It’s quite well-known that a huge percentage of people consider the prospect of dying preferable to public speaking.
In fact, most people involved in a wedding are likely to be afflicted by some sort of attack of wedding day nerves. A bit of adrenalin is good, but more extreme effects can include near-paralysis, mood-swings, depression and plain despair.
That’s not what anybody wants on a wedding day.
Why the nerves?
Nerves can surface because you fear your role or because you believe everything will go wrong.
One way to reassure yourself is to choose reliable suppliers, do everything as far in advance as is reasonably possible and re-confirm in reasonably good time. If you’ve planned sensibly, there should be no need for pessimism.
As for roles, every ceremony will be different, so there can be no one-size-fits-all approach, but I offer the following nuggets.
- Whatever your job is – whether or not it needs a list – you must have ensured well in advance that you understand what is expectated of you. If your tasks involve planning, do check in good time that everything is as ready as possible.
- Arrive in good time on the day – allowing for traffic delays and the like.
- Try and be as relaxed as possible. If things go wrong – and small things often will – they can often be remedied thanks to no more than a cool head and goodwill. Most people will be understanding, helpful, supportive and good-humoured at a wedding. They have come to participate in a great day, and will want it to succeed as much as you do.
- If you are getting stressed, though, stop and take half a dozen deep breaths and get back in control.
- Alcohol is not a great idea (well, not until you have completed your particular role).
The bride’s father may have a speech to make, but, as I have advised elsewhere (http://wp.me/p5qOOT-sG), this should be short and simple. It can be read from a card, if necessary (although preferably not verbatim). Nobody has demanding expectations of him, so he only really needs to smile and speak slowly and clearly
Otherwise, parents’ participation in the ceremony may include walking the bride up the aisle, perhaps, but there will be nothing unexpected or trying. Moreover, the celebrant will be in charge then, and can guide you, if needed.
The money’s been spent – there’s nothing more you can do. Don’t criticise or fault-find. Relax and enjoy the special day!
This role differs enormously from ceremony to ceremony. It usually involves holding and handing over the wedding ring, when requested. A good tip is to put the ring on your little finger until needed – but don’t put it over your knuckle! Your role may entail guiding the groom at every stage; it may even involve being a kind of master-of-ceremonies and photo-shoot organiser.
It will surely involve giving a speech. May I refer you to a previous blog, which covers this at length: http://wp.me/p5qOOT-sR.
Ushers, bridesmaids etc.
In most cases, you have been given an honorary position, so you have a limited (but important) role. The bridesmaids are there to support the bride and – to be honest – to look pretty. The ushers will need to help get people in to (and possibly out of) the ceremony venue. There may be other jobs later, but there is no need to be nervous. Smart, punctual and charming are the watchwords here. Enjoy.
The groom’s job is to remember the ring, be early and welcome people as they arrive (which should be enjoyable, as almost everybody will greet you with a big smile – and being nervous isn’t going to help you socialise!).
You don’t have to do much at the ceremony – the celebrant will prompt you. You will have to put the ring on the bride’s finger and you may need to recite the vows. (You can learn them off by heart, but much less stressful would be to use notes or read them from a 3 x 5 card – or even repeat them after the celebrant.)
The ceremony will whizz past and then it’s normally a question of signing the register (not too arduous!), the photos and eventually cutting the cake.
The only thing I have not yet mentioned is your speech. Again, I have written about this before in detail elsewhere, so please do have a look: http://wp.me/p5qOOT-sG.
Ordinarily, the bride shows up (not late, please!) a few minutes before ‘kick-off’. Her job is to be admired, – a beautiful dress and a lovely smile will go far. Sure, she will be the centre of attention, but she will be on a cloud of goodwill, so she needn’t be apprehensive.
Just remember that everybody is rooting for you all, and thousands of people have done what you are doing and survived. Some have even enjoyed themselves!