You see, I'm an introvert, and I'm closer to the extreme end of the spectrum. First, a short definition. Carl Jung defined introverts best, I think, when he stated that introverts are typically happy alone, have a rich imagination, and "prefer reflection to activity."
Generally, parties wear me out. I go to them and I enjoy myself while I'm there, but I have to prepare myself ahead of time (which usually means I completely seclude myself for a couple days ahead of time to hoard as much energy as possible before the event). Even then, parties drain me. I'm generally exhausted with conversation after a few hours and I sit in a corner by myself to try to recoup some energy before I finally give up and leave.
So, the idea of not only going to a party, but of planning a party in honor of my fiancé (who is also an introvert, albeit more social than I am) and me made us both want to run away screaming and hide under a rock.
After much reflection, however (see definition above), I came to a few conclusions that I thought I'd share in the hopes of helping fellow introverts deal with the idea of a wedding in their honor…
Choose a venue that has many alcoves, rooms, or outdoor spaces where you can disappear and hide for a bit to recoup some energy. You could also create a large gap between the ceremony and reception so there is some time in the middle for you to rest and recharge. Or you could incorporate Yichud the way Ariel did at her wedding.
This is Offbeat Bride so I'm sure you all know this, but I thought I'd remind you anyway: you have relative control over most decisions. This means you can plan the ceremony and reception so they are introvert-friendly. You can ask a friend to be Emcee to divert attention away from you. You can hire fire spinners. You can have your flower girl be an adult guy friend or your grandmother. Thoughtfully choose everything you do and choose those things that will not tap you of your energy quickly (like avoid the receiving line — there are too many people all at once).
Know your limits and time things carefully. I knew my party limit would be about eight hours total, and I am a morning person, not a night owl. Since we had to set up and clean up, I planned accordingly. The ceremony and reception lasted five hours total, and our coordinator had planned out things in five-to-ten minute increments. I had plenty of alone time in the morning (I did not help set up), and I had a couple hours of clean up time before I was completely done. We planned our wedding for a Sunday, so no one wanted to party at a bar afterward. It worked out well for us. While we had a great time at our wedding, it was quite a relief to be back in our hotel room by 8:00 with leftovers to snack on.
Have someone you trust that can be the coordinator on the actual day of your wedding, and make sure they know and understand your introvert-related concerns. My brother is an event planner so he planned our reception. Everyone from the caterer to the photographer to the wedding party knew him and knew that they needed to go to him first if they had questions or issues. This meant I wasn't frantically dealing with all the last-minute details (spending precious energy), and it meant that I could enjoy myself and not have to worry about every little thing.
Finally, just as a reminder, weddings are as much for the family and friends of the couple as for the couple itself. Weddings are one of the few social conventions where people can appropriately show their love for you. Your family and friends want to share in your joy and they want to support you. This creates an energy that is very different from the typical party. As much as I wanted my wedding to be on a beach in the middle of nowhere with just my partner and me, I was very aware of the fact that doing so would deny many of our family and friends the ability to share and celebrate with us.
It was this that kept me going throughout the wedding process so I didn't have a complete meltdown. For as stressed as I was about the idea of such a large party, I'm glad we did it and, despite your anxiety, you probably will be, too.
For more introverted wedding help check out "weddings for shy people" or leave your helpful tips in the comments below!