Did Your Friends Help With Wedding Tasks?

Ask and ye shall receive

Open Thread: Delegating Wedding Tasks to Friends | APW (1)

Q: Dear APW team,

I wanted to put in a topic request. (I think it’s too big for an Ask Team Practical question) I’d love a post about delegating tasks to friends who volunteer. During my engagement, a lot of friends have offered to help with “wedding planning,” but they never specify more than that, and even though we’re a month and a half away from the wedding, all of the planning I’ve done so far has been time-consuming vendor searches, interviews, and decisions. How do you delegate that??

I’m hoping to get some help in the weeks before the wedding as we prepare the decor, favors, and programs, but are there ways that friends can help all along the process?

Thank you!

A: Kate,

Like you, we had friends and family members asking very early on what they could do to help with the wedding, but most of what we were doing at the time were logistics and decision-making—things we didn’t feel were easily delegated or crowd sourced.

Later, with decisions in place, it became much easier to identify where we could use help as we got closer to the day. We invited friends to help out by making it a group activity of sorts: we went out thrifting for glasses for centerpieces; we invited people over for pizza, beer, and to help pick songs for our party playlist; we watched the Superbowl while gluing paper flags together. For us, it meant that we could get more things done quickly without isolating ourselves for the months leading up to the wedding.

However, considering there are a million and one ways to plan a wedding, it’s only right to open this to the group. Did you invite friends to help you accomplish wedding tasks? How did you delegate? What did you delegate?

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  • Lily

    In particular, anyone who could talk about asking a friend to help stage manage the getting ready, ceremony, and photos would be much appreciated. (We have a coordinator provided by the venue for the reception, but we’re using a different location for the ceremony.) I know we need someone to do this, but I have been dragging my feet on asking anyone because it seems like such a HUGE thing to ask anyone to do. Which makes me think we should just hire a coordinator, but I’m REALLY trying to avoid that. Thanks!

    • I was in the same boat and while we aren’t having a friend as our official coordinator, we are having a couple of friends who are going above and beyond to help us. First, I think you have to just suck it up and ask (or suck it up and say yes when they ask if there is anything they can do) while fully acknowledging it’s huge and you understand if they want to say no. Second, offer to make it worth their while! For example, we asked my friend’s husband to help cart the bridal party around the day of, so we’re paying for his hotel room the night before. Covering lodging or travel in some way is often really appreciated (maybe even more than a thank you gift after the fact).

      Also, I mentioned this above, but I think you kinda know deep down if a friend would want to do this or would do it out of obligation. (I, for example, would LOVE to be DOC for a friend!) If your friend is that organized person who is always getting shit done in all aspects of life and is the first to volunteer to help no matter what she’s involved in…she’s probably going to be excited/thrilled.

      • SarahG

        Totally agree. I am the friend who is the organized one getting shit done (well, sometimes) and I have offered to help friends with DOC because I genuinely love being useful in a behind-the-scenes way. I love that shit! And I love taking the stress off my friends. What I am less good at: organizing bachelorettes. Did it once, and I felt like it wasn’t what my friend really wanted. I am not a partier and I feel like I kinda bombed it, despite trying hard. So, now I proactively volunteer for close friends to DOC or do running-around stuff, and it has worked out great. That being said, I do think it’s hard to ask folks if they haven’t offered, so you (Lily) could maybe start with “I was wondering if you would mind helping us a bit on the day with coordinating the ceremony” or something smaller, and see what they say?

        • AVI

          The one thing I want to add to this discussion is the importance of saying Thank You. I did a lot of work as a Bridesmaid and friend (all of which was offered), and I’m still sad I haven’t gotten some kind of formal or meaningful thank you from the bride or groom. After spending time, emotional investment, and a not insignificant financial investment, a little thank you would go a long way. I don’t need a gift of any kind, but a small card (or hug!). Otherwise yes, let your friends do work.

          • MisterEHolmes

            Thank you (pun not intended!) for the reminder!

    • Oakland Sarah

      My friend had a co-worker who was also getting married and they both did day of coordinating for one another. I have seen people seeking similar exchanges on Offbeat Bride.

      • Stacie

        I was one of those people looking for an exchange. It didn’t work. I finally just hired somebody. I decided that a chunk of my tax return was well worth my peace of mind and ability to relax (as much as possible!) and enjoy my wedding day…

        I wish it had worked, though! :(

    • AG

      I was just a bridesmaid in a wedding, and another friend of the bride acted as stage manager of the ceremony (like yours, the reception venue came with a DOC, but the ceremony was at a nearby chapel). The bride chose a close friend who is very organized and able to speak up and get people in line. She did a great job, and it seemed like she did a fair amount of planning beforehand. As a thank-you for her efforts, the bride included her in all the wedding party events (bridesmaid lunch, rehearsal dinner, etc), and gave her a nice gift. The friend definitely did a lot of work, but she also agreed to it, seemed suited to it, and the bride made sure to thank her. All in all, it seemed to go over well!

    • Sarah

      First of all, the day-of coordinator for the ceremony — this is NOT a huge job. The reception is the harder work, I think, because you want to have fun and dance, but you have to be the person nudging the couple about cake cutting and whatnot. But the ceremony is pretty basic, so don’t get too nervous!

      Our day-of coordinator was someone who loved making lists and spreadsheets and charts and outlines, etc. She was someone who could be described as bossy if you didn’t like her, but organized and on-top-of-her-shit if you were friends. She didn’t need to be IN the spotlight, but she loved being involved. She was someone whom we could trust to honor our decisions and choices, but also trust to make small decisions on her own (and know when she needed to escalate it to us).

      Maybe that’s helpful!

    • Amy M.

      I agree with Rachel below, it’s really important to think about who would be good at this. We are exactly like you- our reception venue comes with an on-site staff person, but our ceremony is elsewhere. I have a dear friend who has great taste (better than mine!) and is very competent and very decisive, plus she loves weddings. She is going to be our day-of coordinator at the reception venue so that I don’t have to go there at all. She’s going to know where we want the bar set up, where the dance floor goes, etc., and if I neglect to make a decision ahead of time I completely trust her to make it. I imagine she will call me that day only if there’s an absolute emergency. As a contrast, my other best friend who also has exquisite taste and artistic talent but gets stressed out about making decisions designed our save-the-dates for us. I thought this was a great way to incorporate two people into our wedding/wedding day (we skipped the bridal party) who are really important to me in ways that fit their personalities and strengths. You probably know someone who would be good at filling this role, so just make sure to ask beforehand if they are interested, communicate with them about what you want, and figure out a way to thank them afterwards for their time and talent. You’ll figure it out :-) Good luck!

