Ask Team Practical: Crying, Firing Friendors, and Gifts

{Wedding day emotions by Lauren McGlynn}

I’ve been, without fail, a big weepy mess at all of the weddings I’ve ever attended. Weddings just always make my heart swell and the tears pour (well…weddings, Oprah, a sentimental commercial, the national anthem, the drop of a hat, etc.). Such is my nature, and as a guest I don’t feel embarrassed; I pack my pockets with tissues, eventually regain composure and am ready to par-tay. As a bride, though, I’m nervous. Given that I’m an easy crier by nature, what extreme outpouring will my OWN wedding provoke?  Practically speaking, what if I’m so shaky and choked up during the ceremony that I will be physically unable to get my vows out? Head nod? Reverse sign language interpreter? Ack!

Couple the crying with noticeable stage fright, and I am worried that I simply won’t be able to handle the emotional weight and center-of-attention-ness of my own wedding. I don’t want to hold back, and I certainly don’t want to strip the day of all meaning and sentiment, but I also don’t want my radiant smile totally overshadowed by red, puffy eyes, nor do I want to hover in the background of my own wedding. It’s going to be a great party, and I want to enjoy it! What to do? Any strategies to mitigate or cope with sobbing through your wedding day? Or staying confident and carefree despite being (gulp) the center of 250 people’s attention?
~Worried About Tears & Emotions Running Wild, Obstructing Revelry at Knot-tying Shindig

WATERWORKS, here’s the thing:

There’s not a whole lot you can do to stop yourself from reacting however you end up reacting.  The best thing to do is get ready to roll with it.  Even the most stoic of people can be moved to tears during their wedding, so don’t think that your sobby nature will be your downfall.  But you might surprise yourself and stay strong while your partner gets weepy.  Meg told me, “I cry at everything all the time.  I cry when I put together a good Wedding Graduate post. But at our wedding I was the driest eye in the house.  It was too emotionally huge to even think about crying.  Who knew?”  And then there was Lauren, who instead of being teary, laughed down the aisle.  So the bottom line is there is no way to predict how you’ll react in the moment, but I do have some tips to make you feel prepared:
  • Talk to your officiant and warn her that you might cry, possibly a lot.  It’s something she’s sure to have dealt with before, and she should be able to help calm your fears.  She can be prepared to pause and give you time to pull yourself together.  Also, make sure you know your vows well; you’ll feel more prepared to deal if you know where and when you’ll answer “I do.”
  • Find ways to hide something to wipe the tears.  You can ball tissues up in your hand or have them hidden with an attendant or you partner.  Or better yet, you can pin a cute handkerchief to your bouquet for easy access.
  • Do not feel bad about halting the ceremony for a moment.  It’s your wedding, you can take a pause and no one will think any less of you.  In fact, it might make them cry even harder.
  • Have a makeup bag nearby so you can clean yourself up after the ceremony.  Stash some eye drops if necessary to ward off red eyes, but also keep duplicates of whatever makeup you wear on hand.  Waterproof mascara and eyeliner are great, but as a fellow crier, I know that us sob-sisters do just as much damage to the rest of our face while wiping snotty noses and teary cheeks.
  • Know there is no way that your tear-stained face will take away from your radiant smile.  You may not like it, but that kind of naked joy is more beautiful than any perfectly made-up face.

And don’t worry about stage fright and people staring.  Here’s a pro-tip from a theatre kid: Say you have a hundred guests and are up there with your official and three attendants each.  Generally, the amount of people looking at you at any given moment is usually the number of people in the audience divided by the number of people on stage. Factor in those whose mind will wander as they look your decor, their purse for a tissue or your hot cousin in the third row and you’ll probably only have about eight people’s eyes on you at any given moment.  That’s about the same amount of people looking at you as you tell a story at happy hour.  Also, people tend to look at the person speaking, so they’ll mostly be watching your officiant.  You’ll be fine.


I had asked my mom’s hairdresser of 30+ years to do my hair for the wedding, along with the hair of two of my wedding party. He’s not just my mom’s hair dude, but a friend of the family who is coming to the wedding.  I’ve done two trials with him and they’ve been disastrous. My hair looked like bad 80s prom. I’ve shown him pictures, told him what’s wrong and what needs to be done to be more like what I want, and he’s still sent me out the door without fixing it, with promises that it’ll be more like the way I want on the wedding day.  I should mention that he’s not doing this for free, I am paying him each time we try. My mother tells me I’m being obsessive about my hair and asking too much. My friends tell me that I have to like my hair or I’ll hate my pictures. The wedding is six weeks away. Do I owe him a third try?  Do I try someone else and see if its me that has unjustified expectations? If I do try someone else, and like it, how do I tell him that this isn’t working?
~Help, Hair Horror Heroine

Dear HHHH,
Two times is plenty of time to give this friendor.  Break up, pronto, so you can find someone else to help you handle your hair.  It’s not that he’s a bad stylist, he’s just not giving you what you want.  And I doubt it’s unjustified expectations; if so, he should have already told you, “Honey, your hair is not going to do that.  This is as close as I can get.”  Find another stylist and once you’re satisfied that person can do your hair your way, let the friendor know that you really appreciate his work but you are going somewhere else.  Also let him know how excited you are to see him at the wedding.  Will his feelings get hurt?  Possibly.  But this man has been doing hair for at least thirty years.  You won’t be the first client to break up with him, nor will you be the last.  But make sure to give your mom a head’s up before you do it; this is obviously a friend as well as a hair stylist and you don’t want her to find out mid-perm that you’re using someone else.

And seriously?  Bad 80’s prom hair in your wedding pictures for all time?  Think about that for a minute.  Oh, look, you just called a new stylist.  Question answered. You’re welcome!


My best friend, whom I’ve known since we were 13, is getting married next summer (yay!). And she’s asked me to be her maid of honor (double yay!). I’m honored to be invited to participate in her wedding in such a huge way, but being a bridesmaid isn’t cheap. I’m a college student with a pretty skimpy salary, and between the dress, accessories, events, and commuting back and forth across the state to participate in things like showers and dress shopping, I simply don’t have the budget to get her a nice wedding gift (let alone one for the wedding and one for the shower).  While I know that my participation is gift enough for her and that a thoughtful card or cheap registry purchase would be enough, those options feel really impersonal for someone who’s been my single biggest supporter for the past seven years.

