It’s too late now; your face is on the tea towels, the sister of Diana, Princess of Wales, famously said when the tragic fairytale princess expressed her reservations about going through with her marriage to HRH Prince Charles. Sadly, the princess should have listened to her gut instinct. But how do we know when to do the same, or when the anxiety we’re feeling about our approaching nuptials is just a case of the wedding jitters?
What’s the Difference Between ‘the Jitters’ and Anxiety?
We can all get the jitters from time to time – remember that nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach before you wrote school or university exams, or before you competed in a sports match? Perhaps you battled to sleep leading up to the big test, or couldn’t eat that morning. That’s the jitters. It’s usually short-lived, is in reaction to a forthcoming event, and dispels once the event is underway, giving way to complete relief once it’s over. Anxiety, on the other hand, can be enduring, all-consuming and overwhelming, sometimes rendering a person incapable of functioning normally in everyday life.
What are the Symptoms of Pre-Wedding Jitters?
If you’re experiencing any of these, chances are you can put it down to the jitters:
- Irritability and increased sensitivity
- Lack of sleep
- Loss of appetite
But if you have these symptoms, and they persist over a greater period of time, you could be dealing with a more robust form of anxiety:
- A general sense of unease
- Overwhelming worry
- Fear and panic
- Lack of sleep and fatigue
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Gastric upset
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of libido
- Heart palpitations and shortness of breath (which can develop into a panic attack)
- Muscle tension
How to Cope with Wedding Anxiety
Stop, drop and roll, is the sage advice of paramedics to people on fire, and this approach should also be applied when you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed. First things first – take a time out, and have a cup of tea. Then, take a few days out of the helter-skelter of wedding planning to rest – assess how you feel after that. Still anxious, and the rest hasn’t helped? Consider visiting the doctor to receive a proper medical diagnosis. Your doctor will also recommend a course of treatment, which may include medication or therapy (if s/he feels the anxiety is more deep-rooted). Remember, the wedding can wait – your health always comes first!
Once you’ve received the first aid you need, it’s wise to create some time and space to uncover why you’re feeling the way you are. What is the source of your anxiety? Is it…
- Performance anxiety with regards to the big day – are you worried that your wedding day might not go off as planned? On the face of it, so much can go wrong – the cake might flop, the flowers might wilt, your bridesmaids come down with an illness, you can’t fit into your dress come the day, your fiancé is a no-show…yes, it could happen, but is it all likely? Probably not! While careful planning and hard work do help ensure that your wedding proceeds smoothly, do recognise that stuff can happen, and people sometimes don’t live up to our expectations. We’re not all perfect – so cut your helpers and service providers some slack. And quit trying to be Miss Perfect and do everything yourself – allow yourself to be supported by friends and family. In short, relax, let go and enjoy the show!
- Fear over becoming a spouse – you’re making a big life change; so you’re bound to feel nervous about how the future will look once the deal is done. This can be especially worrying if you came from a broken home, yourself. Talk your fears through with your fiancé, and don’t be afraid to engage a counsellor to add perspective.
- Financial stress – do you feel that the wedding budget is out of control? Get it in check, now! Money worries are one of the top reasons marriages fail – you don’t want to go into your marriage already having amassed debt, just for the sake of conspicuous consumption. Rather scale back and enjoy a worry-free wedding with money in the bank.
Concerns that you’ve chosen the right life partner – this is one for therapy, so do schedule in time with a counselling psychologist so you can work through the dynamics of your relationship, and why you feel the way you do. Remember, if there’s any hint of abuse or violence, it’s a deal-breaker – don’t go through with it.