Ask Team Practical: Wedding Dates by Alyssa Mooney It’s a brand new year, which means a lot of brand new engagements (Hi Leigh Ann, congratulations!), which means a lot of head space devoted to picking wedding dates. Earlier this week we talked about off-season weddings (because they save you so much money), and today we’re talking about picking wedding dates, and the inevitable conflict that comes with the territory. It’s hard to pick a wedding date that works for everyone, and it’s not uncommon to find out that the date you were shooting for is a problem, in one way or another. When that happens, what do you do? Well, lucky for us, it’s Ask Team Practical Friday, and Alyssa is here with her always sage (and hilarious) advice. We talked before about starting to set dates, but what happens when you set a date and then you run into a snag with guests or your wedding party? That’s what our brides Desiree and L. are facing. Desiree writes: My fiance and I finally decided on a date that worked for us. He is a touring musician and he leaves at the beginning of July so we decided on June 11th to give us some reconnecting and set up time before the wedding and to give us some marital bliss time before he’s off again. Plus, I really like the number 11. I feel like the number looks like two people standing side by side. (I know that is cheesy). [Editors Note: Is not.] Anyway, I told my Maid of Honor (who is my closest friend for 20yrs) our date. She said that her daughter’s last day of school is on the 10th so it might be a little tricky but she could make it work. Her situation is amplified by the fact that she is moving at the end of June so she is worried about being there for her 7 yr old daughter on her last day with her friends. But she assured me she could make it work. So my fiance and I continued to tell people via word of mouth our date. And as time went on and I talked to her about the wedding she would gently bring up her concern over not making it to the rehearsal dinner. I told her that I understood if she couldn’t make it and that being there the day of was enough. Well, we are only 5 months away from the wedding date and she tells me that her daughter’s recital is the day after my wedding which is going to make it even more difficult for her to be there for me. She also said that if there was any flexibility on the date she would be so happy because she really wants to be there for me. I understand and empathize with her situation. She is a great friend and I know she wants to be there and she even said she would fly out for just the day. I want her to be there too but it isn’t very realistic. Unless we change the date…. Do we change our date? If we don’t change it I am afraid I will be sad she isn’t there and I squelched her opportunity to be. Am I being a bad friend and selfish if we do have the opportunity and we still don’t change the date? I am already tired of having to consider and juggle so many outside factors to do something so personal as get married. It is reeeaalllyy stressing me OUT and making me a little bitter! HELP PLEASE! L has a similar situation: I am of the “pre-engaged” set, my guy and I have been dating for 4 years and my ring is being made right now and I am just (im)patiently waiting for it. I’ve already bought my dress. [Editors Note: Babydoll, you know you’re getting married and you’ve bought a dress? You’re engaged. You’re just waiting for a ring. Own it.] We’ve picked a venue and we were really hoping to have our wedding 9/15/12. It’s a good time for an outdoor wedding where we live, and our anniversary is the 15th of June, his parents is the 15th of December, and my birthday is the 15th of August. Just an all around great number. Anyway, none of our friends know about any of this. One of his close friends got engaged this past fall and we found out last night that they are hoping to get married 9/8/12. No date has been set yet, but that’s the date they’re looking to book. Out of allllll the dates in a 2 year span, that’s the one they picked. I’m really, really bummed. I acted like a baby and started crying when I found out. I don’t know what to do. I wouldn’t mind not having it the 15th — I’d be OK with the following couple weeks but the further we push it, it will get colder and colder and then our lovely outdoor wedding will not be fun/we’d have to spend more money on heat lamps. But isn’t the entire month of September “out” now, anyway? Their wedding will be a car ride away/night in hotel and so will ours (for all our mutual friends — probably 8 friends total). And I don’t want to “steal their thunder” especially since they got engaged first [Editors note: Again? They went public with their engagement first is all. We’re splitting hairs here.] We can’t really say anything to them about it, especially since we’re “not engaged” and I don’t want to seem like a b*tch. I’m just so bummed. What would you do? Ok, all: say it with me. You should only change your date if it benefits you or your partner first, and everyone else second. And by everyone else, I mostly mean your parents. Period. The End. Fin. Okay, first, go read this post on how your wedding is not an imposition. Done? Good. Now you have to believe it. Your wedding really and truly needs to be on the day that works best for you and your partner. (With input from important family members in there too.) No one deserves a wedding month. Seriously, they don’t. As Meg says, “Your wedding is not an international event.” If a guest has two events close together, they’re