Wedding Day Survival for Introverts

Kate and Juli 26

Dear Kat
I’m sure this isn’t something you struggle with but I was wondering if you might be able to use your infinite wedding wisdom to help me none-the-less. I am a painfully shy introvert. I suffer from crippling social anxiety and although I desperately want to marry my fiancé, the thought of being the centre of attention for the day fills me with dread. I’m worried about so many things especially what our guests will think about the wedding. We don’t have a huge budget and I’m worried it will be boring because we can’t afford more than an iPod playlist as entertainment…

I was just hoping you might have some tips or advice you could share?

The wedding industry is pretty much built around the idea that your wedding is supposed to be this big entertainment circus where you are the main attraction. It’s enough to make even the most extroverted of us hyperventilate with stage fright. Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth and if I try to do one thing more than anything else with this blog, its to demonstrate to you that you can – and should – do YOUR wedding YOUR way!

For the record, as you probably guessed, I am not an introvert. While I love spending time at home with my husband and my cats, I adore nothing more than being surrounded by people – laughing, chatting and catching up. I feel energised by talking to others and much prefer to be with someone else than spending time alone.  

You probably know this already but while extroverts draw their energy from others, introverts recharge their batteries by being on their own. Gareth is a classic introvert by the way (which actually works well for us, I can be out doing my thang while he’s perfectly content to hold the fort at home!) The fact the we are at opposite ends of the extrovert/introvert spectrum is not a problem for us, as long as we respect each other’s needs.

But I digress…

Kate and Juli 11

Here are a few simple tips for those introverted babes amongst you who are feeling worrisome about being the centre of attention on your wedding day:

Realise that it’s not all about you

The notion that this is “your big day” can be terrifying for introverts but weddings are as much for the family and friends of the couple as they are for the couple themselves. Weddings bring people together. In fact your wedding day will probably be the first day in a long time that everyone you know and love is in the same room.

Your family and friends are not there to be vicious energy sucking vampires. They simply want to share in your joy and to show their love and support for you and your marriage. The bride and groom do not have to be constantly at the centre of everyone’s attention. You are but the reason for everyone to be there together.

Most of your guests will be perfectly happy catching up with each other, reminiscing, laughing, drinking, dancing… I promise, you do not have to put on a massive show for them! For many people forced entertainment is a lot more annoying than the old classics anyway – flowing wine, good tunes and a little bit of dancing!

Have a small wedding

If having all eyes on you is something that fills you with dread then why not have a small wedding? Or at least keep the ceremony (often the most nerve-racking part) intimate? Legally, you only need to have two witnesses at a wedding ceremony (in the UK) and there is no law saying you have to invite everyone you know along for the ride! If a full on elopement is out of the question for whatever reason, a low-key ceremony followed by a more casual reception might be the way forward.

Take the focus off the bride

There are definitely small adaptations you can make throughout your wedding so you are not the focus of everyone’s attention. Have a think about what parts of the day are making you the most anxious – is it walking down the aisle, saying your vows in front of everyone, the first dance? Then change them!

Honestly, who says you have to walk down the aisle anyway? Did you see this wedding where the bride didn’t? Or this one where the couple walked in together? So good! Remember rules are made to be broken and if any of these big wedding traditions really aren’t your bag, then get rid – immediately!

Kate and Juli 25

Take time away regularly

For a lot of introverts, having to be sociable for a long period of time can be especially daunting. The first thing you could do to combat this is to have a shorter wedding day. If the idea of being tucked up in bed with some wedding cake and your new husband by 8pm sounds like your idea of bliss then do that!

Secondly, allow yourself time away regularly. Maybe there’s a side room in your venue that you could slip into when you need a moment? As long as the key people (your parents, your new husband/wife) know what’s up and that you haven’t done a runner (!) this could be a great way to take the pressure off.

Finally, you could also have a longer gap between the ceremony and reception so there is some time in the middle for you to rest and recharge.

Honesty, most people wont even notice if you slip off for some alone time at various intervals through the day so don’t feel weird about having to do so!

Appoint an on-the-day co-ordinator

If you’re panicked about having to be the organiser and ‘in charge’, then hire a day-of co-ordinator to take the reigns. You could even appoint a responsible bridesmaid or parent with the role.

Make sure this person understands your introvert-related concerns and that anyone else involved in the wedding knows to go to them if they had questions or issues. Doing this will mean you won’t be spending your precious energy on dealing with last minute details or stresses, and you can hopefully enjoy yourself more knowing that someone else is in control.

Kate and Juli 1

Your wedding day is a day for you to celebrate with the people that you love and because of this the energy at a wedding is very different to a regular party – There’s nothing like the same anxiety you might get trying to impress strangers, for example.

While the reason for the day is you and your fiancé, you won’t always be the centre of everyone’s attention. A wedding is about so much more than just the two of you. It’s about love, it’s about family, it’s about everyone coming together and having jolly a good time. So don’t worry about all eyes being on you all the time, because they won’t be. You might be the reason for everyone to be there, but you don’t have to be headline act.

