Post # 1
I just read someone’s story about being scared to walk down the aisle in front of so many people. It inspired me to write my own story about this.
I am terrified of walking down the aisle and having to stand and say my vows in front of 50 people. I know that in comparison to other weddings, 50 people is NOTHING, but I am still so scared.
My fear stems from my graduation day. At my high school graduation, I had two major panic attacks and nearly ended up fainting twice. I look back on that day with humiliation and horror, never with pride. In fact, that day completely changed my life. Every minute of my life since has been filled with severe anxiety. It led me into deep depression and agoraphobia (which has fluctuated in severity over the past four years). I know that walking across a stage in front of 2000 people is a lot different than walking down the aisle at my intimate wedding of 50, but I can’t help feeling that I’m gonna have a repeat of graduation day.
The thing that makes it so horrible is that certain family members tease me about what happened on graduation day. My mom has said, “I hope you don’t pass out while you’re walking down the aisle, like you almost did at your graduation!” My grandpa said, “You gonna pull one of those whammies at your wedding, too?” The fear has always been gnawing at the back of my mind, but knowing that relatives are EXPECTING this out of me makes it a hundred times worse. It’s gotten so bad that anytime I’m doing a DIY project or start thinking about the wedding, my heart starts pounding and my stomach starts hurting.
Sadly, due to this fear, I have decided that I want the shortest possible wedding ceremony. In my dreams, we would do a sand ceremony with music and do custom vows and biblical readings (stuff more meaningful and from the heart). In reality, we’re just gonna do the standard greeting, blessing, and vows. Very generic and so unlike what I wanted for my one and only wedding. I am so scared I am going to pass out trying to “fight” it (the feeling of sheer panic), or that I’m gonna get so freaked out that I “flight” and have everyone thinking I’m crazy.
Because of my panic surrounding the wedding, I cannot fully enjoy the planning process and the exciting things. I’m too busy feeling nervous. I guess there really aren’t too many people who can relate to me, as not many people suffer from panic disorder, as I do. Just needed to get this out as it’s weighing heavily on my mind lately.
Post # 3
I can’t say I know how you feel but my sister does. She got married 3 weeks before my husband and I and it took all I can do to get her to get down the aisle. My sister has had times in her life where her anxiety would get in her way, she left a job and avoids being the center of attention. In the end she did it and she told me time and time again that her anxiety was near to non that day. Lock eyes with your Fiance and don’t look anywhere else. You can make your ceremony however you like it. My sisters was short and straight to the point where as mine was a little longer where we did the sand ceremony and communion. She has 120 people and I had 65. The only difference I feel my ceremony was to others was we did our sand ceremony and communion “private” we turned our backs to everyone and took the time to enjoy a special moment rather than facing the 65 people who were there.
I know I’m sure this is something you hear a lot but try to relax… it’s over before you know it and honestly you get in this complete zone where you wont know whats going on around you.
Post # 4
First, I’m really sorry that you’ve had to deal with so many anxiety issues – I have anxiety issues as well, and I know how crippling and tough to deal with it can be. I’m also sorry that your family doesn’t support you or try to understand how you feel, and instead uses it to hurt you.
Have you tried getting some counseling for your anxiety issues? I know it helped me SO MUCH. I didn’t see the person for long, just four sessions, but we worked together on ways for me to navigate my anxiety and fears and settle/shake them. I still have some issues, but not nearly as bad – I do yoga, breathing and exercise to help control my nerves and stress.
If you can find some way to work through the anxiety, especially with a professional I urge you to do so. There’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy your wedding day and the planning completely!
Also: if you have gotten help and it didn’t work/don’t think that’s possible, you might consider elopement. It may disappoint your family, but this day should be about you, your SO and what you both want. Maybe eloping with just one or two friends or family members might be a better idea than a larger ceremony? Just a thought.
Post # 5
@Sah: Thank you! I don’t know how she did it with 120 people! I was thinking of having us turn our backs to the guests for most of the ceremony, only facing each other to say our vows. I think it would help me not to look at them. I am getting married on a beach, though, so I know there are going to be some strangers standing by and watching.
Post # 6
@Pinksapphire: First of all — OMG, I am so sorry that you have had to deal with this for the past few years. I assume that you’ve tried counseling and therapy? I’m wondering whether some cognitive-behavioral stuff, exposure therapy, mindfulness techniques, etc might not help with some of this in the days before.
