Post # 1
Due to a traumatic event a few years back, I’ve developed pretty dibilitating social anxiety.
I’m working really hard on moving past this, but I just realized last night there is going to be a part of my wedding that could seriously aggravate it: the dancing. I will be totally fine with the ceremony, dinner, speeches, and the first dance/father daughter etc because it’s all so structured. But, while I enjoy slow dancing, I don’t enjoy other types of dancing and will feel extremely anxious because about 75% of the people at my wedding I have only met a few times (FI has a huge family that mostly lives out of state).
I talked this over with my Fiance last night, and he is super understanding but doesn’t know what to do. His family is extremely raucous and will be upset if there is no dancing. Please don’t tell me to not care what they think, because that’s the whole thing of social anxiety. I am extremely sensitive to being judged by others because of it, and his family is pretty loud mouthed about things they don’t like. I also don’t want to take away my FIs chance to dance with his family because this is his wedding too! He does say though that there are only a few songs he’d love to dance to, and if I can stomach those with him he is 100% happy to not dance the rest of the night… but both he and I know that many of his family members are going to not understand that and keep trying to drag us back to the dance floor. If I feel like I’m being judged for not dancing, that’s going to aggravate my social anxiety as much as dancing would.
I’m in a tough spot. Can anyone who has experience with social anxiety or these types of feelings weigh in? I wish I could just not have dancing, but FIs family being upset about that will just make things worse. My big worry is that by having dancing and me refusing to dance, his family will be openly judgmental of me and say I don’t know how to have fun. They’ve had similar attitudes towards my choices before. I feel like I can’t win!
Again, please, please don’t tell me to not care what other people think. I’m working on it. It’s hard.
Post # 2
kat5 : I didn’t really get to dance at my wedding reception, other than the first dance. I found myself talking to people and catching up with people, so you might overestimate how much you’ll be able to dance. Surely his family aren’t going to be so rude as to pull you out of a conversation to dance?
Option 1 – straight up tell them that you don’t dance and you don’t want to dance. It’s not one of those situations where you’re being coy and think you cannot dance. Tell them it will trigger your anxiety. If they drag you up, at that point you’re perfectly within your rights to say no and walk away. That’s not you being rude, that’s them being rude.
Option 2 – if you do get dragged up on the dance floor as they don’t think your anxiety is that bad, or if you don’t want to tell them. Have a bridesmaid or family member watch out for you and pull you into conversation at the side of the dance floor. Then give it a moment at the side, exaggerate shouting in each other’s ears to be heard and leave to find a quieter place to talk. End that conversation and launch yourself into another conversation. They can also come to you with hopefully fake emergencies but don’t overplay that card.
Option 3 – tell people you aren’t feeling very well. I wasn’t very well at our reception and if anyone asks you to dance say you’re feeling a bit off with the stress leading up to it and the emotions and you need to sit down for a while but you’ll catch them later.
Generally I would look to keep active in conversation. Find those people that have gone outside for some fresh air, those people sitting in the quieter section, those people propping up the bar. Talk to them, catch up with them. Then find someone else to talk to. If they’re mostly his side, then that let’s you have a lot of time catching up with your side. I didn’t feel like I actually got to had a long and decent conversation at our wedding and all I was doing was talking! You’ll also just have to accept that you’re probably not going to spend your wedding reception with your husband and that was something we wanted but didn’t happen. It’s not the end of the world because then you have different stories of your wedding which you merge together after.
I would also recommend putting some things in place throughout the wedding day to minimise your anxiety. So schedule in some time to yourself or to go for a walk, whatever helps you find a bit of balance.
Post # 3
I’m anticipating some awkwardness but in the opposite direction. I’m strongly introverted and at times asocial, especially in large group settings, so I’ll be looking to find things to do, including dancing, so that I don’t have to talk to people all night. I’ve accepted that I am a well-known weirdo in my family at this point, but at least they don’t comment on my limited sociality anymore.
I’m honestly not super worried about it though, because I know no one is going to be watching me the whole time. From what I’ve seen, wedding receptions are as much about family and friends enjoying time with each other as they are about paying attention to the bride and groom. I know I’m certainly not paying attention to what the bride’s up to all the time at the weddings I attend.
Can’t your husband dance with his family without you? At all the weddings I’ve been to recently, the bride and groom aren’t attached at the hip and dancing together the whole night. I agree with PP that you can focus on talking to people if you’re more comfortable with that. If someone asks you to dance, you could always decline by just saying that your dress/shoes aren’t good for dancing (which may very well be true).
Post # 4
loz24 : thank you for the very practical advice! Option 1 will definitely work with some people, and I can use Option 3 with anyone I’m uncomfortable sharing my anxiety with.
My only problem now is figuring out something to do besides dancing, because I don’t think there will be many people off the dance floor at any given time. If it’s anything like my FIs brother’s wedding, then there will be maybe 5 people off the dance floor at a time and I don’t know many of them well. I have almost no family coming, and they probably won’t stay much after the more formal dances. But I’ll have my bridesmaids and some other friends there that maybe can rotate who hangs out with me and who dances lol! My fiancé suggested we rent some things from a party company like lawn games and stuff, so maybe that would help too!
Post # 5
girlfriendphd : Oh yes, my Fiance is welcome to dance without me! But he doesn’t want to spend the whole night dancing if he knows I won’t feel comfortable joining in. We may not spend the whole night together, but I actually don’t know many people coming to the wedding very well (my family is small and will leave early, and we only had space on the guest list for about 25 friends because his family is so large), so he knows that it’s important that he spends a good majority of the time with me. Otherwise it will be him with his family and me mostly on my own for much of the night, and that’s no fun.
Post # 6
kat5 : lawn games, photo booth, casino table anything will work to divert attention just make sure it’s really visible so other people visit that activity. I’d pick something you like so you don’t mind spending time doing that activity. Even better if everyone knows you like that activity – big foodie? Have the other activity food themed. Into dress-up? Go with the photo-booth. Find something you like, don’t worry about your partner as he’s got the dancing, and there’ll probably be a wedding vendor for it.
If you’re family can’t make it, can you ask them to video call you? This gives you an opportunity to chat to those who couldn’t make it but you also get to walk them around the venue showing things off and then find somewhere quiet to finish your conversation.
Post # 7
I just had my wedding on 6/8 and I deal with social anxiety. I was extremely worried about the speech, but I knew it would be wrong if I didn’t say a quick thank you to everyone who came out and my family for all their help. I had Darling Husband speak for the both of us and then I chimed in to say a couple things. I did not prepare anything beforehand because I felt like it might make my anxiety worse. It still was pretty bad, but I got through it. I kept CBD oil on hand just incase it got to be too much but I didnt even have a chance (or some privacy) to use it that day.
I also got rid of all the couple dances (father daughter, mother son and first dance). Instead, we did a last dance outside with just me and my husband. It was wonderful and so romantic. I got some negative opinions about not having those key dances, but I absolutely don’t care and I have no regrets about it.
We did dance plenty as a group and although I was nervous about it at first, for a moment I forgot and was just able to enjoy myself. And when I was done dancing (and ready for the party to be over), I sat with my family and chatted. My husband danced without me (he’s a social butterfly and the life of every party). I had a few comments, but my friends and family know me well enough and they weren’t at all surprised.