So there appears to be this wedding coming up.

Your wedding? Uh, actually – no. I’m talking about the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. But stay with me – because I really do want to talk about your wedding. But let’s start with the royals, shall we?

Every day there’s more news about the Royal Wedding over here in the States, but I can only imagine that the Brits are beside themselves with anticipation. The last time this happened (when Harry’s brother Prince William married Catherine Middleton in 2011) over 3 billion people were watching. Three. Billion. With a “B”…

So – with that many people gushing over the “tele” and the thousands that will line the streets up to St. George’s Chapel you might expect that Harry and Meghan are just a wee bit nervous, right?

There may not be 3 billion people watching your wedding, but went the time comes and the music starts, the chances are you’ll be a wee bit nervous too. Ok – maybe a wee bit more than a wee bit, eh?

Well, while you may not have a cast of hundreds involved in the ceremony like these two love birds will, there are still ways that you too can still stay cool, calm and collected on your big day. And most of these start with the planning of the ceremony itself.

So here are some ways that Prince Harry, Meghan and you – can stay cool, calm and collected during your ceremony.

  1. Have a ceremony that tells your love story. Having a ceremony that speaks to you and your partner is one of the best ways to make sure you can get through the process of the wedding ceremony. Make sure that your officiant gets to know you both well enough to be able to insert tidbits and anecdotes of your relationship, engagement, etc. into the service so that your guests get to know more about you two, and why you have decided to send the rest of your lives together. Everyone, including you – are more relaxed when this happens.
  2. Make if fun! I don’t think there is anything worse that a stuffy wedding. Your officiant should be able to sprinkle little things throughout the ceremony to get you (and your guests) chuckling, even laughing out loud! I always ask my couples for funny stories, fun facts, etc. that I can use to liven the mood and help calm your nerves during the big event. Sometimes, it just happens spontaneously. Like the time I was speaking during an outdoor service about how your wedding day flies so now was the time to take it all in – and an airplane came over the venue quite loudly! So, my exact words were “Weddings – like airplanes – tend to fly by!!” Folks were rolling in the aisles and the bride and groom immediately became calm and relaxed.
  3. Know what to expect. You should know exactly what is going to happen during the ceremony and when. You should know what will happen first, second, third. One of the best ways to do this is to participate in the creation of the ceremony itself. Spend time with your officiant to understand exactly what will be said, who will say, and when. For example, if you’re planning to do something like a Sand Ceremony, will it be before the vows, between the vows and the ring exchange, or after the ring exchange? Knowing what to expect – and what’s coming next – from the beginning to the end of the ceremony will give you the calming confidence that you can get through it – and – it will help you stay “in the moment”.
  4. Practice your vows. The vows can be one of the most beautiful parts of the ceremony – and one of the most stressful! If you’re writing your own vows, good for you!! To help you reduce the stress of speaking your own vows to each other, have your officiant review your vows and those of your partner (separately of course) and make suggestions regarding content and length. For example, both of your verbal vows should last about the same amount of time, and be filled with love and laughter. Like “I love you even when you (do that thing that you do that I can’t stand)”. If you’re writing your own, or if you’re repeating your vows after the officiant, it’s a good idea to practice speaking them (out loud!) so you get an idea of what everything will sound like. No surprises during the vows will mean more calmness throughout the ceremony.
  5. Make sure you have a rehearsal. I repeat – make SURE you have a rehearsal. The more you plan to have in your wedding party, the higher the risk that no one will know what to do at the right time, and someone is likely to do the wrong thing at the wrong time. Either your planner, day-of coordinator, or your officiant can help make sure that everyone knows what to do and when. Many less things to worry about when everyone is on the same page. Your nerves will thank you!
  6. Avoid alcohol before the ceremony. Yes, this a radical approach, and many brides and grooms may not agree, but in my experience the more you drink before the ceremony the less “in the moment” you’ll be during one of the most important days in your life. Remember, cameras will be rolling (and posted on Facebook and Instagram in an instant) and no one will want to tell their grandkids “well darling, I don’t really remember – I was too drunk at the time…”

Your job on your wedding day? Your job is to get married. PERIOD. All the planning, all the vendors, all the details have played themselves out and it comes down to you and your partner, expressing your love and commitment to each other and everyone there to witness. While 3 billion people may not be watching, those most important to you will be, and the most important of them will be that prince or princess standing next to you, holding your hand and looking into your eyes. Yes, your wedding day and the ceremony itself has the tendency to make you nervous. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Ben Poston is a Wedding Officiant in Raleigh, NC.