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Breathe in, Breathe Out: Calming Brides' and Grooms' Nerves

Published Thursday, Sep. 5th, 2019

A woman in a formal long-sleeve pink shirt looks off to the side with a nervous or anxious expression on her face, she's grimacing in a concerned way. She is against a pink background.

Deeeep breaths... Hey, wedding officiants: Show the bride and groom that their wedding day is going to be a-ok with these useful suggestions.



We recently worked with a bride that straight up warned us that she might have a panic attack during the wedding ceremony!


Spoiler alert, she was just fine, and the wedding ceremony went off without a hitch. But as anybody with experience in these matters can attest, nerves are a huge part of the ceremony experience, and it’s best to address the problem head on to find solutions that work for the couple. That way, everyone is relaxed and happy on the big day.


Our first line of advice for couples is the following:  Your wedding is going to be an emotional day and there will be plenty of nerves to go around. Once you accept that, you can create a plan to address or accomodate these feelings, because they're natural and probably unavoidable. 



As their officiant, there's a lot that you can do to help the couple.



Let’s get started... Keep the couple calm on the wedding day with this helpful advice



1. Arrive at the venue early


Spend a few minutes talking with the couple (either together or separately) before the ceremony kicks off.


During this conversation, ask how they're doing, how they're feeling, and what’s running through their minds. Give them a chance to vent. Ask if there's anything they need, and let them know that “we” got this. Knowing you're on their team will go a very long way. 



Image is of a newly married couple waving happily to the the camera after the ceremony

Calm, collected, and happy... you got this!



If you're a friend or family member who was asked to officiate (and not a professional wedding officiant), it’s important to realize that the couple will still be looking to you for direction.


Staying confident and calm, and demonstrating to them that you've arrived with plenty of time to handle any remaining details, and do in fact have matters under control, will be incredibly helpful to them! You'll be offering them visible assurance that things will be ok, that the ceremony is under control, and that they have one less thing to worry about.



2, Ask the couple to look at each other and take a deep breath together. 


Before the ceremony begins, ask the couple to look at each other and take a deep breath or two. This simple action usually helps to calm them down and “centers” them, reminding them to take comfort in each other's company.



3. Ask them to hold hands. 


This one is pretty standard practice, but it's very effective! During the ceremony, make sure that the couple is facing each other and holding hands. This usually has a calming effect. 


However, if this makes them more nervous for any reason, it's ok to have them look toward you (their officiant!) during the ceremony, while still officially facing one another. Find what works for them! 



A photograph of a man and woman in a wedding dress and suit in front of a large window, the man is putting a ring on the woman's hand as part of the ring exchange

Drawing strength and assurance from each other... 



4. Give clear directions during the ceremony.


As the officiant, you are the ceremony's 'director.' This means that it's your job to give cues to the couple, so they know what to do and where to stand. Having clear cues and guidance will keep them calm!


For instance, if or when it’s time for the couple to move (such as during a sand blending or sand pouring ceremony) it’s your job to let them know. In addition, you should ask for the rings when you them, have the vows ready to hand to the couple when it's time for them to be read, etc. The couple should not have to worry about memorizing or remembering anything... That’s your job as the officiant!



5. Start the wedding ceremony with something lighthearted.


If you know that the couple is going to be nervous or emotional, start the ceremony with something light hearted. Come prepared with a reading or quote that will make them smile and laugh. This will reduce their anxiety and remind them to enjoy the experience. 




If this is your first time officiating, you might be nervous too… That's ok, just remember not to show it. You need to be on point, so that you can calm the couple down! It's up to you to control the vibe and flow of the ceremony so that the couple and guests can just kick back and enjoy it.


Want help with that? We've got a few blog posts just for you! 




And if you need more general advice, we’ve got lots of great tools available here on our website on our Officiant Training pages.


Or purchase a copy of our best-selling guide book (Asked to Officiate). This one of a kind book was written by professional officiants, and covers everything you need to know to plan and officiate a wedding ceremony like a pro. Click here to grab yourself a copy!



Updated December 2023


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Lewis King
Lewis King

Lewis is AMM's executive director. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling, restocking the sparkling water, and watering the office plants.

Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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