If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know that it takes a village! With so many moving parts, heightened emotions, and varying opinions, it can be hard to navigate through the etiquette as a close friend or family member of the bride and groom.
A couple may decide to have groomsmen and bridesmaids which makes it a little easier to discern roles and responsibilities, but generally speaking, there are still some simple do’s and don’ts that will not only help you (as the friend or family member) keep your sanity, but also be helpful to the newlyweds.
Having JUST come out of a marathon of wedding events, executed in two different cities, I am here to offer some candid and transparent advice. We’re in the middle of the busiest wedding season in years so you’re bound to have at least one wedding before the end of the year!
I’ll preface this advice by giving some context to OUR wedding and social dynamics:
- We did not have a bridal party or groomsmen
- We kept our wedding small on purpose given Covid and just our own preference for a small celebration
- We did end up having multiple events (Civil Ceremony, Cultural ceremony in Toronto, Reception in Montreal)
- We are slightly “older” than your average couple – 41 and 40 respectively
- In our social circle we are some of the last to get married, most of our friends have been married anywhere between 2-10+ years.
- Our background is Indian which means large families, large social circles and many, many traditions to keep track of!
So without further ado, here is some advice to think about as a friend or family member of a couple getting married:
Never stop offering to help
My friends will be the first to tell you that I am the WORST at delegating, but that never stopped them from asking to help and sometimes even just showing up! It was so comforting to know I had people there IF I needed them and it made the planning process so much easier knowing they were a phone call away. If you do offer your help, be prepared to follow through. Nothing makes delegating harder than empty offers. That doesn’t mean that as the bride and/or groom, you should take advantage of this generosity. If you do ask people help, be specific about your ask and be respectful of people’s time and priorities.
Give advice, not orders.
A wedding is a very personal event. It should reflect the couple, their values, their interests, and the traditions that matter to them as a couple. That’s what we wanted, and we were very intentional with every decision we made throughout our wedding. Advice and experience are always welcome, especially if it will help them bring THEIR vision to life. But telling the couple they HAVE to do something or SHOULD do something is not helpful. No couple wants to feel obligation or made to feel bad when it comes to their wedding and the decisions they make. Listening and understanding the couple’s vision and offering suggestions, inspiration, ideas is much more welcome!
Don’t put more on the couple’s plate.
The couple knows the world doesn’t stop because of their wedding, but their bandwidth in the weeks leading up to the big day is mostly if not completely taken up by planning and last-minute arrangements/requests, on top of their job, regular tasks and routines. If you’re unable to take things off their plate, that’s completely understandable, but don’t give them more to do. Which goes into my next piece of advice…
Don’t take things personally.
They may not be as available as they usually are, again, especially during those weeks leading up to the big day. If they miss get togethers, don’t call you back right away or even leave you on “read”, don’t take it personally. From personal experience, I can tell you that they are probably not sleeping, not eating, all they can talk about is their to-do list, all while trying to get back to 100s of emails/requests a day. Rest assured they love you and are counting down the days to when they can let it all go and just have fun.
Show up for them.
More than anything, the bride and groom want you to be there, celebrate and have fun with them. Seeing their friends have a blast and enjoying themselves means the world to them. But showing up doesn’t have to be physical. I had several friends who couldn’t come to our events, but they still found a way to show they were thinking about us and that they care. It means the world to the couple to know you’ve made the effort, even in the smallest way.
There’s no doubt that weddings are extremely emotional, personal and involved. I remember feeling so many different emotions in one given day that I often thought “is it all worth it?” As the couple it’s extremely important to stay true to yourself, your values and the reason you decided to have a wedding in the first place. There will be disappointments, let downs, frustrations but there will also be moments of extreme happiness, joy and most of all love.
Is there any advice you would offer friends and family of a couple getting married that I missed?
Thanks for stopping by!