Let’s face it: weddings are about a lot more than sparkling rings, breathtaking blooms, and exquisite gowns. They’re about love and commitment; about ending one chapter in our lives and beginning a new one. They’re about self-confidence, and learning to love yourself despite your flaws. They’re about learning to love others, despite their flaws. They highlight losses we’ve endured while amplifying the love of those around us. They’re about the desire to express our individuality while honoring tradition. They’re about money, and the stress that comes from spending and saving. They’re about jealousy, about comparison, about regret. They bring out the best and worst in other people. They bring out the best and worst in ourselves. "Psyched" is the column that examines these feelings and the psychological aspects of weddings that swirl around just beneath the surface. I can assure you—these posts won’t always be pretty. But they will always be real.
The Introverted Bride
It’s easy for you, introverted bride-to-be, to feel somewhat conflicted about your rapidly approaching wedding day. On the one hand, you’re giddy with excitement over the thought that you’ll soon marry the love of your life and begin the next chapter together. You’re likely also excited about the chance to spend time with your closest friends and family, some of whom you haven’t seen in months or years.
But tucked away, behind all of this excitement, is a pit buried in the bottom of your stomach, filled with a sense of dread at the prospect of being in the spotlight for an entire day. For a person who can typically be found along the sidelines in social situations, the thought of being the center of everyone’s attention leaves you angst-ridden. And every step you take in the planning process—from trying on wedding gowns, to selecting cake flavors, to meeting with your officiant—is a reminder of the discomfort to come.
Trust me, as a former introverted bride, I’ve been there. And while I never did find the antidote for eliminating this discomfort, I did find ways to lessen it through shifting my perspective and structuring the day in a way that felt comfortable for me personally. I’m sharing those strategies today, in the hopes that they’ll help all you fellow introverts create a day you’ll truly enjoy.
It’s not all about you
Guess what? You won’t actually be the center of attention on your wedding day. At least, you won't be the center of attention the entire day. Yes, you and your soon-to-be spouse are the reason that family and friends are gathered together, but, as much as some brides might disagree, you’re not the only highlight of the day. Just as you haven’t seen many of your guests in quite some time, your guests haven’t seen each other in a while, or may have never even met. Weddings often become mini reunions as well as opportunities for guests who have heard about one another for years to finally meet. There’ll be a lot of reminiscing and “getting to know you” conversations between guests going on, which means all eyes will not necessarily be on you.
You don't have to put on a show
One concern I've heard from several introverted brides is that they're worried their guests won't have a good time at their wedding. A four hour reception seems like an excruciatingly long time to keep folks entertained, and let's face it: we introverts aren't known for being the life of the party. But when it comes down to it, free-flowing alcohol and a good playlist is all you really need to keep boredom at bay. If you want to add in an extra attraction like a photobooth or s’mores station, be my guest, but don’t feel like you have to star in your very own three-ring-circus to keep guests occupied. After all, they’re adults who know how to handle themselves in social situations. Simple as that.
Ditch the head table
Is it just me, or do head tables feel like mini stages whose sole purpose is to put the newly married couple and their bridal party on display for guests to gawk at? Not an ideal set-up for an introverted bride. Instead, opt for a sweetheart table for just the two of you. Or, place yourselves at a table with your bridal party to replicate the normal dinner-with-friends feeling (albeit a super fancy dinner, dressed to the nines in a white dress!).
More guests = more stress
Introverts often find large groups to be overwhelming, preferring one-on-one or small group conversations. I know it’s not always possible, but do try to keep your guest list low. It’ll go a long way towards making the event feel more manageable for you.
Opt for a first look
We at Borrowed & Blue love the first look—especially for introverted brides or couples. This quiet, private moment spent alone before the ceremony will calm the pre-wedding jitters you feel, and will leave you ready to tackle the excitement of the day.
Customize the ceremony
The ceremony is the most important part of the day. But for an introvert, it’s also the part of the day in which you really will be the center of attention. Now, don't freak out just yet, because there are a few ways you can reduce your anxiety. Heck, you might even enjoy the ceremony a teensy bit (I know, crazy town, right?).
Here's my suggestion: if you’re planning on writing the ceremony yourselves, customize it in a way that respects your personality. If public speaking makes you feel like you might faint—pull a D.A.R.E. and just say no. Simply state, “I do,” at the ceremony and be on your merry (and ahem, married) way. Case and point: my husband and I actually chose to read personal vows to each other privately during our first look, opting to use the standard repeat-after-the-officiant strategy during the actual ceremony, because a) we're awkward, and b) we knew we’d be way too trembly and nervous to read them aloud in front of everyone. Don't feel like you have to be a hero on your wedding day, just be yourself!
Hire a day of coordinator
If you don’t already have a day of wedding coordinator, get one. Trust me, the last thing you want is to spend the morning of your wedding day overwhelmed with phone calls from confused vendors and family members, then frazzled when things go wrong (and yes, something always goes wrong no matter how meticulously you plan). Consider this an investment in your sanity, fellow introverts!
Spend the night before your wedding alone
This one might be controversial, but staying alone the night before the wedding was one of the best decisions I made. As much fun as a slumber party with bridesmaids would have been after the rehearsal dinner, I would have woken up drained and in need of a break—the last emotion I wanted to have on the morning of the wedding! By spending the night alone, I was able to decompress from the rehearsal dinner before the excitement of the wedding day began. When I got up that morning, I cleared my head with a quick solo run, sipped on coffee in bed, and wrote a wedding day letter to my now-husband. Easing into the day with some quiet time by myself was just the thing I needed to prepare for the craziness that I knew was coming.
Get creative with traditions
The way I see it, the first dance, father-daughter dance, cake cutting, and bouquet and garter toss are all opportunities for the spotlight to be focused on you. If the spotlight makes you queasy with fear, I say throw the rulebook out the window and skip ‘em! Honestly, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you’ve elected to scrap the garter toss or cake cutting (that is, if they even notice it’s missing). A couple of other helpful strategies for reducing the spotlight: choose short songs (or cut regular songs short) for your first dance, do an anniversary dance instead of a traditional bouquet toss, or combine the father-daughter dance with the mother-son dance to diffuse a little of the attention.
Remember whom you’re with
The last piece of advice I have for introverted brides is to remember whom you’re with. This isn’t you in front of a crowd of strangers, it’s you in front of your closest friends and family, which is overwhelming in the best possible way. After all, these are the people that have supported the two of you individually and as a team over the years, and who are committing to continue supporting your marriage in the years to come. Focus your attention on how honored you are to have their love and friendship, and you might just find your fears dissipate.