The “Shit People Suggest” spreadsheet

Guest post by Carolyn

shit people suggest

The fella and I got engaged right before we traveled home to see our families for a vacation. We both have incredibly kind, welcoming families, so I was prepared for the outpouring of joy which came — his dad hugged me no fewer than six times within five minutes of walking in the door — and I was prepared to answer the inevitable when-where-who questions, too.

I was a bit overwhelmed, of course, but the post about being newly engaged helped put it in perspective for me: “an expression of joy and excitement, with a question mark on the end.” So true!

But then, the suggestions started rolling in…

My sister kicked it off with a idea for our “theme.” My parents provided a series of possible venues. My aunt suggested a month, explaining how I “should want to be a June bride.” Caterers. Bridesmaid dresses. Floral arrangements. Table names. Centerpieces. What was I supposed to say? Thanks? That's… an interesting possibility?

At the same time, I felt like my ideas were being dismissed out-of-hand. I wanted an outdoor event under a tent? Tents are too expensive. I wanted a barbecue? Who would provide that service? (Who indeed.) I wanted a nontraditional venue? You can't. You simply can't. And heaven forbid that I wanted my friends to pick their own bridesmaid dresses!

On our last day of our vacation, I had a minor meltdown in the car. I didn't know how to respond to the onslaught of suggestions we had received, no matter how well-meaning they were. I knew that each idea was just that, and didn't commit us to anything. Still, I was worried that a positive response from me would be interpreted as binding, somehow. And we hadn't even sat down and discussed our ideas for our own wedding!

After we came home, I got another text from my mom, offering two suggestions for caterers and one for a venue. Fed up, I created a Google spreadsheet called “Shit People Suggest,” with five columns:

  1. The idea
  2. The type of service
  3. The website (if I like the suggestion and want to follow up)
  4. Notes
  5. Who suggested it

And just like that, I felt I could handle any recommendation anyone threw at me. Having a place to store all the ideas made me feel like I could respond in a positive way, without committing to anything, and keep the outpouring of excitement in perspective.

“I'll put those on the list of possible vendors,” I texted back, adding the venue and catering companies to the spreadsheet.

My sister texted me a few days later: “You're planning on getting a spray tan, right?”

“I wasn't, but I'll put it on a list of possibilities,” I replied.

I want to be gracious and respect everyone's enthusiasm for our upcoming love-fest, but also keep sight of our goals. The growing list of possibilities puts a smile on my face: some are slightly absurd, many contradictory, and all well-intentioned. An added bonus? Some of the ideas are pretty good, too.

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Comments on The “Shit People Suggest” spreadsheet

  1. THIS ist for my situation right now. Last weekend, I tortured my boyfriend (aka fiance) with nothing less than an emotional breakdown, coming from an overpowering opinionated bunch of people. Everybody – collegues, family, soon-to-be sister-in-law, maid of honour, soon to be in-laws have great ideas for our wedding – we need a colour scheme, the groom has to wear black, there has to be this and you absolutely have to have that, and oh, will you have this – of course you will.

    I think this idea of a spreadsheet will save my sanity, the nerves of my boyfriend and every social contact I have 🙂 Thanks a lot!

  2. This! I love a spreadsheet &; have about four on the go at the moment. I also have found that they seem to instil some degree of confidence in others (i.e. my mother). Instead of suggestions,we were bombarded with questions about “what” we’d planned, some of these (like table centres and my mother’s exact hair appointment time) were on the radar but not decided 14 months out! Every time I explained this I at least *felt* that my mum was thinking “she’ll never pull this off, she’s not capable of organising this”.

    As a Project Manager by trade, I figured I needed some “stakeholder management”, I sent an email detailing that they obviously would have questions and we had a detailed timetable of when we were deciding things, which I shared. This is now printed & up in my mum’s kitchen and the bombarding questions have mostly stopped. She knows everything is in hand! Winner 🙂

    • OMG I LOVE THAT IDEA of a timetable.

      I may have to snag that, holy shit.

      (I am also a PM and my life is ruled by spreadsheets)

  3. This is fantastic! Love the spreadsheet, I am a planner myself and I wish people would back off from planning someone else’s day. I LOVE all the outlandish requests from my brides&grooms but as soon as the mother-in-laws and MOBS get involved its another story. I had one client plan her day they way she wanted it and it was going to be perfect until “dun dun dun” mother-tobe-in-law try to change things. She kept calling and calling and trying to change linens to the time of the ceremony all the way to the theme of the wedding. She none the less drove everyone up the wall and all I kept saying was, I will have to check with her before I change anything. But everything turned out to be perfect day of and sometimes family members plans just need to go through one ear and out the other!

  4. I was so overwhelmed with other peoples opinions about what my wedding should (or will) be, that I cancelled my wedding. I told everyone that we would start planning again at a later date, and I would let them know when. My partner and I ended up planning a secret wedding with just our two best friends and witnesses, our officiant, and a photographer, and we told nobody about it until after it was done. We lost some friends over it, and our families still like to try to make us feel guilty about it, but what’s done is done, and now I’m happily married and had an incredibly stress free wedding. What we did wouldn’t work for a lot of people, but it ended up the right decision for us.

    • Lost some friends? *eyeroll* You’d think they’d realise that it isn’t about them. Glad it worked out for you!

  5. added bonus: when everything is said and done and you are tempted to stress out about the things that maybe didn’t go off quite as planned, instead you can pull out your spreadsheet and say, “So what if the music guy missed his cue for the Final Fantasy victory theme! At least we don’t have sand in our shorts!”

    It may also give you plenty of fodder for procrastitherapy: you can make a Pinterest board for all the wedding ideas you weren’t really interested in, creating your own personal Katamari wedding board where you can imagine what you might end up with if you rolled all those ideas up into one shindig.

  6. I sooooo wish I had done something like this! Everyone and their brother has a way to make your day special, and it’s freaking crazy! However, sometimes they come up with a gem, and then you forget about it. It would definitely be amusing to employ!!!!

  7. This is pure genius.
    I think we all have this experience, but you definitely made the best of it and found the perfect way of organizing the crazy. Go you!

  8. bless your face! I have been getting serious grump about all this wedding stuff because I’m being bombarded with suggestions I don’t want. I may try something like this.

  9. “You’re planning on getting a spray tan, right?”
    “I wasn’t, but I’ll put it on a list of possibilities,”

    Ahhh… you’re so sweet! What a great way to handle that. I know there’s at least a 50% chance I would have told her to go fuck herself so believe me I’m impressed.

    • I’d probably just burst into hysterical laughter at the suggestion. Fortunately, everyone who knows me would do the same.

      • Is is ok that I don’t get why people want to look tanned? I love my ‘type 1’ super duper white and freckled skin!

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