How to Survive Engagement Season (Regardless of Your Relationship Status)


Engagement season is now underway in full force (FYI: Christmas -- one of the most popular days of the year for engagements). Whether you're one of the newly engaged or are as single as it's possible to be, the impact will swamp all of us in the next few months. So how does a girl navigate it with some measure of grace?

If You Just Got Engaged:

  • Enjoy yourself. And get a manicure ASAP if you didn't see this coming. But please ... keep the number of ring selfies on facebook and instagram to a reasonable number.
  • Be prepared for the deluge of congratulations - texts, emails, phone calls, and so on. You're going to get really good at telling your engagement story. Although everyone knows you're swamped, try to respond promptly and personally to messages, particularly those from family and close friends.
  • Also be prepared for mountains unsolicited advice and opinions about everything wedding related. Some of it will be helpful, some of it will be unhelpful or completely off base, some of it (such as requests from your future mother in law ) may need to be handled with a lot of care and tact. Just remember that (pretty much) all of this is coming from a place of love (hopefully). If not, assume that everyone is well-intentioned anyway. Convincing yourself of this will make it a lot easier to ignore the more egregious comments.
  • On this note: have a united front with your finance. Agree that neither of you will sign up for something important (like, say, doubling the wedding budget) without discussing it first.
  • And ... trust us. As much as your best friends think you're the best, almost no one is hurt by not being named a bridesmaid. (Family may require more delicate handling!) Let anyone who might have been expecting it down gently, but don't feel guilty and expand anything beyond what you're comfortable with.

If All Your Friends Are Getting Engaged:

  • We know. Your fingers are tired from texting and typing "Congrats!!!!!!!!!! So excited for you!!!!!" You haven't done any of your holiday shopping. You're possibly more than a little tired from the eighteen or so parties you've attended in the past month. But even if this is the eighth engagement this week, send the text, pick up the phone, and sound just as excited as you did for the first.
  • ... and then, after you've registered your enthusiasm, keep your mouth shut unless your opinion is really required or directly solicited. You think that the venue is awful, the ring is heinous, and the invitations uninspiring? Not your wedding, your life, or place to comment. The bride-to-be already has far too many people telling her what she should be doing. As her friend, make her life easier, not harder. Only when things impact you (or are hugely important in some other way) should you say something (like a bridesmaid dress that is light years out of your price range), and even then - be thoughtful about how you bring it up.
  • It's okay to set boundaries and limits with your engaged friend. You are not a wedding planner (probably). Nor are you a DIY expert, cake baker, chauffeur, personal stylist or marriage / pre-marriage counselor. Unless, of course, you actually are and want to take on those roles for your friend's wedding. Otherwise, do not feel guilty about politely saying no to requests that are far outside of your capabilities or time constraints.

Anything we've missed? Thorny questions we didn't tackle? Let us know in the comments.



All the Other Important People

While a bachelorette can be an amazing celebration of sisterliness (real sisters and those we've chosen for ourselves through our friendships), it does tend to leave out some of the other really important people in our life. So, how do you, as the best maid of honor ever, include those people (the brothers, the parents, the grandparents, the aunts and uncles, the younger cousins, the best guy friends, and .. oh right, her fiance)? A few things we've seen work well:

  1. Find ways to include them in any keepsake you're making for the bride. Pulling together a recipe book? Ask them to contribute. Decorating the house with pictures? Get them to send some (preferably with a note about why those pictures). Get them to record a brief video on their iPhone and splice them together to show her. Pull together their words of wisdom on relationships ... and so on.
  2. Just ask for their advice and input (selectively, of course). Her baby brother might not know much about some things, but he's possibly the best source of information on her favorite foods as a kid, her childhood celebrity crush, and what was really annoying about her ex-boyfriends (excellent fodder for games, as long as she can laugh about this now).
  3. If they want, let them contribute. When one of our friends was getting married, another great friend couldn't make it -- but she sent a champagne toast instead. Obviously no one should feel obligated to do this, but help them brainstorm if they want to do something.
  4. Keep them busy. Again, this only works for certain people, but is especially useful for moms you know pretty well and who will enjoy helping. Give them some tasks to help with (hunting down PG-rated party favors, sending cookie mix to bake at the rental house, and so on)

And more to add? Let us know in the comments or hello@mybestfriendsweekend.com

Keep party conversation going (aka how to talk to anyone)

Even the sparkiliest of us can use a little help with conversation sometimes, especially with new people, so we turned to the experts on this one -- how do some of the best interviewers in the world prevent the kinds of awkward silences that can kill a party's mood?



Bachelor/ette Games

Forgot about the whole games and amusing activities thing, already running late for your flight, AND don't even know these people? Three easy, not (totally) cheesy games that require (at most) paper, a bowl, and a pen:

  • Two Truths and a Lie. Have everyone go around and tell two truths and a lie about their friendship with the bride-to-be (obviously, the more ridiculous, the better). Keep track of who guesses right, and if you are feeling really ambitious, give out prizes you bought at the airport gift store.
  • The Awesome Game
    • Everyone takes 2-4 slips of paper and writes down something awesome (only rules: can't be essential to human life). (For example, cupcakes, afternoon naps, surprise presents).
    • Put all the slips of paper into a bowl.
    • Pick out two, have a debate (timed if needed) and vote on which one you'd rather have (assuming that the other one would no longer exist). Keep the winning one and discard the loser.
    • Keep running rounds until you have one winning awesome thing. If you want to get complicated, you can award points to people later for how far their ideas get, but it's fun to keep them anonymous.
  • Salad Bowl
    • Split into 2 teams, with each person sitting next to someone else on another team.
    • Everyone writes ~5-10 words on separate slips of paper (you can pick a bride-related theme or anything else), put all the slips into a bowl.
    • Round 1: Each person has 45 seconds to go through as many slips of paper as possible, using any word besides the word on the paper to get their team to guess what it is. Stop once you've run through all the slips of paper.
    • Round 2: Charades. Same deal, 45 seconds per person to do charades to get people to guess the words (same ones as in the previous round).
    • Round 3: Same as round 1, but this time you can only say one word to get people to guess the word.
    • Throughout: Tally the number of words that each team gets, winning team has the most points at the end.

And, presto - awkwardness vanished.

Fourth of July BBQ Conversation Help

Need a conversation starter for an awkward Fourth of July barbeque hosted by that friend you don't really know all that well? Didn't watch the US-Belgium game and still aren't sure who Tim Howard is? Trapped, bored, or need to change the subject?

Our suggestion: start asking people on their thoughts about a co-ed bachelor/ette party. (The classic "asking for a friend..." line works well.) We've managed to get some great heated debates out of this one, and there's the added bonus of usually getting a great bachelor/ette party story out of somebody. (And then are the follow-ups: with the finance or without? Does the guy you used to sort-of date who is now your friend get invited? Would you gay best friend actually enjoy your bachelor/ette party, or is s/he just saying that? So. Many. Questions.)

Our informal polling suggests more against than for, but we'd love to hear your thoughts ... comment here or let us know at hello@mybestfriendsweekend.com.