    • Em

      No real advice, just a lot of solidarity. I feel the same way, except I’m facing asking someone to manage the reception as well… :( Also I only really have two type-A, list-loving friends – one has already offered to organize a bachelorette party and the other is going to be doing the photography so they feel pretty off-limits.

      I definitely agree with what others have said though…. coordinating the ceremony only is a much lighter load! I think a good measure is to reverse the roles. When I struggle with asking someone to take on a task for me (which is always), I try to imagine how I would feel if I were being asked to do that task for someone else’s wedding. Usually I realize I would be tickled pink to be involved, and so I am probably not the world’s worst person for asking them to do it.

      • KC

        With reception management, it might be worth considering looking at the “family friends” list – honorary aunts and whatnot? There might be some additional type-A list-lovers in the “add a generation” ranks…

  • This is so timely, as I just chatted with one of my bridesmaids this morning about the day-of logistics and was still hesitant to ask her (or anyone) to do stuff we really need the day-of…and her exact words were, “You are allowed to put us to work!” I also think it’s about knowing your friends’ strengths and the things they enjoy…I know which friends are great at organizing and are natural leaders/do-gooders, and so I felt the most comfortable asking them to be on top of stuff the day of because I know that’s what they’re going to be looking to do anyway. (Just like I was/would be for their weddings!) So I guess my best advice is starting with the natural leaders and those who are offering; be appreciative if they say yes and truly give them the option to say no.

  • Oakland Sarah

    We are using the SoKind registry which allows you to “register” for wedding help. I came up with a list of tasks–helping us haul things to the wedding site, setting up flowers, etc. and am letting people choose the tasks that work for them.

    • Kayjayoh

      We are doing that, too.

    • Sarah McClelland

      I’m sooooo glad you posted about Sokind. We’ve decided to use it too! So great for weekend of, but also for greener gifts.

  • Anon

    We had a hard time delegating because we had very particular visions of what we wanted, and we had almost no DIY projects or venue-related set-up. That said …
    – brother of the groom dealt with our rehearsal dinner slide show (we sent him photos, he created the presentation) and organized the toasts (functioned as MC and figured out who would speak) He did this from across the country and it worked out great.
    – sister of the groom dealt with very basic videography (setting up a camcorder on a tripod for both the rehearsal toasts and the ceremony)
    – my parents and future in-laws managed food and logistics for our pre-wedding picnic (though I was involved more than I wanted to be in decisions about the menu, paper goods, etc.)
    – a friend of mine (who has kids) identified/booked a babysitter to provide care for little guests
    – my brother volunteered for airport and other pick-ups, and delivered welcome bags to the hotel

    In retrospect I can’t think of anything else that I wish I had delegated.

  • Laura C

    I’m notoriously bad at asking for help, and the friend I’d be most likely to turn to is 500 miles away with 9 month old twins and a 4 year old, so I’m curious about the answers, too. But this is one where you really have to trust your friends to know your taste, but it’s pretty amazing — just today I saw someone say on Facebook “how do you plan a wedding and a honeymoon at the same time” and someone responded “We outsourced our honeymoon to an amazing team of friends. They took our credit cards and a rough idea of what we wanted to do and made it all happen.”

    • MisterEHolmes

      Talk about trusting your friends! Wow!

  • Ana

    We wimped out of delegating by drastically reducing our do-it-together list and hiring a day-of coordinator who also handled calling vendors while we were still 4 months out/wrangling them the day/week of. It was the best decision for us because we were STRESSED about who could do what (esp since the wedding was where we lived, but not where anyone else lived).

  • ML

    When I was planning my wedding, if people offered eagerly to help, I took this to mean I was “allowed” to talk about my wedding plans and bounce ideas off of them more than I would normally. Early on, there isn’t that much friends can do. I even told some, the most helpful thing someone can do is say, “that sounds like a great choice!” haha.

    • SarahG

      Yes — one of my friends said that my “help” was letting her vent. We had a weekly yoga and bitch session (not just wedding bitching but it did feature). It was great!

    • THIS!!! I actually had a friend who bypassed the “how can I help” situation and just offered to listen to me babble about all of the things. Which ended up being a lot of pretty wedding stuff that my fiance didn’t want to talk about (he’s sweet, but honestly just wanted to make the decision) and other people would be bored with. It was AWESOME!

  • Sarah

    It is so hard to do this without feeling like an Evil Overlord to your friends. I think the key thing is matching friends’ interests/skills with tasks.

    For us, we did:
    -My local friends who always make me feel good about my body… helped me do some initial dress shopping to scope out styles.
    -My friend who always has good makeup and comments on people’s hairstyles… learned how to do my hair for the wedding (and saved the day with awesome eyeliner).
    -Our friends who have little disposable income but do have a nice big car… picked up our flowers from the farm and delivered them to the wedding.
    -Our friend who has been a florist in the past and offered to help with the flowers… was chief flower arranger.
    -My teenage girl cousins and random friends who wanted to be helpful but didn’t have a particular skill set that stood out… helped arrange flowers under tutelage of the chief flower arranger.
    -My friends who were game for anything, great team players, and kind of anal-compulsive (in the best sense of the word)… installed our chuppah for us.
    -My teenage cousin who loves an opportunity to have a job and tell people what to do… handed out programs.
    -Our friend who makes spreadsheets in her sleep and was a stage manager in a former life… was our day-of coordinator.
    -Our best people… made sure that all of our bridal brigades had LUNCH before the wedding (so important!).
    -Our bridal brigade… made sure escort cards and centerpieces and table numbers happened.

    We could have also asked for help around:
    -Assembling save-the-dates and invites.
    -Formatting the goddamn table numbers and escort cards.
    -Researching venues and photographers.

    I would throw stuff out to your peeps and see what they take you up on!

    • KC

      But being a minion is so much funnnnn! (at least, I think so. I know opinions vary.)

      • Sarah

        I think it’s fun, too! But only if you’re a minion to a Benevolent Overlord. The Evil Overlords never seem to have enough cookies, and (let’s face it), I’m in it for the cookies.

        • KC

          Hm, I guess I’ve only ever had Benevolent Overlords With Maniacal Laughter, then. (I assumed that the maniacal laughter indicated Technically Evil Overlord, but cookies clearly does mean Benevolent.)

