"Helping people who help people"

One of the greatest things about being the daughter of a marriage and family therapist (who also TEACHES the subject at a university) is I’ve been given many tools in my life toolbox-of-ackward-conversations.

This tip works for weddings, business, friends, for vendors. The big word is “contextualizing” and what that means is instead of simply blurting out your stress, worry, or trying to figure out how to bring up something ackward, CONTEXTUALIZE it and you’ll immediately be able to talk more calmly, feel less stupid, and avoid a lot of potential drama now and in the future.

So let’s say you have chosen your wedding party but realize you have no idea what their role really is, or you’re at the point where Ackwardness Begins, because you don’t really want to burden them, or you have started to get push back from them and are feeling hurt! (They never have time for dress shopping, show no interest in searching for vendors, etc.)

A sample dialogue, ideally in person or on the phone may go as follows:

“Hey guys, I wanted to get together this coming week if we can arrange our schedules. I have been reading about all the wedding drama around wedding parties, and I want to avoid all that if I can so you guys don’t resent me or I don’t go bridezilla on you without knowing it.”

You get together, and it could go something like this:

“Thanks for getting together! I’m sooooo excited that you guys are going to be in my wedding! In all my excitement I realize I never figured out what a wedding party is supposed to do, or what you guys even WANT to do. So, I thought I’d lay out a few traditional things and tell you what I’m feeling and get your feedback. I want this to be exciting and fun, not something you guys dread. I hope by being honest, you guys will be too so we can keep this fun but real… no pretending to be happy when we’re miserable.”

Then it’s your turn to have researched what *YOU* hope, what you expect, and to be open, but vulnerable with them so they can be open and vulnerable with you. For example, “I really want you guys to go dress shopping with me, but I know it may not be that fun for you, or you are so busy the next month and I want to get this done soon. So, if you’re able to squeeze in some time, I’d love it, but I also understand if you’re busy and can find some other friends who may want to help out… what do you guys think? Is the dress shopping something you’d like to join me in or maybe you’d rather help with something later?”

The key is to not open the guilt trip, but get their HONEST answer! I feel so much pain for brides when their bridesmaids agree to go dress shopping and either cancel at the last minute, or just NO-SHOW! It’s so much unnecessary pain if you had just found out your friends were so extremely stressed with work and have no real interest in the dress… then you could make other plans, or at least not personalize their lack of interest as being “anti-you”…

Don’t take ANYTHING for granted… always “contextualize” your conversations so they are depersonalized and open up some honest discussions. A bad example would be to announce your dress plans, then be hurt they can’t make it. Or to have them agree because you don’t give them room to say they can’t/don’t want to, then get super hurt when they cancel or no-show. There could be a thousand other things going on that have nothing to do with you, and wouldn’t you rather be honest and find people who honestly are excited for the dress even if they aren’t in the wedding party?


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