It is so easy to focus on the bride when it comes to thinking about wedding nerves. The press likes to paint a picture of the groom just turning up and doing what he’s told on the wedding day itself, but we know this is far from the truth. From planning the day, to natural wedding worries about being the centre of attention, to money, to wanting to make his partner happy – it is natural for both parties to feel anxious. And of course, not all weddings have a bride – so to ignore how men feel about proceedings is pretty outdated.
Today we speak to three men, who share their wedding stories with us. All three work in the wedding industry and have been part of hundreds of weddings so have experience of working with couples, nerves and all. Maybe this put more pressure on them – let’s hear their very honest stories in their own words.
John Woodward is a photographer based in Cambridgeshire. He shares how his body confidence issues affected him in the lead up to his wedding day.
Image by Mike Thornton
“I had a couple of big wedding worries which stem from me being me. As you know, I am not a tall guy. My wife is just under an inch taller than me. I was terrified of how I would look when she wore small heels with her dress compared to her. As someone who has VERY deep-seated body image issues, as well as bad personality self dissection that is brought on a lot by my own image issues and the troubles that have given me through my life, being seen by all those people while at my wedding and showing me up in “comparison” to my wife really did make me feel awful.
All the usual stuff went through my head such as “my god he looks tiny” and “she’s marrying a dwarf” and so on. Sounds “funny” to anyone who isn’t male and not short, but honestly…..it’s been the absolute bane of my life. I’ve had strangers in the street literally take the p*** from the other side of the road just because of how I look and how tall I am (I also have odd proportions. Long body, short legs, which doesn’t help the situation in any way!). So to be in front of all those people and marrying someone who was clearly and visibly taller than me made me absolutely sick to the stomach. Reality was….I KNOW everyone there and not one person was looking at my height because they KNOW me and that’s who I am and they all….hopefully like me for who I am. But being put on show like that on the biggest day of my life and all my own self loathing and body issues came massively rushing to the forefront of my mind and although I am very very good at covering all that up and seemingly very confident from the outside, inside I was being literally crippled with the anxiety of it.
My second wedding worry (as if the first one wasn’t big enough!) was not being seen as a failure. I had little to do for our wedding….my wife and her Mum took it on as a project and they organised almost everything. They just came to me with choices and asked my preferences and then made the decisions between them. So was very easy in some ways for me and I was more than happy for them to get on with things as they really enjoyed it. But I WAS asked to organise two things…..the photographer (obviously haha) and the DJ. Which I duly did. But until the actual day, you never know how these things will actually go. And my nerves were through the roof that there would be no mistakes, the photographer would be good, the DJ would get the dance floor rocking and make the evening an event everyone would remember…..all that was, to my mind, all on my shoulders and my biggest fear is letting people down. And having that all go right was paramount for me as I just didn’t want to be in a position where I perceived that all fingers were pointing at me and I had let everyone down. Until the day was underway and the music started playing and all things went well (really bloody well actually which was a huge relief), my nerves were massively on edge. Again….it was that self-image thing coming to the fore. I wanted to be seen as good on my wedding day and not something someone could point, laugh and talk about for years to come as “he was the one who looked weird and let everyone down”. And I know all logic says that that isn’t the case for all sorts of reasons but when your mind goes into anxiety mode, it just takes over. And it absolutely eats me alive. So much so I have had to have therapy for it. But the wedding took it to a whole new level!
I also realise being seen as to be taller than your wife is a very patriarchal thing and I am so not that person. But anxiety makes you throw those sentiments and ideals out of the window. My cousin is 5’7” and his wife is 6’2”! And he’s NEVER had an issue with their height disparity, ever. So it’s clearly something I have in my head. Something deep-seated in me says the man should be taller than the woman, which of course is absolute rubbish! I know it is. But it’s relatively “usual” for it to be that way around and I am very much NOT in the middle of the height distribution ball curve for males, shall we say? So, yeah….makes me feel bad for even feeling bad about it because I know that it shouldn’t make any difference.”
Dom Harness is the operations director at RanfF Weddings and married to Vanessa who is a wedding planner at the same company. While of course their wedding was planned to perfection, Dom still had worries.
