It’s funny how getting engaged seems to gain you entrance into the “secret circle”. I’ve had more people share stories about their weddings than I could ever ask for. Sometimes the advice/ story time is helpful, and sometimes it’s downright weird and unsolicited. Example:

About two months ago, shortly after getting engaged, D and I were in the Barnes & Noble. I wanted to find the perfect wedding planning book, and he was kind enough to come along with me to the B&N to assist me in my quest.

We must have been there 45 minutes to an hour, easily. The wedding/ self-help section was stationed at the door to the B&N storage area, giving us a good view as one of the associates ferried books in and out of the stockroom by the cart load. By the fifth round out, we’d sparked some light witty banter, which really helped us to NOT yank our hair out by the roots. By the end, I was sitting indian-style in the self-help section, surrounded by every type of book, binder, bridesmaid guide, wedding toast etiquette and Southern Living Guide to Weddings ever made. We were both readily confused, and a little tired. And this was just buying the wedding planner! Wait until we pick out invitations!!!

We (finally) select a wedding planner and an etiquette book, and head to the front. The associate that we’d bantered back and forth with was there to check us out, and upon seeing our selections felt that the checkout process was a perfect time to add to our camaraderie with stories from her own wedding.

Apparently at HER wedding, the photographer brought an assistant/ intern, and the assistant/ intern cut herself on SOMETHING… the SOMETHING doesn’t really mattered. What MATTERS is that there was blood everywhere, and it got on the bride’s dress. There were bloodstains from the assistant/ intern in all of her pictures. Eventually, the photographer had to photoshop them out, and the good news is she got the pictures for free.

Now, this is an interesting story, for lots of reasons, but the only thing I could think of at the time was “why is she telling me this story? How is this supposed to make me feel confident that our day will be wonderful, and happy and bloodstain-free?” I immediately felt selfish that I was thinking this way. She was only trying to be helpful, and here I was acting like a jerk.

I can’t help but wonder, is there an etiquette rule for this? I mean, here we were, buying an etiquette book, but I didn’t see anything in the book that would cover a situation like this. Am I supposed to say “Wow, thanks for over-sharing your horrific story with me. I really feel like we bonded over that story” or is it better to say ” Oh no! How awful. I’m glad everything came out alright in the end”.

Ok, now I’m being a jerk. I know better. The truth is, I don’t need an etiquette book to tell me what was the right response. I know I should have followed the same steps that any hospitality person knows all too well: LEAD.

 Listen

Empathize

Apologize

Discuss & Direct

I guess technically it should be called LEADD. 🙂

LEADD is a coping mechanism that’s great for everyday life, whether you’re talking about a blood-stained wedding dress, or a new mother is sharing the intimate details of nursing, giving birth and baby poo. It’s a pretty decent guideline that will help keep you out of trouble by saying the wrong thing and smooth away any awkward situation created by the offensive party.

So from now on, whenever anyone shares their horrific wedding stories with me – everything from assuring me I will cry constantly, that it’ll rain on my wedding day, that I will be depressed, or pooped on my someone’s child – I’ll simply LEADD!

Ha! Take that etiquette books. Perhaps there should be a separate chapter on this: Things to Say When Someone Tries to Rain (or Bleed) On Your Wedding Parade.

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