You don’t need me to tell you that weddings bring out a big ball of frazzled nerves and debilitating anxiety in a ton of people, even if they are only tangentially involved.
What you might not realize is that some of that anxiety can’t even be traced to an obvious cause. Take, for example, this letter to advice columnist Carolyn Hax:
“My older brother and only sibling is getting married in 15 days, and I’m getting more and more anxious the closer it gets. I can’t seem to find a concrete reason for my nerves. I’ve known my soon to be sister-in-law since I was 14 (I’m 24 now). I’m not a bridesmaid, but am doing a reading for the ceremony. Our respective families get along. I have my dress, shoes, flights and everything set for it. It’s the first major wedding on our parents’ sides in more than 20 years, so I think I would be excited. Do you have any suggestions?”
Here, everything is hunky-dory and the writer is still full of anxiety, and not even excited. This isn’t surprising, because big things happening to us – even unambiguously good things – often trigger anxiety.
Secondly, it’s important to understand that while big events trigger anxiety, they don’t, I submit, cause them.
No, the anxiety is caused by our stupid, traitorous brains.
Take it from someone with a diagnosed anxiety disorder –life changes, worries, scares, thoughts…they aren’t causing the suffering, our reaction to those things are causing the suffering.
More succinctly, from my shrink: Your thoughts aren’t the problem, your reaction to them is.
So what the hell does all this mean for you, as a wedding professional?
Besides the fact that (hopefully) this perspective might help you deal with your own anxiety and therefore do your job better, you also are in a unique position to help ameliorate the anxiety of your clients.
But you want specific hacks. Very well:
Offer To Let The Anxious/Frazzled Party Rant To You
Everyone likes to get stuff off their chest. It’s cathartic.
So offer to listen, without judgment.
Then do that, and just as importantly, do not give advice unless you are asked.
In this particular situation, you are there to listen and only to listen. I mean, sure, make sympathetic noises and appropriate supportive/listening phrases, but no more.
Encourage And Practice Mindfulness
If you do find yourself in a situation where it is appropriate to give anxiety advice, tell them about mindfulness.
What is mindfulness? I like to say it starts with this concept: “You’re thinking too much. Try sensing instead.”
The idea is to pull yourself out of your anxiety by really paying close attention to your (sensory) feelings. How your shoes feel on your feet. What the air smells like. How your fingers feel. How this gummy bear tastes.
When a thought, anxious or not, enters your head, gently and non-judgmentally let it dissipate and go back to sensing. You will have to do gently push out those thoughts over and over and over. Don’t get discouraged or tell yourself you’re doing a bad job.
Make sense? Good, because you just learned the basic foundation of meditation.
Do Your Job
Of course, you are in a unique position to help allay anxieties in a much more specific way, and that’s by executing your duties ably.
If your clients have specific worries about the task they hired you for, so much the better, because you can respond to them with specific answers. Use that ability to make it very clear that you understand their concerns and will delivery worry-free solutions. Explain those solutions.
Your clients are fallible humans, capable of being unreasonable, impetuous, and short-tempered, just like you.
Remember that always, and always respond the way you like to be responded to when you’re unreasonable, impetuous, and short-tempered. That’s all.