Q: My wedding’s happening a year from now, and I’m totally psyched. For the wedding party, I’ve asked my three best friends. These are the people (outside of my fiancé) who’ve contributed the most to my upcoming marriage, whether that came in the form of advice when I needed it or a spare bedroom when I was exiting a toxic relationship. They’re all from different times in my life so none of them have met one another, but I’m really looking forward to introducing them!
Just one snag: all three of said friends live on the coasts, and I’m in the Midwest. The closest one is a six-hour drive away. I don’t have any family nearby, and even if I did, they’re not feeling the wedding excitement and are not providing any logistical support. I’m reading APW and seeing all these stories of communities coming together for a wedding, but my officially designated “wedding party” will probably only be around for a long weekend. They love me and are excited for me, but I have no expectations of them dropping their lives so we can hang out for a week.
On the other hand, my future wife and I also recently got to know a great group of local people. I moved to this city a few years ago, but only at the tail end of last year found a reliable gang of friends. I wouldn’t say we’re “close” yet, but we meet up for games at least once every couple weeks and we always have a fun time. They’re also super psyched about the wedding, support us as a couple and are beyond-expectations perfect about pronouns (I’m a trans man).
I want to include these folks in the wedding planning, a) because I really enjoy their company, and b) because we’re most likely going to need help starting sooner than the weekend of, and I can’t reasonably ask my long-distance friends to come any earlier. I’ve never been super great about asking for help because I hate imposing on people. But by the same token, and since I’m an introvert who’s never hosted so much as “drinks at my place,” you could argue that I shouldn’t dream of trying to host a 70+ guest event without help from friends.
Is it okay to ask people for help who aren’t going to be in the wedding party? What’s a good way to approach my friends and say, “Hey, my family’s AWOL and my longtime support system is not local, and the result is that I’m feeling alone. I need some reassurance, hugs, company on errands, help hosting an engagement party (I really want one and nobody’s gonna throw it for me), etc.”?
—Adrift in the Midwest
A: Dear AITM,
That thing you just wrote just now? That’s exactly it. Perfect, honestly.
Your friends will probably love to help, and will be overjoyed that you asked. You’re talking about all the fun of wedding planning, without any of the expensive bridal party outfits or obligations. And other people’s weddings are way more fun to plan than your own (no decision fatigue or worry about money or stress about family, sign me up).
Loads of people enjoy the kind of planning a wedding requires, especially if it’s without the stress of personal investment. And even if you’re not surrounded by a team of artisan felt bouquet makers, almost everyone enjoys lending a hand for a friend. Think of the other requests folks make of local friends. Help moving? Watching the kids for an hour? Wedding planning is more enjoyable than almost all of them, particularly if a cake tasting is involved.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re the kind of person who’s a little antsy about asking for help, brace yourself to be direct and specific. I know! It’s uncomfortable and feels demanding. But your friends aren’t mind readers, and there’s nothing more irritating than wanting to pitch in when someone needs help, but not knowing how to do it. Be ready to delegate. Be ready to be candid and explicit. Don’t get trapped in that cycle of, “Can you help sometime?” and “Sure, just let me know!”
That goes doubly for the emotional support angle. It sounds like you need a rallying, supportive crew. The best way to get what you need is always, always to be straightforward about it. Tell your friends you need that reassurance and those hugs that you mentioned, and I’m sure they’ll happily dive right in, even without the bridal party titles.