Welcome to Part II of the Anxiety and Weddings Series! If you missed Part I on the Anxious Bride, check that out here. Next time we'll be talking about how to manage anxiety as a wedding guest, but before we get there, let's talk about anxiety as a bridesmaid. It's helpful to distinguish between two types of anxiety that could impact your life as a bridesmaid- generalized anxiety and social anxiety. Generalized anxiety involves persistent, excessive worry about many things, and vague feelings of dread. Social anxiety involves the fear of being judged or negatively evaluated by others, along with a fear of being visibly anxious. As an adjunct to working through these concerns in therapy, here are some concrete, practical ways to manage anxiety when you're a bridesmaid.
Change the way you think about being a bridesmaid
Instead of getting caught up in the minutiae of the role and day, focus on WHY you were chosen to be a bridesmaid. Remember that your relationship with the bride is the reason you are doing this- she wants you to stand by her side during a major life event. She trusts you, loves you, and wants to celebrate with you!
If you're feeling overwhelmed or confused about your role, get clear on what the bride wants from you. Once you have clarity on her expectations, frame them in a way that is helpful to you. Frustrated that she wants you to do a certain task? Reframe that thought- what if you felt honored that she trusted you with handling the details on her big day?
Feeling anxious about giving a toast or socializing with all sorts of people you don't know is actually a common experience. Shift your attention away from yourself and onto the people you will be addressing. For example, when preparing to give your toast, focus your attention on the love and relationships that are represented in the room. You might find it helpful to address the bride and groom directly versus trying to connect with a large audience. Practice beforehand and make your toast short and sweet!
Remember that this is not about you. In the best way, of course! Anxiety, especially social anxiety, can distort your thinking. The reality of the situation is that the wedding guests will be paying very little attention to you. If you're feeling uncomfortable in the dress and feeling self-conscious, or feeling anxious about being around so many people and dealing with whatever expectations, tell your anxiety that this is not about you.
Take control of your own behavior as a bridesmaid
Let the bride know if the financial obligations don't work for you. The cost of being a bridesmaid is about $1,200-$1,800! Think about everything that includes- hosting or attending a bridal shower and/or bachelorette party, wedding hair and makeup, shoes, dress, alterations, gifts, not to mention travel to all the events! If the cost is too much, it's okay to kindly talk to the bride and decline the role.
If you'll be standing at the front of the ceremony, do not lock your knees! Jump over to Youtube and you'll see a ton of videos of wedding attendants fainting, likely because they've locked their knees. You can also practice a bit of mindfulness and pay attention to what the ground feels like underneath your feet.
Watch your alcohol intake. Having a drink or two is a common way to ease nerves but it can quickly get out of control. Try setting a limit for yourself before the event begins, and consider mixing in a fun mocktail here and there.
Make an effort to get to know the rest of the bridal party. If you're feeling socially anxious, it helps to have at least one "buddy" to spend time with at all the events. If your anxiety is more generalized, it's helpful to be able to talk through these things with another bridesmaid- chances are, she might be feeling similarly!
Have you been thinking about starting counseling? If that's your next step, get started today by scheduling your first session. Appointments available in New Brighton and Roseville.