I’m a little on this side of things too — a few fainting attacks in my teens, and I suddenly had a whole set of issues related to “OMG what if I pass out in public?” I’ve mostly been able to master this through a combination of avoidance of super-triggery situations, physical techniques (progressive tensing/relaxing, deep breathing), and what I like to think of as “shame reduction”: (explaining to myself what’s going on and that it’ll pass in a few; legitimizing my reactions [“It really is warm in here,” “Ugh, that other person looks freaked out by this film too…], simply mentioning to others that I’m feeling a little weird and might need to step out, and mentally minimizing the impact of the worst case scenario.)
I’m nervous about the walk too, but I’m taking the “IT’S MY DAY” route on this one. No matter what happens, if my Fiance and I end up married, we did it right. And since we’re self-uniting, all that has to happen is for us to say a couple phrases. So basically — it WILL be OK.
I hope that you end up with a wedding that you love, no matter what.
Post # 7
@Pinksapphire: You can keep your backs to your guests the whole time! You can also angle yourselves where your Fiance is facing your guests more so than you are during your vows. Talk you your officiant I’m sure he/she can help you make it as easy as possible for you.
Your going to be gorgeous and do great!
Post # 8
@Pinksapphire: I completely understand where you are coming from. I have severe social anxiety disorder and the thought of walking dow the aisle and standing up in front of so many ppl had me anxious from the start.
What we have decided was to invite everyone 1 hour prior to the ceremony. For nibblies and drinks and meet with the bride and groom before the ceremony. That way I figure I will have already talked to everyone, im with my partner and its very relaxed. Then the celebrant will ask everyone to take there seats and we will begin.
Im like you, i still want the romance, the beautiful vows and the sand ceremony. This is one way that I hope will calm me down enough to do it.
Just remember, everyone that is there loves you. No one wants to see you fail. Take your partners hand and everything will be ok.
Best of luck
Post # 9
@MissCalifornia: I haven’t gotten professional help for it, yet. I studied what I was going through online, extensively, and educated myself on cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure methods. In doing so, and learning coping mechanisms (and with the help of herbal medicine), I have been able to completely turn my life around from what it was shortly after the graduation experience. Six months after I graduated, I was a full-blown agoraphobic and did not leave my house (not even to step on the front porch) for two months. After I got out of that phase with gradual exposure (stepping outside, going for short car rides, going to people’s houses, going in convenience stores, etc.) it never got that bad again. But, I still had some rough times. Now, I’m pretty okay with going out in public and stuff like that (although the wedding stress has made me more panicky lately). Fiance really, really wants this wedding, and so do I. I’ve dreamed of it all of my life. So, I know I’m gonna have to put on my brave face and use whatever techniques I can to fight this and go through with it. If I don’t do it, I’ll regret it forever. I am thinking of addressing these issues with our minister during counseling sessions, maybe he can provide some helpful advice.
@village_skeptic: I’ve done really well with coping mechanisms I’ve learned from my own studies. I went from being terrified to walk outside, and swearing I’d never step foot in a Wal-Mart again, to pretty much living in Wal-Mart and leaving my house nearly daily. There are times where I have “episodes”, like on Black Friday in American Eagle. I had to step outside the store for a moment. One of the things I do to eliminate panic is to tell myself that I can leave the situation anytime I want. I keep in mind where the exits, dressing rooms, and restrooms are. It’s when I can’t escape that makes me freak out. Like, waiting in a long line at the cash register. Or, in this case, attending my own wedding. I won’t be able to sit down or step away during the ceremony. If I do, everyone is going to think I’m nuts! In regards to the “fight or flight” response, I will not have the option of “flight”. So, I think that’s really what is getting to me.
Post # 10
@Sah: Aww, thank you! I am going to try to make sure that my family sits on the side I can see in my peripheral vision. That way, I can look at my family and be comforted, instead of seeing FI’s family and worrying about freaking out in front of them. We will talk to the minister about not facing the crowd. We have an option of marrying in a gazebo. If we do that, it’d just be me, Fiance, and the minister inside the gazebo, which may help a lot, too.
@samanthajkellie: That’s a good idea. I’m so superstitious, I feel like seeing Fiance before the wedding will mess things up. But, then again, we ARE marrying on Friday the 13th! He wants us to stay together the night before the wedding, wake up together on the wedding day, get ready together, and go to the wedding together. I’m starting to think I might be more calm if we do things that way. A lot of the anxiety is going to be me wondering what he thinks of me in my wedding dress as I’m walking down the aisle. If he sees and talks to me beforehand, we’ll get that moment out of the way in private and we can help to keep each other calm before the ceremony.
