My partner and I are super different in our feelings about people, parties, and attention. He's very mellow, very emotionally private, and he doesn't really like people to pay attention to him. I'm very excitable, very emotionally open, and I love attention from my loved ones. The contrast is great for our relationship: we balance each other out.
However, in planning a celebration of our love, our differences are coming into even greater focus. I am so jazzed about the idea of standing up in front of everyone and proclaiming my love for him, while the thought of doing that in front of a bunch of people makes him deeply uncomfortable. How do we design a celebration that lets him maintain his emotional privacy and lets me express my love in front of our guests?
Extroverts, Type-As, and those who enjoy being the center of attention usually get the easy path when it comes to enjoying their wedding day. Introverts can have an internal conflict over wanting to celebrate themselves and their relationship, while struggling to be comfortable in the spotlight. I can personally totally relate to that.
This is also true when it comes to folks who identify as neurodivergent — some of us are very excited to get married, but not so sure about the attention and social over-stimulation of a wedding.
Here are some of our best tips for accommodating both sides of the coin and planning an introvert-friendly wedding:
Consider a more private ceremony
Introverts and shy folks can blend into a reception far more easily than at the front of a ceremony, which is likely from where a lot of the anxiety will stem. Consider a more private/smaller ceremony and a larger reception, to give a compromise to the day. Reading vows in front of a huge group can be a real palm-sweating moment, even for the most outgoing among us.
Try a seated ceremony
Who says you have to stand around, locking your knees (guilty myself), and sweating it out standing up during your ceremony? Create a big circle of pillows, a couple of chairs together, or even a cushy loveseat on which to say your vows. Someone show me a ceremony sitting on a big papasan chair, please!
Keep things short
This is especially true for ceremonies, but can totally be applicable to receptions. Aim to keep your vows short and sweet, and your reception as short as it needs to be to make sure nobody loses their cool somewhere in the fourth hour.
Compromise on formality
Maybe the formal aspects of the day are feeling restrictive to your more shy partner. If this is the case, consider toning down the formality and allowing a little more freedom in the structure of the day, the attire, and ceremony, if that's cool in your cultural needs. If they'd feel better in something other than a tuxedo, make it happen.
Allow downtime for both of you & a quiet room
If you opt for a higher-exposure ceremony, allow for downtime before and after to recharge and chill before the reception. Actually, do this no matter how many guests watch your ceremony. The Jewish tradition of yichud allows for alone time after the ceremony and we dig it.
Also plan specific times during the reception to step away and get calm. Venues can often provide a room or an alcove to which to retreat — consider making a quiet room! Keep that in mind when venue searching.
Allow for sexy times instead
Find what soothes your anxious soul and use it. Maybe it's sexy times. We've talked a little about post-ceremony or mid-reception canoodling, and fully support any and all coitus in which you want to indulge.
Nominate someone to protect your space
Guests really really want to talk to you, hug you, dance with you, take pictures with you… and who can blame them? You're the hero of the day. Nominating a friend or wedding party member to snag you away when needed (maybe with a quick help text?) can save you from being too bombarded when you really need a break. They can come over and “need” you for “important” wedding “business.”
Keep your guests busy
Another way to prevent being constantly hounded by loving guests is to provide activities to keep them busy and entertained. This could be games, karaoke, photo booths, etc. You can hang out with guests while doing an activity which can be much less full o' pressure than standing around talking.
More tips for introverts
What suggestions do YOU have for making a safe space for those who shy away from the crowds?