Is a wedding worth ruining a friendship?
Months ago, in one of the many wedding groups I follow on social, someone made a post about losing a friendship because of unreasonable expectations from the wedding party. It hurt my heart, but it reminded me of my favorite thing to tell clients, “Weddings bring out weird shit in people.”
The unique anxiety surrounding weddings that usually affects straight cis-hetero women in heteronormative relationships is a mental minefield. But as much as it stresses them out, it can also infect the dynamics of those closest to us. I’ve seen moms and daughters fight, dads and daughters fight, brothers actually physically fight, and grandparents have full on meltdowns over something inconsequential. They’re never really mad that the flower girls’ flowers fell or they purchased the wrong Spanx or they don’t have the peach-pear flavored La Croix in their dressing suite (I might explode at that last one, though). These fights are almost always about something they don’t want to confront that’s bubbling beneath the surface. Maybe the wedding has caused them to see the relationship they have with the couple differently. Maybe they’re comparing their life choices in light of this milestone event. Maybe they’re just assholes.
No matter what the specific cocktail of human emotions that sits at the center of the conflict, here are three boundaries you must set for your family and friends when you start planning:
1. Assess Who You’re Asking
One of the most critical decisions in wedding planning is who you bring in to help you. Who’s a part of your wedding party? Sit down and think it through. Do you really want your bestie from high school that you haven’t talked to in five years? Are you picking your partner’s sibling to keep the family happy? Ask yourself how these people act when they’re stressed, and keep that in mind when making the call. Which brings us to our next point…
2. Be Upfront about Your Needs
You’re going to be needy during this process. It takes a lot out of a couple to put together a wedding. Make a list of the kinds of support you’ll need from your wedding party, then be honest about whether or not the people you’ve listed can provide that. There’s nothing worse than asking a friend who’s been through a rough year to be your stress sponge.
If you have a friend who’s had a rough go of it financially, be kind and ask them if they’re in a place to participate in your wedding party. Showers and parties and gowns and flights cost money. Don’t be rude and assume everyone is working with the same financial situation.
It’s not a rude or indelicate thing to make these kinds of decisions either. As long as you’ve consulted your friends first and communicated your needs with them then no one should be subtweeting or shading you in the group chat. In fact, this is an awesome opportunity to have a sincere heart-to-heart with people you care about. A wedding is all about inviting your loved ones to engage in an intimate, life-changing moment. The ceremony doesn’t have to be the only moment of emotional connectivity you create. Use this process to deep dive into your friendships in a way that you haven’t yet.
3. Give Them Permission to Set Your Straight, When Needed
If you have chosen your wedding party correctly, making sure they can handle the needs you communicated and knowing how they act under stress, you won’t have many problems in this area. This is for the late night meltdowns and the Pinterest spirals. When you feel yourself overcome with decisions, ideas, and others’ expectations, your friends are going to know how to get you back to center. When you’re feeling yourself a little too much and start to sound like a tyrant, your friends can bring you back to Earth. When you reach peak IDGAF mode and need to tap out, your friends will have your back. Weddings are a minefield of emotions, don’t alienate yourself and try to do it all alone. This is a chance to strengthen the bonds of more than one relationship. Take it!
Jordan A. Maney is a San Antonio-based wedding planner and owner of All The Days Event Co. She she started her company as a planning haven for all the couples the industry chooses to ignore. Instead of just making a brand, she's building a community. Find more of her sass, humor, and Southern hospitality at allthedaysweddings.com.