Crying for joy, for sadness, for remembering

People often cry at weddings – whether it’s one or both of the partners getting married, either of the parents, friends and family, the wedding party, the celebrant… even guests who happen to be just walking by.  Quite often, it’s the moment where the wedding starts, the anticipation has built and it’s time, or that moment when the couple are exchanging vows.

Most of the time, it’s hard to know what causes the welling up of emotion especially when, if it’s you, you least expect it. It can be a time when people remember their own wedding, for better or for worse. Maybe, a yearning for love in their own life, promises unfulfilled, loss and grief of their own beloved’s death or a missing family member, saying goodbye to their daughter or son as their ‘child’ steps into their married life – or, quite simply, it can be a feeling of overwhelming joy.

When it comes to the couple getting married, most are very relaxed even if they shed a few tears. But what if you can’t get more than two words out without feeling stressed by the crying? Or, as a few people have found, they cannot stop giggling. Both are often triggered by fear. But fear of what? It can be many things – fear of public speaking, fear of what’s to come, fear of fear itself. So many stories that can arise, many of them subconscious and hard to catch the thoughts by the tail.

A few things that can support showing up for the tears and the giggles, and for being able to get the vows out on the wedding day.

With one bride we had a few extra vow rehearsals just so she could really cry and let loose her tears and emotions. It helped her to release some of the stress and help her to feel relaxed and safe. I also suggested she say her vow first (repeating the vow after me). On the day of the wedding, I met with her before she walked in to the ceremony and we rehearsed her vow one more time… and yes, she cried. Not just a few tears, but almost uncontrollably again and I honestly wondered what was going to happen next. We took a few breaths together, she relaxed and started to laugh. When it came to the moment she was fabulous – a few tears but she was able to enjoy it so much more having ‘debriefed’ some of the stress and fear beforehand.

On another occasion however, the bride’s anxiety was  nearly too much. After the bride hyperventilated in the bedroom, they took off her wedding dress to cool her down and she took some medication to stop her from vomiting.  (If this ever happens to you, then cupping your hands over your own mouth and slowly breathing can help reduce the effects of hyperventilation).

This was my first time to see such a high level of nerves/anxiety on the day of the ceremony. We were at the family’s home so we could delay the wedding start time (and I had nowhere else to go). We kept it pretty relaxed and stress free in the bedroom despite the initial panic. While I had kept the groom informed of what was happening, once I realised there was going to be a significant delay – nearly an hour – I gathered the guests and in a very lighthearted and honouring way, let them know of the situation at hand, with as little details as possible of the naked bride inside!

With a sense of no pressure, the bride was eventually able to walk down the aisle with her mum and dad either side (and ensuring that she was conscious and able to make her vows legally). We placed two chairs facing each other so that she could sit down for the ceremony. The couple stood together to say their vows and then sat again for the ring exchange. There was no rushing this moment!

How do you manage the uncontrollable tears  and anxiety at moments like these?