Do we ever really know what people are thinking? Have you ever asked someone if they’re mad at you (full knowing that they are and having no idea why) only to have them tell you that they aren’t? Then, a few days of silence and shade go by and they tell you exactly why they’re mad. Only, the difference now is that they’re even madder because you were supposed to know why they were mad in the first place.
Were you ever that person that didn’t tell your friend why you were mad? Because it was so obvious why you were mad. You know your friend saw all those passive aggressive status updates you posted, so they should know why you were mad, right?!
We have all been on both sides and nothing good ever comes from it. One of the worst times for communication breakdowns and passive aggressive attacks? When you’re planning a wedding.
In this blog, I’m going to share some real examples of how not being open and honest, has been an issue for me as a wedding planner. I’ll also tell you how a bride not being upfront with me, forced me to reflect on my own past actions.
Buckle up, and prepare for some mindfulness and inward reflection…
Mercury retrograde starts this week. In case you didn’t know, Mercury rules communication; when it goes retrograde, communication is a disaster. Meanwhile, our current level of communication is passive aggressive Facebook posts and Instagram memes, or we just ignore the other person altogether. And let’s not even get into how horrible most people are at email communication, while simultaneously refusing to ever pick up the phone and actually talk.
Ho-ly crap, you guys.
I have always considered myself a very transparent person. My heart it on my sleeve, blah blah blah. The point is, I say what’s on my mind (generally what everyone else is thinking) and worry about the consequences later. You never have to worry about where you stand with me, because I won’t smile to your face and talk behind your back. If I have a problem with you, I’ll bring it to you.
Or so I thought.
About a year ago, I was involved in a wedding party where I played a fairly large role. The bride, a good friend of mine, had fallen down the rabbit hole of wedding planning and I only heard from her when she wanted to talk about…you guessed it…the wedding. At the same time, I was going through a substantial amount of personal drama, none of which she was privy to. Why? Because I didn’t tell her. Why?
Because she didn’t ask.
I pulled away from her. No reaction. I posted Facebook updates anytime something went wrong in my life. No reaction. What did I see? I saw someone that only talked to me when she needed wedding help. She never asked how I was. And I wasn’t good.
It was in that “not good” that I walked out of her wedding and her life. My family had lost power for 8 straight days because of a snowstorm and a POS electric company (is there a good one?). Nowhere to go, my husband attempted to travel to work while I worked remotely and juggled our two little boys and two large dogs. I never heard from my friend, and when I heard from her fiance instead, that did it for me…especially since she was posting pictures of her brunch dish on Facebook at the same exact time that he texted me asking if I needed anything.
How could she not know? Was it because she didn’t ask? No.
It’s because I didn’t tell her.
Almost a full year would go by before I figured that out.
A Failure To Communicate
Do we ever really know what the other person is thinking? Recently, one of the couples I planned with, sent me what I described as “the meanest email I have ever received”. In fact, that is exactly what I told them. Let’s back-up though…
I had limited interaction with this couple, as we started our relationship very late into the wedding planning process. We had a first meeting scheduled that I offered to push to another date, as they had to attend a wake the same day. They opted to keep the appointment and just move it one hour later. This turned into a three hour appointment, with me leaving my office at 10pm (two hours after I typically leave). Not a huge deal given that I love my job and I really loved this couple…but I mention it for you to remember later.
Fast forward through the final phases of wedding planning, a few more meetings, and the actual wedding day. Dozens of emails exchanged, countless phone calls, and a whole lot of work past office hours. In all of that, I loved this couple to effing pieces. But, as it turns out, the feeling was never mutual.
After the wedding, I received an email accusing me of things that myself and my staff were not responsible for. I could get past that (once I defended myself), as well as the other misunderstandings they laid out for me. What can’t I get past? The fact that they admitted to having a problem with me since day 1. Yes, that first meeting that kept me at my office until 10pm. The one they now say, I should have offered to move (I did); the one they say I should’ve provided them a checklist for (I did months earlier via email)….
The one I stayed until 10pm for…that one.
2 full months went by between that meeting and the wedding, and another month went by after that before they told me anything negative. In fact, every email, phone call, in person meeting, and conversation they had with other vendors about me was nothing but positive.
