Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: Did you have cold feet shortly before getting married? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
I was in my wedding dress. My hair was done. Shoes strapped. Makeup fabulous. Bridesmaids lovely.
Errant guests had been shooed from the vicinity, so I emerged from the prep room into the evening air to line up for the processional. My sisters were in front of me; my stepfather beside me; my nearest and dearest friends and family around the corner in their white plastic folding chairs.
I knew my fiance would be standing before them all, cute in his suit, a little restless with all those eyes on him, anxious for me to appear and join him in the spotlight so the attention didn’t fall on him and him alone. I was thinking about the uneven ground and my high heels. It wouldn’t do to turn an ankle or trip and go sprawling.
Do I know where all the gopher holes are? Can I manage the walk without staring at the–
My mother put my bouquet in my hands.
Holy shit. This is happening. Really. Really happening. Right now.
It wasn’t cold feet. It was cold everything, a frigid snap of adrenaline that pulsed just under my skin from tip to toe.
What the fuck am I doing? What the fuck was I thinking? Why did I think I should do this? Could do this? I’m not a person who does this. There’s been some mistake.
Then the music changed. My cue. No mistake. My stomach lurched. My eyes prickled. My sisters disappeared around the corner, and my parents were each taking one of my arms. And just as quickly as panic had jolted through me a half a moment earlier, calm settled in. I wish I could say it was blissful serenity — more like placid resignation.
It’s too late to turn back. I guess I have to do this. The only way out is through.
We took a step, and another, and then we turned the corner. All faces had turned to see me, but I avoided their eyes. My parents had my elbows and helped me navigate the broken soil and patchy grass; I tried to keep my head up, thinking of the photographer, thinking I should at least get some good pictures out of this. The white plastic folding chairs parted for us and inevitably, irrevocably, there he was.
Can’t let him see the truth. Brave face. Smiling bride.
We turned to each other, a few steps apart. He held out his hands, and I filled them with my hands, which felt like they belonged to someone else. I was going to start crying at any second — not with tiny, joyful tears sliding gracefully down my powdered cheeks, but with heaving, panicked sobs that would double me over and choke me. Our eyes met.
He can see it. My fear. My doubt. Fuck. I’ve ruined everything. I’ve hurt him, and ruined this day and all the days to come with my–
Keeping his gaze steady with mine, he smiled a small, warm smile of ease and welcome. So subtle that no one could notice it but me, he nodded. Wordlessly, he told me,
I know. It’s okay. You can do this.
I did start crying then — not with wracking, helpless sobs, but silently, overcome with incredulous gratitude. I realized that I could and should do this, and I remembered why I would.