Having Dreams About Your Wedding? Here's What They Mean
We get it—you have a lot on your mind in the months leading up to your wedding day. In addition to following your wedding checklist, you're likely trying to plan your honeymoon, keep in contact with vendors, and remain organized, all while trying to enjoy the experience and ensure it goes off without a hitch. With so much pressure and excitement surrounding your big day, there's a good chance you'll have a few dreams about weddings.
In fact, wedding dreams can be common at any stage of your life, regardless of whether you're actively planning your nuptials. But, with a wedding in your near future, it's most likely on your mind quite frequently, which is bound to manifest in wedding-related dreams.
So, what does it mean when you dream of a wedding? We tapped two industry pros to share more about common wedding dream meanings.
Meet the Experts:
Layne Dalfen, known as The Dream Analyst, is a dream expert and founder of the Dream Interpretation Center. Throughout her career, spanning over four decades, she has written and lectured about the idea that dreams can make people better problem-solvers, smarter decision-makers, and masters at managing stress. Her work has appeared in a variety of outlets, and she's also the in-house Dream Catcher at Oprah Daily.
Jennifer Hettema, Ph.D., is the Senior Clinical Director at LifeStance Health, a provider of virtual and in-person outpatient mental health care. A licensed clinical psychologist, she has also taught courses at The University of Virginia and The University of New Mexico.
Below, we share seven of the most common wedding dreams real couples have, along with their correlation to real life.
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What Does it Mean When You Dream About a Wedding?
Although it's impossible to say for certain, researchers believe it's likely that everyone dreams, even if you don't remember yours when you wake up the next morning. But, as it turns out, dreams aren't just about having an active imagination—they're examples of conversations we have with ourselves. "A dream is an interior conversation that takes place between your unconscious and your conscious mind," Dalfen says. "Every dream is triggered by something that happened to you (or that you thought about) the day before."
And, according to Dalfen's expertise, dreams aren't always meant to be taken literally. "Beyond dream analysis, I teach the language of metaphor," she tells us. "Once you understand what you're talking to yourself about, you can find the solution, because this appears in your dream every single time. In fact, we get the solution in our unconscious mind before it comes to the conscious mind. And if you can understand what you're saying to yourself, you can get it faster."
You might find that your dreams become much more vivid or memorable as you plan your nuptials, because dreams have a direct link to your mental health or the state of stress you're under. "Our mental health can impact our dreams in a few different ways," Hettema explains. "Elevated emotions like anxiety and stress can negatively impact the amount and quality of sleep that we get by preventing high-quality, restful sleep. Even positive life events, like an engagement or wedding, can be stressors. Mental health also seems to impact the content of dreams, as we are more likely to have positive emotions in our dreams when we are experiencing mental well-being and negative emotions when we are experiencing anxiety."
If you seem to be having strange dreams as you plan your wedding, you're not alone—and there's scientific evidence to prove why. But, what you might not realize is that your wedding dreams aren't always necessarily about the actual wedding day. Instead, the meaning of dreams can be tied to a variety of factors in your personal life. "When someone is getting married and they're having anxiety dreams, I open up the door to say that this is not always literal," Dalfen says. "Dreams are metaphoric. Sometimes, it might have wedding imagery, but it could be about something else in your life that has to do with making a vow to yourself."
Common Wedding Dream Meanings
So, what does it mean when you dream about a wedding? It might be tied to the actual event, or, as Dalfen explains, there may be other elements in your life that are causing you stress or pressure which manifest in wedding dream symbols. "Any dream about a wedding is related to a certain level of pressure," she says. "We have anticipation and expectation of perfection for a wedding, so this is an overall theme for any wedding dream."
To help people understand their dreams and find the solutions, Dalfen created a system of six "points of entry" to analyze what they really mean:
- Plays on words or puns
- Symbols and metaphors
Determining which point of entry your dream uses will help you uncover the underlying wedding dream meaning. Below, she uses the six points of entry to explain the most common wedding dream meanings.
The Dream: Something's Wrong with Your Wedding Outfit
Perhaps you had a dream that something was wrong with your wedding dress or tuxedo—maybe you arrived at your wedding in a gown that wasn't white, or you discovered a tear in your suit right before you walked down the aisle. Your first instinct when you wake up might be to follow up with your designer or tailor to ensure that everything is good to go. But, in actuality, having a wedding dream about your outfit being wrong really comes down to preparation for something else in your life. "Look at the plot of your dream, along with what has been going on in the last couple of days in your life," Dalfen says. "The plot is that you're showing up to the wedding and you thought you were prepared—but you're not, because there's something wrong about the way you presented yourself."
As Dalfen explained above, this type of dream doesn't necessarily have a direct tie to your wedding ceremony. "The theme of this dream is all about being prepared," she says. "You might have a dream like this if you didn't speak up about something you prepared to say, or if something in your life didn't work out the way you expected it to. This dream is your way of realizing that something did not turn out properly."
The Dream: No One Shows Up to Your Wedding
Having nightmares about walking down an empty aisle? This wedding dream is downright upsetting. And, because it evokes a strong feeling about how you want your big day to turn out, get in touch with your emotions to understand why you had this dream. "We need to look at the feeling point of entrance for this dream," Dalfen says. 'If no one shows up to your wedding in your dream, that probably makes you feel sad and rejected, which presents the question: What's going on in your life that makes you feel rejected, left out, or not paid attention to? If people are not paying attention or showing up to your wedding, that's a rejection dream. It could also be tied to a surprise rejection you recently experienced in your life."
