- 7 years ago
- Wedding: October 2011
Dear people who want to help a bride with the wedding,
It’s lovely that you want to help, and most brides are happy to accept your help. However, what you may not realize is that some behaviors are not helpful, and in fact may cause more stress for the bride. For your convenience, here is a list of some behaviors you should avoid if you truly do want to help:
1. Offering to help when you don’t really want to
It’s great when someone really does want to help, but if you do not, simply don’t offer. It’s far worse for the bride when you offer to help and she accepts, and then you act huffy, put out, or rude and generally give off the vibe that you’d rather be getting a root canal than doing this (usually simple) task that the bride has asked you to do. If you do want to help but you can’t or do not want to help with the task the bride asks you to do, simply say so. Tell her up front if you don’t have the time, are already too stressed, or just don’t want to do it. She’d much rather know, so that she can reassign that task or just do it herself.
2. Asking the bride repeatedly what you can do to help
Once you’ve offered your help, then let it go. The bride will come to you when she needs you. Please do not barrage her with repeated requests to know what you can do to help. Usually, the truthful answer will be, “I don’t know. I will let you know when I have something you can take off my hands” or maybe, if you’re really being overly insistent, “You can help me by not constantly asking me what you can do to help me!”
3. Not listening to what the bride says
The bride has asked you to help, and it’s a task you are suited to do and really want to help with. Hooray! That’s great. However, you should listen to what she says when she gives you the specifics of what needs to be done. Do not assume you can just ask her again later when you need the information. It’s annoying, and believe it or not, she may not have that information memorized. She probably assumed that when she told it to you originally, you were paying attention. If you aren’t and you ask her about it six weeks later, she’ll probably have to go dredge the info up from her laptop/binder/pile of notes. Do not make her do this. She is already busy enough. When she gives you the details, write them down if you don’t think you’ll be able remember them. In fact, write them down either way, just in case.
4. Assuming the bride is cool with you doing the task at the last minute
This is a tough one. Most brides do not want to come off as harsh taskmasters, so they may not tell you up front “I need this done sooner rather than later.” However, if the bride does not give you a hard deadline, ask her for one. If she does not have one in mind, assume you should get it done sooner rather than later. In particular, if you’re doing something that’s going to be highly visible (like decorating something) or highly important (like ensuring the ceremony musician can play the processional music properly), getting it done sooner will allow you to correct for any mistakes. Sometimes (frequently) your grand plan may not work out as well or as easily as you thought. If you work on it sooner, then you’ll know that much sooner that you need to rethink it or go a different direction. That will give you time to alert the bride and work on a Plan B.
5. Telling the bride you’ll do something, then not doing it.
This should go without saying. If you tell the bride you will do something, then do it. Do not text or call her months later and ask her if she did it. If you discover that you can’t do it, then tell her as soon as you find this out. Do not wait a few weeks and then casually ask her if she got it done herself. She will want to kill you.
If you feel like you can’t avoid doing these no-nos, then refer to #1 – do not offer your help. Believe me, it will be more stress for everyone (including you!) if you do!
You’re getting married, and people are being so thoughtful with offers to help you! You are excited to take them up on that, but before you do, please take a look at the following list of Don’ts – they will save you a lot of frustration and headaches.
1. Don’t give an important task to someone who is not reliable.
If you know that your cousin is a little bit of a “free-spirit” (read: flake) who “tends to do things her own way” (read: is batshit crazy), then don’t entrust her with something that is important or that you care about too much. If she really wants to help, and you feel you must give her something to do, try to make it the thing that you care least about, and that will cause the least damage if it’s not done well. Don’t have anything like that on your task list? Then politely thank her and tell her that things are running smoothly for now, and you’ll be sure to let her know if you hit any snags and need her help.
2. Don’t be afraid to give deadlines.
You have an implicit hard deadline for everything being done – the wedding day itself. But in all likelihood, you have several things that you want done well in advance to help you keep your sanity and keep your stress level to a minimum in the weeks leading up to the wedding. Do not assume that other people understand this or are thinking about it. They may think they have up until the wedding day itself to get the task completed. If that’s not what you want, then tell them upfront, “I need this done by X/X/XX.” Make sure they can complete it by that date. If they can’t, then get someone else to do it.
3. Don’t leave anyone in the dark.
If you give someone a task, tell them how you want it done. You don’t need to be crazy about this and micromanage, but some tasks require you to share more of your vision with the person, or they will really miss the mark. For example, do not assume because so-and-so knows you so well, they will automatically know how you want the centerpieces to look. Unfortunately, they have probably not been privy to the countless hours you have spent pouring over centerpiece options online. Give them some guidance – show them pictures, show them an actual wedding where they did something you liked, show them the website that you want them to use. If you have details about what you’re envisioning, share them with the helper right at the beginning. If you don’t, you will more than likely be surprised and possibly disappointed with what they come up with on their own, and they will not be happy about duplicating their efforts to do the task over again.
You also need to be exceptionally clear about what parts of the task you expect the person to complete. Sometimes people assume that they are going to be doing only part of the task and the bride will be doing the rest. You need to discuss this upfront so that both sides know exactly what they should be doing. It wouldn’t hurt to write it down just to be extra clear – email is a great tool for this.
4. Don’t be unreasonable about the amount of work you expect others to do.
No one cares about your wedding as much as you do. That’s not to be mean – it’s just a simple fact. Everyone else has their own lives, and most of their time is occupied by thinking about and tending to their own business. With all that in mind, do not expect anyone to have the same amount of time to pour into your wedding tasks that you do. When delegating a task, make sure that you are not giving anyone an amount of work that you yourself would not want to do for someone else’s wedding.
So there you have it! If you steer clear of these don’ts, you may find that delegating some of your wedding tasks will lighten your stress, and bring you closer to the people who have been so generous as to offer their time and energy. Good luck!
A Fellow Bride