“Losing it” on your Wedding Day
It is a delicate subject and I approach it with some trepidation. But after hearing many brides and/or grooms express fear that they will “lose it,” “be a wreck,” “go to pieces,” “fall apart,” or “break down” during their ceremony, I realize that the subject of emotions on your wedding day needs to be addressed.
Let’s take Michael. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon. The wedding guests were mingling, and there was a feeling of quiet excitement in the air. As the Officiant, I’d already ascertained that the bride was happy and well-cared for in the dressing area.
Michael, however, was another story. As the time for the ceremony approached, I noticed that he grew more and more silent. Michael’s jaw became set and his face grew hard. I wondered what could be the matter. He claimed not to be nervous, and I knew he was deeply in love with his bride, so I wasn’t sure what was going on.
The guests took their seats and the music began. Michael and I stepped up to the altar and waited for the processional to begin. During this time, microphone off, I often chat quietly with the groom in order to help him relax…but the stony silence around Michael was hard to break through. I grew quiet.
Suddenly Michael turned to me, emotions flying on his face. He spoke the fear that had made him withdraw into a cocoon of silence: “I’m terrified that I’m going to completely lose it when I see her!” he confessed.
“Your beautiful bride,” I said softly. He nodded, choking back tears, looking at me for help.
I counseled Michael exactly the way I would counsel you. Like this:
You have invested so much time, effort, thought, and money on this occasion. Everyone you love and care for has traveled to be with you today. You are committing to a lifelong relationship with the love of your life. It is the most important day of your life. Of course you’re going to feel strong emotions!
Don’t fight the emotions; rather, allow them to be there. True, a lot of people are going to be looking at you, but you know what? It’s a wedding! Weddings open hearts, and when hearts open, their owners laugh and cry and smile and sob. If ever you had permission to show your feelings, this is the day.
Here’s a well-known little secret for you: People love to cry at a wedding. As the bride or groom, you set the tone for your ceremony. If you cry, it gives everyone in the audience permission to do the same. So, if you need to wipe away a couple of tears, or stop in the middle of your vows for a cry, you are doing everyone a great service. If you can feel deeply, so can they.
Don’t feel that the ceremony needs to go off without a hitch. Many times I have paused a wedding while the bride or groom loses, and then gains back, their composure. If this happens to you, feel the circle of love and support from your friends, families and Officiant. A wedding is one of those magical things where time warps and love reigns, so take your time, breathe, and don’t start again until you’re ready. We can wait.
Like Michael, I’ve seen some “in control,” stony-faced brides and grooms, and it’s not a good look. A wedding is a microcosm of life itself: we can prepare for it as best we can, but we’re not really in control of what happens. Let go of that control and ride the waves.
And I do mean waves. You see, emotions come in waves. No matter how terrifying it is to let a sob escape your lips, know that it’s temporary. The wave will wash through you and then leave you cleansed, open and present for the amazing experience of marrying your beloved.
Once Michael let go of control he found that, to his surprise, he didn’t “lose it.” Much. He shed a few tears, which made his bride cry, which started the whole audience crying.
It was a great way to start a wedding.