After defending myself, I stopped hearing from the vendor who recommended me to this couple. A vendor who has recommended me before and has had every couple come back thrilled with my work. What happened when I finally got a message from this vendor after sending a handful of messages without answer?
A volleyball game of texts…a quick one. An “argument” (air-quotes because it’s a text not a talk) that I was wrong in how I handled my business and that she’s been mad at me for months anyway because I’m never there for her.
These people, both mad at me for months. Same question for both: How can I fix the problem if I don’t know it exists? And I truly, honestly, never knew a problem existed.
That’s when I figured out that my friend, the bride, who I had walked away from, never asked me what my problem was because I never told her I had one.
She had no idea, just like I didn’t…
Silence Isn’t Golden
It isn’t the job of someone else to figure out what’s wrong with you. They shouldn’t have to decipher a meme or solve some riddle to find out why you’re upset. You may think you’re pulling away, but they might not even notice. And for the love of everything, if someone asks you “what’s wrong?” and you say “nothing” when something is wrong….well, then….you’re a jackass. Just say you don’t want to talk about it, but make sure you eventually do. OK?
Communication is a two-way street. Have you ever not answered someone and just left them on “read” or gone totally silent? Were you able to defend that behavior by saying that no answer is the answer and they should get the hint? I have news for you: emails go to spam, some texts don’t go through, and voicemails can disappear.
This means, when you’re planning a wedding, it’s really important to not just go silent on your wedding vendors. From the minute you start wedding planning, you’re reaching out to venues and vendors and probably sending plenty of emails. When you have a meeting or an interview and you scratch that place or person off your list, let them know. Why?
Here’s the deal…in the wedding industry, we often hold your date for a few days or so…sometimes longer. Will we give it away if someone else wants to book with credit card in hand? Obviously. But not before reaching out to confirm you’re not interested in moving forward. Frequently, those emails and calls will go unanswered and while we could assume that’s the answer, plenty of times, it’s not. In fact, some of my clients went radio silent on me for a month before booking because they just had too much stuff going on in their lives.
I’m not unique here, which is why the follow up emails and calls happen. You are not seen as a bad person if you answer back “no thank you”, so why are you so afraid to do that? Everyone hates rejection, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Frankly, it’s respectful to just let people know where you stand. Do you owe a reason for the rejection? No…but it would be nice since most people are looking for ways to improve their business.
Open Your Mouth
When you’re wedding planning, you’re going to be asked for your opinion. A lot. There are also many others that will offer their opinions.
One of the biggest fears my couples have is over offending someone. They don’t want to offend mom or dad or their bridesmaids or their aunt that they never see…so they either say “yes” to everything or go silent. Neither is a good path to follow and no, it’s not easier just to go along with something you don’t want for your wedding so you don’t have to argue.
Because most opinions don’t need to develop into arguments. That’s right. You don’t have to be all “my wedding my way” crazy, but you also don’t have to be a total pushover. There is this mysterious in between realm that very few brides know how to access. Here’s how:
- Know what you want
- Be respectful in your tone
- Actually listen to others
- Pretend everyone is coming from a positive place
- Stay thankful
There are plenty of things that are difficult in life…raising children, going on a diet, folding a fitted sheet, etc. Communicating shouldn’t be hard and it really isn’t as hard as we’re making it out to be. If you listened to everyone speaking to you with the idea that they are coming from a positive place, I guarantee you that your reaction would be different. Pretend your mom is actually trying to be helpful, when you think she is just trying to plan the wedding she wants…I promise you, she probably is just trying to be helpful. Maybe she just doesn’t know how….
Because, maybe, she can’t communicate either.
When that bride and that vendor told me they were upset with me for months, I finally realized that I never gave my friend the chance to fix the problems I was having with her. I expected her to know. I expected her to read the signs. I should’ve given her the chance, and I didn’t. The reasons don’t matter either, because, the bottom line is, we all owe the other person a chance to know everything and respond how they want to respond.
And yes, I apologized to her.
In the wonderful world of wedding planning, I see so much miscommunication. Miscommunication between my couples, miscommunication between my couples and their parents, miscommunication between vendors; it’s everywhere. When you’re planning a wedding, it’s important to be open about what you’re thinking and respectful of what others think too. Remember, you’re not responsible for anyone’s words or actions except for your own.
So…what are you all so afraid of? Just talk.