Q: Hello APW,
One of my very dear friends is in the unfortunate situation of having a wedding planned for late May. I am sure she is under a huge amount of stress right now and I absolutely do not want to add to it. However, her shower is scheduled for next weekend and neither her nor the other bridesmaids are willing to budge on having it as-planned. While our state is not under shelter-in-place yet, there are gathering size restrictions (which this party exceeds), and it just doesn’t seem to make sense to even have a gathering with slightly fewer people from all over the state. I’ve tried suggesting video-chat bridal shower, or postponement, but no one is biting. How do I stay safe and encourage these plans to change without seeming like I don’t love and support this friend 100%?
—Am I All Alone
A: Dear AIAA,
I’m going to try my damnedest to give you some advice about what to do, what to say, and how to make sure your friend knows you love her (and her people) the most. But first, I need to say… you are certainly not all alone. The world seems to be all but falling apart at the seams, and the people you’re celebrating with aren’t taking it seriously. Where you live there may not be a shelter-in-place order yet, but the entire nation is under the same guidelines from the CDC to not gather with more than 10 people. Even those guideline are frankly is more lax than the recommendations from the medical community, and if I had to guess, more lax than what you feel is appropriate. As a person currently living in a shelter-in-place state, I can tell you, it’s not fun. But early data is showing that it is what’s right.
Globally, we’ve reached the ‘if you see something say something’ phase. No, I’m not talking about calling the police on your neighbors out for a walk together (though I mean, I have feelings on that too). I’m talking about this pending bridal shower. It’s a bad idea right now to gather a group, probably in someone’s home, share food and hugs and conversation, keep little to no physical distance, and then send everyone off into their own homes and communities. The 20-30 people at a bridal shower could impact hundreds of folks in your state, potentially including hospital workers who are needed now more than ever.
Setting boundaries is hard. Setting boundaries with people we love is harder. Those same boundaries with people who are getting married can feel all but impossible. In this case, the boundaries you need to set and hold, have to do with the health and safety of you and everyone attending that party (as well as everyone they live with, see, or talk to for the two following). If ever there was a time to hold a strong boundary, I think this is it.
So what should you do? The ‘how’ is up to you. Is this friend, the bride, someone you feel more comfortable texting, calling, emailing? Whatever mode of communication you pick, you shouldn’t put it off any longer. Reach out to the group, or the guest of honor specifically. It sounds like you’ve already tried a gentle nudge in a different direction, now it’s time to be blunt and honest. If it were me, I would start with something like, “I’m so sorry that your wedding and special events are all being frazzled by this virus and pandemic. I can’t imagine what it must feel like knowing that your plans might have to change. And I know the decisions you’re facing are no-win.” Give your friend (and maybe her other friends/bridesmaids as well) the right, space, and gift of grace in their grief. Grieving the loss of these special events, as they were planned, is a real and valid process.
Next, it’s probably worth your time to state your case. Again, if it were me, this is when I’d let my friend know that I love her dearly but I can’t condone this event in these times, and I can’t personally attend. I might share some links, some statistics, some facts—because that’s how I work. Just make sure they’re legit, from the CDC, or a major news outlet. And I’d be as straight forward as possible, while still being gentle. But I let her know that I think the unfortunate truth is that her party would put all the guests and all of their potential contacts at risk, and that moving forward with this event is dangerous. I might remind her that the facts are still unclear about exactly how this virus is spread (how long it lingers in the air, sticks to surfaces, etc.), but what we know is that the safest and most effective plan in place is social distancing.
Finally, I’d offer to take on the logistic guidance of a virtual event, or an after-the-wedding shower. Remind your friend that you, and all her friends, are here for her but really don’t want to disappoint her. Remind her that you aren’t trying to be a party pooper, just a realistic voice of reason here to love her up and help her make safe and caring choices for herself and her community.
AIAA, I’m so sorry you’re facing these big conversations and feeling alone in the fight. You’re doing the right thing, though. Stay strong, hold those boundaries, and be a hero in this time of horror.
APW, what would you do in this situation? Have any of you been facing similar conversations with your families or friends? Help us help AIAA.
if you have questions like this, in times of pandemic or otherwise, click here to ask for some APW Advice. And if you need some 1-on-1 advice, we have wedding pros on the ready at hotlinering.com.