Going for hike, yoga session help shake wedding jitters

For her wedding, Hannah Spinrad welcomed 250 guests to Greensboro, N.C., her hometown, on Memorial Day weekend. The guests stayed at the 1,500-acre Grandover Resort and enjoyed a stream of activities, from a golf tournament to snacking in the hospitality suite. The bride was always there to ensure that details were executed flawlessly and that guests were mingling and happy.

For a few hours on that Saturday, however, Spinrad, 30, who now lives in Atlanta with her husband, Kyle Spinrad, took a break from playing the perfect host to go on a 5-mile run with her father.

Escaping her guests to exercise may have seemed odd since she was already inundated with activities and wanted to be there for everyone. But this was her tradition with her dad, something she always did when she was home, and it was a chance for them to connect and relax.

In retrospect, it was one of the best decisions she made. Before the run, she felt stressed, worrying about how everything was going. Afterward, she had a clear head and a new perspective.

"Much of that weekend was a blur to me, but I actually remember that run," she said. "It was a sense of normalcy, a chance to say, 'Everyone is here, everyone is happy, and we're OK.' It was my relaxing moment." She didn't get upset even when she had to move the ceremony inside because of rain.

Most brides and grooms feel jittery, said Allison Moir-Smith, a psychotherapist based in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., who specializes in counseling brides-to-be.

Couples have the logistical stress of pulling off a wedding and dealing with all of the people and perspectives involved. They are also going through an emotional transformation. "You are making this profound identity change, and you are doing it in public, and you don't know how you are going to react," Moir-Smith said. "It's overwhelming, and that's OK. It should be."

Instead of being caught off guard by that tension, some brides and grooms are taking creative steps to calm themselves, some not all that far removed from carrying their teddy bears down the aisle.

Some, like Spinrad, are reserving time to exercise.

Ben Oberman, 32, a doctor in Durham, N.C., was particularly nervous about his wedding because some relatives disapproved of his fiancee, now his wife, Jacquelyn Scott Oberman. "I knew part of my family wasn't going to be there," he said. "I thought, was I alienating my family? Was everything going to be fine?"

Oberman and his best man took off on a hike in a petrified forest near the wedding site in Sonoma County, Calif. He shared his fears, rehearsed his vows and took in the natural beauty. By the end of the trail, he was ready to get married. "It was a soothing environment, and I was with someone I could trust and who would be there for me no matter what," he said.

Rachael Babington, a Manhattan yoga instructor, has received so many requests from women who wanted to attend a class before their weddings that she started the company Brides Love Yoga. In the busy summer, she has two clients a day. She arrives at sites with a yoga mat and shows brides poses that help to open their hearts and focus their minds.

Spinrad said it could be strange to do something restorative on your wedding day. "It's already a self-indulgent experience that is already supposed to be all about you, so you don't necessarily think you need to take time for yourself," she said. "But that means you have to do things to keep your perspective even more, because everything else seems like the biggest deal."

Before leaving for her rehearsal dinner at the Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y., in September, Claudia Davidson, 28, who works for UberEats in Washington, packed her clutch. Alongside her wallet and lip balm she put in a piece of her childhood blanket, which her late grandmother made.

"It's sort of something I take with me when I feel like I need backup," she said. "I knew I was going to be overwhelmed being in the center of attention, so it was nice to have a little sentimental keepsake in my purse just in case." She turned to it during her rehearsal dinner, but felt confident enough to forgo it on her wedding day.

Moir-Smith said: "I'll call that a transitional object. Bringing along something that brings you comfort, why not? You are feeling vulnerable."

Laurie Mehlman, 31, of Marietta, Ga., let her mother slip a red ribbon, an item that Jewish tradition says wards off evil, into her shoe before her wedding ceremony. "I had just started getting nervous, and having that little connection calmed me down," she said.

Her husband, Ross Mehlman, 30, had his own batch of nerves. "I think it was the to-do and everyone looking at you and you have to make a speech and everyone wants to talk to you that night," he said. He dealt with it by watching his college team play football on television with his groomsmen.

"It quickly morphed from me sitting in a temple in a conference room waiting for my wedding to me and my best friends sitting around chilling out," he said.

Some people ask mental health professionals to help them with their anxiety.

Hillary Evans, a hypnotherapist in Charleston, S.C., has brides come to her for many reasons: They want to lose weight and can't; they are fighting with relatives or friends; they are obsessing over details; or they are terrified of giving their speeches.

She uses traditional hypnosis to give them new perspectives. She teaches them how to visualize their success and slow down moments so they don't get out of control and can be savored.

High Profile on 04/02/2017

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