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Yes, Having Wedding Nightmares Is Totally Normal

Yes, I admit it, I've been dreaming about my ex. Typically, the scenario involves a wedding in which I'm marrying him, not my fiancé.
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There are many annoying things that people don't tell you about wedding planning. Like, how wedding coordinators may try to shame you out of using Pachelbel Canon in D because it's too stereotypical. Or, how those free cake tastings you've been looking forward to aren't actually free. Or even how your fiancé will tell you he has no opinion about anything only to suddenly become very opinionated indeed about the most random details.

Oh, and how planning a wedding will literally give you nightmares.

My fiancé and I have just hit our five-months-to-go mark after getting engaged over a year ago. And while I can recount a number of bad dreams from which I've awoken, terrified, that the wedding we've been planning turned out to be a complete disaster, I have yet to have a happy one about our impending nuptials. This worries me.
To give you a sense of what these dreams are about, here's a brief list:

1. That my (in real life very sweet) future mother-in-law demands I wear a different wedding dress and I comply because I don't want her to be mad at me.
2. That I forget to get my wedding dress tailored and thus, can't wear it because it pools in yards of extra fabric at my feet.
3. That my fiancé and I spend our entire wedding looking for each other, unable to reunite.
4. That the wedding happened but I can't remember any of it.

Sure, these aren't nightmares in the traditional sense--I'm not dreaming of, say, a serial killer chopping up our wedding guests while they're dining on tri-tip or anything like that. But, after looking forward to our wedding day pretty much since I started dating my fiancé (like a total weirdo), and after having over a year to plan the actual event, I feel deeply emotionally invested in the outcome of the day itself. Which, I imagine is pretty typical of brides-to-be.

It's this investment that's likely causing the nightmares, if dream research has anything to say about it: In the 1950s, psychology professor Calvin Hall found that we use dreams to explore what concerns us in our waking hours, albeit in a way that's not always rooted in reality. More recently, sleep researcher Rosalind D. Cartwright theorized in her book, The Twenty-four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives, that dreams actually regulate our negative emotions, allowing us to process them and, hopefully, transcend our fears.

Plus, my gender is also to blame: According to a study by the University of Montreal, inter-personal conflicts and emotional drama is more common in women's dreams. Meaning that I suppose I shouldn't feel totally insane for having these bad dreams.

Another thing that makes me feel better is knowing that I'm not the only one. Before one of my best friends married her boyfriend of nearly a decade, she had a recurring nightmare in which her upper arms swelled to the size of watermelons. And my college roommate, who's getting married less than two months before I am, has been having a different kind of wedding-related nightmare, one that I can relate to all too well: The ex dreams.

Yes, I admit it, I've been dreaming about my ex. Typically, the scenario involves a wedding in which I'm marrying him, not my fiancé. Or I wake up, in the dream world, only to see that my ex is lying next to me. Or, I'm told that I need to choose between my current man and my former one, both of them standing before me.

I wake up from these dreams panicked, as you might imagine. But, rather than making me question my love for my fiancé--as dreaming about one's ex can certainly do--these nightmares only reaffirm my appreciation and love for the man I'm about to marry. Because every time "dream Natasha" is forced to pick one or the other, she (I) always chooses my future husband. (Thank goodness, right?)

So, while I'm sure these wedding nightmares will continue (they've become more frequent the closer our date gets) I just need to remind myself that these latent fears are playing out because I really care about our wedding--these bad dreams are simply an inevitable part of the process. Just like my fiancé's spontaneous feelings about signature cocktails.

A version of the post originally appeared on Robbins Brothers' Fully Engaged blog