What Harry Potter Did for My Wedding Day Anxiety

Sometimes you just need a little help from your (wizard) friends


It was my wedding day. I had spent the night before at my sister’s house. We arrived at the church three hours before the ceremony started, as everyone had agreed to do. But other than the wedding planner, we were the only ones there. There was no photographer. No groom. No mother of the bride.

This last one was what almost sent me over the edge. I remember turning to my sister, the panic already building up in me and threatening to spill out of my eyes, and saying, “Where is Mother? Weren’t we supposed to meet her here? Where is she? Do you think something’s wrong? She is coming… right?” Everyone had joked about me taking Prozac or something last night at the rehearsal dinner to deal with wedding stress, but I hadn’t thought anyone was serious.

“Okay, well, do you want to call her? How about we text her? You should have one of these bagels. Do you want to go take a quick walk?” And then I heard the words that sounded like a death sentence: “Maybe we should just start getting you ready.”

I couldn’t—I wouldn’t—start getting ready without my mother. I mean, honestly, didn’t I have enough to worry about what with the normal wedding jitters? I also had to worry about the fact that no one else had arrived and the clock just wouldn’t stop moving. Finally, my sister asked the golden question: “Don’t you have a book in your bag? Do you want to read?”

Yes, my copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was in my bag. I hadn’t thought I’d actually have time to stop and read that morning, but I’d packed it just in case. I had started to reread the Harry Potter series earlier that year, and found myself just as enthralled by the Wizarding World as the first time I picked up one of J.K. Rowling’s books in the third grade. I gratefully buried my nose in the book and allowed it to pour a soothing balm over my heart.

What I had been wishing for actually happened—the clock stopped. Then my sister, my ever faithful, geeky sister, pulled out a Bane Chronicles book. We kept reading until the photographers showed up. We kept reading even after we noticed the photographers were there. I kept reading until the wedding planner came downstairs to tell me that all four parents, my aunt, my best friends, my groom, and his groomsmen had arrived. And then I begged for more time to finish the chapter. As everyone rushed around me, I remained motionless. It was refreshing.

I hadn’t left myself completely behind in the Wizarding World, but a piece of my heart was nestled safely in the pages of that book. It was like that small, normal, and yet magical act of relaxing on a couch with a good book had cured whatever anxiety I had carried with me to the church.

I thank the Lord that I packed J.K. Rowling’s book that day. I don’t what state I would have been in without that old, faithful companion there to give me a dose of Felix Felicis. Harry Potter couldn’t help me walk down the aisle without tripping, or stop the almost painful fluttering in my heart when I saw my groom waiting for me, but that’s another story.

So here is my advice to you on your wedding day: Don’t say that you’re going to be fine. Even if you don’t normally have to deal with anxiety, you will probably feel anxious on your wedding day. It’s perfectly natural. Make sure you’re prepared to battle that anxiety. You might even be able to avoid anti-anxiety medication if you are prepared.

If coffee will put a hop in your step, then drink some before you change into your dress. If your favorite movie always calms you, play it while you get ready. And if you love books, then make sure to pack your copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It really works.

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  • Lisa

    Love this. My sisters and I have several movies that we’ve watched to death over the years on long car rides and during 4-H sewing marathon sessions. On our wedding days, my sister and I each picked some of our favorites, and we let them play in the background as we got ready. One of the best pictures from my wedding is of my two sisters and me crying and holding hands when Beth dies in Little Women.

    • Melody Quinn

      That’s awesome. I know I’ll cherish the pictures of my sister and I reading for the rest of my life. They look completely staged, but we know better :) .

  • HP4lyfe

    Are we the same person?? My wedding is at the end of the month, and I started rereading all the Harry Potter books a couple weeks ago to deal with the last minute planning stress. It is so. damn. soothing.

    • Melody Quinn

      I don’t know. Maybe we’re long lost sisters :) . I’m glad someone else has realized the calming powers of the Harry Potter series.

    • Alanna Cartier

      I was just thinking that rereading Harry Potter might help with some of the crazy anxiety I’ve been having lately. Good call. I’m doing it.

      • Melody Quinn

        I’m so glad you read this then. I hope you find your own Felix Felicis.

    • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

      Mine’s in seven weeks, and I’m on Order of the Phoenix right now!!

      • Melody Quinn

        Well slow down! You don’t want to finish the whole series before your big day! ;)
        I wish you a double portion of Felix Felixis!

    • Lexipedia

      OMG have any of you listened to them in audiobook form? Stephen Fry reads them and it’s gold! I’ve read the physical books a dozen times, but Harry Potter on the treadmill etc. is pretty great. It’s also gotten me through some anxious plane rides and nervous doctor’s waiting rooms.

      • Melody Quinn

        No, I haven’t. I suppose that would have been useful, because I could have kept listening to it up until the ceremony. Maybe even a hidden earbud for me during everything :).

      • Kat

        Yessssss I’m re-listening to Deathly Hallows now for like the 4th time. It honest to god has calmed me down on the brink of a panic attack more than once. HP saves lives.

      • Kayjayoh

        Oh! I’ve only heard the ones with Jim Dale reading them. (He is also brilliant.)

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  • Abe

    I love this so much!

    • Melody Quinn

      Thanks :)

  • Jessica

    I got my hair re-highlighted the morning of my (2 pm) wedding. I hadn’t been super happy with it all week but kept feeling like I didn’t have time to go get it fixed/am not usually the kind of person who complains about a service once it has been done. I think I channeled all of my wedding anxiety onto my hair, and ended up calling my stylist at 7:30 in the morning. She had me come over right away, did some kind of 20 minute rinse that got rid of the brassiness, and I went on my way! :)

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  • Mark

    So i decided to contact the blackhat.hacksolutions@gmail.com to help catch my cheating spouse, he delivered as was promised he is really a genius, he also does P.I jobs clears your record,changes your school results and helped me recover my lost funds/money i lost to scammers. Impressive , guess i am so lucky.
    i love him and his work. you should try him, only a few out there are good he is one of the best.