My question is, is it appropriate to offer a service in lieu of an item as a wedding present? I’m a big baker and have a lot of experience with graphic design—would it be okay to offer to cater deserts for one of the pre-wedding bashes or help them design their invites and other paper goods? The couple is operating on a tight budget for their wedding and I think a gift that would help defray their costs would be preferable to cookie sheets (or something), but I don’t want to put the bride-to-be in a position where she feels like she can’t say no if she would rather work with a professional. Help!

~Bea the Broke Bridesmaid

Dear BBB,
I think that’s a great idea!  Don’t mention your money troubles; just offer up your services as a gift, and see what she says.  There’s a chance she might say no, if only because she already has something planned or someone else is paying for those services, so if she says no make sure that you don’t take it personally.

And you can definitely still use your skills, even if she doesn’t need you for the wedding.  Get creative, maybe you can design stationery for them as a couple and have a small amount printed but give them the file for future printing?  Offer up a voucher to bake them an amazing cake for the anniversary?  I’m totally spit-balling, but a meaningful present does not mean an expensive present.  Also?  Know that a thoughtful card is NOT impersonal in any way shape or form.  Heart-warming words do the soul much more good than a damn juicer anyway.  And you might keep them longer.


What about you Team Practical. Did you react as expected on your wedding day? Did you brave a storm of tears, or stage fright, and have advice? What do you say about firing friendors and giving gifts from the heart. Weigh in.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted.  Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh).  We’re not kidding.  It brings us joy.  What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!?

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  • Karen

    Waterworks — my fiance and I are in a somewhat similar situation, more specifically the stage fright. When discussing how we wanted to do our vows, I was totally into the idea of writing our own and reading them aloud. This scared the ever loving pants off my fiance, so in the interest of making him more comfortable, we agreed to do somewhat traditional vows, with us saying the “I do” part rather than reading anything.

    In exchange, we’re doing a small performance at the rehearsal dinner of “what our vows were going to be.” They’ll be kind of joke vows, but this way we both get what we wanted.

    Focus on him and the officiant, that will help a lot.

    • As a middle ground, since we couldn’t imagine actually memorizing anything to say in front of all those people, we wrote our own vows but then gave them to our officiant so she could read them and we could repeat after her, line by line. It was waaaaay less scary, and it worked out really well for us.

    • Or maybe (in addition to the public “I do” ones you plan on doing…), you could exchange your personal, self-written vows privately, maybe in a couple of minutes alone, just after the ceremony? Or even during the ceremony, just between the two of you (not into a microphone), during a song or something?

      • Melanie

        Er, maybe my sense of propriety is out of whack, but what’s wrong with openly carrying a hanky? Or writing down your vows and reading them off a piece of paper to your groom? I’m planning on doing both of those things (and it’s likely that the hanky will end up soaked and makeup smeared, and the paper will be a crumpled, smudged mess–I accept this). It’s my way of trying to stay grounded, and maintaining realistic expectations of myself. If I don’t think of the ceremony as a performance, I don’t have to “perform” well–I just have to get married.

        I like the other suggestions around here, too, but I thought I’d throw that one out there.

        • I think those are great approaches, and that’s quite similar to how we did it when we got married and it worked really well for us. But I was thinking Karen was exploring some more private options based on her fiancé’s desire to not say the personal vows publicly.

  • Love the crying tips! My mother told me to find a LONG SLEEVED DRESS so I could hide a tissue in the sleeve. Yes, this is 2011. She seemed shocked when I told her I couldn’t find a dress that I liked with sleeves.

    • Kathleen

      The problem is not your mother. The problem is the utterly homogeneous dresses that are being produced these days! Why shouldn’t there be beautiful long- and short-sleeved dresses in 2011?

      • Amy

        My wedding dress had pockets hidden in the skirt. Best wedding idea ever! I tucked a pretty hanky in one, dabbed at my eyes when necessary, and didn’t feel like panicking when I felt my eyes well up.

        • You can also stuff tissues down between the blooms of most bouquets without anyone being the wiser. :)

          • My sister-in-law ended up keeping a packet of tissues in her cleavage — it does take a certain attitude to pull off, but it worked for her.

      • Annearky

        I have seen enough strapless dresses to fill…a strapless dress barn. WTF happened to sleeves?? (and halter necklines?)

    • Yes to all of this. I want a dress with straps or short/cap sleeves. I haven’t shopped yet (just online browsing) and am already considering hiring a seamstress to custom-make a dress for me because I can’t find what I want. Well, at least in my price range. I’m hoping the Kate Middleton Effect will benefit my dress search, but we shall see.

      Try wrapping a hankie around the stems of your bouquet.

      • Seraphine

        There are also a lot of vintage dresses with sleeves (I wore a vintage 50s lace dress with cap sleeves to my wedding). I can give you tips on where to look if you’re interested. Vintage dresses also tend to run cheaper than new dresses, and there are a lot of beautiful ones out there that don’t look dated at all.

      • KateM

        I was in the same boat, I am having a church wedding and sleeves or a bolero are required. But you would be surprised at how many ways a dress can be given sleeves. You can have a sheer illusion neckline added, lace sleeves are super easy, and you can have them made into a keyhole back or have a lace overlay made that you pull on like a shirt over a strapless dress. Then you can have a boat neck with scalloping or a v-neck and any length sleeve you want with it. Talk to a seamstress before you buy the dress, and she can give you some great ideas and simple fixes so you can get what you want for a lot less. Don’t rely on the alterations dept at the bridal store. Arie Barcelona has a whole section of tops. They were about the same price as my wedding dress, but great spot for inspiration.

  • I definitely second what Alyssa said about crying at your own wedding. I never cried at weddings before I got married, but I TOTALLY KNEW I was going to cry at my own. And then… I didn’t. I might have teared up a teensy bit, but no real tears. It was a big surprise to me. I think it was so ’emotionally huge’ (as Meg so perfectly put it) that I couldn’t even manage the tears. Just lots and lots of smiles and laughter. Then it hit me about a week later, and I totally sobbed (in a good way!)… but not at the wedding. However, I’ve cried at every wedding I’ve been to since. All five of them. I think once you’re married yourself, other people’s ceremonies carry that much more weight.

