’re feeling anxious, don’t immediately assume the worst. “If, however, you are feeling crazed, stressed, and nervous but also can’t wait until the big day—that’s just jitters!” Harstein says. And normally that will be all it is. It can be an overwhelming time, and preparing for a large (or even small) celebration isn’t easy. So you don’t always need to think that there’s anything else going on. Before you start to worry, take your time and make sure you work out what you’re really on edge about.
Getting married is a huge decision, not to mention a stressful event that you’re in charge of. Maybe you’ve dreamed of this day for years; maybe you never thought you’d end up here. Either way, it’s completely normal to feel those prewedding jitters. But pay attention, think about where they’re coming from, and listen to your gut. You’ll know if they’re about something bigger.