  • Daisy6564

    I had the job from hell a few years ago and would find myself near panic a few times a week (sometimes daily). I also happened to be planning my wedding that year but that was totally at the back of my mind. I reread the whole HP series as a way to reduce anxiety and I think that and my super understanding fiance/husband are all that helped me from completely losing it. JK Rowling should start marketing the series as an anti anxiety therapy.

    • Melody Quinn

      I know, right? She’d make so much money! I’m glad I’m not the only one who figured this out! Im almost certain any favorite book would do, though no book is as magical as HP.

  • Philippa

    I carry my kindle everywhere with me now (mainly I prefer physical books, but my kindle is amazing for ’emergencies’ or long flights!) – and thank goodness. I have OOTP and HBP on my kindle, and I find it hugely comforting that if I have an anxious moment, or need to get away just for a bit, then old and very dear friends are there waiting for me. And if I need to own a moment, nail a meeting, ace a presentation – then thank goodness for ‘Careers Advice’ – it has me punching the air every time.

    • Melody Quinn

      That’s amazing! I always try to keep a book on me, but you’re like super reader! I might be swayed to get a kindle if it means I get to carry around multiple books and the whole HP series.

      • Philippa

        Thanks, Melody! Kindle is definitely recommended for that reason – it’s kind of amazing to have a library of my favourites with me all the time!

  • Jenny

    I completely get this. I brought Harry Potter to the hospital for my husband to read to me while I was in labor with each of our kids. It was a much better distraction and relaxing technique for me than music would have been!

    • Laura

      And what a great way to bring future readers into the world!

    • I tried to convince my husband that I was going to watch the whole series while I was in labor. In the end we settled on watching “Chuck” in the days leading up to labor instead.

    • Melody Quinn

      Wow! I hadn’t even thought that far in advance. I will definitely have to try this. Thanks so much! :)

  • Nell

    “You might even be able to avoid anti-anxiety medication if you are prepared.”

    I assume the corollary to this is, “But don’t feel ashamed if you need some anti-anxiety medication! Sometimes brains are just like that!”

    • Melody Quinn

      Yes, definitely. You need to do what works for you. I just wanted to reach out to women who had never taken medication before, and who really didn’t want to start on their wedding day. However, I know plenty of women who need anti-anxiety medication and used it specifically to avoid breakdowns on their wedding day. It worked. No shame.

  • Rebekah Jane

    Ok, this is my level of nerd – my immediate thought wasn’t that reading to calm down was out of the ordinary. No, my reaction was “Order of the Phoenix? But that’s Harry’s whiny phase! If I was going to calm down to some JK, I’m gonna need some Half Blood Prince in here.”

    That being said, I’ve spent most of my life with a book in my purse and I’m a little ashamed I’ve stopped over the years. I think I’ll join you guys in that Harry Potter reread.

    • Melody Quinn

      OotP wasn’t my favorite in the series either…I think I’m stuck between PoA and GoF. That being said, the OotP worked pretty well. I’m so glad you’re going to give the series another try. Good luck!

  • Raissomat

    I had a hot camomile tea while sitting on a box..my groom was running around giving directions, the garden was decorated, tables set, my dad was standing around with his hat in his hand, confused about my old ratty t shirt and the uncerimonious atmosphere. The truth was, I haden’t slept for days, we had cleaned the house like NEVER BEFORE just to completely trash it the next day,my mother in law had me cry from anger the night before, and tecnically, everything was ready. So I made us some chamomile tea, ignored everybody, and sat on a box.

    • Melody Quinn

      Whatever works :D I’m sorry that you had to deal with all of that, but I’m glad you found something to keep you calm.

  • stephforeigncountry

    This is so simple, but so genius. I went through a really tough time at work (the dark days of November as a teacher) last year and I started reading HP on my commute; I felt it made a huge difference in preparing me for the day ahead, and for trying to get some downtime in the evening. Will definitely pack my Kindle for my wedding day now!

    • Melody Quinn

      I’m glad that you already discovered the soothing powers of a favorite book. Take along a HP book and your wedding day and enjoy your own little bottle of Felix Felicis!

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    Really wish I’d thought to do this! Getting ready for my reception was so stressful that I had a pretty terrible time for the first half of the evening. After dinner I went to the bathroom with a married friend and she asked, “So, are you having fun?” I said “…uhh…” and she assured me it was okay to say no.

    Advice I’m now giving to engaged friends: Bring a copy of Harry Potter. Also, it’s okay to admit you’re not having fun.

    • Melody Quinn

      I totally get this. I almost tried to sneak my book into the bathroom during the reception, but, for some reason, people kept wanting to talk to me :) . The ceremony was for me. The reception was for him…but I probably should have tried to have more fun. I hope it’s a wonderful memory for you now.

  • The movies are my current nap-time entertainment of choice. I put all the kids to sleep and then hope I can get through half a movie before they start waking up and sit down on the couch with some chocolate (because you never know when a dementor might go down your street). It’s a break in the day that helps me get through the rest. Perhaps when I’m finished with the movies I’ll start a reread again.

    • The question will be, do I read them in American or British?

      • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

        I go through this every time! They’re such different reading experiences! This time, I’m doing American hardcovers.

    • Melody Quinn

      That’s awesome! You know, I’ve never even thought about reading the series in British. I say, if you’re up for a challenge, read whatever you haven’t read before. It would add something extra to the old books.