    For the second questioner: RUN AWAY! I know it’s hard to run away from a friendor, especially one who is going to be at the wedding anyway, but a close friend that got married last month actually went through something similar and it all worked out. She told the stylist- who was also a friend, as with you- that she had decided she wanted to do something else with her hair (she didn’t say this, but it was NOT the early 90’s bad prom hair she got, hah.) She asked another friend to do it instead. It would help if you have someone else to step in who is closer to you, or who is a lady (if you want to have all women surrounding you for your prep time, etc.) Because if you don’t like your hair? It’s not the hugest thing about your wedding day, certainly, but it will stress you out and you will be sad. So run away.

    And BBB: Some of the most amazing gifts we got for our wedding were the gifts of service, like the friend who offered to cook the rehearsal dinner or the friends who stepped in as photographers. I’m a big proponent of the handmade and heartfelt, and while I loved all the gifts off of our registry, it was the small handpainted painting, and the handmade box, and the long breathtaking letter, and the gifts of service that really got to me. Your time and your skills are very valuable, and (being broke many times myself) doing this instead of buying cookie sheets seems like it will help both you and the couple. You’re obviously close enough to this friend to be her maid of honor (and be excited about it), so you should be close enough to talk to her about this and offer this to her. Also? I wouldn’t be afraid to be honest with her about your tight budget. I think she’ll understand.

    • Amy

      To BBB – what about framing a few pictures of you and your friend growing up as a shower gift? The gift that got me crying the hardest at my bridal shower was a framed photo of me, my brother, and our close family friends together as little kids along with a photo flipbook of other pictures of us growing up together. I didn’t have access to any of those pictures, and my parents couldn’t even remember having seen some of them. It meant the world to me to be able to have those memories!

      • Suzanna

        Yes to the personal gifts! I realize I’m about to reference a movie and not real life, but I when I read BBB’s letter, I thought of Kristen Wiig’s gift to Maya Rudolph in “Bridesmaids”–a decorated box with memories and a CD from when they were girls. Lifelong friendships are so precious, and giving your friend something that will help her remember all your times together would be *priceless*.

      • Amanda

        On this note – you could even do a hard cover photo book from Apple (etc.) with photos of you two over the years. I made one for a girlfriend moving away, and we laughed and cried over the 30+ pages of pics with accompanying commentary. It was great, because all the inside jokes we had over the years were put down permanently. I think it was relatively inexpensive to print.

  • Chelsea

    I thought FOR SURE I was going to cry walking down the aisle – string trios always get me, and that’s what we had. The day we met with the musicians to pick the music? Sobbed! But, strangely, I did not cry on the wedding day – there is a great photo of the moment the doors of the church opened and I realized I was going to smile, not cry.

    Anyway, here are my tips on how not to cry:
    1. Download your wedding music to your iPod and listen to it a lot, in relaxing situations. It’ll take some of the emotional weight away from it, and help give you the cue to relax on your wedding day.
    2. Start smiling before you feel the urge to start crying. It’s surprisingly hard to cry while you’re smiling (and crying while smiling is prettier anyway), and we’ve all heard the research about how your emotions follow your facial expressions.
    3. Have something funny in mind that you can focus on when you need to distract yourself. For example, give your fiance a pair of crazy boxer shorts to wear at the wedding, and think about the fact that you’re the only one who knows he’s wearing them.
    4. If you tear up, go with it. Trying to stop crying just makes it worse.

    Good luck!

    • Maggie

      Same here! I was positive I’d be a sobby, tear-streaked mess; I couldn’t even listen to our walk-down-the-aisle music or practice reading my vows without sniffling. I bought waterproof mascara, I carried a hanky. And then… nothing, not a single tear. I was too high on adrenaline, I think.

      I was mostly relieved (I hate crying in front of people), but a tiny bit disappointed–I always think it’s really sweet when the bride and/or groom chokes up with emotion. :)

    • Me too! I thought for sure I was going to be a mascara-ed mess. I wrapped tissue around my boquet, stuffed them in my man’s pocket and gave some to the officiant. But…I was too damn giddy about marrying my man, and all I could do was smile and giggle. Even during his vows, when I felt a bit of water pool, I smiled (as suggested above) and then I was off in glee-land again.

      I guess you don’t really know till you get there! Just keep in mind you may (should??) feel different than you ever have at a wedding–it’s YOURS! So tears past may not indicated tears future.

    • meredyth

      I thought I’d cry too, as I’ve cried at other weddings and emotional commercials and, yes, hats being dropped. I didn’t cry at all. I think it was the nervousness of being in front of everyone, and the realization of the monumental moment as well as the fact that our officiant was kinda funny and really practical that prevented me from crying. I was too in the moment to realize it was emotional, if that makes sense. So, I think Alyssa’s advice is great, but don’t be weirded out if you don’t cry, is all I’d add.

  • Oy, that first letter sounds like my clone! I cry at everything (commercials, sporting events, the national anthem (so glad I’m not the only one…), little kids, puppies, movies, weddings, etc.) and I was incredibly worried I would be a blubbering mess during our ceremony. I actually resisted writing our own vows for a long time because I didn’t know how I would possibly get them out in front of everyone without sobbing.

    What worked for us:
    1. On the morning of the wedding we locked ourselves in a bedroom and wrote our vows (mostly because we had forgotten to do it earlier). And then we read them to each other! This was crucial. It was really, really hard to get them out the first time and I cried like a baby when my husband read his. But I was so glad to have that really emotional moment with him in privacy. We also couldn’t imagine memorizing our vows (so much pressure!) and reading them from a pretty, small peice of paper worked really well. When it came time to read our vows in front of everyone I paused, took a really deep breath and just went for it. Somehow, I was as cool as a cucumber which still amazes me to this day! I also added a tiny bit of humor to my vows which made it much easier for me to get out.
    2. We slept together the night before the wedding and got ready together. I did kick him out when I put my dress on and we had a mini “first look” before going to the ceremony site which helped A LOT. We were both a teary mess during our mini “look” but I was glad to be a teary mess in a somewhat private place rather than as I walked down the aisle with everyone staring at me.