          Yes, Benevolent Overlords. (but the maniacal laughter is an awfully fun accessory)

  • halliemt

    Although I am not married, I was very involved in helping to plan my sister’s wedding (and threw her a very fun bachelorette party a couple of months before the wedding which is a whole nother story). We had friends that wanted to help out with the wedding assigned to teams: Team Photo, Team Flowers, Team Lawn Games, Team DJ, and Team Dessert. Each Team had a captain, and another friend acted as Day of Coordinator. All this meant we had literally no vendors besides the venue (which supplied food, the bar, and food/bar staff).

    The team’s responsibilities were:

    Team Photo – Five of our best amateur photographer friends took shifts during which they were responsible for taking photos. One of them took portraits before the ceremony. There was no professional photography. I know my sister regrets this, but they did save a bunch of money.

    Team Flowers – We were lucky enough to have two friends who had previous experience as wedding florist assistants. They coordinated a small team which took a couple hundred dollars from the couple to the San Francisco Flower Mart they day before, purchased flowers, make bouquets and transported them to the ceremony. I feel like there were no centerpieces? Memory fails.

    Team Lawn Games – This was pretty simple. One person, who agreed to have lawn games shipped to their house, bring them to the wedding and set them up.

    Team DC – We had several friends who were amateur DJs take shifts behind the decks. One of them supplied the turntables.

    Team Dessert – Another easy one. Two friends picked up cakes and pies we had ordered and transported them to the wedding.

    The Day-of-Coordinator friend kept general tabs on all the teams, and kept things running on time.

    We couldn’t have pulled the wedding off within the budget if it hadn’t been for all the friend involvement, and I think people were universally very happy to help.

    • Emily

      I like the way you delineated your Teams. My friends REALLY want to help and we REALLY want them to; but I didn’t know how to make it seem like a Fun Project, when a lot of the stuff is literally just hauling things from one place and setting it up on the beach the morning of. I feel like this way it will be 1) a group activity suited to people’s abilities/wishes and 2) spreads out the responsibility a little bit instead of my DOC taking it all on and hoping for the best. Thanks!

      • Outside Bride

        I know it’s not something you can expect from everyone, but I actually do enjoy hauling around heavy stuff more than almost anything else that might be done at a wedding. In fact, when I’m getting pissy and awful for no particular reason, my finance often suggest that I try to schedule a day of just hauling heavy stuff at work. People often shy away from asking for that sort of help, but for people who feel most comfortable (and like they made a solid contribution) by doing the manual labor, there’s not a better gift you can give us than a straightforward task of moving that pallet of tables from on location to the next. A bottle of beer and some loud music to move to are just bonus. We do exist, and I bet you have more than a few hiding in your crowd. Good luck!

    • I was skimming comments and saw “Team Dessert” and the first thought in my head was “screw Jacob or Edward! I want to be Team Dessert!”

    • Outside Bride

      This whole thread is so timely for me right now, but THIS! We’re struggling with how to delegate, and our original idea of having a “work party” with our nearest and dearest has gotten subsumed into the fears of drudgery or asking too much. Thank you thank you thank you for the reminder that a lot of the “tasks” can actually be fun – you just have to be thoughtful about what and how you delegate (and of course, to who). I bet all of your Teams felt like your superheros that day.

      • Sarah McClelland

        I actually really like the idea of a work party!

  • Revanche

    We did almost all the work leading up to it, though one friend was happy to do some legwork on the venue for us. As we got closer, I designated a pair of cousins to be my Day Of Contacts – they were in charge, essentially. I wrote up a schedule with all the different elements of the day, and a 6 page set up document so they would know what we’d discussed with the venue. Then I asked people to be in charge of separate parts of things happening during the day: herding his family, herding my family, herding this group of friends or that group.
    I probably should have done a better job communicating with them directly though. I got so sick the week of the wedding I failed at that. But still, it worked out ok.

  • Bella


    I lost a friendship because a friend asked me to be her bridesmaid, and I did hours of research, emailing, phoning and helped her pick things out literally every day for months during her long engagement, but it turned out that what she actually considered “help” was inviting myself over to do things in person. She never invited me over, she’d just tell me “My mom is helping me [do this] tonight.” So I incorrectly assumed it was a mother-daughter bonding thing or something she was doing in her spare time on-the-fly, and she thought I was being lazy. In the end, I was insulted that all the time I put in meant nothing to her, and she actually stopped speaking to me.

    • Grace

      I dread to think what their marriage will be like if that’s her attitude to communication!

  • LM

    We did all the planning things ourselves (although ended up getting a DOC to help in the last month) and didn’t have much DIY stuff, but I was really touched when people offered their help. We did ask several friends to help out before and during the wedding (DJ/computer watcher, ushers, MC). We made a list of jobs and thought about who would be good at each task and willing to help. So, I asked my artsy friend to do the chalkboard and our chatty friends to be ushers, etc. I think it’s good to be really clear ahead of time about what we expected/needed and made sure to get everyone all the information they needed to do their assigned tasks. Our friends were happy to pitch in but we didn’t want to make it stressful for them by being disorganized.

  • Amy M.

    I think the big ideas regarding asking friends to help are 1) Choose a task that fits the person’s personality/talents/time commitment available. 2) Communicate very clearly what you want this person to do. Deadlines/timelines are helpful, as are expressing your expectations of what doing a good job at it looks like. 3) Thank them in a way they find meaningful (shoutout during the toasts? Heartfelt thank-you note? Small gift?) 4) Be comfortable delegating. If you’re just going to freak out about whether someone is doing something right, either they aren’t the right person for the job or you should be doing it yourself. I have helped set up and clean up after friend’s weddings many times and when these four elements are involved, my work always feels like a labor of love that I am glad to provide on their special day.

    • KC

      YES! All four of these. (plus “provide people an out in case you’re mistaken about item 1”)

      But yes, if you can’t let it go, or they don’t feel comfortable making the call, delegating it is painful for everyone involved…

      • Amy M.

        Haha, great tip KC :-) I suppose I should have added 1a) Give tasks only to people who genuinely want to help, and, as you suggest, be open to people changing their minds. This can definitely be a tricky one, but I personally feel like I have a good handle on who really wants to help (his mom, my mom, his sister-in-law, my sister) and who is just offering to be nice or because they feel like they should (like my dear friend who has three children under 5 and really doesn’t need anything else to do or my out-of-town godmother). Trust your instincts!

  • Katie

    Personally, after we got the “big concept” stuff done like a venue, budget and style, we identified the pieces that we had very little experience and/or interest in. These items included things like ceremony music, hotel logistics, wedsite design, etc. We then created this list of specific things that our guests could be “team lead” on, and when we were asked “what can we do” we sent out this list. As we got more decisions made, we found other more specific (labor oriented) tasks to add, like “craft 10 centerpieces to xyz specifications.”

