Pre-Wedding Jitters or Time to Cancel the Wedding?

illustration of cold feet at a wedding

The Spruce / Ashley Nicole DeLeon

Pre-wedding jitters, bridal nerves—call it what you what you will, most brides and grooms are nervous before a wedding. If you're feeling this way, try to relax and explore your feelings. Figuring out what's behind them will either lead you to a stronger and healthier marriage or save you from making a giant mistake. Either way, the time to deal with it is now.

A general sense of nervousness about a wedding is normal—after all, it's a life-altering step that you're taking. If you're feeling nervous and yet still excited, it's probably just the pre-wedding jitters.​

Signs That Point to Calling Off the Wedding

  • If you've discovered that your future spouse has a drug or alcohol problem and is not in recovery
  • If your future spouse has been violent towards you
  • If either one of you has been unfaithful or deceitful
  • If thinking about the wedding has given you feelings of dread rather than happiness for more than a month
  • If you differ on whether or not to have children
  • The majority of your friends don't like your future spouse
  • If you're only going through with it because you will be too embarrassed to call it off, or you're worried about hurting your fiancé

Wedding Planning Stress Disguised as Jitters

Try to differentiate between being stressed about wedding planning and being stressed about the marriage. Worrying about small details doesn't mean that you shouldn't marry the person you love; instead, perhaps it's a sign that you need more help or that you should scale down the event. There's always the option of eloping.

Strategies for Overcoming Pre-Wedding Jitters

  • Spend some time writing down your fears. You may find that once they are on paper, they become silly. If not, write down possible solutions to each problem, should it become true. For example, fears over a loss of identity could have solutions such as not changing your name, taking up new hobbies, or reserving one night a week post-marriage for "girls night" or "boys night."
  • Differentiate whether your jitters are stress over getting married in general or questions about this specific relationship.
  • Take a break from wedding planning—it will all be there when you're ready to move on.
  • Designate at least one night weekly as a "wedding-free zone" where you do not talk about the wedding at all.
  • Spend some time writing about the happiest moments of your relationship, perhaps including your first dates, when you fell in love, and the story of your engagement.
  • Write down all the good things about being a married person.
  • Talk to happily married couples and ask them the secrets of their success.
  • Visit an individual or couples therapist.
  • Talk to your priest, rabbi, or a trusted friend.
  • Rekindle the romance—go away for a romantic weekend, make dinner for each other, spend time pampering one another.

When Your Future Spouse Has Pre-Wedding Jitters

Your fiancé's doubts can be extremely hurtful and hard to deal with. If the shoe is on the other foot, do your best to understand that it's not necessarily about you or their feelings for you, but may instead be many of the things we've discussed above. Ultimately, you want your future spouse to be confident walking down the aisle that you're "the one," but try not to panic or put undue pressure on your loved one. You can steer your fiancé to articles such as this one and ask him to go to couples counseling with you. You may also wish to postpone the wedding until you are both equally sure that this is the right step for you.