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Do You Have the Urge to Give Friendly Wedding “Advice”?

Here's why I need you to stop with the "helpful comments". No really.


I wrote this letter out of frustration, two weeks before my wedding, as the “helpful comments” and “hilarious sarcastic jokes” about my wedding choices were flying fast and furious. Examples of this kind of charming commentary included: “I think you shouldn’t get married until you are at least thirty” (he says to the twenty-seven-year-old bride); “Next time you should plan your wedding in Hawaii, because [small Canadian town] in March is hardly a worthwhile destination”; and, the best, “Don’t get married. Just get a dog instead.” Delightful!

Dear [Complainer],

Thank you for your input. Unfortunately, since it is the day/week before/of the wedding, I am unable to change the thing that is causing you some amount of discomfort/inconvenience. Before you move forward with further commentary about how you would have planned things differently for our wedding, I would like to ask you a favor. As my loved one, your words are very meaningful to me. So I’d like to ask you to take a moment and think about how you would like to be remembered on my wedding day. You see, this wedding day is a big deal for me. And, as someone who loves me, I hope that it would be important to you as well, though naturally not as much as it is to me. Because my wedding day is important to me, and you are important to me, I will likely hold the words you say to me about and on this wedding day very close to my heart. This day will be very emotional for me, and I will therefore be hypersensitive to negative comments, perceiving them to be criticism of myself and my choices. You might have been thinking that you could be more free to share your opinions since we are family/friends—while this might normally be true, I am a people pleaser trying to plan a fun set of events for 115 people, who are the people that my partner and I love best in the world. I do not take well to unhelpful negative opinions (even “jokes”) about things that I cannot change (such as the location, time of year, guest list, decoration choices, food choices). So I’m asking you to take some time to think about what sorts of things you want me to remember about you, about how you acted and what you said to me and those that I love. If you don’t really care—or don’t mind if what I remember is that you spent your time sharing opinions which I found to be hurtful, with lack of thought for my feelings—then keep on keeping on. If you were hoping to be remembered as being a supportive, loving person who rose above the inconvenience of travel and circumstance to celebrate with me, you might want to reconsider your current conversational style and get a tighter filter on the running commentary.

Whatever way you act, I will still love you. There will be future life events at which we can make different, better memories, even if things go sour today. But I am getting married just once. You have this amazing, unique opportunity to be a part of a significant set of memories in my life. So I hope you are able to enjoy the weekend with us. I hope you are able to see past the things that aren’t to your taste and expectations, and instead open your heart to meeting new wonderful people and reconnecting with those you already know and love. I hope you can focus on the fact that my partner and I love each other, are committing to each other, and are asking you to celebrate with us, even if you don’t think we have a shot in hell of happiness because of your own views on marriage. I hope you are able to be present at our wedding, and express your love and support to us. That is what I hope to remember about you.

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