    I was still a bit emotional walking down the aisle with my dad (I’m a Daddy’s girl) but I think that doing those two things helped me a ton. As soon as I got up to the alter I took a deeeeep breath and really focused on my husband’s face and on what our celebrant was saying. We had written the ceremony together (so many tears shed during the writing!) and I think it helped that I knew what was going to be said – there were no surprises that would cause me to break down. My husband made a few goofy faces at me as well which helped. :) I also made sure that all my makeup was waterproof (yet another good reason to do the “first look” at the place we got ready – after a bit of tears I was able to touch up anything that needed it).

    Alyssa is so right though. I really thought I would be more of a mess during our ceremony but it ended up being so huge and amazing and even FUN that I mostly just grinned like an idiot the entire time.

    Good luck!

  • RachelLyn

    My officiant made the wise comment that sometimes, with all the emotions of the day, just getting out an “I do” takes a lot of weight off of the day.

    I thought I was gunna cry buckets- I’m a crier too, but I ended up misty eyed but dry cheeked while my husband sobbed- which of course made everyone else cry and really drove home to me just how much our marriage meant to him. It was kind of magical and now I feel a tincy bit bad that I didn’t put on the waterworks too.

  • Stephanie

    I cried through my entire vows and into the rest of the ceremony. There are some “ugly cry” pictures of it, but there are still lots of pictures where you can’t even tell! I am also someone who cries at everything (commercials, national anthem…been there!) so I just prepared myself for it and decided I was going to power through and not worry about holding it in. I find it much harder to speak when I’m trying to hold the tears in instead of just letting them go! Also, I knew the minute I got to the front of the aisle and the officiant started speaking that I was going to cry when I had to speak, I could just barely hold it in already. So all of that is just to say, make peace with it before hand and just cry if you feel like you need to!

    • Bethany

      Agreed. I knew well beforehand (like when we got engaged) that I would cry through much of the ceremony, and unlike some of the other commenters who thought they would cry but didn’t, I did. It wasn’t too bad until we got to the vows – just some sniffling. We chose to repeat our vows sentence by sentence after our officiant rather than memorizing them or reading them all at once, which helped. My husband-to-be stocked his pockets with tissues for me and very sweetly handed them over. But we were holding hands while saying our vows, and I was dumbstruck about what to do with the snotty tissue. I ended up handing it to my Maid of Honor (why didn’t I think to stick it in the top of my strapless dress?) who, like a true friend, took it and held onto it until the end of the ceremony. That’s what friends (or maybe wedding dresses with pockets) are for!

    • I was good until the VERY end of the ceremony and then BAM. There’s at least three great shots of me WIPING MY NOSE in my wedding photos. Not pretty, but it was real so I owned it.

      • I cried before the wedding when I saw my teary-eyed grandfather during family pictures. I cried when my friends left me alone in the ‘bride’s room’ before the ceremony and the cello started to play. I cried while I was walking down the aisle. I cried when my good friend and my cousin sang during the ceremony. I cried and laughed during my vows. I had my grandmother’s handkerchief in my hand almost the whole time. I am openly weeping in most of our ceremony pictures, but I don’t regret it. I just felt, and emoted and was in the moment. I have pictures of my friends wiping my tears and I love it. I cried and smiled the whole day and didn’t even worry about it. I say go with the flow (of happy tears?).

  • RachelLyn

    And for BBB- I second the amazingness of service gifts. My best friend made a photo booth for our wedding- something we wanted but knew we didn’t have time to do ourselves. It was awesome.

    Also- many of our friends and people in our wedding party (we had a huge one) didn’t give us anything but their presence. Which was absolutely enough. We knew that coming to our wedding was expensive enough and I think it is 100% OK to not give gifts at all, no questions asked. A heartfelt letter would be an amazing gift with no price tag attached. We can get so caught up in all the things we are supposed to spend money on for weddings- we forget that it’s still just the WIC insisting that on top of everything you are supposed to buy your friend some fancy kitchen tool.

    • BBB–
      I told one of my good friends that if all they could give me was a card stuffed with their boarding pass stubs for their flight to my wedding I’d be totally honored (no bridal party at our wedding but she’s part of my “bridal brigade”). I meant it. Absolutely meant it.

    • Libby

      I had a college friend who flew halfway across the country to be at our wedding and gave us a card and a small amount of money as a gift. I knew how much it took for him to get to our wedding, and I am still amazed and so grateful that he made it out here to celebrate with us. It meant so much more to me to have him put effort into making it to the wedding than to give us some huge gift but not be able to come himself. I think your friend will totally understand, especially since it sounds like you’ll be doing a lot to help out with pre-wedding parties and celebrations. As a bride, I was so grateful for help like that. Getting a gift off our registry couldn’t even compare.

    • Amy

      One of my best friends and bridesmaids gifted us her time and skills to do our save the date cards, menus, and programs. Seriously, it was the best gift ever. I am soooo not crafty, and having someone who really wanted to do all these paper projects that I would not have been able to execute on my own was awesome.
      Plus, I got to hang out with her and drink wine while crafting, win win!
      Some of our other friends who were out of work, or having a hard time making ends meet just came with good wishes, a lovely card, and ready to party. It made my night that they still took the time to be there.

  • Laura

    I will totally tear up at just about anything, and I was also afraid of sobbing though the ceremony. Funny thing was that I was completely calm until my bridesmaid gave her reading that I had insisted on being a surprise. Every other detail of the ceremony was engrained in my brain – and I had already cried multiple times over it – but not that reading. I was a mess, BUT: 1. all the guests said it was their favorite part of the ceremony, 2. my make-up looked just fine, and 3. my photographer caught some beautiful, intensely emotional images that I still tear up over.

    So I guess my advice is, if you’re really worried try to reread your ceremony, think/talk about what it means to you and your fiance and let yourself cry. But if you do start crying at the alter, know that you won’t reget a second of it.

  • lisa

    My best wedding advice is this: Prepare for emotions at your wedding like you would for the weather. Have necessary supplies on hand (handkerchiefs are good, ask your grandparents), but know it is truly out of your hands, and it will be ok anyway.

