Surviving Your Wedding When You're an Introvert
When you're naturally introverted, wedding planning and preparation can be overwhelming. Everything from arranging flowers to tuxedo rentals requires you to stop in and visit stores in person, call, email, or interact. Even if you're keeping the ceremony small, there are bound to be people attending who don't know your personal boundaries like your close friends, and by the end of the day, you may find yourself exhausted.
Many people are introverted and have managed to survive the wedding, however. If you have an anxiety disorder or struggle with depression or other health issues, you may experience additional stress and should consult your health professionals, but for the average person with a touch of introversion (or a strong tendency towards it), weddings are manageable with some extra planning. Here are some tips to help you stay happy and calm during one of the most special moments in your life!
Ask for Help When You Need It
Your almost-spouse and close friends are probably already aware that you are introverted. Ask for their help, and if they are extroverted, ask them in particular to take the spotlight off you when they can. For example, make sure nobody lets you walk into a surprise party where all the attention is on you if this situation will make you nervous, or ask people to help spirit you away for a few minutes about a little problem or question when you give a prearranged signal. Small coping measures like this can really help!
This also means getting people to help plan the wedding. Whether you're a bride or groom, people will be looking to you constantly to ask questions, give updates, and hire caterers, for example. Look at hiring a wedding planner or getting someone close to you to act as a liaison so you can refer people's questions to them. Brides in particular often feel like they are under siege, as people assume they are in charge of planning and contact them for any question, no matter how small!
Don't be Afraid to Take "Me Time" Frequently
If you have an intensive wedding schedule, look carefully for times when people can't contact you. Don't have any planned? Try to rearrange things, delegate tasks, ask for help, or simply choose what is most important and drop any non-essential commitments in order to take time out for yourself. During these times, don't check your email, answer your phone, or even go out to drinks… take quiet, alone time to do the kinds of activities you usually enjoy.
In the days of your wedding (the few days before, during, and afterwards), this is particularly important. Everything may feel like it's building to a head otherwise! Even if you don't have time scheduled, if you feel overwhelmed and like you're shutting down, take time off to rejuvenate and try not to feel guilty about it. For introverts, time alone is what you probably need in order to recharge. Once you feel better, it will be far easier and less stressful to handle being around people again.
Plan All the Details Ahead of Time
The wedding may have been planned for months, but going over your plans at the last minute to ensure there are no unwanted and awkward moments in the spotlight is a great idea. Look at what you're doing each afternoon and evening and see if you really need to be doing it. For instance, rehearsal dinners are an added source of stress and worry – just be willing to live with a few mishaps and laugh them off and nobody will even remember them.
Other details you can eliminate at the last minute include throwing the bouquet, cutting the cake, the first dance (shorten it or have each of the bridal party couples join in, for example), and speeches. Think about what exactly is making you most nervous, then look at ways to get rid of these elements of your wedding. The ceremony won't suffer because you didn't have a five-minute first dance. If being in the spotlight in general is what is making you nervous, you can relax – most guests end up in their own world talking to each other and catching up, not staring at you.
Minimize Parties or Your Attendance or Role in Them
Instead of holding parties before and after the wedding, consider cutting down on the parties, or at least your attendance at them or role in them. For example, you could let others (the bridesmaids or best man, for instance) organize a party for friends and family to socialize and get together without you being there, or you could attend a party but ensure everyone knows ahead of time that there will be no wedding speeches or other spotlights. Turn the tables on them by calling it a Guest Appreciation Party or something similar so you can show them how much their support means to you without stepping into the spotlight.
Some people find it is easier to cope with the days just before and after the wedding if the guests know each other and socialize. Don't be afraid to introduce friends to each other and let them form a friendship, show each other around the city, or have fun without you being there. They will keep each other entertained and not stress you out this way. You might arrange for a weekend of socializing activities instead of having just the wedding and reception in order to keep each and every event low-key and the pressure off you.
No matter what solutions you choose, taking extra precautions to ensure that your needs as an introvert are met is important if you want to be sure you don't experience burnout or fatigue from being around so many extroverts in the same place because of your special day. If nothing else, try to remember that everyone who shows up is doing so because they love and support you, so they will be more than willing to give you space if you ask nicely. Anyone who has been married or who has even thought of it understands what it's like to be in the spotlight for so long!