    So for example, we have one friend who is going to take on ceremony music — this includes giving us three options to choose from, coordinating any sound systems, musicians, etc and being the point-of-contact for this on the day of the wedding. We had another friend who wanted to help and was crafty, but wasn’t comfortable making decisions on our behalf, so we sent her home with a stack of napkins to hem.

  • MisterEHolmes

    I am SO reassured by these comments. My wedding is 4ish/5 months away, but earlier this month my bridesmaids were *demanding* I give them something to do. I don’t really need help right now–no, MOH, it would be completely inappropriate and a trainwreck for you to try to haggle with my mother over place settings!–so I was like “um…I’ve got nothing? You can make paper flowers?”
    So I’m grateful to know that I’m not the only one who wants help on the fiddly crafty bits and not actual decision-making!
    (Yes, I’m the one whose bridesmaids are being troublesome regarding dresses. Unsurprisingly, they also are refusing to get on the same page regarding paper flowers and don’t want to help with those.)

    • First off, Yay for paper flowers! And I completely understand on the fiddly crafty bits instead of actual decision making. Luckily for me, one of my girlfriends saw that Badger and I were making decisions together- instead of offering to help make decisions, she offered to be a sounding board while I talk about ALL THE PRETTY THINGS. Seriously the most helpful thing anyone has done in the wedding. I find myself spending a lot of time looking at things, but all the conversations are about the logistics, so being able to babble about wedding stuff without fear of boring someone was awesome- though I’m not sure the troublesome bridesmaids would be on board with that.

      You can always say that they could plan the bachelorette. It sounds like they would have ideas for what they want to do anyways- and it’s an open ended project that they could put as muck work into as they want.

      • MisterEHolmes

        Wait, I need to explicitly say they can plan the bachelorette? I thought that was a given?

        • It depends. It’s pretty standard, but I told mine they didn’t need to since they all live states away. In my opinion, the only requirements of bridesmaids are wearing a dress and smiling pretty at the ceremony.

          However, if they’re demanding things to do already, and don’t want to do the things you have for them, maybe it’s time to remind them that the bachelorette and any other celebrations you are excited about can be planned many months in advance :) It might keep them busy and out of your hair for a while at least!

          • MisterEHolmes

            Thanks. I’ll have something to say the next time it comes up!

    • Laura C

      Oy. They’re not on board with trendy DIY projects, even? They are a puzzle.

      • MisterEHolmes

        I was told they “won’t look good” and I need to just get real flowers. *headdesk*

        • Laura C

          Whereas I read your comment and had this sudden urge to DIY something, even though I am profoundly non-crafty.

          • MisterEHolmes

            Careful, I’m accepting all volunteers old enough to operate scissors! Lol!

          • KC

            When’s your wedding? ‘Cause paper-flowers-by-mail sounds fun, and I don’t have any friends’ weddings “going on” right now… :-)

          • MisterEHolmes

            It’s possible you’re a craft-sadist, KC! My wedding’s in June, and I spent three hours teaching my dad to make flowers last Saturday…he’s….gonna need more practice. Or I can just accept that mine are paper roses and his are paper… interpretive lilies.

          • KC

            Do you have a tutorial you’re following?

            (and actually, yes, I really like crafting but not keeping the crafted things because of dust and clutter and good-at-crafting-bad-at-decorating and augh. So yes, I do things like make garlands… for other people. But there aren’t any lined up right now. :-) )

          • MisterEHolmes

            Is this real life?! Ladies of APW, do you see what is happening?!

            I’ve been using a modified version of this: http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Paper-Flowers/

            Modifications: put a small loop in the top of the wire so flowers don’t get flung off when I inevitably drop them; glue petals on directly to the wire/each other as we go, rather than at the end.

            Making mine with old dictionary pages, which are thin and ever so slightly yellowed and working really well.

          • KC

            Do you have a set size you’re making, or would a range of sizes (and, actually, of yellowed-ness-es, since I’ve never seen two books be quite the same in that regard) be acceptable? ‘Cause this sounds like my cup of tea. :-) So if you’re good with Random Internet Stranger making extra flowers for your wedding, then I’m totally in. :-) (they would probably be better than Interpretive Lilies but not Martha Stewart quality, however)

          • MisterEHolmes

            I’m not the sort of person who normally says this sort of thing, but God provides, holy cow! I won’t stop anyone from making flowers if they so choose (nor would I be unhappy if someone tried then realized what a timesuck this is).
            Want to shoot me an email at kikembae(at)gmail.com?

          • KC

            Hereby emailed. :-) (so if you get that email, you can snip your email out of your comment, if desired)

          • KEA1

            “Interpretive lilies” just made me fall out of my chair laughing. I might have to find excuses to use that phrase, if I may…

          • MisterEHolmes

            Yay, that’s the best! Glad to make someone giggle!

          • KC

            In the weird, weird little world of cake decorating, flowers that do not exist in the botanical world are called “fantasy flowers”. I think “interpretive” is way more accurate and hilarious, though!

  • ElisabethJoanne

    With no crafting and a groom who works from home, we didn’t have a lot to delegate. There were a ton of errands, some of them straight-forward, the last 4 weeks that we could have used help with. To me, straight-forward is anything that doesn’t require an aesthetic choice, like simply transporting something from point A to point B, or purchasing a particular product, like a case of Coke cans. But for my own peace of mind and my friends’, I wouldn’t have delegated something like “find escort cards that ‘match’ the invitations.”

    With no day-of-coordinator or even stage manager, we gave the cash tips to the best man’s wife to distribute to the catering staff, when they offered to help in the last week. We asked one relative from each branch of the families to round up his branch for photos; we tried to choose relatives with some familiarity with the venue, too.

  • Lindsey d.

    I’m looking for help mostly in the days and hours leading up to the wedding, not so much during the ceremony/reception. We decided to hire a day of coordinator to deal with that because we are pretty adamant that we don’t want our guests working during the wedding. We are definitely lucky to have that option.

    But, the week before, I plan to put everyone who volunteers to work. We will be making centerpieces, hotel greeting bags, potting ferns, picking up flowers, putting together a couple of bouquets, putting together the chuppah, possibly cleaning the ceremony venue, setting up for the ceremony, etc. I’ll have a few people assigned to go back to the ceremony venue and pack it up. I’ve already got my maid of honor assigned to mimosas for getting ready that morning. I think we’ll have a really good idea of what needs to be done in the next three weeks (wedding is in 5 1/2 weeks) and we can assign duties based on who is coming to town when and what needs to be done.

  • vita trefusis

    I actually kept a document on my computer called “help from friends and family” which I constantly updated.