Supporting Cast

17 comments

  1. Sophie

    This is a great post. I wish I’d read it a few months ago! I’m a confident person and can happily make speeches to hundreds of people but the thought of standing in front of people durning such an intimate moment filled me with terror- I pushed it to the back of my mind. I would have happily eloped but my husband really wanted his family and friends involved.

    My biggest mistake was that I had been so relaxed in the run up to the event that when nerves started to bite the week before I didn’t talk about it – I’d got a reputation for being an uber relaxed bride and felt I had to live up to it!

    Things that helped calm my nerves in the run up were:
    Knowing we were doing the wedding party photos before hand – we married at 4, photos were at 1, then we went our separate ways till the ceremony. This got me over the thought that everyone was looking at my husband for his big reaction.

    Having ushers and BM’s (6 pairs) walk in before me took a lot of the focus off me.

    When I arrived the registrar saw how nervous I was (I was hyperventilating!) and arranged for us to sit, rather than stand during the ceremony – we still stood for vows but by then I had calmed down a lot!

    We had a very funny reading, read by a very funny friend early in the ceremony and this broke the ice. Once everyone was laughing it felt like they were in side.

    My final thought: I walked down the aisle alone (didn’t like the idea of anyone ‘giving me’ to someone else) as I was panicking before hand my MoH and bridesman offered to escort me on either arm- this calmed me down completely- as the music started to play I pushed them ahead and realised I could do it!

    I loved the day and I’m so glad we didn’t elope! Don’t ignore how you feel, tell people about it so they can help.

  2. Helen

    If I could add to the great advice given…. On the iPod playlist thing – some friends of ours had an iPod disco and everyone danced the night away. It was so successful that we’re doing the same at our wedding in August. You know your friends, what songs will get them up and dancing (you can’t beat a bit of Wham in my opinion)? Can you prime a couple of outgoing friends to start the dancing if people aren’t getting the idea? We are excited about making our playlists so that we can include songs we’ve danced to with particular groups of friends over the years. Now, even if we had a sudden influx of money and could afford a band, I’m not sure we would change our plans. Anyway, if people see you enjoying the music you’ve chosen at your wedding, they’ll be happy because you are. I hope you have a fab wedding. x

  3. sarah shell

    Oh this is perfect! One of the reasons I’ve avoid the M-word so far is crippling social anxiety. This is a lovely post, and gives me hope that I may manage it one day…22 years and counting…..

  4. Sophie

    Oh and to add to Helen’s point. Pick a great opening song for the play list and at least two ‘everyone on the dance floor’ follow ups. We did have a DJ as we needed the speakers but honestly no one would have notice dif it had been an ipod (which is the sign of a brilliant DJ in my opinion- he didn’t talk over songs!) We werent fussed about a first dance but did it as a sure fire way of getting everyone dancing. We picked a 58 second song as the first dance and followed it by Higher and Higer, by Oatis Redding and then I gotta feeling by the black eyed peas. Everyone danced and stayed dancing all night!

    Put someone in charge of the last dance too! My favorite moment of the whole day was the last dance- we had the cheesy but awesome, Never forget by Take That. Everyone formed a huge circle on the dance floor and our friend ended up doing dance offs in the middle – it wasn’t planned, it just happened, and it was wonderful!

  5. Alice

    This is a great post – I’m getting married next year and I’m already worried about having all of the attention on me, I’ve always hated hosting Birthday parties for the same reason! I feel like people assume that Brides love the attention that comes with getting married and this isn’t always true. However we’re keeping our wedding small – no more that 50 people – and having a very laid back, barn location.

  6. Sarah

    Yep, I struggled with all these problems when planning my wedding. Instead of making a “big bridal entrance” we had an informal cocktail hour before the ceremony, so I could talk to the guests and relax a little. I also took an hour after the reception to “decompress” alone in our hotel room, before I went back out for more socializing. :)

  7. Pasquel

    We dealt with this by arranging the reception room without a head table so that we weren’t sat up at the front, it meant having to stand up and go up to give speeches but at least we could relax in between and not feel completely ‘on show’ all afternoon. Also my husband is pretty shy and wasn’t overly keen on having all eyes on us for the first dance – so we chose a short song and gave out sparklers – kept everyone distracted and looked pretty! We also took song requests before making a playlist to ensure some bums on the dance floor afterwards!

  8. Kath

    Interesting post, I am quite introverted but I don’t think the reality of being centre of attention will hit me until the big day. As said in the post, it’s not all about the bride, I have a big family and I know people look forward to weddings as a chance to catch up with other family members as much as anything else. The main thing I think will worry me is walking down the aisle where people are definitely focussing their attention. However my philosophy in life is it’s ok to have fears, but don’t let fears stop you from doing things you want, so on the day I’ll just have to face it, although I’m sure I will be clinging on to my dad’s arm as I’m walking down the aisle. I think I’ll just try and focus on my husband-to-be during the ceremony and try not to think about all the people watching.

