The fella and I got engaged right before we traveled home to see our families for a vacation. We both have incredibly kind, welcoming families, so I was prepared for the outpouring of joy that came — his dad hugged me no fewer than six times within five minutes of walking in the door — and I was prepared to answer the inevitable when-where-who questions, too.
I was a bit overwhelmed, of course, but the post about being newly engaged helped put it in perspective for me: “an expression of joy and excitement, with a question mark on the end.” So true!
But then, the unsolicited wedding advice started rolling in…
My sister kicked it off with a idea for our “theme.” My parents provided a series of possible venues. My aunt suggested a month, explaining how I “should want to be a June bride.” Caterers. Bridesmaid dresses. Floral arrangements. Table names. Centerpieces. What was I supposed to say? Thanks? That's… an interesting possibility?
At the same time, I felt like my ideas were being dismissed out-of-hand. I wanted an outdoor event under a tent? Tents are too expensive. I wanted a barbecue? Who would provide that service? (Who indeed.) I wanted a nontraditional venue? You can't. You simply can't. And heaven forbid that I wanted my friends to pick their own bridesmaid dresses!
On our last day of our vacation, I had a minor meltdown in the car. I didn't know how to respond to the onslaught of unsolicited wedding advice we had received, no matter how well-meaning they were.
I knew that each idea was just that, and didn't commit us to anything. Still, I was worried that a positive response from me would be interpreted as binding, somehow. And we hadn't even sat down and discussed our ideas for our own wedding! After we came home, I got another text from my mom, offering two suggestions for caterers and one for a venue!
Where to put all this unsolicited wedding advice? Easy: a spreadsheet
Fed up, I created a Google spreadsheet called “Shit People Suggest,” with five columns:
- The idea
- The type of service
- The website (if I like the suggestion and want to follow up)
- Who suggested it
And just like that, I felt I could handle any recommendation anyone threw at me. Having a place to store all the ideas made me feel like I could respond in a positive way, without committing to anything, and keep the outpouring of excitement in perspective.
“I'll put those on the list of possible vendors,” I texted back, adding the venue and catering companies to the spreadsheet.
My sister texted me a few days later: “You're planning on getting a spray tan, right?”
“I wasn't, but I'll put it on a list of possibilities,” I replied.
I want to be gracious and respect everyone's unsolicited wedding advice and enthusiasm for our upcoming love-fest, but also keep sight of our goals. The growing list of possibilities puts a smile on my face: some are slightly absurd, many contradictory, and all well-intentioned.
An added bonus? Some of the ideas are pretty good, too.