Weddings can be a stressful, overwhelming time for anyone, but particularly for brides and grooms who identify as introverts.
Why? Because typically, introverts aren't comfortable being the center of attention. They try to avoid small talk and require quiet alone time to gain energy and recharge their batteries. This, of course, poses a big challenge during the wedding chaos: all eyes are on you, your second cousin twice removed is trying to chat your ear off and you're surrounded by people. Constantly.
So we asked experts, wedding planners and brides to share their best tips on how introverts can stay cool, calm and collected throughout the planning process and especially on the big day. Take a deep breath and find out what they had to say below:
1. For starters, plan a wedding that suits your personality -- it can be as low-key as you want it to be.
"Remember that the only thing that absolutely, positively must happen for a wedding to be successful is that you end up married at the end of the day," Sophia Dembling, author of Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After, tells The Huffington Post. "So you can make your wedding anything you and your betrothed want: a quiet sunset ceremony on a beach or a small backyard family gathering. Even the frou-frou, attention-grabbing dress is optional. It’s your wedding, make it an event that will bring you true joy."
2. Opt to do a “first look” before the ceremony.
"For introverted brides terrified of walking down the aisle, I recommend a first look with their partner before the ceremony," wedding planner Tracie Domino of Tracie Domino Events says. "This private time between the two of you is incredibly sweet and allows you to experience seeing each other for the first time without all of your guests staring at you. Walking down the aisle will still be incredibly special, but you will feel like you are in it together this way."
3. Schedule some "you" time on the big day, so you can take a breather (or two).
"Introverts need some quiet time away from social activities, so make sure to take breaks throughout the day," self-proclaimed introvert and founder of Intimate Weddings Christina Friedrichsen tells HuffPost. "This could mean escaping to the powder room or to a quiet place in your reception area. Having some quiet one-on-one time with your sweetie during the big day can also help you recharge."
"And don't feel bad about doing this," Dembling says. "If you take little breaks, you'll be able to keep going longer, without getting cranky."
4. It may sound like just one more thing on your already busy schedule, but consider planning a casual pre-wedding get-together with family and friends.
"This will sound counter-intuitive, but try to organize an event or informal gathering the day before the wedding so that you can see as many people as possible in advance," Fusion anchor and recent bride Alicia Menendez says. "People are there to see and celebrate you and your partner, and if you maximize their opportunities to do that, it actually lowers the pressure on the big day."
5. Consider having a smaller bridal party.
"Big bridal parties often lead to bigger problems," Domino says. "From trying to find a dress that will fit everyone to one of your girls complaining that her hair appointment is too early, the less opinions the introverted bride has to deal with the better."
"Keep your getting-ready squad as small as possible," Menendez adds. "You'll want and need that calm, quiet time before things really kick off."
6. Limit the amount of input you're getting from well-meaning friends and family -- you're the decision maker here!
"If you involve mom and grandma and Aunt Jane and his mom and grandma and Aunt Jane too, while also getting ideas from friends and coworkers, you’ll be begging for head space before you know it," Dr. Laurie Helgoe, psychologist and author of Introvert Power, says. "Introverts are good at listening and really thinking about what others say. When the 'others' become too many, there’s no room left for your own thoughts. Be selective."
"Introverted brides tend to love the idea of a feasting table -- where the bride and groom sit with the bridal party and their dates," Domino recommends. "With this option, the bride and groom don’t feel as much like they are onstage and more like they are having a dinner party within the wedding reception with their closest friends."
8. If you're marrying an extrovert, let your partner do the talking.
"If your spouse-to-be is less introverted than you, let him or her take on more of a social role in the wedding," Friedrichsen suggests. "This might mean he is the one that makes small talk with guests and thanks everyone for coming out. Also, your wedding attendants are great allies for fielding requests, making introductions and organizing people, which are all things introverts generally find difficult. A day-of coordinator or wedding planner can also help you deal with vendors, so you don't have to."
9. Make sure you have plenty of time to chill before and after the wedding.
"Make a point of giving yourself at least a day of serious downtime before everything gets going so you can store up some energy," Dembling says. "Then, if you don't head out for your honeymoon right away, take another day or two after the last guest heads home to regroup and rest up. If you do leave for your honeymoon right away, try to schedule a few quiet days at the beginning to rest up before any sightseeing or other action."
Remember: This may be the only time in your life that you will be surrounded by this many friends and family on both sides.
"Don’t fight it," Dembling says. "Try to soak in the goodness of it. If anything is worth the effort, this is it. You can rest later."
And who knows, it may turn out to be much easier and much more wonderful than you ever anticipated.
"Here's what I was not expecting," Menendez says. "At some point, gratitude takes over and you are genuinely happy to be surrounded by so many people who you love and who love you."