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All of your wedding etiquette questions answered – no matter how awkward.

Help me, Dee!

I have six bridesmaids. They are my closest friends (my sister, one friend I’ve known since childhood, three sorority sisters and my soon-to-be sister-in-law). Each was so excited when I asked her to be part of my wedding party, and each offered to help me with anything I might need. At the time I smiled, demurred and said, “Thank you, but I won’t really need you to do anything but be there on the day.”

Now, as my wedding day quickly approaches, they’ve all gone missing in action! I need help with small things, that when spread between the seven of us will go very quickly, but that are starting to drive me crazy. When any of them actually responds to my emails, calls or texts, they respond to everything else but my cry for help.

I don’t want to turn into a bridezilla, but I’m starting to get really upset. What can I do?

Tiffany Holt

First of all, Tiffany, let’s put a stop to the use of the word “bridezilla.” The first known citation of the word was found in the Boston Globe, June 29, 1995, in a story entitled, “Tacky Trips Down the Aisle,” referring to brides who are “particularly difficult and obnoxious.” Since then, the term has grown in popularity, even spawning a reality show on WE TV. It also seems to have become a catchall term for brides who have a strong opinion about what they want. I am not saying that there aren’t brides who take being opinionated too far – we’ve all seen them – but a wedding isn’t only a day for the bride to shine, it’s also a day that she’s spent often at least months dreaming about, planning, implementing, crafting, hiring people for … a day when each guest is going to be judging her every decision. After all that work, stress and worry, would anyone fault the bride when the roses come in with fuchsia tips rather than light pink or when Aunt Margaret decides during the rehearsal that she wants to sing “Ave Maria” during her ceremony because the day needs “more music,” for a bit of crying or a little ranting to her bridesmaids?

Here are some simple questions to ask yourself to make certain that you’re a bride-in-charge and not mistaken
for a giant green monster in a wedding veil: Are you snapping at everyone around you at the drop of a hat? Do you find yourself micro-managing every detail – even ones you know deep down are being taken care of? All of a sudden can you not find anything with which to be satisfied? And the biggie: Are you ungrateful?

I think that asking your bridesmaids for a little assistance, such as putting together programs or stuffing invitations, doesn’t make you a bridezilla – though asking them to each man a frying station during your reception and then being very incredulous, upset and pouting when they decline does …

(true story).

As for your other problem, very few people like to be contacted by a friend just to be asked for something – even just for their time. Why not make it an event? If you need help stuffing envelopes, host a Breakfast Club party.

Invite your girls to come over in their pajamas for a morning (or afternoon or evening) of fun and bonding – and envelope stuffing. Make or buy some yummy breakfast food and a batch of mimosas or Bloody Marys and watch a series of cheesy movies with great breakfast references. Bring out the envelopes when everyone has had time together to catch up and get comfortable. Make certain to let each of your girls know why they’re important to you and to your wedding day and thank them for their time. I know, it seems like a lot of output for something that they offered to do in the first place, but you’ll find that showing them that you care for them, that you didn’t ask them to be bridesmaids just to put them to work, will smooth the road to your aisle.

I have a dilemma, Dee. I am very lucky because my fiancé and I have many people who are close to us. However, we decided to have a small wedding party composed of just family. We would like to give some of our friends special roles in our day, but if they’re not standing at the altar with us, what can they do?

Thanks for your help.

Alex Reynolds

Lucky for you, there are as many ways for those special to you to have a special place in your wedding as there will be petals in your bouquet. Starting with the basics, there are ushers, readers and escorts for your grandparents and other honored guests. If you’re having a Catholic Mass, you’ll need people to carry the offerings during the Offertory. Thinking outside the box a little, why not have an older ring bearer?

Beyond the ceremony, do you have a friend who’s a great dancer and could teach you and your fiancé a few moves for your first dance? Do you know someone who’s fantastic at public speaking and could serve as an emcee for your reception? Once you start thinking of the people in your life in terms of their talents and what makes them special to you, I’m sure you’ll come up with ways to incorporate them into your day. One more tip: If you just can’t choose whom to include, put out a bowl of small flowers with pins so that each guest can have a boutonniere and be a part of your big day.

Hi Dee,
I am writing you with a very heavy heart; I hope you have an answer for me. My fiancé and I have a very particular vision in mind for our wedding day, one that’s small, rustic and very DIY (do it yourself). For example, we want a table of pies instead of a cake and the groomsmen with rolled shirtsleeves and bowties. We were so excited to show our parents our ideas and tell them of our plans. What a horrible moment. My mother looked at his mother and they both laughed and then asked what we were really planning. Long story short, our parents hate our ideas. They keep reminding us that the wedding isn’t just about us, that it’s about family and appearances, that their friends will be expecting a certain kind of wedding and that our guests are going to be judging us …

How can we have the wedding we want in the face of all that negativity?

Cheryl Absinte
New Orleans

I wish answering your question was as easy as saying, “It’s your wedding, have the wedding you want.” But we all know that’s not the case. I am sure that there are all sorts of variables weighing on you at this moment, especially if your parents or his are contributing money. Try and remember that this is almost as big a moment for your families as it is for you and your fiancé, and that they have imagined this day for at least as long as you have. Also remind yourself that your wedding is just one day, but your marriage and the relationships you have with your families are what’s important and what you want to last a lifetime.

Ask everyone to sit down together at a neutral location – not any of your houses; more like a conveniently located coffee shop. (If your families don’t live within visiting distance, use a video conferencing service or set up a call where you can have all parties on the phone – all cell phones should have the capability to do this; if you don’t know how, call your carrier.) Bring pictures of what you’re envisioning, and ask your families to do the same. Also ask everyone to bring a list of what is really important to them in terms of the ceremony and reception, including religion, décor, dress code, number of guests and basic cost. Start the gathering by saying that you know how important this ceremony and day is to everyone, but that the reactions you received to your ideas really hurt you.

Then ask everyone to share the top five things that are most important to them. Try to hear everyone out and position yourself as a mediator, keeping everyone as calm as possible and letting everyone have their say.

Weddings can be all about compromise. Try as much as you can to incorporate what’s most important to you and your families without compromising your vision. Remember, your wedding is just one day, but your marriage is for the rest of your life.

Send your question to Ms. Lane by mailing it to 110 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70115
or emailing her at dee@myneworleans.com.

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