How to beat wedding anxiety

beat wedding anxiety Worthing celebrant Claire Bradford of Creating Ceremony illustration by Meredith Jensen
Illustration courtesy of Meredith Jensen,

Weddings. They’re beautiful, meaningful and fun. But they can breed anxiety and stress very easily too. Even the most chilled out couple will have moments when the wedmin gets overwhelming and the anxiety creeps in, making them want to call the whole thing off and hide under the duvet.

Many people have daydreamed about their wedding day since they were kids, and some have been to very lavish weddings of their friends or family and feel they need to ‘keep up’. Others feel anxious about pleasing their family or cultural group. Wherever they come from, high expectations often equal high anxiety levels.

It’s not only wedmin or high expectations that crank up the stress-o-meter though. As a wedding celebrant, I have worked with many individuals who are anxious at the mere thought of being the centre of attention in their wedding ceremony. Whilst that’s inevitable to an extent, it’s certainly possible to lessen the anxiety and even enjoy being in the spotlight if you do it on your own terms.

When you’re planning your wedding, the very last thing you want to be feeling is anxiety or dread. You’re celebrating your love and your commitment to each other and you’re highly likely to be spending a significant amount of energy and time in preparing for it. You’ll probably be thinking about ways to make sure that all your guests enjoy themselves. So surely YOU TWO should enjoy yourselves too, right?!

Well read on, dear anxious one, to discover some feel-better-right-now ways to kick wedding anxiety out of your life:

8 ways to beat wedding anxiety:

1. Get clear on what your wedding means to you

Get really clear with your partner on exactly what this wedding means to you both. What’s the most important thing about it to YOU (not other people)? How do you want to feel about it looking back? If you had to choose just 10 things, then 5 things, then 3 things from your list of supposed wedding must-haves, what would make the cut every time? This will help you to get rid of the ‘fluff’ and focus on what’s at the heart of your wedding day. Maybe the favours or the hand-decorated napkins aren’t really that important after all…

2. Make a wedding day mantra

Working with your partner, turn what you’ve learned from point 1 into your own wedding mantra. This is a short, ‘anchoring’ phrase that reminds you about what’s important, whether it’s ‘chilled out love fest’, ‘music, food and fabulous friends’, ‘us, the forest and happy vibes’ or whatever yours happens to be.

Choose something that makes you both smile. Write your wedding mantra down and stick it somewhere prominent. Make it your phone’s screensaver. Remind yourself and each other of it when the wedmin hots up or second cousin Margaret is complaining about your vegan menu. Make it your wedding ‘happy place’ to come back to whenever you need it.

3. Get organised

There’s nothing more anxiety-triggering than not knowing what’s going on or waking up in the middle of the night because you realise you should have confirmed with the caterers last week and you didn’t.

So get organised, in whatever way you know suits you best. Maybe invest in one of the awesome wedding planning books you can get now, open a spreadsheet, start a Trello board… Make sure you can both access the information so it’s not just one of you who ends up shouldering all the work (and so you can both get excited together too of course!)

Some couples find that having a specific email address for their wedding helps too – otherwise, wedmin can get entangled with other emails and that can make you anxious too.

4. Have a budget

Much like the last point, knowing where you are with your money will make you less prone to a budget-related anxiety attack.

Go back to your notes about what your wedding means to you and make sure that the things that are most important to you about the day get top billing on your budget too. Everything else can fit in around what’s left after you’ve prioritised.

Again, keep track of your expenses however you like to do it. Whether it’s a spreadsheet, pen and paper or a fancy phone app, choose something and stick to it.

5. Give EFT a go… or something else

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is also known as ‘tapping’. I’m not an EFT practitioner, but I use it personally and find it a simple but super effective way to calm down anxious feelings or worries. It’s super easy to learn and doesn’t require any fandangles! Watch this video here to be guided through a simple tapping technique which can be tailored to whatever’s worrying you.

Other people swear by CBT, meditation or alternative techniques that work for them.

And don’t forget good old Rescue Remedy! I always carry a bottle for nervous brides or grooms.

There are so many options available for self-help when you’re anxious. Try a few and go with what works best for you – or combine the lot! Your anxiety won’t stand a chance!

6. Work with a wedding celebrant

Work with Sussex wedding celebrant Claire Bradford of Creating Ceremony

(Who’d have thought I’d suggest this, eh?!) As you hopefully know by now if you’ve been following me for any amount of time, there are many, many fabulous reasons to work with a wedding celebrant – having a completely personalised wedding that reflects the pair of you, the freedom to get hitched just about anywhere, the ability to say your own vows from the heart… I could go on.

One of these many reasons is that you have control over your ceremony with a wedding celebrant in a way you wouldn’t with a registrar. You get to choose who you’ll see smiling at you as you walk down the aisle for one (other than your partner, of course!), you’ll have built up a rapport with them and will have worked with them on your ceremony, you’ll know what they will be saying (no worries about them going off on a verbal tangent), and you’ll have had the opportunity for a rehearsal with them.

A rehearsal with your wedding celebrant a few days before your big moment can really help to calm anxious feelings. You’ll get to try out your entrance, decide where you’ll be standing and walk through the whole ceremony. You can ask any last-minute questions or share any worries. You can tell your celebrant how you’re feeling and get advice about how to overcome the anxiety. Rehearsals make 99% of couples feel 100% better*

7. Do all the foundation stuff

You know that boring, yawnsome stuff that everyone tells you you ‘should’ do and that are constantly the feature of everybody’s New Years Resolutions? Get enough sleep, eat healthily, drink less caffeine, eat less sugar, exercise regularly, yadda yadda yadda?

Turns out that actually, it really does help with life in general, but particularly if you want to keep a lid on anxiety.

But there’s really no need to beat yourself around the head with a stick about this stuff and get even more wound up because you had a small biscuit in the afternoon. There’s no need to go on a crash diet or run a marathon (unless you want to, of course, you loon!) Just be your own best friend and go to bed half an hour earlier with a good book occasionally instead of letting the Netflix ‘next episode’ bar tick over, take a walk with your beloved on a sunny Sunday afternoon, cook a big veggie casserole on a cold, wet evening. Be nice to yourself. Oh and take a multivit just in case :-)

8. Turn the attention outwards

Naturally, if you are getting married, being the centre of attention on your wedding day is pretty hard to avoid. However, your wedding day is not just about the two of you, but the two of you in relation to everyone else there. It’s a celebration of bringing everyone together in a celebration of love.

So focus on all those smiling faces as you’re walking down the aisle, and beam your love right back at them; ask your talented cousin to sing; get your brother to read the poem he wrote; ask your celebrant to reference your friends and family members throughout the ceremony, weaving them inextricably into your story; celebrate the cake that your mother-in-law made for you; set mini-challenges for your guests to play which will get them to find out more about each other. In short, make it about THEM too, and you won’t feel so singled out for attention (and they’ll have a brilliant time into the bargain, so everyone’s a winner).

Remember that a wedding is not supposed to be an ordeal, nor is it a competition. Inevitably, the planning will get stressful sometimes, but if you find yourself dreading the whole thing, you need to stop and take stock. With your partner, go through the plan and work out how you can pare it back, simplify or simply get rid of things. Get help, practical and/or emotional, from your beloved, family, friends or professionals. Ditch things (no one cares about favours anyway), delegate stuff and BREATHE. 

You got this. Now go and have an awesome day.

Eat, drink and be married, by Sussex wedding celebrant Claire Bradford of Creating Ceremony

Read point 6 and decided you want an awesome wedding celebrant? You know who to call! Drop me a line right now.

*totally made up stats, but you get the idea