    I was lucky that so many people upfront volunteered to help. Here is what I had them do:

    In advance

    – give me feedback on wedding readings
    – make crafts including paper rosettes, name cards, seating map
    – Set up and decorate the hall the day before
    – Pick up lunch for the people decorating the hall
    – pick up and transport the cake, cheese platter, and other things to the hall
    – Supply and spruce up bathrooms at the hall e.g. flowers, fancy soap
    – Arrange flowers that we bought in bulk at the farmers market

    On the wedding day

    – Welcome guests and show them to their seats, direct people to toilets
    – Hold onto an emergency kit for the bride including makeup, flat shoes, safety pins, cellphone etc (the friend who did this got a bit tipsy and disappeared with the emergency bag!)
    – Keep track of Really Important Things: the rings, marriage licenses, extra copies of ceremony script, vows and speeches
    – At dinner, help serve food and top up water jugs (we did family style service)
    – Drunkenly carry back leftover wine, cake and cheese to our apartment for the after party!

    The day after the wedding
    – Set tables for Brunch and clean up after brunch
    – Take down and pack up decorations in the hall, take away all gifts and cards (my friends did this all without me, which was incredible!)

    I hired a day-of-coordinator who managed a lot of stuff, but I really spent time thinking through all the tasks and seeing what the DOC and Caterers would not be able to handle, and then handing that stuff off to friends. It made a hell of a difference!

  • Christina McPants

    We put friends to work, but only ones who volunteered. Bridesmaid addressed our invitations (and we fed them pancakes and mimosas). All of the ladies involved with the wedding helped us put together flowers (which we should have boozed but didn’t think to), my bridesmen picked up the sound system and then everyone helped set up the decorations (and take them down) the day of. My friends are awesome. I also sent out a timeline of everything the week of, to help make things simpler.

  • Rowany

    Like others, most of our help was at the actual event. As to the actual question though, if you have volunteers early in the planning process and you think they are capable, I would assign them to be ‘team leaders’. That way you can go over the logistics with them during the planning process so they know them as well as you do (so you don’t have to worry about communicating everything day of and just focus on getting married), and they can delegate and deal with issues in your stead.

  • Kat Robertson

    Most of my friends got married before me, so I did crowdsource for some vendor help (something I recommend for a private e-mail chain with people you trust, not a public post on Facebook, as people WILL be impertinent.) I found some good vendors that way and reviews from people I trust, and it helped me narrow things down. Now it’s more crafting than anything else – pizza and paper flowers this Friday!

  • Marcela

    I was extremely fortunate to have six family members volunteer to assemble the ceremony programs/fans a few days before the wedding so I could ditch them all and go see PAUL MCCARTNEY! They cut paper, glued and tied ribbon bows while I boogied down with one of my best friends as a last single girl fling. On the day of, my brother-in-not-law acted as usher and bathroom baskets were put together by my sister and aunt. We really didn’t have that much to do delegation wise since we had an all-inclusiveish venue. People asked if we needed more help, but we just really didn’t.

  • Erin E

    This was particularly tough for us because our wedding was in a different city from the one we live in, and many guests were traveling from yet other places to attend. So there wasn’t much my friends could do at the venue in another state. Plus, I felt so grateful that folks were traveling to attend that I felt bad asking them to add to their travel schedules by having them run around while they were “visiting”. I guess some weddings just lend themselves better to “friendsourcing” than others!

    I did accept help wherever I could, though: my best friend organized a bachelorette evening two nights before our wedding (she was familiar with our wedding city, so this worked out great); I sent out a giant e-mail to everyone traveling in asking them to talk with each other about transportation and ride-sharing, which worked well; my Mom lives in the wedding city and I had her do a ton of running around as well as receive packages… stuff like that.

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  • KC

    1. know your people, and
    2. communicate to them that you appreciate them, and
    3. spend an hour or two each “milestone” (before diving into each batch of tasks, or each month, or something) playing “spot the delegatable tasks” and “spot the places we could use a helping hand” (I had a wonderful bridesmaid who went with me to the paper store and both kept me sane and also was generously excited with me), and
    4. communicate clearly in a way that gives people an “out” if you’ve misjudged their expectations, and
    that gets you a lot of the way there, honestly.

    In a perfect world, you would know exactly what people are good at *and* what they like to do (not always the same thing) *and* how much time they’d like to spend, and in a perfect world this would all match up perfectly – that if you want a sewn fabric scrap bunting, you’ll have a sewing friend with a closet stuffed full of odds and ends of fabric who would love to do that – or if you want a dessert potluck, you’ll have a fleet of bakers who can bring something without stressing – or if you want to not think about the music, you can shift that onto your their-parties-have-the-best-music friend.

    The perfect matchup rarely happens in real life, though. So be aware of that?

    Anyway, enjoy as much of the help as you can (including the help that is a listening ear for ranting about the color choices of aunt so-and-so when she went to “help” you pick out flowers or whatever), and hear it all as love. :-) (and: it’s okay to say “how generous! no thank you/we have that covered”)

  • Ariel

    Gah! I feel like I need so much help with this. We’re not having a bridal party (not even a maid of honor or best man) and I feel bad even just asking my friends their opinions on things! What is wrong with me?
    Some of my friends offered to help in specific ways (one friend and her awesome mom are helping me arrange flowers, someone else is helping me decorate the place the day before, which is btw her wedding anniversary) and for that I am forever grateful. But the friends who just say to tell them what I need help with? I have no idea. There’s this sense of guilt that because they’re helping me and because I didn’t make them part of the (nonexistent) bridal party, I feel bad if they help.

    • KC

      Would you feel better if you had a method for acknowledging them at the wedding? (like, fine print “credits” printed on the back of wedding programs or something)

      Anyway, while it’s dimly possible that someone would offer help solely because they expect to be part of the official Bridal Party With The Fancy Dresses, it seems generally unlikely. If you give them options (with timelines/expectations) and an “out” (like “but I totally understand if this isn’t your thing or you’re too busy then!”), then that seems good to me? I know I’d be sad not to help at a friend’s wedding if they needed any help at all.

      • Ariel

        That might make me feel a bit better… We weren’t originally planning on having programs, but then a friend sent me a picture of an adorable program fan with puzzle on the back that I might just need to have, if I have any time to make them, ha! I could definitely add a line in there thanking the incredible friends and family we have for everything they’ve done to help us.
        I know they don’t expect to be in the official fancypants bridal party, but I still feel bad about asking for their help. I think acknowledging them in a program would help me feel like they’ll feel appreciated (if that makes any sense). Thanks.