Image by Ian Scott Photography
“Believe it or not I’m naturally very introverted so had massive anxiety about being left of centre, as we know the bride is always centre of attention. My anxiety was compounded by it being the second time around and somehow more important this time. From a male perspective there is something to be said for a level of anxiety due to not being over-involved in the planning and suddenly getting to the day and realising you have no real idea of the schedule.
From a wedding supplier’s perspective with Vanessa being so in control of the planning and her weddings being so well planned there was, puns aside, performance anxiety from me – what if I stumble, what if I can’t get the ring on the finger, what if I fudge my words? I think that pressure stands true of any groom as it’s such an important day and we don’t want to let our brides down. A couple of things really helped: Vanessa made sure I was involved in key steps of planning, and knowing on the day I would be up, showered and suited by 8am and then stressing, she made sure there were a small number of jobs for me to do on the morning. This was important as it distracted me from the anxiety, made me feel like I was achieving something important to the day and provided a sense of control as well as simply filling the time so that I was getting ready at the right time.
Another thing she’s learned from years of planning was to ensure that the photographer had a second shooter. They spent some time with me in preparation, which actually made quite a difference to my anxiety levels. Of course on the day itself I totally broke down when it came to saying my vows but by then I was 100% focused on Vanessa and the vicar and no one else in the church existed. I think it’s good to appreciate that as a man it’s often a brave face we put on but that in reality, the groom can have as much anxiety as anyone else. Some of this is down to the individual of course, some of that purely natural and expected and some down to social expectations of what is expected from them.”
“I think the fact that we were in the industry to begin with was a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because we knew perhaps a bit more than other couples about how our day should pan out. We had a bit of insider knowledge so that was less stressful because we knew what had to be done and sorted out. It was also a benefit knowing lots of decent suppliers who are friends of ours who gave us good deals and helped us through. On the other hand though, it was definitely extra pressure in regards to the fact that we were expected to put on quite the show. Everyone would expect our wedding to be flawless and perfect. I think a lot of the time weddings centre around how the bride feels and what she has to sort out. People talk about everyone looking at her walking down the aisle. A lot of the time grooms and the men are pushed to the side slightly. I think a stereotypical wedding often is about putting on a good show for the bride and most grooms want to do that as well for their ladies. However, we have to remember that it is as much about the guy as it is about the girl. It’s about the coming together of both of us and I felt a huge amount of pressure on our wedding day. I tried to help out with the smaller details but wasn’t great with them (I think it was more that Sarah was great with them) It did help to find some details that I could get involved in like arranging a cigar bar with my grandad in my but when it came to the actual day I did want Sarah to have the best day ever.
Going back to the bride walking down the aisle, I think people forget that for a good 45 minutes before the bride arrives the groom is stood at the front of the church (in my case) or the venue with everyone they know staring at the back of their heads in anticipation. This sounds really cheesy but as soon as I saw her walking down the aisle all of my worries and anxiety faded away. I did feel quite anxious during the actual ceremony though, I thought like I was going to have a panic attack at one point because the pressure was insane! Once you are there there is no walking out, there is no going to the toilet – you have to stand there until you are married! Genuinely though, once she was there beside me we knew we were in it together and it made it so much easier.
I knew she was super nervous herself too so we had to get through it hand in hand. I think it really helped to have all my friends around me on the day and my family. Everyone was there to see us and everyone seemed genuinely pleased to see us married. I don’t think I would actually change a single thing about our wedding day. We were lucky. It went off with only one hitch genuinely, it was flawless and looking back it was a perfect day. I think the main reason for this is after all of the planning is in place and all of the stress and all of the money going out of your bank account, when the day arrives you need to enjoy it. It’s only one day and it goes so quickly but try and soak up those moments. I was given one piece of advice beforehand by a friend of mine and it was the best advice I’ve ever heard. Take a minute to sit back and do a mental panoramic image. I did this when we first sat down to dinner. It was a point in the day I will always look back on and remember vividly looking around seeing all of my family and friends having a great time and being happy for us. Don’t forget to celebrate, that is the entire point!”
A huge thanks to John, Dom and Dan for sharing their wedding worries with us today.