    With all of the high emotions/energy/love in the room, I was shocked that my pre-wedding response was sobbing. Yes, immediately following my bridesmaid breakfast, after getting my hair done, in the middle of a swanky style salon. There was no way to put makeup on my face due to the copious amounts of water flowing down them.

    At the time I was like, what the heck? Body why are you rebelling against me! Emotions, be in control!

    But don’t you know, I just wasn’t. My body’s response to the hugeness of the event was to cry. And it was ok. We threw out my elaborate plans for the rest of the day. I accidentally ran into my husband-to-be who showed just how kind and wonderful he is. And fifteen minutes before pictures, a friend did wonders on my makeup with the aid of a Mabelline four-pack.

    It ended up I was smiles and only minor welling up for the ceremony and beyond. Go figure.

    You don’t know how you will respond on the day of, and that’s ok. Have people you love and trust around you. And if at all possible, be easy on yourself. Whatever happens is ok and completely fitting for the biggness of getting married. If at all possible, treat yourself and your emotions with grace.

    • meg

      “My best wedding advice is this: Prepare for emotions at your wedding like you would for the weather. Have necessary supplies on hand (handkerchiefs are good, ask your grandparents), but know it is truly out of your hands, and it will be ok anyway.”


  • AdamsFamily

    For the first poster, I’ll echo the above for being absolutely certain I was going to SOB uncontrollably. Did not happen. I remember feeling awesomely chest-explodey, but I did not cry. My uncle sobbed all night long, though, go fig.

    Depending on the level of your stage fright, as in, if it is UBER SEVERE, you might want to touch base with your primary care physician to test-drive a beta-blocker prior to the day itself. They’re hella helpful for people with nasty stage fright. If you get a prescription and test drive it prior to the wedding (say, in some other situation that ordinarily would make you twitchy), you’ll know how it makes you feel and therefore won’t get any nasty surprises on your wedding day. Plus, simply having that as a back-up plan might be enough to keep you calm.

    • Lizzie

      A note about this from someone who has used beta blockers (although not for stage fright):

      My first response to this was “Good call!” I’m a complete mess about airplanes. Like, I used to ask strangers sitting next to me to hold my hand during take-off. So beta blockers are a total godsend for me in that situation. But when I thought about what it’s like to be on them, I wondered whether using them on your wedding day might kinda defeat the point. When I take them, all the same images and thoughts about the plane dropping out of the sky are fully intact, but far less persistent or troubling. In simple terms, I think the fear, but I don’t feel it.

      I’m haven’t been through my own wedding day yet (three more weeks!) and I really don’t know what my reaction will be, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll want to feel every drop of it.

  • AnotherCourtney

    I love reading about people making it through their weddings without turning into a crying mess. My wedding is quickly approaching, and although I’ve pretty much reached “wedding zen” already, that’s one of my small fears. I cry at every wedding! The one thing that made me feel better (before I read all these answers!) was that at my best friend’s wedding, I cried all through her rehearsal…but I didn’t shed a tear during her ceremony. It’s exactly what Meg said about it being too huge. I was just in awe.I’m hoping my wedding day turns out the same way, but there’s a great balance here between “it won’t happen” and “it’s ok if it does”, and I really appreciate that.

  • I bawled. A lot. We walked down the aisle together to Tom Petty’s Yer So Bad, and when Steve turned to me to sing the chorus (“best thing I’ve ever had”) I started to tear up. When our ceremony began and his mother (was in the process of becoming a pastor in their church, so she was our co-officiant) said wonderfully nice things about me I lost it. Cried the whole way through. When it came time to say our vows, which we hadn’t written out or even really talked about much (don’t do this, it was a horrible idea. You think you’ll be moved to eloquence by the moment, but no) I had to take like 5 shaky breaths before I could even try to speak, because I knew if I engaged my vocal cords all that would come out would be a huge ugly-cry sob. It doesn’t matter, trust me. But the most helpful thing we did: Pictures before the ceremony, instead of between the ceremony and reception. I originally did that because we didn’t have anything for the guests to do, but it worked well because I got radiant happy pictures and not cry-face pictures.

  • Kathleen

    I’m known among family and friends for being absolutely stoic and never crying at anything. This is not an entirely accurate perception, as a good Hallmark commercial can get me every time. I really had no idea whether I was going to cry or not; what I did know was that my dad was going to cry. He’s the most emotional person I know. He ended up cracking stupid jokes under his breath all the way down the aisle to keep his composre, so we both ended up laughing all the way down the aisle. (Think “Last one to the altar’s a rotten egg!” Oh, Dad.)

  • Great advice, all around. I was terrified I would be a basket case at our wedding and I didn’t cry a bit until later in the night when we were alone. Tears of joy, of course. Same goes for the stage fright. I’m extremely shy, but walking down the aisle and standing in front of everyone was a cinch. Although it sounds extremely corny, I know, once I was up there with him, everyone else kind of fell away. Like Alyssa said, be patient with yourself and don’t worry too much ahead of time how you’re going to react. After all, its your wedding. If anyone deserves to be emotional, it’s you and your partner.

  • Jamie

    I’ve been in plays, I’ve performed in concerts, I’ve sung to large audiences. I’ve spoken at graduations, read and given toasts at other weddings. But you really don’t have any idea how you are going to feel at your wedding ceremony. Nothing in your past can really predict how you are going to feel at your own wedding (not even if you’ve been married before).

    I giggle cried down the whole aisle. Giggled AND cried. And got a little weepy during my vows. They are some of my favorite pictures.

    As far as the people staring at you thing, I was worried about it too (which is weird since I was a bit of a theatre dance nerd). But when I got to the end of the aisle, it was like the rest of the church disappeared and I could only hear and see my husband and the minister. I was also worried about doing the receiving line (we actually dismissed each aisle instead of standing at the back of the church) that I wouldn’t want to talk to people or whatever. When the ceremony was over and did the sort of receiving line thing, I was actually surprised at how much I needed that. I got hugs, kisses, and everyone just kept telling me how beautiful I looked, and who doesn’t love to be told they look amazing?

