If you’re having cold feet on the day of your wedding, you should probably call the whole thing off. Trust your gut. If you have any nagging doubts…then your doubts are probably right.
See? By reading that paragraph, we hope you realize how patently stupid that sounds. Of course you have cold feet. Of course you’re nervous. Of course you’re freaking out. This is normal. It’s like getting jittery before the S.A.T., your first day of work, or losing your virginity. (Not to up the ante, but this is a bigger deal than all three of those combined. It’s bigger than anything you’ve ever done. Ever. No pressure though. Relax.)
Feel better? Okay, maybe not. So, more specifically, here’s how to handle your various Holy Sh!t! moments of panic:
“Holy Sh!t!” Panic: I’m never having sex with another woman again. Ever.
Dude, Relax: We desire what we can’t have. Always. If, instead of getting married, you were screwing an endless parade of Victoria’s Secret models—a new one every week—you would quickly grow bored and wish you had a serious relationship. Just kidding. That would be awesome. You will not, however, be screwing a new lingerie model every week. But you will grow bored, grow lonely, and you will grow weird wrinkles and bald spots that only your wife will love. Don’t blow this.
On a more serious note…you’ve already done the hard part. You already got engaged. For most guys, the jump from boyfriend-to-fiancé is a harder transition than fiancé-to-husband. It’s sort of like when you train for a marathon, your longest training run is 20 miles; the theory is that if your body can handle a 20-mile run, then you’re guaranteed to survive 26 in the race itself. You’ve already completed 20 miles. You’ve done it. You’ve trained. You’re ready. The rest is your victory lap. Enjoy it.
“Holy Shi!t!” Panic: I’m gonna choke.
Dude, Relax: Two things. 1) You won’t. It’s natural to have stage fright. But when the time comes, you’ll be able to croak out a few simple words. Like a General turning a key to detonate a nuclear bomb, the physical act itself isn’t difficult, it’s the aftermath that has consequences. (Feel better?) 2) It doesn’t matter if you choke. This is idiot-proof. There’s almost nothing you can do wrong. Think about it. If you stumble over your words, people will swoon and think it’s so damn cute that you’re “overcome with emotion.” Short of groping her breasts or whacking the officiant across the face with a Bible, you’ll be fine.
“Holy Shi!t!” Panic: She’s not The One.
Dude, Relax: Maybe not. But then again…no one is. That’s too high a bar. She only needs to be One of the Many Ones Who Would Work Out Okay Enough. For the full discussion click here. As soon as you start having this panic attack, immediately go hang out with your groomsmen. Either vent to your best man—this is one day when men can talk about feelings—or distract yourself by shooting pool.
“Holy Shi!t!” Panic: No, no. You don’t get it. I’m really freaking out. Maybe we should call this off.
Dude, Relax: Be ruthlessly pragmatic. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that your darkest, most awful, most sinister fears all come to fruition. We’re talking the nightmare scenario: she’s wrong for you, this is a mistake, you’re not ready, you should have married Shannon McAdams from college—whatever.
Here’s the thing…it doesn’t matter. Not today. Even if your most evil demons are true and you’ll end up getting divorced, that’s something that will happen down the road. You can’t back out now. You have over 100 friends and family members who flew in for this sucker. The show must go on. Leaving your fiancée at the altar would scar her, poison your reputation, and haunt you for the rest of your life. It’s unthinkable. Better to just swallow your medicine today and get divorced tomorrow (metaphorically—obviously you need to wait a while.)
To clarify: this is unlikely. Years from now you will (probably) be happy, laugh at your anxiety, then grow old and die together. But even IF your nightmares are true, there’s nothing you can do about it today. So start out by going through the motions…and you’ll soon find that you’re actually having a good time.
Now, for a small, tiny, low percentage of guys…maybe deep down you actually HATE this woman, but somehow things spiraled out of control, snowballed, and you’re just going through the motions. This probably isn’t you. And you are probably just freaking out. If, in case of extreme emergency, you truly need to call off the wedding, click here.
Otherwise, you’re okay. Just don’t get her pregnant on the honeymoon. For advice on how not to get pregnant right away, click here.
“Holy Shi!t!” Panic: I cheated on her way back when. I never told her. But now…I feel guilty as hell. Before we get married I should tell her the truth.
Dude, Relax: Are you out of your goddamn mind? This is the happiest day of your fiancée’s life, and you want to slaughter it with a Truth Bomb? Never drop the T-Bomb. It’s selfish; it unburdens your guilt and it hurts her forever. Your grim duty is to carry this secret to your grave. Telling her would be like telling a four-year old on Christmas morning that there’s no Santa. Or telling a nun, on her deathbed, that there’s no God. What’s done is done. Click here for more advice on this one.
“Holy Shi!t!” Panic: Maybe I can do better.
Dude, Relax: You can’t. Just look at yourself. Seriously. Go to the mirror and take a hard, sober look. You’re lucky to have this woman. And you’ll be twice as lucky when you’re twice your age and have half as much hair.
Another potential complication on your wedding day: a hangover. As a pre-emptive strike, get some emergency advice.