Yesterday, I was in the wedding of my best friend growing up. Before she dropped me off, my mother comforted me with the fact that this special day would be both difficult and wonderful. “Everyone is nervous at weddings,” she reminded me. “Perhaps not as anxious as you but all people experience some of what you are going through right now.”
She was right. Watching my wonderful friend walking down the aisle through tear-filled eyes, jamming out to “Single Ladies” with her and the other bridesmaids one last time, meeting new people, seeing old friends who were practically family – the past two days brought many memories that I will cherish forever. In comparison, the terror of eating in front of everyone, being the only bridesmaid to eat lunch, and all of the people making noise seems dull and unimportant.
That is not to say that things were easy. Many times, I wanted to find a quiet, dark place to hide in for a few hours. However, this experience was wonderful for the most part. Even when I struggled, I remembered the reason for being there was my friend Ruth. After all we have been through together, watching her dress like a princess and gaze lovingly at her now husband filled me with joy. No matter how hard it had been, I would have stayed there by her side. Thankfully, the work toward recovery that I have done made these two days far easier and more enjoyable than I thought they might be. My family’s encouragement, friends’ support, and Ruth’s understanding all helped me through this experience as well.
Yet, being a bridesmaid is not a simple task. The nerves of looking beautifully, walking down the aisle with a (potentially) strange man, standing in front of hundreds of people, not tripping in your heels and dress – the list of anxieties go on and on. These are hard for anyone. However, those who struggle with an eating disorder, anxiety, depression, aspergers, PTSD, bipolar, SIB, or other mental/emotional illness have even more fears.
Thus, I compiled a short list of things that I learned from being a bridesmaid. Some of these suggestions can also relate to being at weddings in general. My survival guide will be something that I hope to use in the future and continue adding to as I am in more weddings. If you have any suggestions, please post them in a comment.
- Eat three normal meals even if others do not. This might be miserable but in the long run, it is helping you care for yourself. Plus, you are less likely to overeat at the reception if you feed yourself regularly throughout the day.
- Take the amount of food that you need regardless of who is watching you eat. People are not watching or judging you as much as you fear. However, this can be very difficult. Thus, try your hardest to have what your body needs both in quantity and variety. However, do not push yourself over the edge. Maybe have most of your meal at the wedding but eat a bit afterward to make up for skimping there.
- If you have scars on your body from self-harm, find a way to cover them. If that is not possible, put lotion on your skin and walk with confidence. People might not even notice what you think is extremely apparent.
- Stay at the reception only as long as you can manage. If you are too overwhelmed, going into a manic state, or suffering from a panic attack, allow yourself to leave early.
- Ask someone for a copy of the schedule. Knowing when things are happening relieves a lot of anxiety.
- Be sure to get enough sleep and rest. Even if others are staying up late, give yourself permission to go to bed a responsible time.