        • Michelle

          We have a wedding committee, as opposed to the traditional “bridal party” because we have a large group of friends we love in our hometown and a split bridal party didn’t really make sense. We have a “Taco Truck Research Subcommittee,” an “instragram Enforcement and Photography subcommittee” a “Wine and Crafts” subcommittee” and so forth. We’re honoring them by making them special pins/boutouneers and the like, so you can absolutely ask your friends for help, and honor them even if you’re not having a bridal party, and for the most part we have found that everyone is excited to help! My partner and I are viewing this time not only as planning our marriage in addition to a wedding, but also continuing to build a really strong community foundation for our marriage. And nothing says strong community like 13 very opinionated folks with wide ranges in musical taste arguing over the greatest dance song of all time late into the night. Your friends want to help and be a part of this process with you!

          • We are doing this, too. Our first “meeting” with Team Wedding is on February 16. It is really nerve wracking to be vulnerable and ask for help in this way but we really can’t do all this without some help and we are not having a bridal party. I think once they hear the plans they will jump on board enthusiastically with ideas and passion. Everyone has RSVP’d and are looking forward to the Team Wedding lunch. Planning a wedding has definitely been a lesson in allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.

    • JSwen

      BRIDAL BRIGADE! My friends are so excited to not wear coordinated outfits, not stand up in the wedding, yet be invited to hang and decorate prior to the ceremony and be included in lots ‘o pictures. I think any of my other thoughts are thoroughly covered in the other posts. Oh and stop with the guilt! You can thank them appropriately without having a bridal party. Because they LOVE YOU. :)

      • Ariel

        Thanks! I guess I need to be reminded that they wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want to help.

  • snowmentality

    So, you can totally delegate information-gathering about vendors! I was a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding last year and offered to help specifically with that part of things. She told me basic guidelines for what they were looking for (e.g., for a reception venue, that it should hold 150 people, be available on a Saturday evening, allow alcohol) and I got Googling, emailing, and phone-calling. I put together my results in a database I could share with them — I recorded vendor name, contact info, website, any pricing info I could get, any photos I could find, and any other general notes (like reviews, etc.) That way they just had to scroll through what was essentially a spreadsheet, with all the info in one place.

    Obviously, the decision-making process was still all theirs. But the information-gathering part, I could help with. (It helped that I’d already been through planning my own wedding, so I had some experience in what to look for, what questions to ask, what information was important, etc.)

  • NrgGrl

    Does anyone have experiences delegating tasks for a de facto destination wedding? Somewhat related, has anyone had family/friends/bridesmaids just NOT ask to how they can help?

    My family members and bridesmaids are all great people, but I’ve been surprised at how little they seem to ask me about the wedding. The explanation for this is probably some combination of the facts that 1) a lot of them are busy grad students, 2) they all live on the other side of the country, and 3) my wedding isn’t for another six months…on my side of the country and 4) none of them are married (or haven’t been to a wedding since the 80s), so they don’t know what to expect. I’ve tried to involve them despite the long-distance by sending out regular emails with (unsolicited, but definitely humorous!) updates on wedding planning news, and by starting a group Pinterest board (against my own better judgement — Pinterest mostly just makes me want to cry). They generally respond to this stuff, but it’s somewhat lukewarm, and no one has explicitly asked, “How can I help?” It’s hard not to feel lonely and like no one else is excited.

    The problem with this situation is that I definitely recognize that I do/will need help with things. Should I suggest ways for them to be involved anyway, or is it unrealistic to expect them to travel across the country only to be “put to work”?

    • KC

      Generally, grad student = no money, so possibly flying across the country on occasions in addition to the time for your wedding may not work out well budget-wise. Is there anything that can be done long-distance? Can they all come a week or two early and be stashed in a house rental somewhere during the last part of wedding prep? (okay, additional time commitment sort of depends on teaching schedules or lab experiments in progress, etc.)

      A lot of things are harder/impossible to do from a distance, but some might be totally doable, and others might be doable-with-some-creativity. But they may all be assuming that they’re too far away to be useful and may also be assuming that you have “local” friends helping… okay, and they may be just plain busy or weddings may not be “their thing” so much (which is not a judgment of your wedding, just some people are party people vs. not-party people, and some people get excited about weddings and others are happy for you but not, like, pinterest-y).

      If you can identify what you’re going to need help with, and whether it can be done long-distance, and whether you have any local assistance that you can call in, then maybe Large Group Emailing with a “hey, anyone want to fly out and help with these things?” (or “anyone want to glue buttons to cardstock and mail them to me?” or whatever) and seeing what kind of response you get might make sense?

      Hope it goes well! Long-distance is hard, especially for figuring out both sets of expectations (and not appalling anyone in the process – “you don’t love me enough to even just do this thing?” or “you expect me to do what???”). (having had a wedding with multiple Inter-Continental BridesMaids, and having been in weddings as an Inter-Continental BridesMaid – it is, indeed, challenging to do social-dance teamwork long-distance. Totally not impossible. Just a bit extra challenging.)

      • NrgGrl

        Thanks — these are all good points. You’re right about the long-distance friends/family situation being just generally tough. I’m still trying to accept that practically speaking, I’m going to need to do a lot of this on my own (I just moved to CA a year ago, so I don’t have many local friends yet!). You also reminded me that I shouldn’t undervalue the emotional support that my bridesmaids and family have provided me with so far — it’s an extremely valuable long-distance “task” for them to undertake and I am very thankful for it. Maybe I’ll stick to leaning on them that way for now.

        • KC

          Yeah, a year is not very long to build “adult” friendships in. Sometimes you strike a rich vein of friends really quickly… but usually not so much, esp. compared to the depth/knowing-you-ness of Those You Left Behind You (but don’t underestimate the potential of co-workers and other local acquaintances; sometimes they’re happy to help out when they realize that you *don’t* have that local support network, but usually even the friendliest acquaintance people assume that you have “more important friends” or “older friends” helping with stuff like shoe shopping and whatnot).

          Sorry we haven’t invented teleportation yet; it sucks. :-(

          I hope all goes well for you!

    • ElisabethJoanne

      My bridesmaids also barely offered to help. They were also inexperienced with weddings (my much younger sisters). As they were family, I could use the line, “Mom told me I could ask you to…” My maid-of-honor was in Singapore for most of my engagement. She’d respond to e-mails about “Is this dress OK?” “What kind of shoes?” She did some coordination with my other sister.

