If you're about to walk down the aisle, you're probably feeling some butterflies and jitters due to excitement and anticipation. Or, if you're more of a nervous type, you might be a little uneasy about having all eyes on you, potentially tripping over your dress, and having the food come out wrong. Stress, worry, and anxiety before your big day are all normal, but could it ever be a red flag that something isn't quite right? We spoke to a few experts to see what they had to say, so just take a deep breath and keep reading.
Is Prewedding Anxiety Normal?
In short? Yeah, it is. "Anxiety — because you're ready to participate in a major life event — is probably a good thing to have," David Bennett, counselor and relationship expert with Double Trust Dating, told POPSUGAR. "This is normal, performance-related anxiety that you might get before a big public speech or musical or athletic performance."
However, having anxiety because you don't think it's the right choice to commit to your partner for life is another situation. "While some degree of anxiety in this regard is normal (after all, marriage is a big decision), many couples I have worked with who experienced this doubt and hesitation ended up later separating," he continued.
Anxiety before your wedding could be a variety of things, so look at the cause. "If it comes from a place of, 'This is the most amazing event in my life and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with this person,' you're good. If it comes from a place of, 'Oh man, I have to spend the rest of my life with this person?,' it could be a red flag," Bennett said.
What If the Anxiety Is Mild?
We usually feel anxiety when we're not able to predict the way things will turn out. Whatever your anxiety is related to, whether it's the wedding ceremony, finances, or your partner's behaviour, you can try to increase the predictability with better preparation and use it to your advantage. "You may want to double-check the logistics, create a backup plan, and talk to your partner about the things that bother you," Ana Jovanovic, psychologist and life coach at Parenting Pod, told POPSUGAR. "Anxiety can push you into some productive actions. As long as it's mild and manageable, it can serve as a signal that amplifies the need for clarity and precision and directs your thinking process towards satisfying that need."
That anxiety directs your attention to those questions that may have been lingering in your mind for a while, but you never thought it was the right time to address them. Talk them out now, and it should dissipate.
What If You're Questioning the Marriage?
The unpleasantness of anxiety can cause you to question whether getting married is the right step to make. You may find it similar to the gut feeling that something is just wrong. "This is usually the moment when people start challenging their decisions and trying to get reassured that the alarm anxiety set off is actually a false one," Jovanovic explained. "However, they're doing so by starting with the hypothesis 'There's something wrong.' Naturally, when you're looking for things that are wrong, chances are your partner will feel like you're not trusting and loving them enough to marry them. This can be hurtful and damageing for a relationship."
So if that anxiety isn't related to excitement or checking off deadlines, but more about worrying about being with that one person for the rest of your life and whether or not you love them, that's not a good sign. "When anxiety is too difficult to bear (the level at which it becomes such is different for different people), it's usually a sign that something is wrong," Jovanovic said. "When it overwhelms you and paralyzes you from taking action to alleviate it, we can label it as 'bad.'"
How to Calm Down
If it's minor and not related to life commitment, there are ways to calm yourself down. "Mindfulness is defined as paying attention on purpose and nonjudgmentally in the present moment. One way I suggest to instantly apply mindfulness is to find something you haven't noticed before in the environment and pay attention to it," Bennett said, adding that you should become aware of how it looks and even sounds or smells. "Another technique I like is to count backwards from 1,000 by sevens. This requires the use of the frontal lobe of the brain, which is like the brain's master operator. By doing this, you're activating the logical part of your brain, and this will give time for the more emotional parts of the brain to cool down." You have to choose a difficult counting system, otherwise the task is so automatic that it won't require effort from your frontal lobe.