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.