going to have to deal with it and get over it. If it’s that big of a deal, they can choose to not come. If you are running into scheduling issues after having deciding on a date, look at who your wedding date is burdening or inconveniencing. You or your partner? Change the date. Probably. [Meg’s Note: We booked our wedding date, and then David changed law schools, meaning he had to miss the first week of his new law school for our honeymoon. We didn’t change the date. It was fine. Weddings are a great excuse for lots of things.] If another major event comes up that makes Date A hard to handle, you can consider changing to Date B, if it’s going to cause added stress on your wedding day. Your parents, parental figures, siblings? Think about changing it. And if they are contributing to your budget in any way, seriously consider changing it. (Also, your in-laws are included in this category. They are your partner’s parents. Respect that.) VERY close friends? How are you going to feel if they genuinely can’t make it? If the answer is “It would hurt,” then think about changing it. Just THINK about it, though. Maybe this is the kick in the pants you need to realize that while your wedding is important, it won’t stop the world from turning for a day, much as we might wish it to. Friends, acquaintances, co-workers or distant relatives are the ones having a problem with your date? Don’t change it. They can send a card. So, sure, saying that’s all well and good. However, the problem doesn’t lie in deciding (or not deciding) to go with a date, but when L’s bride friend finds out that she is having a wedding shortly after hers, or when Desiree tells her best friend she just can’t change the day for her. In your case L, if the bride complains about your wedding date, make sure you acknowledge her issue. Sometimes the soon-to-wed think they deserve all the attention on them, because, well, that’s what they’ve been told to expect. And honestly, we should feel for them in a “I know you’re under a lot of stress” kind of way (and because all of us have our moments). Even a laid-back bride might get stressed at the thought of having a friend’s wedding very close to theirs, so just put yourself in her shoes and be as patient as you’d like someone to be with you. Make it clear that you don’t expect people to choose, but if they do so, it’s the guests’ decision and not yours. Be sympathetic about the timing, but not apologetic. You’re not DOING anything to them. You’re doing what’s best for you and your partner and it unfortunately happens to conflict with what’s best for them and their partner. If you’re old enough to be married, you’re old enough to deal with minor disappointments. And this is optional, but if it helps, tell them the reason you picked the date. Especially if there is a pressing reason that necessitates that date, such as your venue is booked up, you or your partner is shipping out, you’re knocked up and you want to get married sooner to keep Grandma’s head from exploding… It might make the other bride feel a little better if she knew there was thought put into it. If she freaks out, don’t worry about it too much. A) She will calm down with time and B) We do not reward bad behavior… If any of those eight overlapping friends complain, just shrug. No justification is needed. Sometimes life is complicated and they need to deal with it. Desiree, in your case, you’ve already gone through all you could with your friend. Honestly, the most important part of your email is that you said that you set the date in order to have some marital bliss before your honey goes back on the road. That’s enough reason right there. It’s wonderful that your friend is trying to be there, but if she can’t, she can’t. She’ll still be your maid of honor, she just won’t be able to be there on your wedding day. Also? She already reassured you that she could make it work and now she can’t, and unfortunately she’ll just have to be a little sad about that. You both should mourn that a bit, but in the end it’s your continuing friendship that’s important. If you stick to your guns AND your date, there are a couple of caveats: You should always be understanding to guests who cannot come, and recognize that you knew this could happen. Just as people aren’t allowed to throw fits about your date, you can’t throw a fit about them not coming for whatever reason. Even if you had your wedding on a completely isolated day in a very uneventful day, people still might not be able to make it. Life’s tricky. You can switch your date and then have the same people who couldn’t come to the first date still unable to come to the second. There are no guarantees that changing your date will ultimately fix your dilemma, so keep that in mind if you are changing to appease someone other than yourself or your partner. And if it turns out that changing your wedding date is what’s best for you, try not to get stuck on a date because of meaning. It’s SUPER sweet, but celebrating your anniversary is about celebrating your marriage. Even if it doesn’t happen on the anniversary of your first date, it happens. And that’s what makes the date amazing, not numerical symmetry. Who else has had a date snafu? How’d you work it out, and how did you deal with people who had conflicts? Alyssa Mooney Emeritus Staff Alyssa received a BA in Theatre and a minor in Gender Studies from Stephen F. Austin State University. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her adorably red-neck husband, Maggie the Wonder Dog, and sassy baby Tater.