Photo by Wild About You

My fiance and I have been putting off the entire wedding largely because we are both pretty shy, introverted people. We're both are very anxious about being the center of attention.

Besides cutting down the guest list, do you have any brilliant ideas for how we can pull this off without getting ulcers from stage fright?


If you're terrified about your ceremony, the key is going to be having a great officiant. Someone who can absorb all that stage-fright for you, and really take command over the space. Someone, maybe, who might even speak about zombies.

Also, keep your vows super short and sweet. Instead of memorizing them, have your officiant do “repeat after me” vows.

You may also want to do what we did and schedule some time just the two of you immediately after the ceremony. You can read more about this in my book.

Avoid having either of you make formalized speeches, and do what you can to keep the number of toasts low. Ask two friends or family members to do toasts and then stand up and say “Thank you!” and turn up the music so it's clear the time for toasts is dunzo.

Keep the tone of the wedding light and casual: less formal = less cause for freak-outs.

Also, make liberal use of what I call “The I Love You Break.”

How “The I Love You Break” works…

Decide on a secret signal with your fiance: an ear tug, scratch of the nose, squeeze of the hand, whatever. Stick close to each other for the entire day, and whenever one of you starts get getting overwhelmed or anxious, give the signal.

Then, the other partner should politely step in and say “Excuse us for a moment” or gently place a hand on the other's cheek. Then just stare into each other's eyes and both whisper “I love you I love you I love you” for as long as it takes to calm down a bit.

Sure: what you really want to do is grab each other's hands and run screaming from the room. But while that might freak your guests out (“where are they going? and why are they screaming??”) taking an “I love you” break will make your guests be all, “OMG look at them so madly in love, this is the most touching wedding evar, snorfle sniffle sob.”

Meanwhile, the two of you get a quiet moment together to just stop and breathe and chill out and ignore for a second that your friends and family are all there to tell you how much they love you. And do remember: all eyes are on you because they're there to support you.

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Comments on Introvert wedding advice & weddings for shy people

  1. thank you so much for this post – i’m not a fan of crowds, and my partner is super shy. we’re having a small wedding, and microscopicly short ceremony, but can use all the help we can get for stress management on the ‘big day.’ one thing we focused on early on is to make sure each of us feels really good about what we’re wearing so we’re as comfortable as possible with all those eyes on us.

  2. We are both really uncomfortable with the big aisle and vow to do, so we’re doing a private courthouse wedding a year before. We’re planning on doing a reception with a short time in the beginning where we do our vows in front of our family. The officiant and our parents/best friends can say a few words about us and we’ll all sit down to eat! So much less stressful.

    Yay for shy people!

  3. Oh lordy lordy, I am super-shy and so is my husband. Here’s what I did to forestall the Crowd Of People Anxiety Attack:

    When the guests started arriving, I ran out and greeted them one-by-one with Hubby. Much easier than doing the receiving line afterward, or whatever people do nowadays.

    We walked down the aisle together so I didn’t have that “OMG EVERYONE IS LOOKING AT MEEE” moment.

    We wrote our vows down and just read them. I don’t think anyone cared, really.

    Definitely with the alone time afterward! Our photographer tagged along and we got some great pictures of just the two of us, grinning like crazy people.

    Basically, we thought of all the elements of a traditional wedding that freaked me out (the aisle! hiding the bride away until the last minute! memorized vows! a receiving line!) and decided not to do them. It’ll be different for every person of course.

  4. Awesome post! And thanks for the additional tips, Sarah TX.

    My FH and I aren’t shy, exactly, but we are certainly not center-of-attention lovers. I think this post is important because we read a lot about offbeat weddings that lean toward being big glorious products (musicals, bride and groom dance-offs, bride and groom performances, etc.) which is totally awesome but not something I could ever do myself.

    We are planning to have our officiant do most of the talking during the ceremony (we’ll write what he says, because like many introverts, we have no problem writing what we’re thinking) and then hold the reception like any other regular party, where we mingle with everyone and are not in a spotlight or special table or something.

    Oh, and I think Ariel’s “p.s.” was the most important part. When in doubt, drink champagne. Enough said.

  5. creating activities for your reception that dont center on the happy couple is important. some people have outdoor activities, some people have board games. DONT let people do the tapping-you-glass-means-you-have-to-kiss thing. make people who do that have to wear a goofy hat or something, like Lani and Jamie did!

  6. noooooo don’t drink the champagne if you’re nervous!!!
    I was a bundle of nerves when I was bridesmaid for my sister and was making a speech. I did a decent job on the speech but was way too drunk and went to bed early.
    I’ve vowed to stay off the bubbly for my own day no matter how nervous I am!
    Do you have Rescue Remedy in the U.S. ?
    Great for settling nerves!

  7. We aren’t shy, but we hate the idea of being the center of attention.
    Here’s what we’re doing
    1. walking down the “aisle” together
    2. going straight into reception with our guests, no announcement
    3. no cake cutting
    4. no first dances
    5. having a mingling style reception, with no formal tables or plated dinner, so our guest’s attention will be spent walking and talking.
    6. only one toast. i really, really want to have none. but my finance’s father would never forgive us. i might throw up while he’s talking though. or at least make a cringe face. i’ll try not to, but there’s no guarantee.

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