Spring has become the beginning of “wedding season”. Planning a wedding is, by itself, stressful. Planning a wedding, a ceremony, and honeymoon while you have a full time job is extremely stressful. You have so much on your plate and your stress level is off the charts. You’re tired, irritable, and everything your fiancé says and does is so annoying. Should you call the whole thing off and run away to Tahiti?
Pre-wedding “jitters” are perfectly normal. Try to differentiate between being stressed over the wedding, about getting married in general, and having real questions about this specific relationship. In other words, is this “normal” pre-wedding anxiety or are you having real concerns about your intended partner?
Planning a wedding is hard. Trying to please parents, future in-laws, yourself and fiancé may seem like an impossible task. Most people don’t have experience in planning such big and important parties. And since this is such an important day, you no doubt want everything to be perfect. No wonder you’re anxious!
Signs of pre-wedding jitters and what you can do about them:
1- Having trouble eating. We often feel like we have “butterflies” in our stomach when anxious and don’t have an appetite. It’s important to eat for strength and energy. Even nibbling on crackers with protein, such as peanut butter, is a tremendous help.
2- Having trouble sleeping. Anxiety brings racing thoughts which tend to be exaggerated when your environment is quiet, such as when you try to go to sleep. There are plenty of free apps to download for sleep. Try one that focuses on relaxation or meditation rather than one with just soothing music. Alternatively, try to do some deep breathing when in bed and focus on relaxing the muscles in your body.
3- Having difficulty concentrating. When there are a lot of things on your mind you tend to have difficulty focusing on one thing at a time. If you find this happening to you, try to focus on the task at hand for short bursts of time. If distracting thoughts come to mind, write them down to think about after the task is completed.
4- Becoming clumsy. Having difficulty concentrating can lead to clumsiness. Try to focus on what you’re doing in the moment, walk yourself through what you’re trying to do and toss out any distracting thoughts.
5- Being irritable or short tempered. Recognize this is a result of anxiety and take 1 or 2 deep breaths before reacting and/or speaking. Try to speak slowly, this will help to calm your body.
6- Feeling “on edge”. Try some deep breathing (yoga breathing), meditation or yoga. Move your body – go for a walk, hike, take an exercise class.
7- Preoccupation with details about the wedding itself. Make a checklist that you go over with either your fiancé or someone who can help. Ideally, you can turn this over to a trusted friend or relative so that it is off your plate. If you’re worried about things going wrong during the affair, delegate responsibilities to trusted others. For example:
-If you’re worried about a specific person drinking too much or misbehaving, put someone “in charge” of monitoring that person.
-Are you worried the day won’t go as planned? Will people have fun? Will everyone behave? Will the two families get along? Will you be OK being in the spotlight? Will the band show up? If these are your concerns, make up a checklist to go over a week or 2 before the wedding so that you make sure you have checked off all the things you can control. Once that is done, the only job you have is to enjoy your wedding!
Calming the jitters:
1- Spend time with your fiancé when you don’t talk about the wedding. Go to your favorite restaurant, take a bike ride, have dinner with friends, spend a romantic weekend together full of pampering.
2- Talk to friends who have recently been married and find out what they did to calm their jitters. Talking to family members and friends about your concerns may help you to feel reassured.
3- Designate a night a week where you and your fiancé and/or you and your friends don’t talk about the wedding. You’re taking a night off from wedding discussions.
4- Look at old photos of happy memories the two of you shared to refocus on the good rather than the scary.
5- If you have specific concerns about what it will be like to be married, talk to your fiancé about them and come up with a plan to address these concerns.
6- Talk to your fiancé about your anxiety or jitters. Get used to helping and supporting each other. Ask for what you need from them.
7- Exercise is the best way to get rid of the extra tension that’s building up in your body. Go to the gym, take a walk, or bike ride.
8- Practice some relaxation techniques. There are plenty of you tube videos and apps that go through deep muscle relaxation.
9- Don’t hold your feelings in. Talk to friends and family.
11- If it feels like the anxiety is getting worse, talk to a therapist, your rabbi or priest.