Managing Emotions in the Marriage Ceremony

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Marriage ceremonies are so filled with expectations, excitement, anticipation, and months of planning that the emotions generated may take people by surprise. Sometimes people laugh, sometimes they cry, sometimes they rush the words, shake or freeze. I’ve seen these reactions in both men and women.

As someone who has had a tendency to ‘tear up’ on happy occasions, I’ve come up with a few tips to managing those emotions.

  1. Know you are going to feel emotional. It is the step of a lifetime after all. Everyone will deal with their emotions differently.
  2. Practise the words before the big day.  Say your vows into the mirror. Practise walking in to the music you will have at the wedding. Music is a strong tear trigger. 
  3. Breathe slowly and mindfully.  This helps deal with the shakes and the tears. You can focus on what’s happening instead.
  4. Know that there are tissues available.  As a celebrant I always have stash of neatly folded tissues in my folder which I can slip to people if needed.
  5. Avoid looking at criers. I have been the celebrant for a niece and a daughter. In both weddings, I knew which family members in the front row were going to be crying, and I carefully avoided looking at them, so they didn’t set me off!
  6. Smile. It looks great in the photos and it is harder to cry when you’re smiling.
  7. Laugh. If something happens, laughter is good for breaking a tense moment. I tell the story in my book, Marry Me! A guide to couples planning their marriage ceremony, of the groom who mistakenly and nervously said he was taking his bride to be his ‘awful wedded wife’. The couple, along with the entire audience, cracked up laughing and the nerves were gone in an instant. Of course he then corrected himself!
  8. Pause. It is fine to wait until you feel ok to go on.
  9. Read your vows or other words slowly.  They have much more impact that way.
  10. Go with the flow. Whatever happens, no one is going to mind, so don’t worry if you shed a few tears.

Whether you are a calm, relaxed and unruffled person or whether you tend to wear your heart on your sleeve, think about how you manage your emotions well before the marriage ceremony and then on the day just relax and enjoy the occasion.

Happy Whitney and Andrew. You wouldn’t know it from this photo, but I think any tears which threatened to break though, would have frozen on the spot, it was so cold.