    • Kelly

      Yes to this. We are getting married near my fiance’s hometown, which is about two hours away. All of my family/bridal party is traveling for the wedding. The future in-laws hate planning events, which is fine because I love it and don’t need to burden them. But I really really need their help with wedding-weekend things like… setting up kegs, picking up the flowers, setting up the venue,etc. and they haven’t offered at all. Not a word. I would love to DIT the appetizers for the wedding… but it seems there is no “T”.
      He assures me that his parents/brothers wouldn’t want me to hold back if I needed help, but… in-law relationships are fragile and I’m not willing to make waves. Plus, I know that it isn’t that fun for them. Oh well. Back to DIY then.

    • KP

      When you figure the brilliant solution to this, I would LOVE to know! My mother is an OOT guest for my wedding, and I was stunned that she just decided they were going to roll into town on Friday afternoon for a Saturday wedding. I’m thinking, “woman, are you serious? There is going to be sh&t to do!” She is generally a bit clueless about this, and my sister, MOH, tried to nudge her into understanding that as immediate family they sort of needed to be ready to pitch in (my sister and family are arriving a couple of days early). I can’t decide if my mom is in the wrong for not asking to help, or if I am in the wrong for presuming they would expect to be part of the production crew.

      • NrgGrl

        Exactly! (To everything you said!) I’m obviously unsure of the solution to all of this, but it does seem to help to have someone in-the-know, like your sister, who can nudge everyone in the right direction. Still, it’s stressful to have to manage everyone’s expectations along with your own. (I was equally shocked when my mom, like yours, didn’t realize that I’d want her to be here a few days early!) Good luck to you!

  • Kayjayoh

    One way in which was are lucking out: the friend who is stage managing the wedding and reception stage manages opera for a living. She is really good at making complex systems with a lot of people and moving parts and timing work smoothly. (We are also doing our best to keep things as non-complicated as possible.)

  • Lisa

    Well. if your friend is an industry luminary, it’s a very good thing:):.

  • alexandra

    The rule of delegating is that if you are going to ask a friend to do something for you for free, you have to have no expectations whatsoever about how it will turn out. If you have expectations for the thing you delegate, you MUST pay for it to be done or do it yourself. Even if you HAD expectations for the thing, once you delegate it to a friend, you must not only let go of your expectations, but make sure that you don’t mind even if the thing never gets done at all.

    Any other approach will cause resentment and bad friendship and create drama for your wedding.

    Things we delegated:
    1. Flowers: a friend not only bought them (she’s has a wholesale flower license and could get them cheap), but arranged all the bouquets. She offered to do it without my asking her, I had no expectations, and the whole thing went great.
    2. Cake: a friend volunteered to bake a simple wedding cake with fresh flowers. It looked great. It did not match anything else at the wedding, but it was free and very tasty and we did not care at all.
    3. Programs: I gave all the info to a friend and told her I didn’t care how she formatted it, but we were having a church wedding with hymns and people needed the lyrics. She had high hopes of creating something awesome but the final product (printed on office paper at Kinko’s) didn’t match her expectations and she felt bad. The lyrics were readable and everybody sang, which was the only objective of the program, so I thought she did great. Her budget was $10–I assured her that there was no way to make something really amazing for the price.
    4. DOC: a friend volunteered for this and she’d done other weddings so I said it would be great. She was amazing and worked very hard, but if I’d had $500 to spare I probably would have preferred to have paid for this. A few things fell through the cracks and I was a little stressed out (not angry at her at all! just stressed). I don’t regret having a slightly less well-organized wedding than I would have liked–we just didn’t have the money for a professional planner, and the things that didn’t quite go the way I had wanted were not noticed by anyone except me.

    • JSwen

      Do you mind elaborating on what exactly you would have liked a paid DOC to do? I don’t think we’ll need one because the other vendors are offering to keep things moving forward but I really don’t have a clue as to what can go wrong without a DOC. Thanks!

      • Amy

        True DOCs will also generally create and reaffirm your timeline/logistics with both you and all of your main vendors the week or so before the wedding. They make sure everyone arrives on time, with everything they are supposed to bring (they should also have copies of your contracts). My DOC made sure all of my guests were able to arrive at my location after the park our venue was in randomly had their main gate closed and locked. She also wrangled people for photos, made sure everything was set up, people were tipped, personal items were given back to us at the end of the night, etc. Your DOC is essentially your team captain for the wedding, with your vendors all pitching in. If you can afford it, they are worth their weight in gold.

  • Caitlin_DD

    Coming from the other side of this, thank you for reminding me to re-extend a (detailed) offer to help to my friend. Unfortunately, there’s only so much I can do from China, but hopefully just the knowledge that someone’s here for her/rooting for her will help.

  • Alisha

    I am having a cookie table (any other Pittsburghers here? Although I think the cookie table has extended outside of Pittsburgh now), which made delegation really easy whenever someone offered to help. I would just ask if they like to bake and would mind bringing a dozen of their favorite cookies to the hotel by a certain time. I designated my MOH to be the cookie retriever, and my dad offered to take all the cookies to the venue before the ceremony. It’s been a lot more fun than I expected. People are swapping recipes, and a few of my friends’ parents have even offered to mail cookies to the venue.

    • Hannah B

      I know I am late to the game..but the idea of a cookie table has been stressing me out lately. The tables are just so overflowing in cookies and people expect to take cookies home and no one in my family has ever done a cookie table, despite us being several generations of Pittsburghers (perhaps because we’re not Italian?). How can you make sure to have enough cookies? Are you supplementing with store bought? I had a friend whose aunt made TWO HUNDRED DOZEN and there is simply no one in my family who will do that or who has the freezer space. Thoughts?

  • Fiona

    We’ve been so fortunate to be inundated with offers to help. I’ve also said YES to everyone.
    The offers to help are some pretty fundamental components of the wedding (food, photography, etc.), I’ve found that I just feel so lucky to be able to have a big party in our honor that if what is happening isn’t exactly what I would choose, what makes it special is that the people doing them are so invested in the project, and ultimately in the success of our relationship.

    A group of family friends are preparing the WEDDING FEAST. One of these women has recently been diagnosed with pretty serious cancer. Her friend recently told me how much she is looking forward to this wedding and how it gives her energy. Therefore, when the friend with cancer said she loves the idea of a burrito bar, BURRITO BAR IT IS!!! I suddenly couldn’t imagine another option.

    A friend of ours is designing and printing the INVITATIONS, and she keeps asking me what specifically I might want in terms of colors, fonts, types of paper, etc. I’ve realized that while I could probably come up with a list of wants, but much more than that, I trust “the artist” and LOVE her taste, so why would I question it?

