Coping With Social Anxiety When You Are Getting Married

Bride worried at her wedding
 Michael Blan/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Wedding anxiety can creep up if you have social anxiety disorder (SAD). Whether you've been diagnosed with SAD, received treatment, or suffer from symptoms but have never sought help, the idea of planning and participating in a wedding can be overwhelming.

Many people with SAD will never have a large wedding, preferring to keep things quiet and private, or even deciding to elope. However, for those with family obligations or a spouse who wants a formal ceremony, opting out of your own wedding may not be an option.

Planning the Wedding

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help alleviate your anxiety surrounding a wedding.

Think Small

Plan a small informal gathering instead of a large formal affair. Small could even mean just you and your fiance. The wedding should reflect what you want, not what you think everyone else expects.

Enlist Help

Enlist the help of a person that you trust to assist in the planning stages. Talk with that person about handling the phone calls necessary to make the day a success. If your budget allows, you could even hire a wedding planner. Wedding planners have existing relationships with merchants allowing for easier negotiations.

Choose Your Methods

Consult a good online planning website and see if you can't do much of the planning and preparation in a simpler way. Instead of visiting a large bridal shop, see if a local seamstress or friend is able to make a dress. Instead of calling on various caterers, photographers, and florists to compare prices and products, make choices based on recommendations from friends or family or through online research.

Confide in the Officiant

If meeting with the officiant of the religious ceremony induces anxiety, consider confiding in them about your anxiety. Having the officiant on your side and sensitive to your anxiety may help to ease awkwardness and tension during the ceremony.

Don't Let Negativity Affect You

There are bound to be disagreements and misunderstandings when planning any size wedding. At any wedding, chances are good that someone will be unhappy about something that you have planned. Unless that person has a valid complaint that has an obvious course of action—let it go.

Finally, if you suffer from SAD and you are planning a wedding — congratulate yourself! It means that you have already passed the hurdle of finding someone special to spend the rest of your life with. Enjoy your day and be proud of your accomplishment.

How to Choose a Wedding Party

Traditionally, the wedding party is composed of brothers and sisters of the bride and groom, as well as close relatives and friends. If you have a few close friends or relatives—what do you do? 

Mix and Mingle

Fill the wedding party with siblings and relatives from both sides of the wedding party. Your fiance's sisters could make wonderful bridesmaids, and your brother would probably be delighted to be an usher. Even a female best man and a male maid of honor are not out of the question.

Have an Uneven Wedding Party

Chances are the guests won't even notice. Just make sure to make arrangements for situations where coupling up usually occurs, such as walking down the aisle, introductions, photographs, and first dances. Have one of the groomsmen walk two bridesmaids together, or have all bridesmaids walk on their own. Introduce the wedding party one-by-one instead of in pairs.

Go Without

If neither you nor your fiance has close family or friends, forego having a wedding party altogether. This makes particular sense if you choose to have a low-key wedding or elope. By changing the style of the wedding from traditional to contemporary, or by having a smaller gathering, guests aren't likely to find it odd that there is no wedding party.

Work on Friendships

If your wedding is still some time away, consider the acquaintances that you already have and whether any of these could be developed into friendships.

In the end, it is your decision on how to plan this part of your wedding. It is not important that you have seven bridesmaids, but rather that the day is meaningful to you.

Remember also, not to take it personally if someone declines. Being in a wedding party generally requires an investment of both time and money, and not everyone is willing or able to make the commitment.

Make Your Wedding Less Stressful

Remember, weddings are stressful and anxiety-provoking for everyone regardless of whether social anxiety is a problem. Don't be too hard on yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

Make taking care of your social anxiety a priority so that you will have the strength and stamina to handle the ups and downs of a wedding.

If you haven't already been diagnosed, make an appointment with your doctor. If you haven't received treatment, find out more about options such as medication and therapy. Although strategies can be helpful in managing your nerves, there is no substitute for professional treatment of SAD.

If you or a loved one are struggling with social anxiety disorder, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. 

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Nina Calloway. First Steps in Planning Your Wedding. 
  • Nina Calloway. How Many Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Should You Have?.

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."