How to accept help from the not-so-helpful without pulling your hair out

December 18 | Guest post by Beatrix
MM46
Photo by Wild About You Photography

There are a million reasons why someone offering to help out at your wedding will actually cause more hindrance than help. Distance, time, ability… whatever.

These people are offering their help because they care about you and want your day to be as awesome as possible. So what's the best way to graciously accept their help while minimizing frustrations and/or pulling your hair out?

(Un)fortunately, personal wedding experience has allowed me to offer these tips:

Work in bulk

I've seen some Offbeat Brides host crafting nights, and I think those are great. Getting people together to finish tasks allows you to see the final product and (hopefully) get a bunch done while hanging out with awesome people! Which brings me to…

Pair 'em up

Who doesn't need a spotter in life? If a flaky relative really wants to do the centerpieces, enlist the help of a more reliable family member to keep that shit on track. Or perhaps they'd be willing to stay up all night two days before the wedding when said flake, well, flakes out.

Don't rely on them for something imperative

This one is especially good for those that have time conflicts. Favors aren't a big deal for us, so it provided a perfect opportunity for my aunt to take that task over. She's going all out on them, and lord knows if they'll be finished. But, if they don't get done, no big deal.

Something borrowed

My grandmother desperately wants to help with her first grandchild's wedding. But she has such bad anxiety that she's been sent to the hospital before with stomach ulcers. I wanted her to feel like she could contribute, but not feel like she had to run around getting stuff done. So I'm going to borrow some of her basket collection to use as the card box, favor holder, etc. She already has them, so no stress, and she'll get to be a big help!

Monetary help is still help

I know this topic is touchy, especially for Offbeat Brides with traditional relatives who want to activate the power of the purse. But that's not the kind of "help" I'm talking about. Some people are not able to give their labor or time, so they cut a check to express their support. This is help. Accept it along with their love.

What do they want to do?

Sometimes the easiest thing is to ask them what they want to help with. Working on something they like will (hopefully) inspire them to actually do it.

Acknowledgement goes a long way

As cheesy as it sounds, even if the person who wanted to help didn't, it's the thought that counts. They should still be thanked for thinking of you and even making the offer. Enthusiastic gratitude will make for a wedding atmosphere that is warm and fuzzy come Game Day.

What are your tips for receiving help from the well-meaning but not-so-helpful?

  1. My issue wasn't so much wrangling non-helpful people who still wanted to contribute as dealing with people who wanted to help, but had no idea how to be off beat. A lot of the folks who offered assistance were simply unable to see our vision, and when we asked for help with something we knew they would be great at, they were uncomfortable doing it.

    "I could really use a hand scanning all these Marvel cards, and you're really pro with that sort of thing!"
    "Marvel cards? Oh, uh, do you have anything else that needs scanning?"
    "Nope, just the cards."
    "…"

    "Hey, I know you said you had some time to give me a hand today. How about we have some tea and visit while we assemble all these guidebooks?"
    "I thought you wanted help with the programs?"
    "Well, this is what we decided to use instead of programs, and they just need to be tied together with ribbon. It will be so much faster with two of us!"
    "Oh, uh, I'd rather do actual programs, I think…"

    They just couldn't see now everything was going to come together,and. I suppose they couldn't see themselves helping with things that, in their minds, didn't make sense when it came to a wedding. It was very satisfying on the day to have everyone exclaiming about how much they loved everything and now it was just so us. We tried to tell them…

    9 agree
  2. Growing up in Texas, it was common to have a "house party" full of people who do things like keep an eye on the guest book to make sure people sign it, hand out programs, and help cut and serve the cake. They typically wear a corsage or boutonniere to mark them out as special helpers. For my BIL's wedding, my husband and I only arrived in the country the day before, so we served drinks at the rehearsal dinner. It was an awesome way to get to help, when we couldn't do any more than that due to logistics.

    I'll be one of the only one of my family members (8 weddings total so far) to use a caterer, so I'm not sure how I'll employ those who want to help.

    3 agree
    • Fellow Texas bride here, with similar "house party" mentality. We're doing a caterer but are also doing a dessert table, so my godmother and aunt can still do their Mexican wedding cookies, empanadas and other stuff that they love to do for brides in the family. I also have crafty cousins who asked if they could make "YAY!" banners for wedding guests to hold. So those that want to help have a way of offering their services once they see what direction we were going in (offbeat beach wedding) :-)

      0 agree

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