|Natalie Franke Photography|
Something I love about my former roommate Sara is that she's full of varyingly funny, weird, truthful, entirely endearing expressions that she'll just drop into conversations like they're the most natural thing. Among them is "worlds collide!," which she'd say anytime someone had a small-world moment, wherein people from different times in his or her past somehow connected or ended up in the same room together. It really is a fun experience to witness, and I'm thankful to her for supplying me with the words to describe it.
At the risk of stating the obvious, your wedding day will almost definitely be a worlds collide moment. I was reading through old posts the other day and nodding my head at all of Stephanie's advice on things to consider for a big vs. a small wedding party and on how to choose your bridesmaids and groomsmen from among your friends and family. That got me to remembering our own wedding party and the vibe I'd hoped for between my bridesmaids and I.
In Andrew's case, his groomsmen were his 2 brothers, 3 friends he's known all his life, and 1 close friend from college. With the exception of our college friend, whom they became fast friends with, everyone was already familiar with each other, and it was nice that they were all on the same page with the Catholic faith. As for me and my attendants, I'd invited my sister, my best friend, 2 cousins, and Andrew's sister and our sister-in-law to stand beside me. Among the group, there were pockets of girls who knew each other well and some who were meeting for the first time, and the faith life among everyone was more across the board. I love the six of them so dearly, and though I know bridesmaid duties don't necessarily mean everyone has to become best friends, I did hope they'd enjoy knowing each other and bond a little over the shared experience of taking part in our wedding.
If you have the same desire on your heart, to invite your friends and family members into each other's lives as they help you prepare for your marriage, read on for a few ways to do it.
1. Invite them out for a girls' day. Simple and maybe obvious, but in my experience, having a set activity at hand can help minimize awkwardness and provide automatic, relevant topics for conversations between new people. One friend of mine invited her bridesmaids to a dance studio for a hip-hop lesson that they eventually incorporated into a wedding party dance at her reception. If you like the thought of stealing that idea, group activities from vendors like Living Social are a fun way to introduce your bridesmaids to each other; I'd just recommend keeping everyone's comfort level in mind when selecting an activity. The pre-wedding-dance dance brings me to…
2. Have your bridesmaids help you with a wedding project. Two birds, one socializing stone. Since the bride typically does the bulk of wedding planning and reception prep (or, I don't know, I never asked Andrew but I didn't have the sense he was burning to design little labels for our favors), inviting your girls to help you shop for and work on a DIY project or two is great for chipping away at your to-do list and fostering a shared sense of purpose between you all.
3. Go shopping! This can be as bridal, or as bridesmaid-al, as you want. That is, you can invite your bridesmaids to come dress shopping with you (I went with only my mom and my sister, knowing that personally I'd be overwhelmed by having too many opinions flying around and by feeling uncomfortable being the center of attention in a bigger group--anyone care to weigh in on this?), but I think even better for helping these ladies get familiar with each other is to plan a day for everyone to browse for or buy accessories for their wedding-day look together. I say this not for the sake of being a micro-managing bride, but because it's fun! If, for instance, you have a specific shoe color in mind, it's fun to go in a group for each girl to pick hers out, and if they're wearing their own jewelry, you get the pleasure and insight of watching them choose pretty stuff that suits their individual styles.
4. Host a wedding stationary party. Assembling and addressing our Save-the-Dates and invitations was no joke. I invited my friend, sisters, and cousins to help me do the Save-the-Dates at my parents' house and we just chatted and ate some fancy appetizers while we wrote out names and looked up addresses. It was the first time they all got together, and I enjoyed the low-key, but still festive, atmosphere of it all. Since I was living a state away from most of my family and friends during our engagement, I actually enlisted the help of the women I worked with and a few other local friends to help with sending the invitations--it was my boss' idea and is still one of my most treasured pre-wedding memories! We ordered takeout, put on the movie Roman Holiday, and just did a lot of girlish giggling, being Jesus' goofy daughters, while we put together each set of invitations, stuffed envelopes, wrote out guests' addresses (I didn't care a ton about the look of the handwriting, so long as it was readable and reasonably nice-looking, but if you're having yours calligraphed, you can just skip the writing step--one less thing to do!), and put on stamps. What could have been a massive chore was instead incredibly fun and took only a few hours.
5. Do something spiritual together. Like I said, the prayer lives of my bridesmaids were kind of varied, which I was content with knowing nothing can or should be forced (though I do think striving to be a holy couple is a powerful witness alone), but I've heard beautiful stories of wedding parties making it a habit to attend Adoration, Praise and Worship, or holy hours together in the months leading up to the wedding--if there's a young adults' group in a parish near you, you can probably find scheduled gatherings that you all can attend together. Or, if you don't all live near each other, touching base over emails or texts with prayer intentions is such a loving way to lift each other up during the months you'll be in each others' lives, united in getting ready for your wedding.
What do you think? Have you experienced the need to introduce women from different parts of your life as your big day gets closer? How did you bring everyone together? I'd love to know!