The head thinks, the hands labor, but it’s the heart that laughs.

You know that moment in church when your sibling, sitting next to you, makes a funny face that no one else sees and you are trying so hard not to laugh out loud?  It’s church for Heaven’s sake and you don’t want to seem disrespectful, so you just hold it in.  Your hands clench, your body jumps up and down with vibrating breaths trying to keep yourself from having an outburst.  And the more you hold it in, the funnier it all seems escalating the problem immensely. The pastor starts to notice there’s something going on up in the balcony and your father is looking at you with stern “I mean it!” eyes, but nothing helps.

Or during a silent reading period during English class in tenth grade when you are all supposed to be reading “A Farewell to Arms” in preparation for the upcoming exam, but your friend two rows up passes you a note that says, “The teacher’s fly is down.”  Your internal giggle begins and you just start coughing to cover up the sound of your choked laughter.  Eventually the fake coughing induces real coughing and you get excused to get a drink of water. The minute you get outside the classroom, though, the laughter subsides. You get a drink from the fountain, but the minute you see the teacher and then glance at your friend, it all starts again.

This happens in important meetings at well. It’s the giggle that won’t die.  It’s that moment that seems maniacally funny for as long as you repress the chortle.  Once released, it evaporates.  Mostly.  (Shockingly, or not so I suppose these days, the Internet has several tips on how to prevent this phenomenon.)

This is usually a product of nerves. There are several moments on one’s wedding day that can be very nerve-wracking, but one that has everyone’s attention is during the recitation of the vows.  A few ways to combat the nerves during the ceremony include simple, destressing techniques that are helpful for any public speaking engagement:

  • Preparation! Practice your vows more than just at your rehearsal. Most prepared speakers never find themselves nervous because they already know how smooth and elegant they will sound.
  • Visualize yourself saying your vows perfectly with the best rhythm, tone, and charisma you can imagine.  If you see yourself saying them well, you are much more likely to do it right at the key moment!
  • Breathe. If you think you can’t speak, don’t. It’s a big commitment and if you need to take a deep breath, people are just assuming that you are reflecting on the solemnity of the moment. Take as long as you need.
  • Go with the moment: if you feel like you are going to laugh, just do it. Get it out! Once you’ve gotten the emotion out, take a pause and begin from scratch.  There’s nothing wrong with having these moments as they make your ceremony fun–laughter IS contagious!

These simple exercises might just save you from repeating this bride’s giggle fit during her vows.  Remember weddings are joyous occasions; if laughter occurs, embrace it with grace as a loving wedding filled with smiles and good memories.

**Title quote from Liz Curtis Higgs

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