Blogger Zina Kumok offers suggestions for handling a wedding you simply cannot attend — but want to show you still care.
Once you graduate college, the wedding invitations start to stream in. At first, it may be a small trickle, but as you approach 30, it usually turns into a raging river. Unfortunately, that often means having to choose whose you can attend.
Whether you have to skip out because of your budget, work conflicts, or family events, missing such an important day can seem like it will be the end of your friendship.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The closest of friends can survive if you miss it, but only if you continue to show your support and make an effort, even long distance.
Send a Card
In an email and text-based world, communicating via old-school pen and paper seems more thoughtful than even the longest string of emojis. You can also buy some fun engagement and wedding-related cards to send to your friend during his or her betrothal.
I loved getting cards from my friends and bridesmaids who were living far away and unable to help with the day-to-day planning. Getting a surprise piece of mail reminded me that my friends cared about my big day and wanted me to know how excited and happy they were for me.
Offer to Help
One of the aspects of the planning that surprised me was how much time I spent talking to prospective vendors. It seemed as if every company refused to post their prices online, so I always had to call to get more information.
If you’re close to your friend, you can offer to make some informational phone calls on their behalf. Even one phone call to a potential caterer can take 30 minutes. If your job is flexible or you have time off, offer to do basic research and make some phone calls.
If you’re talking to your friend and she’s unsure about how to find peonies in December, take it upon yourself to do some research. Beyond your basic Google skills, you can call up some local florists or search through floral-related forums online.
Planning a wedding involves making thousands of tiny decisions that culminate in a party that only lasts a few hours. Even the most excited bride will get tired of figuring out these small details, so ask if long-distance help would be appreciated. You can also start a Pinterest board where you can pin things you think your friend will like or send her links and photos. If you know your friend well, you may be able to find exactly what she’s looking for.
Give Them a Call
Nothing says you care more than a phone call to a stressed-out bride in the midst of wedding planning. Anyone planning their nuptials will benefit from a chat with a friend who’s ready to listen to their complaints and freak-outs.
Try not to offer too much advice or simple reassurances. Sometimes brides (and grooms) just need to vent about their future mother-in-law or their attention-seeking maid of honor. Lend your ear and listen to what they’re saying. Plus, hearing about all the backstage drama will help you feel more connected.
Remember Important Dates
The countdown to that special day is full of deposits, decisions, and disagreements. As a supportive friend, you can make sure to text your friend when important milestones approach. Not only will they most likely forget at least some of these dates, but you’ll be making yourself an indispensable part of the process—something your friend won’t forget in years to come.
You can set reminders in your calendar, download a countdown app, or use an old-fashioned planner. Ideas for dates include six months out, one month out, and one week out.
You can also congratulate them when they have their bachelorette party, celebrate their bridal shower, or receive their marriage license. While the wedding itself is the biggest celebration, these smaller events are also important as a bride and groom start their new life.
If you can afford to, consider visiting your friend after their big day. A personal visit would show that you still care about your friendship even if you had to miss her big day. It may turn out to be more meaningful for them than other wedding gifts. If the timing works out better, you can even see her prior to the big day and offer to do some crafts or go dress shopping. That way, you’ll feel more involved and confident in your relationship going forward.
Zina Kumok is a writer, speaker, and coach.
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