I have been thinking about the subject of bridal day confidence for a while. Getting married is one of the most exciting experiences of your life, but it can also be an incredibly stressful time. Not everyone who gets engaged is thrilled with the idea that all eyes will be on her on the big day. It is natural in the months and weeks leading up to your wedding to feel nervous, after all, everyone experiences bridal nerves. However, for some brides, the idea of everyone looking at her as she walks down the aisle, says her vows, takes to the dance floor etc, can literally leave her gripped with fear.
Charlotte Austin-Talbot, who is a behavioural coach and therapist, believes there is a lot you can do to alleviate stress in the run up to your big day. 'The first thing is to get perspective - remember that this is one day in your entire life,' she explains. 'Keep what is most important at the front of your mind, that you are celebrating love. When we get caught up in the details of how the day will run and worry about every tiny detail, it is easy to forget that people are there to support you and to help you to celebrate your love for one another. Who really cares if a napkin isn't folded correctly or if the playlist has some songs missing, the bridesmaids earings don't match or the usher has one too many ciders...
You want to be able to remember all the wonderful unpredictable things that happen at a party. Keep your mind and heart open and relaxed, so that you can enjoy the day and look forward to cherished memories for years to come. Laugh lots and as often as you can in the run up to you wedding. Also make sure that you get regular gentle exercise as both these things release the chemical endorphin which counters the stress chemical cortisol. Accept the inevitable, rather than trying to change things that are not under your control, see them as opportunities to grow and learn and become more flexible and adapt to dealing with challenges. You will face many challenges during the course of a relationship, so its all good practise! Put a plan together of all the things you need to organise before the big day.
Make sure you put dates next to all the things you need to do, so that you can ensure you are on track. Delegate tasks to your bridesmaids, husband-to-be, friends and family. Check that things are on track once a day so you can make sure everything is moving along as it should be. This way you'll be able to see problems, delays etc before a deadline is missed.
Here are Charlotte top tips on combating nerves when
Walking down the aisle.
A short full deep breath in and an out breath that lasts for at least 5 seconds, repeat this several times before you walk down the aisle. Use powerful visualisations: e.g imagine everyone around you smiling and filling the room with supporting calming love.
Saying your marriage vows
Make sure you have practised your vows, but don't become obsessed with getting every single word right, otherwise if you forget one of them the whole thing might unravel. Instead remember the key points and practise saying them in a couple of different ways, so that you can be flexible on the day and not panic if you forget one word. Take some calming breaths before you speak, stand with a strong posture and smile, it will give a lilt to your voice and will also relax the muscles in your face and around your mouth, which can help with nerves. Gently bite the tip of your tongue if your mouth becomes dry and you'll fell saliva rush into your mouth, which will helpfully lubricate it. Most importantly, when you speak from the heart, everyone else will feel your emotion, and that is such a lovely thing to feel part of at a wedding.
Smile and give nice strong eye contact, thank them for coming and say that you'll look forward to chatting with them later. Spend less than a minute with each guest to start with, so that you are able to say hello to everyone. Then later you will feel more relaxed about enjoying longer amounts of time with your others, without feeling guilty that you haven't said hello to everyone yet.
This is a personal preference and each bride will be different, so the important thing is to choose music that lifts your spirits and makes you feel happy, full of life, joyful and relaxed. Even the most untalented of dancers can spread happiness through a crowd if they are genuinely enjoying themselves! so go for it, don't get too caught up in impressing people - remember , the most impressive thing about a wedding is the love that is being celebrated, so focus on your partner, and let the music fill your soul and move your feet. Invite everyone onto the dance floor to join you as soon as you're ready. Some people do that straight away so that everyone can enjoy the first dance together, some prefer to begin the dance then invite others and some like to do the whole first dance as a couple - there is no right or wrong way to do it... the best way though is to do it with genuine joy! You'll remember your first dance for the rest of your life, so enjoy it. Who cares if you cant dance? Its the emotion behind the moves that counts!
Wedding photographers are also experts at getting brides feeling relaxed. Julia West of Julia and You Photography, has enormous experience in getting brides to feel confident on their big day. She believes that having a pre-wedding shoot or engagement shoot is a great way of getting used to your photographer and feeling relaxed in front of him/her before your wedding. 'You get the opportunity to practise poses etc,' says Julia. If you spot something you're not keen on about yourself or things that you worry will spoil photos, you and your photographer will have the chance to discuss, alleviate and rectify your concerns.'
I know there are so many important things to remember when planning your big day, but I have said it before, and I will say it again, finding the right wedding photographer is crucial and will make you feel a 100% more confident about a lot of aspects of your big day such as a weather. As Julia says, 'A good photographer will have a wealth of experience at dealing with lots of weather situations. Whether they have been to your venue is less of an issue than whether they can deal with all weather conditions. Summer weddings can have just as many challenges as winter ones. Harsh light in the summer will not only make you squint but create bad lighting on your face, if a photographer doesn't know how to deal with this. A winter wedding lit poorly can also lead to beams of light and areas of dark shadow - which done well with off camera flash will look great, but done poorly will make you look like your caught in a headlight.'
I also think the most important way to alleviate stress and achieve bridal day confidence is to remember that all brides feel nervous, and that you are not ALONE! Remember you are marrying the man you love and all your family, friends, and your groom will be there for you supporting you every step of the way. So enjoy and smile!