    Another friend who lives nearby is growing ALL THE FOOD that grows in this environment as well as ALL THE FLOWERS. He asked me what I wanted in flowers, and though I love pretty things so much, all I could think is that I want him to grow what he loves to grow. The fact that he is growing the flowers for our wedding is so much more important than color schemes and nonsense.

    Anyway, I would say to other brides out there, SAY YES to the help. Really, it makes the whole thing so much more special. Ultimately, our wedding is about our relationship in the context of the community. Also, we have amazing and talented friends.

    • Fiona

      Also, the women in my life are collecting jewelry from all around the world (from Ireland to Palestine to Germany and beyond) for a brooch bouquet I’m going to bring to our city hall wedding–which we are having because it’s a necessary step in the immigration process. I will then use this brooch bouquet as decoration at the wedding.

  • Fiona

    APWers: I have a very important question: if you have tons of amazing people doing tons of amazing things to make this wedding happen, HOW DO YOU THANK THEM ALL IF THEY DON’T FIT ON THE PROGRAM???

    • Kate

      For my bridesmaids, I wrote notes to go with their bridesmaid gifts (lovely pocketknives and chocolate, because you can always use another pocketknife and more chocolate) thanking them for the things that they’d specifically helped with. For everyone who helped set up tables, set up the taco buffet, tear down tables and so on I wrote thank you notes, or if they sent a gift I made sure to include how grateful we were for their help with the wedding as well. And I made a sort of gift basket for the amazing friend of the family who coordinated all the food that included a note and tea and a scones. So, basically, I wrote a lot of notes.

      • Fiona

        Those are good ideas. I’m going to grad school immediately following the wedding, so maybe this will be a fantastic opportunity for my fiance to use his new English skillz (he’s immigrating to the US soon).

    • KC

      1. wedding website?
      2. larger program/smaller font for that part
      3. hilarious insertion into ceremony/reception, read at the speed of the required text added to commercials (like the side effects on medication commercials or whatever)
      4. notes (can be pre-prepped with names & addresses on the envelope, and post-it notes with what you’re anticipating they’ll be helping with; some you could even write ahead of time)

      5. a big fat sign/poster or chalkboard or something at the reception “This wedding brought to you today by the letter Z and the number 5, and these wonderful people:” or whatever.

      But yeah, notes is probably the most straightforward way to go. Just keep a spreadsheet of who’s doing what so that you can sort it out afterwards. Unnecessary bonus points available for having someone (pro not necessary at all) take snapshots of people “doing their thing” [hauling chairs, arranging flowers, cooking] or being at the wedding and then including that photo in with the notes.

      (says she who Royally Failed at thank-you notes, and whose friends still talk to her. Advice: easier than practice.)

  • Kirstin

    I thought about those decisions that I either: A. Didn’t really care about, or B. Were totally over my head, and then thought about how I might get friends involved. Flowers were one of those things. I thankfully have a friend who just got married last year, and had offered to help with “whatever I needed.”

    I approached her by saying, “Would you be interested in helping with the flowers? I’m a little overwhelmed.” I then sort of talked through different options of her level of involvement – giving me a sense of what I’d need to ask/be prepared to answer for the meetings with the florist (I’m using the woman who had worked with her), helping me narrow down ideas, etc.

    She’s been amazing and even offered to go with me to the appointment, as she knows my fiance cares even less than I do. She’s good about coaching me through determining what opinions I do have (surprise – I know I don’t want lilies), but also not making the experience about her and what she’d want.

    I think it’s about finding the right friend and figuring out a sense of how you will work together, what you want from them and what they can offer, before jumping in.

  • Amy March

    I know it’s a really unpopular opinion here, but I want to throw out there that maybe one option to consider is *not* doing things that require delegation. Need 3 friends to assemble favors? Not really, because you don’t need favors. Need your bridesmaids to spend the day before the wedding making centerpieces? Not really, you could skip them. Of course lots of people love to help, and letting them is kind, but it’s also okay to decide that you don’t want to be delegating and that you’d rather do something simple that make your wedding a group project.

    • KC

      That’s totally true – a lot of things you can delegate are also optional and it may be miles and miles easier and more fun to, for instance, just not have favors, rather than do the requisite juggling, if favors aren’t important to the couple (in total). If you don’t want to do something, and you don’t care if it happens at your wedding, and no one “important” does either, then snipping rather than delegating makes a whole lot of sense! :-)

      (I think the really unpopular opinion that’s *related* to that is that people should trim their wedding to fit strictly within the resources they can hire, and shouldn’t have friends help with things because no friend would ever want to do X or Y to help you out – which is a definite “know your people” thing and is demonstrably not the case for some APW-ers. We’ve got someone in this thread who says that their favorite thing to do is haul stuff from Point A to Point B; I used to love doing wedding cleanup [haven’t done it for a while; assume that if I had a chance I still would, although my “still going strong at 3am” age may have passed…]; “what shoe should I buy” Happy Hour threads tend to get tons of cheerful responses; I have a lot of friends who love wedding baking/crafts, especially when done in groups… and all these things are “would rather do this than not do this” and/or “absolutely thrilled to do this” not just “a sense of obligation” things. Doing the social dance to sift out those who would be unhappy or resentful doing X or Y might be a challenge depending on your group and their expectations and communiciation styles, but seeing the community rise around you in weird but tangible ways is a pretty awesome thing for people who like that form of dance. :-) )

  • B

    While on the topic of asking for help – I’d like to throw out a post idea about how to ask your mother/parents for help. I think my mother (in my case) really wants to be included, but whenever I ask for help, she uses her magical mom powers to complicate things and find ways to criticize what we’ve done so far – and that can really sting. How can I help my mother feel included, but protect myself and my partner?

  • mackenzie

    Yes! As the first wedding for either of our immediate families, we totally faced having a bunch of people wanting to help and not knowing at all what to have them do. I remember my SIL-to-be crying at our apartment as I (rather callously) asked, “I just spent 40 hours trying to hire a photographer, did you really want to be a part of that?”. Her answer, “yes…” Anyway, if I were to go back, when someone offered to help, I’d probably say, “in a couple of months, I’ll really need help with _______” and then I’d cross it off my do-to list and add it to theirs. I really wish there was more we could have delegated before the wedding weekend (hang the cafe lights, get the silverware ready for the rehearsal dinner, etc), but I was an NYC bride from Seattle marrying a Boston boy on Cape Cod. It was a destination wedding for everyone, and a lot of sh*t needed to get done once we got up there that couldn’t get done in advance. I loved our wedding, but that’s probably my biggest gripe. I wish we would have been able to ask less of our guests during our wedding weekend. I know that it was an act of love, but…

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