It’s meant to be the best day of your lives. A time to celebrate your love and commitment to each other in front of your family and friends. You read about engaged couples, and they all seem absolutely full of it, planning for the best day ever, but you’re not. Instead, you can’t breathe. You want to hide under your duvet and wish that this nightmare would just go away.
You feel guilty because you love your partner more than anything and you want to shout from the rooftops that you are going to be spending the rest of your lives together in wedded bliss; but how can you when anxiety is sitting there on your shoulder, whispering in your ear and turning your good intentions into fear and dread? Add on top of this the current disconcert because of COVID-19 and the stress can become unbearable.
You are not alone. Anxiety affects at least three million people in the UK (www.anxietyuk.org.uk) and a well-known trigger is stress. As we all know, planning a wedding can be very stressful. It may start to feel as if the day has become an entity all of its own and with ‘helpful’ input from friends and family, things can start spiraling out of control.
It is time to STOP. Take a step back and take control. Remember this is your wedding and it can be however you like. In the UK, to legally get married takes approximately ten minutes with a registrar and all you need is two witnesses to hear you say two sentences; your legal declaration and your contracting words. Then you sign your certificate. There is no fuss - you don’t even have to exchange rings. Perhaps this sounds perfect for you. If so, then great! However, maybe you really do want something a little bigger and to celebrate with those closest to you. Having a celebrant means that you’ll have the extra support that you need and a ceremony completely tailored around you. When you meet your celebrant, be honest about how you are feeling and your anxiety. Perhaps it is the thought of walking up the aisle, or standing in front of your guests? Perhaps it is speaking in front of everyone, or maybe it is just everything. And this is all OK. These are genuine feelings and must be acknowledged so that together you can find solutions.
Firstly, take another look at your guest list. Do you really want to invite everyone on it? If anyone is causing you concern or is on there because you think they 'should be' then take them off. After all, it’s your day so why shouldn’t you just invite the people you want? If they have to come, then just invite them to the reception and keep the ceremony small. I’ve conducted the most beautiful wedding celebrations in front of six guests, and micro weddings where it is just the couple, me and a photographer. These are such special occasions because they are so personal. The focus is wholly on the love between the couple and the commitment they are making.
Secondly, think about where you would be most comfortable. Consider a celebrant-led ceremony at home or at one of your favourite places. You would immediately feel more comfortable and in control. There is no need to rush either. Most celebrants only do one ceremony a day so you are able to have it at a time that suits you. If you need more time then they will be able to wait until you are ready. There is no pressure on you at all. With a celebrant, you have these options because there is nothing legally binding about the ceremony itself. You are the focus, not the legal documentation.
If you don’t want to walk up the aisle or stand in front of your guests then don’t! Perhaps you and your partner could walk in together or be in situ before the start. If you are having rows of seats then move them into a horseshoe as this feels less intimidating. You can sit in the front row if you choose. Maybe you would prefer everyone sitting at round tables (including yourselves), and there is absolutely no reason why you can’t. Stop being influenced by the traditional idea of a wedding and make it work for you.
Your vows can take any format you like. You can read your own, repeat after me, answer ‘I do’ or if this is too much, then just nod. Again, you can stand or sit – the choice is yours. You may decide not to exchange rings and that’s fine. You don’t have to, it’s simply a tradition.
Your celebrant will work with you to make your ceremony as anxiety and stress-free as possible by helping you take back control and putting your needs first. You will be able to read your ceremony beforehand and you will also have the opportunity to rehearse. This may help you to feel more at ease because you will know what will be happening and when.
Remember this is your special day, so it should reflect you and allow you to feel unbounded pleasure and love. This is what a celebrant will help you achieve.
If you'd like to know more or want to chat through some ideas, please get in touch with me at:
If you are struggling with your anxiety, please contact @MindCharity for support