Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My friend “Sue” and I both got engaged about the same time and started planning our weddings. Sue and I have been friends a long time and while we have a lot in common, we also have a lot of differences. One of those major differences is I’m totally one of those women who has spent years imagining my dream wedding, while Sue never gave it much thought. This became obvious as we both started discussing and planning our weddings … and Sue’s started to look very familiar to me.
For example, I’ve always known I wanted a fall wedding, which in the Anchorage area is a pretty narrow window, so I settled on a date in late September. Not long after I let everyone know that, Sue picked her day too — just a couple of weeks after mine. I knew exactly what kind of dress I wanted. Sue wasn’t sure. We went and tried on gowns together — which was a ton of fun! But she couldn’t make up her mind what she wanted (I knew right away) and now she is leaning toward a gown so similar to mine, with even the same length of veil (and I swear she said multiple times, “I don’t want to wear a veil.” Ugh!).
Because we have so many of the same friends, it’s likely several of them will be at the wedding parties at both events. She is even in talks with the photographer we hired. I’m starting to feel like Sue is just copying my dream wedding because she doesn’t know (or care) what she wants, and the fact that hers is coming right after mine and will look so similar will totally devalue my dream day. I want to tell her to move her day or change her dress or all of the above, but I also don’t want to seem (or actually be) petty. Advice on how to fix this?
Planning a wedding is exciting, emotional, extraordinary — and also a ton of work, right? Even those of us who insist on a small guest list and simple ceremony will likely find ourselves surprised by minute decisions, tiny details, and creeping costs that emerge as part of the process. For someone like Sue, who clearly admires your tastes and hasn’t put a lot of thought into her own wedding, she’s clearly defaulting to making the same decisions you’ve made. Will she end up with a lovely dress, winsome fall foliage and a fun overall day? Sure. But it won’t really be her own.
You’re the wedding expert here — and you’re also Sue’s friend. So put those years of matrimony daydreaming and wannabe wedding planner energy to use, and help Sue realize her own vision. Sue obviously needs someone in her corner who can help her sort out her own marital aesthetic, and you can be that adviser and coach and help her champion her vision. With that approach, it’s more likely you’ll separately land on unique weddings that stand on their own.
The wedding dress is a great example. For a woman who’s never envisioned wearing one, it can be a daunting dress-up. Volunteer to go with her again and this time make the experience all about her. Scope out some bridal magazines together beforehand, talk about her style and what makes her feel comfortable and beautiful, and go in ready to be her advocate and champion.
Well, at least Sue didn’t pitch a double-feature wedding-reception package with her — on your chosen date and venue, of course — to save time, split costs, and eliminate any original thinking on her part.
Thing is, you care about your wedding and every single detail, and you care a lot. And I’m right there with you: it has to feel disappointing and discouraging knowing that your bestie, who doesn’t care very much, is practically copying your every matrimonial move. To feel bummed about it isn’t petty. This is your wedding we’re talking about! Your big day. And think about it: Will going to her version of your wedding shortly after your actual wedding make you happy for her or upset at her?
You can go a few ways: continue what isn’t working for you, which is working all of the wedding shopping, planning and other details together, with you leading and her following in lockstep; focus your upcoming wedding on your hopes and dreams exclusively, and cut Sue out of the big decisions; or sacrifice some of the time and energy that you’re pouring into your wedding to help her discover her own wedding wishes and passions, as Wanda recommends.
And hey, you aren’t very busy, stressed, anxious and exhausted right now! Um, right. Sue needs serious support and you don’t want to lose, or strangle, a great friend over this. So, how about this: tell her you love her, that your wedding is sacred to you, that her wedding is important to you, but you just can’t plan two weddings right now. And then immediately connect her with a local wedding planner — seriously, Anchorage has some — and jump in when and where you can. Text a bunch for mutual support, and meet often for coffee or drinks to stay connected and discuss how your now separate wedding visions are coming together.
[My friend’s maid of honor planned a pricey bachelorette party. People want to bail, and she blames me.]
[My bestie and I hang out less now that I’m in a relationship, and she’s feeling spurned]