Post # 11
@Pinksapphire: I only just found this out but a lot of people do the ‘first look’ in private. I am so in agreeance to this. We are doing the same as your partner suggested. Its not like we are not living together already so the whole dont see the bride before the wedding is null and void I feel. I think waking up with my partner on the day we make the biggest commitment in our lives to each other is just plain romantic. I even took my fiance dress shopping, after all its his opinion that matters the most on the day.
Post # 12
@Pinksapphire: Or, in this case, attending my own wedding. I won’t be able to sit down or step away during the ceremony. If I do, everyone is going to think I’m nuts! In regards to the “fight or flight” response, I will not have the option of “flight”. So, I think that’s really what is getting to me.
I think from what you’ve said, and knowing my own reactions — this is EXACTLY what’s getting to you! It’s the “shame” element — “they’re going to think I’m nuts.” You said that it’s going to be a 50 person wedding, right? How many people there already know about your history of panic disorder? Would it make you feel more or less weird if everyone there knew that this was something that you struggle with — like someone else might struggle with diabetes or high blood pressure or muscular dystrophy, and need to factor that into the ceremony plans? No one would judge a bride with muscular issues who needed to have a chair or something up front in case she needed it — they’d just roll with it, right? Give yourself whatever options you need to get through this. You’re allowed to feel — no shame — however you feel, and there are great reasons for however you do feel. But no outcome is compulsory. You’ve grown so much since your HS graduation. You know how to handle yourself and your condition, and you know that even if you’d have a bad reaction on that day — it wouldn’t touch off a recurrence of your condition. You have a different set of tools to work with now.
Obviously, only you know what’s right for you as far as the management of this condition goes. But if you can embrace the “so what if they think I’m nuts?” attitude and just be up front with folks about it — “I’m VERY excited to marry Fiance, but I’m VERY nervous to be up in front of all of those people. That’s just the way I am,” — how awesome would that be? Obviously your darling Fiance already knows you, knows that part of you, and has accepted it as part of the woman he loves. Other than that, everyone else can just go take a hike. 🙂
Finally — let me just give you extensive kudos for the work you’ve done on your own. That takes incredible mental strength, and not many people struggling with depression, agoraphobia, etc are able to muster what it takes to do that work on their own. You should (and do, I think), feel GREAT about that.
Sorry for the novel — clearly this is a topic that I connect with!
Post # 13
@Pinksapphire: I have to say, my now husband and I spent the night together, woke up together, and did a private first look…and SO MANY PEOPLE told me that I was one of the calmest brides they had ever seen. I chalk it up completely to the fact that we did all of these things. It was natural for us. We live together, and this was our wedding day. Why would we want to force ourselves to stay away from each other all day when the entire day is focused on us coming together?
I was like you and so terrified of everyone staring at me during the ceremony, and we had around 150 guests. Once we were there, and I started walking up the aisle with my dad, I didn’t even notice the guests. I just stared at my husband the entire time and it kept me calm. I couldn’t even tell you now who was even at my wedding ceremony because I made it a point to just focus on him. Like PPs have said, everyone is there to support you and be happy for you. They aren’t there to criticize or make you feel nervous! You will be okay, I promise. 🙂
Post # 14
I do not have anxiety issues myself but my hubby does. We purposely had a small wedding (40 people) of only close family and friends. I can honestly tell you that once we made eye contact, as I was coming down the aisle with my father, our eyes never left each other and I had no clue anyone else was even there. Hubby later told me that it wasn’t near as bad as he thought it would be. We held hands through the entire ceremony and I think that helped the situation some.
Your intimate wedding will not be the same as that evil ole graduation ceremony. I sincerely promise you that. You’ve got this wedding-thing, and it will go splendidly.
Post # 14
Pinksapphire: hi there. I know this was written a long time ago but I am so relieved I have finally seen someone have the same feeling as I do about the wedding ceremony. Mine is next week and I’m already having anxiety about it. Worried I will have a panic attack standing up there and either faint or walk out. I want to enjoy it and not let my brains panicy feelings ruin it for me. I do wish we did a smaller ceremony more intimate as this one with 100 people is starting to give me chest pains from the anxiety! I’m online learning some ways how to get through it by breathing etc. I sure feel crazy! Lol everyone I know keeps saying “it’s for you to enjoy, your wedding day’ people who haven’t had panic attacks will never understand and it doesn’t help at all.