Rhode Island Wedding Guide

Wedding Planning

Walking Down the Aisle

By Allison Moir-Smith, MA, Emotionally Engaged

"DON'T BE NERVOUS," the wedding coordinator will say, followed by the minister, your father, your sister, your maid-of-honor, and your flowergirl.

Are they NUTS? Are they the ones wearing a big, white dress? Are they about to make a lifelong commitment? In front of everyone they love? With all eyes on them?

Photo by Bammi Photography

"Don't be nervous" -- I think not.

I believe that anyone who tells a bride not to be nervous during the walk down the aisle is WRONG WRONG WRONG. Here are many reasons why:

  • It is one of the Big Moments of life.
  • It is a grand entrance.
  • It is silent.
  • It is ceremonial -- guests stand to honor you.
  • It is transformative -- it marks the ending of one life and the beginning of another.
  • It is sad -- just look at your Dad.
  • It is happy -- just look at your husband-to-be.
  • It is epic and ancient -- think of the millions of brides through the ages who have walked this walk before you.
  • It is the most photographed walk of your life.
  • It is life-changing and profound.

Tension is supposed to build
Even architecturally, the aisle acts as a funnel: taking the big feelings and funneling them into a smaller space, thereby turning up the emotional heat.

Solution: invite the nervousness
What to do? Invite the nervousness and tension to accompany you during your walk. It worked for me and my wedding party.

Before we walked down the aisle, I gathered my girls in a huddle and said, "Listen, we're supposed to be nervous. I am about to change my life in a huge way, and you guys are picking up on my feelings. Plus, walking alone, with all eyes on you -- that's stressful! So it's appropriate to be nervous. Don't fight it."

My Dad -- who, my older sisters reported, tends to chat down the aisle -- even succumbed to the nervousness and big feelings.

"How are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm sad and happy. Sad I'm losing you and happy I'm gaining a new son-in-law." It was exactly how I was feeling -- and had been feeling for much of my engagement. We had a real and lovely connection.

As we reached the entrance to the field where the ceremony was to take place, we saw that guests were standing.

"Oh my God," I panicked. "Did I not order enough chairs?"

"No, honey," Dad said. "They're standing for us."

We laughed, holding each other calmly and warmly down the meandering path to where Jason, weepy-eyed and moved, was waiting for me.

About the Author Allison Moir-Smith, MA is a psychotherapist, bridal counselor and author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the "Happiest" Time of Her Life. She's been featured on Today and Good Morning America and in Cosmopolitan and Elle. She offers individual bridal counseling and supportive group workshops. For more info: www.emotionallyengaged.com