    As far as tissues, my friend just got married and her dress had pockets! So they were full of tissues (and I’m assuming a cell phone and cigarettes too). My dress didn’t have pockets, but my matron of honor’s dress had pockets so she filled them with tissues and handed me one before our vows. The pictures of that are funny. So my recommendation: get a wedding dress with pockets, or hope that one of your bridesmaids picks out a dress that has pockets. And don’t worry about crying. It makes other people happy weepy and it makes them go “awwwwww!!!!” which is the cutest thing ever. To me at least.

  • I like the message that whatever emotions you have, (bawling your eyes out, nervous laughter, full on panicky moments) just roll with it. Don’t fight it or feel embarrassed.

  • NF

    I cry when reading at least half the wedding graduate posts, at weddings, etc. On my wedding day I had absolutely no idea what to expect from myself. I cried a bit while getting ready (cliched crying when my mom put on my veil, but also in the middle of breakfast that morning), and a little bit as I walked down the aisle with my parents, but during the ceremony itself I didn’t cry, although I came close. I did tear up several times during the ceremony, and almost cried when we read our ketubah (for the record, I still tear up or cry every time I read the english text and I’ve been married for more than a year), but actually some of my favorite photos (not to mention memories!) of the day are ones where you can see that I’m on the brink of crying, because the emotions of the day are really part of the point of having a wedding.

    One piece of advice if you are worried: see your husband-to-be before the ceremony. I think doing first look pictures and then having our ketubah signing before the ceremony helped me, so if you’re really worried that might be something to consider.

  • Lauren S.

    To Waterworks,

    I was really worried about crying during my wedding. I’m a crier. I bawled like a baby during the proposal, I cry during movies, I tear up at other weddings, I cry when I get scared. I’m a crier.

    Also, my (now) husband and I had made a bet. He bet I would be crying through the wedding. I bet I wouldn’t. So we bet that if I cried at any point during the ceremony, I’d owe him $50. If I didn’t, he owed me $50. To be paid in front of all of our guests during the reception!

    Well, I made plans about how not to cry (cuz hell, I wasn’t shelling out $50!). I decided at any point I felt like crying I would repeat random words in my head like “lobster”, “toaster” and “telephone”.

    But come wedding day, I was so excited, like Lauren, I laughed down the aisle! I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling, and bouncing around. Needless to say it was pretty sweet when my husband got up in front of everyone…explained our bet, and paid me $50 cash! The reception was roaring with laughter.

    Anyways, my point is…have a crying plan in place. Whether it’s warning your officiant, your maid-of-honour carrying lots of tissues, or a crying prevention technique. But don’t worry if you do start crying. Don’t feel embarrassed or anything. Take deep breaths and you’ll be fine. You never know, you might surprise yourself and laugh the whole way through!

    • Toaster, toaster, lobster, toaster. So freaking funny!

    • NF

      At some point during the ceremony when I was tearing up my brother whispered a nonsense word that the two of us use frequently. I switched from almost crying to giggling.

      • Suzanna

        Such a good idea! If anything motivates me to win, it’s a bet!

        • FawMo

          Me too! This is GENIUS.

    • Mallory

      My mom always tells me to do math problems in my head when I don’t want to cry in public. So I usually start doing my multiplication tables in my head haha. Although now I’m just going to think of lobsters and toasters haha.

    • avila

      I’ve been told it’s impossible to cry while you tickled the roof of your mouth with your tongue. I’m not sure that it’s totally true but it has certainly worked for me (though truth be told on, I tested it on less happy occasions…)

  • Jen M

    I have nothing to offer to this discussion other than WATERWORKS is the bitchin-est sign-off in the history of Ask Team Practical.

  • I would just add – I think the genuineness of the emotions that you get to see displayed at a wedding (whether through tears or laughter or what-have-you) is one of the best parts of going to a wedding. To the extent you can – embrace it.

    Also, if you have room in your budget, consider eyelash extensions. I popped for them because I was convinced I’d be bawling (and waterproof mascara never really works for me) and then I didn’t cry at all. But my lashes still looked awesome.

  • Vanessa

    Waterworks- I am a TOTAL crier. I cry at everything- lifetime movies, harry potter, political advertisements, and yes, weddings. I thought I was going to be a puddle of tears at my own wedding (which was three weeks ago!) and here is what happened:

    Once I got to the top of the isle for the ceremony I looked out at all of our guests and- gah!- the first person I saw was crying. I of course started to tear up, and so, after a quick blot with a handkerchief (something blue!) and simply did not look out again, not once. I looked only at my now-husband and focused all my energy on us in the moment, pretending it was only the two of us there. And I was so happy, and so calm, there were no more tears.

  • Sarah :: Jackson Riley

    BBB! Don’t worry, please! 3 of my 4 bridesmaids were students, and the other one was a river guide. I knew this when I asked them to be in my wedding, and I tried to be sensitive with costs. That said, I knew none of them would be giving me a gift off the registry. What they gave me was FAR more special: they flew to the wedding, they showed up over all the months leading up to listen to me talking wedding-business for (possibly) waaayyy too long, they carted things to and from the showers, the ceremony, the reception, they were So There For Me. That means way more than a juicer ever will, and I bet a million dollars your friend feels the same.

    If you do feel like you need to get them a gift, maybe make a slideshow of baby pictures (this is what my sister did), or show up and clean their house two days before the wedding because people are coming over and your poor friend just hasn’t had time to dust frickin’ baseboards but she wants the place to be sparkling before aunts and cousin and family friends see it for the fist time (my aunts and mom did this, and i could NEVER thank them enough). Offer to help out with any and all wedding related stuff – or offer to show up with a bottle of wine after the honeymoon and just listen to her reactions to the wedding and give you oohh and ahhs. All of this – heartfelt and kind – will be more than enough for your friend. She’ll know you care!

    Ok, now that I wrote a novel….

    • Kathryn in VT

      Cleaning! This is one of the most amazing gifts you can give, especially if the couple is having any events at their home. (Or, in my case, the wedding itself.) Also, showing up a day or two ahead of time to help with last minute projects? Priceless. I thought I had my to-do list under control, but it was such a relief to be able to hand off projects to friends I trusted deeply in the day and a half before my wedding. Having friends nearby kept me sane.

