How can I not cry - wedding officiant edition
June 2, 2015 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I am officiating at my dear friends' wedding and just writing the ceremony text is making me tear up. I cry really easily. How can I avoid sobbing all the way through the ceremony?

I've given speeches at weddings and I've wept in all of them, it's not so bad in a speech because it's short and you can scuttle back to your table pretty soon, but it's a different story here - I need to hold it together enough to marry these guys and do it properly.

So, I am open to all suggestions, but they had better be good because my tearducts bet you fifty bucks that they can beat any mindfulness or deep breathing techniques that you can think of.
posted by greenish to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a mega super crier. In my family it is said that our tear ducts connect to our bladders as that is the only way we'd be able to cry that much. I also have the added bonus of hyperventilating when I cry, so I am pretty much a weeping disaster.

Go over the entire ceremony so many times that you have it memorized and you are sick to death of it. When you are going over it try to really get "in the moment" and let yourself cry over it BEFORE. Own it and get it all out. Then go through it another 15 times until you're all out of emotions to emote and the ceremony is just words.

Also, give yourself to properly lose it weeping AFTER, so you can remind yourself if need be that this isn't SUPPRESSING emotion, it is just delaying it a bit. I weirdly feel more able to control things if I know I'll be able to cry it out later.

This is how I made it through my own wedding ceremony without ugly crying.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:18 AM on June 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Practice it SO MUCH that it becomes boring. Do it in front of your computer or phone with your video turned on (not recording, just so you can see yourself), OVER and OVER and OVER.

::edit:: I suppose practicing in front of a mirror would work as well, if you wanna be all lo-fi about it.
posted by erst at 9:20 AM on June 2, 2015

Best answer: In the alleged words of Laurence Olivier, "try acting". You're not going to be greenish, trusted friend of the lovely couple, whom you've watched grow together in love etc. You're going to be The Officiant. In your mind, step outside (or above) the nexus of feelings in your stomach (this is a kind of visual-kinaesthetic mental trick, I don't know how to explain it better than "stepping outside", sorry!) and remind yourself that your role is to deliver the words, a responsibility bigger than your tear ducts. (It'll probably be ok if you leak a little near the end, though.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:24 AM on June 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Memorization is very helpful. Reading things can be a little act of discovery, emotionally re-engaging each time you read it again.

I have seen sob-fest-friend officiants, it’s not good or cute, and the priest from the church in question came up and took over mid-ceremony.

Practice a lot, preform the ceremony over and over, get stand-ins for the couple. This is what I do when officiating to keep shit together and smooth, but I am very much not a crier. (I do it to avoid mincing words or mumbling)
posted by French Fry at 9:27 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't get into the words - just read them. It's far better to read them with less oomph and inflection and emotion than to cry. Read them well, read them professionally, but try not to connect with the words.

And don't think too much.

I am not a cry-er.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 9:34 AM on June 2, 2015

I think rehearsing it many times, with the couple, will be key. And I love the idea of intentionally "acting" the part.
posted by amaire at 9:58 AM on June 2, 2015

From personal experience I was so worried about f-ing up the ceremony I went all robot during the ceremony. They were just words and procedures that I had to perform correctly. I guess it all came down to me thinking "This is their day, don't fuck it up." and being so concerned with that that there was no room for emotions.
posted by Gungho at 10:04 AM on June 2, 2015

also, water. If you start to choke up, drink a sip of water. You can't cry and drink water at the same time.
posted by janey47 at 10:25 AM on June 2, 2015

I am huge, HUGE cryer, and recently managed to only get faintly misty-eyed during my daughter's bat mitzvah. What I figured out in the week before the event: noticing that tight feeling in my chest right when I would normally start to cry, then taking a deep breath and relaxing/exhaling into that feeling. Also, gently refocusing on the ephemeral happiness of the moment and not allowing my brain to ruminate on what it all means in any sense. It's a kind of mindfulness training for me to focus on momentary happiness and not the weight of significance behind what's happening. Maybe have a read through the speech and see if this works for you?
posted by Andrhia at 10:47 AM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

I agree with PuppetMcsockerson, practice it and give yourself a chance to really get into the crying thing. Get it out of your system. Then practice a few more times until you feel it's not quite emotionally packed anymore.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:36 AM on June 2, 2015

I agree with lots and lots of practice, until you are just reciting the words and not even thinking them. If you do start to tear up, pause for a second and push your tongue hard up against the roof of your mouth. I'm not sure why, but that works for me.
posted by thejanna at 11:45 AM on June 2, 2015

Agreed with practice. Our officiant gave us this advice for our vows (because I am also a big crier) and it worked. I teared up during various parts of the ceremony but made it through the vows just fine.

Also - although you don't want to sob through the whole ceremony, obviously, I think showing emotion and choking up a little is TOTALLY FINE (and sweet). Our officiant choked up a little bit while giving us her "words to the couple", and it was lovely and just telling of both who she is and her long-standing relationship with both of us. So a little crying is not the end of the world unless it's totally preventing you from giving the speech.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:04 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Related anecdata:

I write. When I draft a heavy/emotional scene, I often make myself cry. The only way to be able to actually edit it properly is to go back over it enough times that I exhaust my own empathy/feels response and can then bring the gimlet-eyed editor me to bear on the text.

So those who are telling you that practice/repetition is the key here have it. Do it and cry, over and over, until you've cried those feelings out.
posted by oblique red at 2:41 PM on June 2, 2015

Rehearse and get it in your mind that your blubbering will ruin the ceremony for your friends. And guests aren't there to watch your self-indulgence or become uncomfortable. To be even blunter, get yourself together. A minor trick or two: a. Jam your nails into your palms at a painful level and stay focused...they're only words; b. detach yourself, as if you're a stranger watching an alien activity.
posted by Lornalulu at 3:39 PM on June 2, 2015

Major crier here. I love the acting suggestion. If I'm in a situation where I'm going to start crying I try to mentally step out of it into a more boring place but I haven't tried that with still being present enough to read. So lots of practice, then lots of practice doing it as another character. Maybe even practice it while listening to sob inducing music of your choice. You want to wring out all your emotions so the words have no connection to your dear friends.

If worst comes to worst I find opening my eyes really wide and kind of looking up helps stop the first tears fall and not letting myself start crying is key to keeping control.
posted by kitten magic at 8:47 PM on June 2, 2015

Response by poster: Dropping in for a follow-up - I did it! Did the whole ceremony and pronounced them married, then totally teared up, which was fine as no-one cared at that point :)

To assist anyone in the future - practice was the main thing. I read the ceremony out loud from start to finish at least once every two days, for three or four weeks before the date. I also read it to my long-suffering partner who critiqued it for me, which was EXTREMELY helpful.

One thing that basically saved my ass was that there was a very long reading quite soon into the ceremony. While that was happening, the initial nerves (which were so bad I nearly puked) had time to calm down and I took a lot of deep breaths. So if this is you, try and engineer someone else doing something early on in the ceremony so you can collect your thoughts!
posted by greenish at 3:55 AM on October 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

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