No, I’m not getting married so you don’t need to save the date. I’m already very happily married, thank you!.
But since I started teaching I've had five women in my groups who didn't have wedding photographs on their wedding day. Another participant commented “I had to take beta blockers at my own wedding 31 years ago because I found the idea of being the centre of attention too daunting and too horrifying”
On the course I hear about couples going abroad for their wedding because they don’t want a big wedding.
I had a woman on one of my courses dreading her wedding day coming up with only three weeks to go. (Don't worry she loves her man). For her it was more about the fear of being the centre of attention for the whole day. On the course she said things like:
”I don’t want to be looked at, I don’t want to arrive in a big car, walk down the aisle, sit at the top table”.
She needed to re-think what being an audience member really means. Audiences are usually not thinking about you that much, are not out to get you and are often thinking about themselves rather than you. But she realised on the course: "When I go to other people's weddings, I'm really happy for them, so maybe they will be happy for me". Part of the work on the course is to understand audiences more deeply. The audience had moved from being hostile in her head to being supportive and they are there because they love her.
After the course she sent me this note
"When I tried on my wedding dress again (after the course) last weekend I also felt so different. I felt comfortable in my skin and even excited that I’ll be able to stand up in front on all those people on my wedding day because I can be myself. Thank you so much John for transforming my thought patterns and breaking down those barriers to being seen by others"
But I didn’t know how her wedding actually went until a year later I got this email:
“I attended your course in Bristol last year (and it was so helpful in changing my mindset. I have benefitted a lot from it at work and I know it helped me be the centre of attention on my Wedding Day in July without panicking! I had one moment of negativity when I walked into the back of the church and saw how many people were there, but amazingly, instantly was able to tell myself that they were all there to support me, and the nerves vanished”
She is not the only person to have been scared by being the centre of attention at a wedding. A few years ago I had a man in my group who dropped a number of friendships with really good mates when they got engaged - just in case they asked him to be the best man. He wasn't even sure he was going to be asked but just in case he decided to forego his friendships by not replying to their phone calls/texts and blanking them. Painful stuff for him but he’d rather do that than be the centre of attention.
Another course participant told me that he was pushing his seven year old daughter on the swing in the local park the week before he came on the course. All he was thinking about was a future father of the bride speech “The wedding is probably 20 years away, and I’m already petrified of all those faces”.
For many people the idea of the wedding day is not a happy one and that makes me sad. It could be a wonderful time. We can re-learn how to be the centre of attention. It doesn't take long and can make a huge difference to your wedding day and your life. And some day, your children will be able to giggle at your wedding photographs when dad still had hair.