      This is off-topic, but for any brides-to-be reading this, I can’t recommend highly enough hiring someone to clean your house a few days before the wedding. It was some of the best money I spent — and it’s not that expensive. I practically wept with glee when I walked into my beautifully clean house two days before our at-home wedding. I was coming from picking up my dress from the seamstress, who had TAKEN IT IN TOO MUCH, YIKES, and my mother and grandmother had just pulled into the driveway, and that clean house was heaven.

  • To WATERWORKS – at one of my first dress-shopping appointments, the consultant was doing the whole “add veil and fake bouquet” hard sell thing on a dress and was saying things like, “Okay, so when you enter, you’ll hook your pinkies around your veil to hold it close to your body, and you’ll want to be looking down, very sweet and demure, not smiling too widely…” I know, wtf, right? I remember having this moment of absolute clarity while she was rattling this stuff off and thinking, “There’s no wrong way to feel emotion on your wedding day.” (And also, “You think I’m going to care about holding my veil in place with my pinkies? Hella no!” haha.) I ended up nervous-smiling/shaky-laughing my way down the aisle (stage fright!) and then forgetting all about the other people there once my husband took my hand.

    • If I would have walked down the aisle, looking down, smiling very sweetly and demurely and not too widely, my husband wouldn’t have known who I was. Good Lord….

  • To BBB – I would think many brides/couples would be stoked to have a talented friend offer their services as a present. I actually didn’t expect my maid of honor (only attendant) to give us a wedding present. Do other people? I don’t know. I just figured she did enough. Maybe your bride wouldn’t expect one either and what you do offer – whether heartfelt letter/card or a service will be a generous bonus.

    I love the Alyssa advice of making a logo/stationary for them (maybe their thank you cards if they don’t want the invite?) or perhaps your baking skills would be great as making a cookie treat as a favor or welcome present – there may be things that the bride hasn’t even thought of as possibilities. As long as you are prepared for them to say no – they are going in a different direction – AND prepared for them to say yes – and then they may be crazy clients and it would be a lot of work – you will have done a fantastic gesture as a wedding present. As a shower present, ask whomever is hosting – if it is you, then obviously you would say yes :) – if you could do the dessert as a present. What a lucky bride to have a giving talented friend!

    • I am actually figuring “friends helping in lieu of gifts” into some of our wedding planning and budgeting. It’s the only way I can even wrap my brain around the giant 250 guest wedding we are planning. (As in, “250 people are coming and all of our close friends are in theatre, one of them will be able to loan us sound equipment/ help me sew fabric flowers/ have a pyro licence and be able to provide us with flash-pots for our entrance into the reception).

      • That’s awesome (the theater nerd in me did a little “sqqeee!” when I read flash-pots). As Meg has said many times, people want to help you if you let them. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!

  • I’m generally the stage-frighty type, but I was literally unaware of an audience for the entire wedding ceremony. There was me, David, the pastor, and I think I remember the readers. But otherwise? I didn’t notice the 150 people sitting behind me. At all.

    I didn’t cry, although I was expecting to. David? Chocked up while saying his vows to the point where he could barely speak, and visibly had to pull it together for the last line. And it was such a clear expression of love. In talking to friends afterwards, his emotion made people in the audience cry harder. (It was a pretty emotional wedding… Lots of tears from everyone, except me.)

    I think the only bad crying at a wedding is where the audience can tell that one of the wedding couple just realized that this was a bad plan and is crying because they feel can’t get out of it. (What, I’m the only person who had to go to a terrible wedding like that? They were divorced in 8 months.) Otherwise? Cry with joy, cry at the enormity of what you’re doing, smile, laugh… I don’t think there’s a wrong emotion to feel at your wedding. (Other than dread, of course. :) )

    • Kathryn in VT

      This! I locked eyes with my husband when I was walking down the aisle and never looked away. I was vaaaaaguely aware of a periphery of people around us, but it was such an intense moment of focus and clarity and excitement and joy. The same focus carried me through the entire ceremony.

      Also, I don’t know if this might help WATERWORKS at all — but for me there was a lovely comfort in distinguishing between an “audience” (cue: self conscious stage fright) and a “congregation.” The latter, even outside of its religious connotations, signaled something so solemn and beautiful about the gathering of people. Your guests aren’t there to stare at you; they’re attending your wedding to add their blessing and support to your new marriage.

  • Waterworks – I carried my bouquet and a hanky all day long, often in the same hand (I pretty much always have a hanky with me no matter where I am, just not always in my hand). It worked beautifully.

  • Rachel

    Dear BBB,

    First off, congrats to your best friend on getting married and yay for you being in the wedding. One of my closest friends was a bridesmaid in our wedding and is a broke but brillant law school student. I knew this when I asked her to be in the wedding and was mindful of it the entire time as we have all been that struggling student at one time or another. I made sure that both my bridesmaids bought dresses and shoes they liked that were in their budget and I left it at that. I made it clear that they were not required or even needed to give us gifts, I just wanted them by my side on our wedding day and that would be the best gift of all. However, my BM still felt funny about it (like you) and gave us the most heartfelt card and was incredibly patient and helpful the entire time she stayed with us during the wedding. That is priceless.

    Another good idea, but only if you enjoy this, is to clean their house for them the week of the wedding or if they aren’t going on a honeymoon right away cook some food for them so they don’t have to be bothered with household duties and can instead just enjoy the afterglow.

  • MEI

    Waterworks – I cry at everything. And I am an ugly crier. I established game plans to handle crying – thinking of funny images, making our vows and first dance song fun instead of ridiculously sentimental (they were just as meaningful), and focusing on breathing. I didn’t cry at all, except one brief choke-up. I’m not sure whether it was because of the game plans or the overwhelmingness of it all. I think one key was inviting people who I loved and who loved me. Those people ain’t gonna judge you for a little snot (and chances are they’ll be crying too).

    HHHH – I’m one of those people who didn’t pay for wedding pictures and it just wasn’t that big a deal to me what I looked like on my wedding day. It just wasn’t a priority. But it might be for you, and paying mucho money for hair and pictures you don’t like is rough. You’re going to have to weigh the importance that you look the way you want to look (I for one think my cousins looked amazing in their wedding photos from the 80s – big hair and all – because, let’s be real, in 10 years, your wedding will look dated no matter what, and it’s the joy that makes you pretty) vs. the emotional stress of dealing with your mom and the hairdresser’s feelings. But in the end, chances are no one’s going to harbor bad feelings on your wedding day (weddings work that kind of magic), so trust your gut and I’m sure it will turn out fine.

