Yesterday marked month 4 since our wedding and I could write all about how it seems like forever and just yesterday and everything like that. But something that I’ve recently been thinking about a bit more is how my own wedding taught me to be a better wedding guest.
The people involved have the biggest impact on the day. If you really think about it, anything else can go wrong, but if you’re marrying the right person while surrounded by people who are joyful with and supportive of you then the rest is all just details. When I look at our wedding pictures, the shots of people are the ones I love studying the most. I was in such a haze that I felt the love and support around us, but wasn’t able to notice every single person’s amazing presence the whole time — the love is overwhelming. I’m still realizing and becoming more grateful for everything our tribe did for us.
There are things that I just assumed about what it was like to be a bride. And once I actually was planning our wedding, I learned things I never expected. Obviously every wedding and couple will be different, but I’m assuming these are things that most couples getting married will experience and as a wedding guest wouldn’t be a terrible idea to keep in mind. Here’s what I learned from being the Bride that will help me be a better wedding guest in the future:
- Every well wish and congratulations is welcome, appreciated, and enjoyed. I used to try and play it off cool when someone was getting married. But now I know that the more I can celebrate someone the better! It’s so easy as a bride to get wrapped up in the details and stress, that the more positive vibes and well wishes anyone sends her way the better.
- I learned that every single gift and card is appreciated. Before getting married Dave and I would tell each other “Our presence is a good enough present.” I cringe now thinking back on that. (Sorry to anyone out there that we didn’t have the decency to at least put together a card for you.) As a scatter brained person, it’s so easy for time to get away from me and not have a card ready when the wedding comes. And then I’m to embarrassed to send something after the wedding. I most certainly didn’t expect gifts for our wedding, but every single gift was appreciated in a way that is hard to explain. I learned that I will never again not give a gift because I know how much joy it brings. Perhaps I’m secretly a gift love-language girl, but each gift made me feel closer and more loved to the gift giver.
- Offer specific help. This can be really hard, especially if you’re far away. I’m currently struggling to find a way to be useful for my sister-in-law as she plans her wedding because I don’t know what she needs. But if there is something you see that you could help out with or hear about a task the bride is struggling with just tell her you’re available. It’s hard for a bride to take an ambiguous offer for help and actually think of you when she needs help. Tell her what you can do, offer times and help her plan a time for you to help her.
If you can’t go to the actual wedding, a personal note (even a text of FB message) explaining why is so so appreciated compared to a “no” rsvp. Send your well wishes and know that they will understand, but still miss you even if all they could have done was hug you on the actual day.
- Tell the bride and groom about your experience at their wedding afterward. I’ve been loving to hear about everyone’s different perspective and favorite parts of the day. I spent so much time planning it that it’s been nice to hear feedback. I wouldn’t have known how amazing the dessert buffet at our wedding was unless guests told us afterward — I didn’t come in early enough to see it all. Give the gift of reliving that special day through your perspective.
- Remember your presence, joy and love (and understanding!) are the most precious gifts you can give. Getting married feels like a standing in the center of a tornado sometimes. It’s a tornado mostly filled with intense joy and happiness, but stress and other confusing feelings sneak in there — getting married is a big deal. Just be there for your friends. Smile for them. Love them. And if something doesn’t go the way you want, remember that the bride and groom wish they could made everything perfect for you, but they are only humans and going through a huge life event. They want you there with them enjoying yourself more than anything else.
These are the things I’m going to try and remember as I attend weddings in the future. Since I’m one of the first of my closest friends to get married, I’m hoping to be able to celebrate with many of them in the future! And hopefully I’ll be better at it now than I was before my own wedding.
Pictures are all c/o Sally O’Donnell Photography