  9. Rebecca

    I LOVE THIS POST!!! I am definitely taking advice from this!

    It is something that worries me about mingling and having all eyes on me even though I helped compare my best friends wedding reception (about 6 weeks after the wedding, no one says you have to have it on the same day either) I was focussing attention away from myself and giving her and her new husband the chance to enjoy their night without having the DJ mess it up or someone decide they would start to tell their utterly embarrassing anecdotes about the couple/groom/bride etc.

    My tips:
    Ask a trusted friend to be the compare (one who has a loud, clear voice)
    Make it a relaxed day with no speeches (make up short written declarations about each other and by family/friends also to hang about the place) and give an order of the day prior to the whole shebang.
    Don’t wear a very tight corset or something restrictive, a purple bride/groom is never a good start to a marriage.

  10. This is great… We’re clearly getting something right going by your advice… No top table; rather ‘hosted’ tables by members of the bridal party – might cause some arguments but we’re trying to move beyond that… Small-ish guest numbers (56) and an Orcadian Strip The Willow (ceilidh) as 1st dance – as lead couple. Do what makes you happy… If I’ve taken anything from this process, other than the fact by Mr The has an unrivalled ability to make everything seem fine – it’s that! L x

  11. This is great… We’re clearly getting something right going by your advice in this article … No top table; instead having ‘hosted’ tables by members of the bridal party – might cause some arguments but we’re trying to move beyond that… Small-ish guest numbers (56) and an Orcadian Strip The Willow (ceilidh) as 1st dance – as lead couple. Do what makes you happy… If I’ve taken anything from this process, other than the fact by Mr T has an unrivalled ability to make everything seem fine – it’s that! L x

  12. Jess

    Although I’m much better at social situations these days I’m definitely still an introvert and all those things people say about it being “my” day and “being the only woman anyone is talking about for the right reasons” fills me with… well, contempt more than dread actually :P
    I’m planning for us not to have an aisle either, being 32 and having lived with my fiance for 2 1/2 years already and having not lived with my father since I was 3 years old, the symbolism of walking down the aisle seems pretty irrelevant, so my fiance and I will be walking in together from the side and I’m getting my Dad to be one of the witnesses on the register so he still knows it’s important to me for him to have a part in the wedding. I think we might not bother with speeches either but I’m leaving that up to those who would be giving them.

  13. We created a crossword for our guests to complete between the wedding breakfast and the evening do, with the prize of a bottle of fizz for the winner (we drew one of the correct entries at random during the evening ‘do’). This was a great way of keeping everyone occupied whilst we disappeared off for a bit of us time (Hubby and I are both natural introverts) so we could recharge and ensure we enjoyed the evening do. It was also a good way of getting groups of people who didn’t necessarily know each other too well talking.

    Our venue also had a lot of small rooms that we could use, so we could talk to a small group of guests in a more intimate environment rather than getting spooked out by having people around us the whole time. This was great for our guests who perhaps wanted a bit of time to themselves away from the hub hub of the wedding too.

    It’s your day. Do it you way and don’t let anyone try to persuade you differently :)

  14. Such a sweet article and a great response, Kat. I am in 100% agreement with Sophie that you “Don’t ignore how you feel, tell people about it so they can help.”

    Bringing a day-of coordinator into the mix can provide an objective, yet sensitive, professional who can provide the best support system. It’s our job to make it a stress free and joyous day for our bride and groom!

  15. Heather

    This is a great post. My fiance and I were going to have a small wedding (around 25 people) as we are both kinda introverts. That proved to be even too much for us so we changed it. We are now getting married with our children there (who are 18 and 19) and our parents. That is it! We are just going out for dinner after. Later this summer, we are going to have a kick-ass BBQ on our brand new deck we are building this summer! We feel no pressure this way which is great!! It will be a casual BBQ and we will be surrounded by the people we love. How could it get any better than that?

  16. Fiona Smith

    We are walking to the wedding together and walking into the church and down the aisle arm in arm. After all, we are going into the marriage together so it seems the best way for us to get it started! We have requested that people put one song that would get them dancing on their RSVP and we will use them to make up the playlist, remember music is what makes people dance not the equipment it is coming out of. All will be lovely on the day as long as you remember to look to your partner for support and keep making eye contact with him, the rest will sort itself x

  17. I am an introvert and I can say that that’s some pretty great advice especially coming from someone who is not an introvert. I understand why she’s dreading her wedding day, Us introverts tends to get anxious in social events because we anticipate the attention of a lot of people but deep inside we are really excited about the actual event. If I may give my advice to her I’d say just focus on the fact that your fiancée, your family and basically everyone you love being there to celebrate this wonderful milestone in your life, Once you have that in mind everything else will seem easier to process.

    Regards,
    Tavia Cruz

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