    BBB – My maid of honor is a grad student in the South. I am a fancy rich lawyer in the Midwest. She threw me a kick ass bachelorette in Atlanta where we went to college, and she could drive to. She flew out to my wedding in Colorado. She did not come to my showers in Ohio or buy me a gift. She was the best maid of honor I could ask for and I wouldn’t change a thing. Because she’s my best friend. When it’s close like that, everyone understands, and no one cares. The offer to help is sweet, and I’m sure she will appreciate it even if she declines (chances are there’s something she’ll have for you to do, even if it’s just “carry my emergency tissue stash”), and it’s so kind of you to be there for her.

  • Amanda

    Regarding crying: I agree with everyone that handkerchiefs are key – they don’t look bad if they end up in photos and they won’t leave bits of paper on your face! If you think you might Really cry, get a thick one or more than one – my dainty lace-edged one was pretty soaked. Also, I took a few deep breaths before saying my vows, because I wanted to get through them without breaking. As the mood stated to shift in the church, I realised that I had waited a bit too long, so I reassured everyone that I was indeed going to say them in a moment. That got a laugh and helped me compose myself. Finally, I think it’s better to cry than to go through the day trying to numb yourself. You might get a few funny crying pictures, but in most you’ll just look beautiful. Just bring some blotting tissues or powder to touch up your nose!

  • E

    Basically, DON’T WORRY. I am a crier (and managed to do OK at my wedding – I had a dress with pockets for tissues and didn’t even need ’em). More critically, I had intense stage fright – I was shaking like a leaf through the whole ceremony – I couldn’t get my legs to stop twitching.

    In fact, the officiant told me afterwards that I was “the most nervous bride he’d ever seen” (which I didn’t appreciate too terribly much….)

    That being said, I don’t think the guests noticed at all. Everyone had a great time, my man and I enjoyed ourselves, so even if you are shaky or teary, it won’t really matter.


  • I grabbed David’s hands and we held on tightly while we both fidgeted constantly. I can remember shifting my balance from foot to foot ceaselessly. I probably looked really twitchy, come to think of it…

  • Kate

    I am generally not a crier, but circumstances conspired so that any time I had to speak to the general audience (the vows and my speech) I COULD NOT STOP CRYING. I only got about 4 hours of sleep the night before and I had been sick all week so I was on some major mood-altering decongestants (thanks, Mucinex D!). Despite crying the most I ever have in public it worked out fine. The photographer still managed to get good photos (like me and my cousin laughing at each other for crying during her reading). I made people laugh when I walked down the aisle saying “Are you kidding me, why is this happening” and they all got to tease me for months afterward. Whenever I didn’t want to cry during the ceremony I stared hard at the buttons on my husband’s tux so that’s one of my strongest memories of the day, and it is a special, personal one to me – the image in my head is from a viewpoint only I had, and I’ll always remember all of those emotions when I think of his buttons.

    Short version: You can’t predict what crying will happen, and whatever does happen is part of making your wedding real and about you.

  • Jo

    Meg and I had the same experience – I went into my wedding day SURE I was going to sob sob sob, but instead smiled smiled smiled with peaceful bliss throughout the ceremony. Not one tear. It was too peaceful.

    Now, I DID cry during the pre-ceremony laying on of hands that my bridesmaids and immediate family did for me. And maybe that helped – it got the emotional intensity out and flowing a little early, and then I could clean up and go suck in all the crazy JOY that everyone was pouring out at us.

    Because that’s the thing – they’re not there to watch you perform. They’re there to share in your joy. So let yourself feel the joy, whatever it is. And if you end up a snotty crying mess up on stage, then who better to do it in front of than your nearest and dearest?! AND! When your man still wants to marry you after you messed up your makeup and look a little crazy, won’t that just make you feel all the more amazing!?

    And yes, tuck a hanky around your bouquet. I did, but I ended up using it to blot sweat, not tears, since our wedding turned out to be a 100 degree day in October. Who knew?? You just can’t predict these things. Be brave, and be married. It, and you, will be fabulous. Good luck!!

  • Waterworks

    Thanks for all the excellent comments! And just in time, my wedding is next weekend. I’m feeling much more confident about the whole thing. Tears or no, I know it will be a fabulous day. And it’s such a relief to hear that no one exploded at the altar due to sheer emotional force.

  • Moz

    Hey Bea! I feel your pain. I had the same problem when I was a bridesmaid for one of my very best friends pushing 2 years ago. My very little money got chewed up pretty fast, especially in the incidental costs of organising the bride’s hens.

    I ended up giving the couple their wedding present about 8 months after their wedding (and I felt crappy about it). But I wrote them cards at every step of the journey saying how honoured I felt to be there with them. And the cakes sound like a brilliant idea, if that’s something that they want.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that its totally OK that you can’t give them something in the regular way. The fact that you have helped in the lead up and you’ll be standing next to them on the day is the big thing that will matter.

  • I would LOVE to have a friend offer services! It would be so much more meaningful if a friend designed my invitations or made my wedding cake.

    I just did the flowers for a friends wedding in lieu of a gift…she loved it, I loved doing it, and it’s something we’ll both remember forever. I’ll guess they already forgot whoever got them the toaster.

    • Also, consider asking if there’s room in the budget to help you with travel. I would definitely help my bridesmaids out if they needed it! In the end, I just want them to be there!!!

  • Torie

    Waterworks – I cried 17 times during my wedding day, and I know that because there was a bet on it and after the speeches it was announced that my sister had won £90 guessing it correctly. I hadn’t thought I would cry that much before but clearly my family knew me better. My only concern was that every photo would be of me crying, me looking sad when I was actually crying because it was just so massive that I couldn’t hold it in. but the photos – every one, I’m grinning – ear to ear! The only picture we have of anyone crying is of my Dad, ever stoic, never cries, balling at the sight of his baby getting hitched!
    My reccomendation would be waterproof foundation, no eyeliner, no mascara and false eyelashes – worked a treat.