Rarely have I ever met a bride and groom who has not been a little nervous when they are getting married. It matters not if it’s the first or second marriage, usually there is a little shortness of breath, a tightening in the chest, a sense of awkwardness or anxiousness going on. All symptoms of being nervous.
Anxiety is part of our natural defensive system – a close cousin to fear. With fear, however, the threat is more readily identifiable. For instance, someone is waving a gun. Like fear, anxiety is the body’s red warning light that something is amiss. The brain releases adrenaline. The pupils dilate. The heart pumps out blood like an engine on steroids, gearing the body to stand up and fight. Or perhaps to run faster than we ever imagined.
Studies demonstrate that glossophobia or fear of public speaking is the number one source of anxiety in the United States. In other words, being nervous is normal.
In my “romantic” wedding ceremony, there are only five words that the bride and groom need to remember; “we do,” “I do” and “rings,” unless they add something to say to each other. In that case, I recommend that they “never” try to memorize, but rather become familiar with what they will be saying and read to each other from a card. If they do need to say something, the balance is usually “repeat after me,” in short, bits and pieces (something easy to remember). Pretty simple, yes? Knowing this might help a little but it does not do the trick for most who tend to hate being in front of and speaking in front of people.
When you are nervous a shot of whiskey, or a chocolate bar (or self medication) are not your friend. They are unhealthy ways to cope with anxiety and stress. You may think that feeling the need to “get a buzz on” in order relax would help, but it usually doesn’t. It’s been said that, “It’s not about getting rid of the butterflies. It’s about getting them to fly in formation,” or “getting your ducks in a row.” Really? I doubt that.
I’ve been a profession speaker since 1987 and I am about to share with you the best advice I ever received about getting around nervousness. I always remind brides and grooms that if they are nervous or become emotional during the ceremony to remember to breathe. Breathe? You already are breathing, you say? There is a right way to breathe when you are nervous! This simple act will prevent tunnel-vision and blackouts. Turns out, when we get anxious we tend to breathe very shallow and fast, resulting in insufficient oxygen to that all important body part your brain.
Here’s what to do: If you feel nervous or get emotional during the ceremony… pause… and intentionally breathe “in” through your nose and “out” through your mouth. Breathing in this way short-circuits your brain because you have to think about breathing this way. It temporarily distracts you from what you are nervous or emotional about. Feeling nervous or emotional during the ceremony? Breathe “in” through your nose and “out” through your mouth. This may sound a little crazy, but believe me, it really works! It worked for me and it will work for you. However, most likely, you may still feel the butterflies, but much less than usual.
Feeling nervous or emotional during your wedding ceremony? Remember to “breathe!”