The Dream: You're Late to Your Own Wedding
Figuring out your day-of timeline is one of the most important wedding planning tasks to complete. After all, you'll need a clear itinerary to make sure everything runs smoothly. If you're having a wedding dream about being late to your nuptials, that's a good sign that you might be procrastinating something in your waking life. "This dream has an action point of entry because it's all about being late," Dalfen says. "Not only is this about somewhere you're expected to be by others, it's certainly something you would have expected yourself to be on time for. What's going on in your life that you expected of yourself, or that others expected of you? Are you procrastinating on something in your waking life that you made a commitment to?"
This ties back into Dalfen's explanation of how vows to yourself manifest in wedding dreams. If you've made a commitment or a promise to yourself that you're now procrastinating, this can result in a dream that you're late to your wedding. If this dream is particularly bothersome, though, it won't hurt to touch base with your planner or coordinator and make sure your day-of timeline is in its best shape to give yourself some peace of mind.
The Dream: You Can't Find Your Wedding
You most likely secured your wedding venue months ago... but what does it mean when you have a dream that you can find the spot where you're supposed to exchange your "I dos?" Maybe you're running through corridors and buildings to find the altar, or perhaps you're in the wrong city (or country) altogether. This dream can be downright stressful, but Dalfen says that it's packed with meaning. "There's a huge message in this dream because your unconscious is trying to grab your attention," she says. "If you can't find your wedding, the bottom line is that you're having trouble finding your vow or commitment in real life."
Do some thoughtful introspection to think about how you may be missing a commitment you made to yourself. Maybe you wanted to make your prewedding wellness routine a priority, and it fell to the wayside because you've been too busy. You may also be struggling with a work commitment or a loved one. The real meaning of this dream lies in the fact that you're missing a huge part of your real life, and it's up to you to find it.
The Dream: You Lost Your Wedding Rings
Here's another common wedding dream meaning. If you wake up feeling stressed because you couldn't find your engagement ring or wedding bands in your dream, Dalfen says the explanation is similar to the one above. The experience of being lost in any wedding dream means that you can't find a vow or commitment you made to yourself in real life. And if it makes you feel better, you can always get in touch with the family member, bridesmaid or groomsman who's going to hold your wedding rings before the ceremony to confirm they're prepared for the task.
The Dream: You're Marrying Someone Other Than Your Partner
Did you dream that you made it to the wedding day, only to find that your current spouse wasn't the one at the altar? Don't be concerned that this is a sign of relationship distress. While this dream may prompt you to ensure that your current relationship is ready for marriage, this wedding dream meaning is much deeper than you might realize. "For this dream, use the symbols point of entry," Dalfen says. "What are the first two or three things that come to your mind when you think about the person at the altar? What memories or associations do you have with that person?"
To understand why this person appeared as your spouse in the dream, consider any qualities they have that you might currently need in your life. "We can become over- and under-exercised in different parts of our personalities," she explains, noting that your under-exercised part can become a shadow of your personality. (An example of an under-exercised trait may be that you don't speak up for yourself when you need to, or that you don't prioritize your mental health during stressful seasons.)
If this under-exercised quality starts to impact your daily life, someone you know who holds that trait will likely appear in your wedding dream. "The person in your dream has a quality that you currently need in your life that will bring you closer to that under-exercised part of yourself," Dalfen explains. "The 'marriage' in this dream is an example of the dreamer leaning into an aspect of their personality—the person you're marrying has a quality that you need in your immediate future."
The Dream: You're Single/Not Planning a Wedding But are Dreaming About It
Dreaming of marriage doesn't necessarily mean you're actively planning a wedding. In fact, it's common to have wedding dreams even if you aren't in that season of life. "If you make a vow or commitment to yourself and you don't follow through, don't be surprised if you see wedding images in your dream," Dalfen says. "For example, you can have a dream about a wedding if you're about to do something you've never done before. It could be something like going zip-lining for the first time—if you commit yourself to make the jump, you could go to sleep and have dreams about getting married."
How to Manage Stressful Wedding Dreams
In an ideal world, all of your wedding dreams will show your big day going off perfectly. And if your mind is constantly filled with wedding-related thoughts, there's a good chance it'll show up in your dreams. "The continuity hypothesis of dreams holds that our experiences while we're awake are often reflected in our dreams," Hettema explains. "If a person is thinking extensively about something or actively engaged in specific activities those concepts can 'continue' from our waking life into our dreams." Adds Dalfen: "In the time leading up to your wedding, it makes perfect sense that you're excited, nervous and anxious. All of these emotions bring on memorable dreams because your unconscious is working harder to give you the solutions for things you're anxious about."
But if your dreams become bothersome—or they turn into recurring nightmares—you'll want to think about ways to take care of your mental health to prevent them from worsening. "It's never a bad idea to look at your stress management techniques, think and talk about unpleasant emotions, fears, or anxieties, and check in to ensure that your actions are aligning with your goals and values," Hettema explains. Dalfen echoes this concept: "You're probably going to have dreams if you're not expressing your anxiety or excitement."
Ultimately, a wedding dream isn't necessarily something to worry about. Connecting with your team of pros to prevent any issues you dreamed about may give you peace of mind. But beyond that, it's helpful to talk about your stressors with your S.O. and prioritize restful sleep, as this will have a direct impact on your mental health. "Lack of sleep has been linked to increased levels of anxiety, stress, and depression, all things that can also be triggered by high-pressure situations, like prepping for a wedding," Hettema says. "During these pressure-filled times, it's essential to prioritize good sleep hygiene as a key part of your self-care routine."
And, rest assured that your wedding dreams are actually a good thing. After all, it's an example of your subconscious mind trying to provide solutions to potential problems that are weighing on you. "Dreams are meant to help you," Dalfen says. "The job of the dreamer is to figure out how the images relate to their current life. Once you understand what you're talking to yourself about, you can find the solution."