bride and father walking down the aisle
Russell-Killen Photography

You can be the most prepared bride or groom ever, but as soon as you start walking down the aisle nerves are bound to take over. It can be an exciting feeling—this is finally happening!—but it can also be more severe and get in the way of the magic of the moment. No worries—you can start your walk with confidence, not acute anxiety, by deploying some of these quick tips.

Here’s some advice on how to relax before walking down the aisle.

Prep with a  few minutes of me-time.

Your wedding day will be so busy and packed to the hilt with stuff to get done, people to talk to and places to hustle to. By the time the ceremony is set to begin, you’ll probably be rattled. Try to schedule a few moments—seriously, just five minutes will do—to yourself right before walking down the aisle. Find a peaceful place, shut the door, close your eyes and collect yourself. Try a meditation app if that’s your thing. Use this time and space to totally zone out, or to drink a cold glass of water (you’re probably dehydrated!) and think of all the reasons you want to be married to your partner (not wedding stuff, marriage stuff!). It’ll be the perfect reset before your big moment, and it’ll help you separate wedding stress from marriage excitement. 

Validate your nervousness.

Don’t try to deny your nerves, and don’t judge yourself for feeling stressed—telling yourself “I’m so stupid to feel like this!” is only going to make things worse. Plus, walking down the aisle is a super-normal thing to be nervous about—this is one of the biggest moments of your life, and it’d be weird if you weren’t nervous! Instead of trying to banish it, take a moment to rationalize it. Before walking down the aisle, identify the reasons you’re feeling anxious—because there are a lot of people looking at you, because you’re waited for this moment for a long time, because you’re so excited to be married but you’re also not sure what to expect, maybe all of the above! Once you’ve rationalized what’s fueling your nerves, it’ll be a lot easier to cope with them.

Make a plan.

A lot of the anxiety you’ll feel on your wedding day comes simply from fear of the unknown. Most of us have never walked down the aisle at our own weddings before, and have no idea what to expect. This is terrifying on a really basic human level—like, survival level—and even if you’re feeling really excited and happy, these nerves will likely creep in. But if you make a plan for when you get there (there being the beginning of your aisle walk), you’ll tamp down that fear of the unknown. Maybe it’s as simple as making eye contact with your spouse-to-be and giving them a little wink, or focusing on looking straight ahead at your officiant, or having a secret signal with your MOH. It’s all about feeling like you have a little more control over this very foreign experience, which is exactly what you need to soothe your worries!

Start strong.

You might be so nervous on the morning of your wedding that you have no appetite. You might be so nervous that you start drinking during hair and makeup and forget to stop. You might be so nervous that you take a random anti-anxiety pill your bridesmaid offers you. Please do not do these things! They may seem like a way to dull any anxiety that may creep up on you as you’re about to walk the aisle, but they’ll actually just make things worse. Being drunk, taking any medications you’re not prescribed, and being starved and dehydrated are all just conditions that will worsen any pre-existing anxiety. Instead of medicating or depriving yourself, set yourself up for success but eating a healthy breakfast (and snacks throughout the day), limiting your drinking until the reception, and meditating during lulls in the action. You’ll be glad you did when you’re walking down the aisle feeling clarity and confidence.

Just breathe.

Probably the most fast-acting and effective way to calm your pre-aisle jitters is something you do constantly without even trying: breathing! When we’re really stressed, many of us tend to hold our breath and forget to exhale. It’s a primal response, so it’s not your fault, but it can seriously increase your stress levels. When it’s about time for you to take your big walk, before you even take a step, force yourself to take three to five deep inhales and exhales. You can even close your eyes while you do it. Visualize yourself bringing all of that calming energy into your chest and throughout your body, then exhaling out all your worries. You’ll immediately feel better and readier than ever. If you don’t, take one or two more breaths. The wedding can (and will) wait.