Let me level with you -wedding planning is no easy task. Whether you are planning a gala style dinner for 500 or an intimate backyard wedding for 50, or even a tiny celebration for 12, pulling together all the details is quite an undertaking.
If you are lucky enough to have a supportive family and tight knit group of friends, offers for help will start pouring in.
Your Aunt wants to make your four tiered cake (her cupcakes at Jakey’s third birthday were pretty cute after all..)
Your college-attending, party animal of a sister wants to host your bridal shower and your bachelorette party.
Dad wants to make your ceremony arch (he took woodshop in high school).
Your bestie wants to help with your invitations. She does have great handwriting, after all.
And so on.
If you find yourself blessed enough to have offers of help, you want to say yes! As a new bride, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (even though the previously mentioned Aunt has only made one baked good that was worth eating… everything else seemed better for using as ammunition against an impending Zombie attack.)
So what’s a girl to do?
Be honest. Be thoughtful. And be humble.
Let’s talk about honesty. Sure, your cash strapped sister might have all the good intentions, but should you task her with the responsibility of your Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed Bridal Shower and Girls Gone Wild stag night? Here is where you can accept part of what is being offered, but delegate the rest. Sisters know many of your family and girlfriends, so what better person to help you set up the invite list and to plan the stag night, instead of taking on the entire cost and planning that goes into both events. Here is where you can use the, “I don’t want you to take on so much, both time-wise and finance-wise” line. It allows you to be honest, but hopefully not hurt her feelings.
Be thoughtful. Dad wants to make you a ceremony arch, but you were hoping for a rustic door backdrop at your wedding ceremony. Take a look at what Dad is really saying – I want to create something with my hands, to frame you while you declare your love and loyalty to the man that will replace many of my duties as your father. swoon Can you incorporate his idea? Maybe have your rustic doors behind your sweetheart table instead? Think of the pride he will feel, walking you down the aisle, seeing you, in all your beauty, surrounded by love and the beautiful, albeit slightly crooked, arch that he made with his own hands.
And you also need to be humble. The task of wedding invitations, for example, is a pain in the ass. Collecting names, starting spreadsheets, triple proofreading* the final draft before going to print, hand addressing the envelopes, etc. Are you really up for all that? Or, does having your bestie spend five or six hours on this project free you up for other tasks? Sometimes even the most Type A brides have to admit that they simply cannot control everything – and the payoff can be liberating both time-wise and stress-wise.
I had to learn to be humble when planning my wedding. It hit me when I had 10 or so family members assembling my centerpieces from the flowers that I purchased at a local grower. I wanted them just so, the stems cut just right… At one point I realized that not only was my untrained, but very well meaning family not able to make my centerpieces look like high end $500 arrangements, but I wasn’t capable of it either! So I tried to give direction, but also let them have some artistic freedom (I said, some! Yes, I could have / should have given more, but learn from my mistakes here!)
As for the offers of help for cakes, DJing, photography, catering, aka cooking – here is where I recommend you go with the experts. I frequently have couples who tell me that the are having a “friend with a good computer be the DJ” – oh, the friend that is petrified of a microphone? Who is going to direct your guest’s attention to your first dance? And if this person is such a good friend – don’t you want them to be a part of the celebration, not just cheap labor? Aha! There it is. That’s the line I encourage couples to use, “Cousin Peter, we love your Instagram pics, and agree that your fancy pants SLR camera that you tote around is amazeballs, but we want you to be able to enjoy yourself and attend as a guest. We want you to be pampered.” I also like to recommend you throw in a, “I’m turning into a bridezilla anyway and wouldn’t want you in the crosshairs!” Self deprecating humor goes a long way in cases like this.
Of course, there are exceptions. Maybe you are planning a 150 person wedding on a $1500 budget – then I would take advantage wholeheartedly of the family that is offering help. But most of the weddings that I facilitate, are working with a larger budget – but yet a budget that isn’t limitless, so we are always looking for ways to save – as are most weddings these days, I’m sure. It’s the difference between a $800 dress and a $3800 dress. To me, that’s where you make the cut, not your wedding photography, which will be shared for a lifetime, or on your DJ, who dictates the tone and helps keep your event timeline running smoothly.
The offers for help can seem overwhelming, and may come from many angles. Thank the person for their interest, support, and promise to follow up with a phone call that week to discuss what they are offering. Then you can set clear expectations as to what you would like, and see if what they are offering is a good fit.
And that humble piece… Let that be the part that grounds you. That centers you. That reminds you of how lucky are you to have a group of people that want nothing more then to support you during such a big undertaking. A little crunchy cake never hurt anyone.
Here are a couple links to traditional tasks that parents and siblings take on during wedding planning. Enjoy!
*for frick’s sake, yes, triple check your invites before printing them AND have some Type A friend look at them as well. I see at least one typo on at least a third of the invites I see. Anything from a misspelling of a name, to an extra space in the address. This isn’t a tiny blog with 20 readers! These are your wedding invitations! Take T. I. M. E. with them! I like to give a copy of whatever I am proofing to a group of five of so people and offer a prize to whomever finds the three mistakes. You might think they are perfect, but by saying three mistakes, people will look and look and look until they find something.