You’re probably feeling an endless amount of emotions in anticipation of your big day, and if some of those involve wedding jitters, you’re far from alone. In fact, concerns of all shapes and sizes reign supreme in terms of both wedding planning and preparing to take the marital plunge. Are wedding jitters normal? Absolutely.
Relationship coach, Matt Morgan, has performed the premarital coaching and wedding officiating for over 1,000 engaged couples and says that about 80 percent of them have experienced wedding jitters of some sort. “Having wedding jitters does not mean that the marriage is doomed or that it’s time to call off the wedding,” says Fran Walfish, Psy.D., Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent. Wedding jitters do, however, mean that attention should be paid to legitimate feelings and an intervention may be needed, she adds.
Here, relationship experts weigh in on which wedding jitters are totally normal—and how to handle them.
What if something goes wrong?
Considering this is one of the biggest (not to mention most costly) days of your life, it’s no surprise that you want it to be perfect. If you feel a little OCD kicking in closer to your big day, you are having a case of the wedding jitters, says Morgan. He urges brides-to-be to remember that much of the events that will transpire on their big day are out of their control. His helpful tip: Flip the script on what a perfect wedding day really is. “The truth is your guests are coming to celebrate you. If something doesn't go as planned most of the time the audience didn't even notice,” he says. “If they did notice, they really don't care. The only thing that matters is that the two of you show up.”
What if there’s drama between family members?
Whether you’re worried about divorced parents having to “play nice,” or your respective sides of the family getting along, this “what if” can send brides and grooms into a panic. “This jitter may jolt you to talk first with your partner about expectations and desires and then with the parties you are anxious about,” says Morgan. “For situations involving divorced parents, you may want to have them sit apart.”
If you know ahead of time that two or more family members may get into an argument, consider speaking with them both ahead of time and reminding them that the day is about you, not them.
What if people don't have fun?
Of course, you want your wedding guests to have a good time, but remember that much of this is out of your control. All you can do is plan your wedding day and hope that they know how to make the most of a fun and eventful celebration. “If you focus on the fear of that others are not having fun, you won’t have fun and neither will your guests,” says Morgan. “On the flip side, if you focus on just enjoying yourself and your partner having a blast, so will others.” His advice: Flip the script on what your “what if.” “Simply say, ‘What if I just enjoyed every moment I’m in and turned my expectations into appreciation,’” he adds.
What If I'm marrying the wrong person?
According to Morgan, this all-too-common question has layers to it. “This question is not helpful if you have a ‘grass is greener on the other side mentality,’ since the grass is greener where you water it,” he says. “A better question to ask yourself is, ‘Am I becoming the right person?’ or, better yet, ‘Am I becoming the person my spouse is looking for?’ This question can help you dig a little deeper into the reasons why you're marrying your significant other, however it can also foster anxiety that is only causing you more harm than good. “Bigger than planning a wedding is planning a marriage, yet the average couple in the United States spends over $27,000 on their wedding and $0 on their marriage,” says Morgan. For this reason, his advice is to invest in premarital coaching. “It will help you avoid a big mistake or provide you with peace of mind that you are marrying the right person plus the practical tools you need to bulletproof your marriage.”
Will I make a good spouse?
Becoming somebody’s somebody, especially in a legal sense, is a great deal of pressure—and can definitely cause some wedding jitters! It’s no surprise if you question whether or not you’re up to the task. Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., certified sex therapist and author of Getting the Sex You Want, recommends asking yourself whether you’re nervous about being a husband or wife, or anxious that your partner isn’t going to be the husband or wife you think you need? “It’s one thing to be boyfriend and girlfriend, and another to spend the rest of your life with this person,” she says. “Relax—you’re going to handle this marriage thing the same way everyone does. Take it one day at a time.”