However richly inspired by love, marriage is a high wire act
that is usually attempted by two nervous wrecks who just go for it,
reeling with bliss and blind with the hots.
The rest is work, faith and destiny.
As flippant as that quote may be, I think it offers keen insight into the wedding experience.
I’ve officiated non-denominational wedding ceremonies for a wide array of couples here in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California and what never ceases to astonish me is how many of these folks were nervous wrecks on their wedding day!
“Wreck” in the sense that before the ceremony they were so distracted with nerves, they couldn’t socialize and truly were “beside” themselves.
A wedding is a surrealistic experience, no matter the size of the guest list or the setting. There simply isn’t anything like it. While I readily acknowledge that truth, I’m still puzzled by the nervous states of so many of my brides and grooms.
I “get” the butterflies in the stomach nervousness but lately I’ve witnessed more extreme nervousness and in each case it tossed a pawl over the celebration.
Katy (all names changed) was so anxious before her ceremony at a lush Orange County resort that she asked that a glass of water be placed behind one of the pillars near where she’d be standing – in case she felt faint. When it came time to walk down the aisle, she couldn’t move. She stood frozen for what seemed like an eternity but was probably closer to five minutes – okay, in ceremony time that is an eternity!
The musicians played her entrance piece four times before she started to walk. I have no idea why she was so nervous, especially since she shared with me that she’d been planning her wedding since she was nine years old!
Annie had a DIY wedding and limited guests to intimate friends and family. She was rapturous when she described how Edward proposed to her. When I arrived, though, for the ceremony in a downtown Los Angeles loft, she was distracted and barely smiled.
When I checked on her five minutes before the start, I walked in on her snapping at her best friend who also was her hair stylist. During the ceremony, she looked dazed.
Afterwards, she was snappish with Edward because the sun was setting and they had less time than anticipated for photos. Why worry about photos when you will never forget in your heart the moment the two of you just shared?
But there are other stories. . .
I recently officiated a wedding where Finn, the groom, told me right before ceremony start how happy he was. In fact, he couldn’t believe just how happy he was.
He looked at me with sparkling eyes and said, “All the people I love in this world are here with me right now!” He thanked me for my help, slapped me on the back and said, “Get me married!”
The week before her wedding Cathy told me that she was determined to enjoy every minute of her wedding day. She reasoned, “If something happens then it’s beyond my control and I’ll just have to let it go. Besides, I have you and Annette (event planner) to take care of it!”
Another bride, Lucy, told me that she had recently attended a ceremony where anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I cringed when I heard that but she reassured me that the couple didn’t mind because it was all so perfectly imperfect that it made for a great and funny story.
Why is there such a difference between these brides and grooms?
Well, I’m not sure why! But I can tell you that as an officiant it is unsettling and sad to witness people feeling miserable on what should be a beyond-the-beyond joyful day.
Having just wrote that I don’t know why there’s a difference, I’ll now say that I think the difference actually goes back to what I’ve said so many times before. . .
If you’re focusing on having the “perfect” day, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Perfection, as you understand it in your head, simply doesn’t exist.
However, if you’re focused on creating a “magical” day, then that “magic” will be perfect.
Sure, things can go wrong – and I’ve seen things go wrong – but I’ve never seen anything go so wrong that it ruined the joy of the day UNLESS the couple chose to have what went wrong ruin the joy of their day.
So, what can you do to make sure that your nerves do not ruin the fun and sweetness of your wedding day? Consider these tips:
- List what needs to happen for your joy to be diminished. You and your partner could make separate lists and then compare. Explore why what you’ve written could diminish your joy. If your worst fear comes true, strategize what you and your partner can do to protect each other and your celebration.
- Embrace the phrase, “We’ll roll with it because it’s not a joy killer.” You can handle whatever happens. Really!
- Is prayer, meditation or yoga something that helps to center and ground you? If so, then put it that practice on your daily schedule in the weeks leading up to your wedding – and remain faithful to that schedule!
- What do you and your partner want people to remember about your wedding? What can you do to ensure that’s what they will remember? Don’t lose sight of your answers to these two key questions.
your wedding day is the most important PUBLIC day of your life, but it really isn’t THE most important.
The day your child is born will be more important. The day you comfort your partner after they’ve received shattering health news, that will be a more important day.
Your wedding day gives thanks for the past, celebrates the present and blesses the future.
Therefore misery on your wedding day is a choice. Why choose misery over joy?
And for more tips on keeping it all in perspective as you plan your wedding,
check out my book –