We've already discussed How to talk about your wedding on Facebook without pissing people off, but how about the other social landscape fraught with gaping anxiety pits and hidden ditches of drama? The workplace.
Now, I KNOW how many of you are reading this at work right now (shh: no shame), so let's talk this one through: you're engaged, you're excited, and you spend many hours a week in the same place, with the same people, doing the same stuff. But I've got three super important things you should consider before talking about your wedding at work… things that may make you not want to discuss it there, ever. And then I've got one super solid reason for why you totally SHOULD talk about your wedding at work. Ultimately of course the decision is yours alone, but let's discuss some factors…
1. Do your coworkers really want to hear about it?
This is the very first question to ask yourself. Some people love weddings and might be dying to obsess about every detail with you, so you may have a few opportunities to answer questions… but more than that, do your coworkers REALLY care? Only you know your coworkers, and if you work in a chatty, friendly workplace where everyone bonds over personal stories, then wedding gossip might be good times! But it may be that it's just not anything you need to talk about much at work.
Weddings are such a shit storm of controversial issues — money (or lack there of), religion (or not), family, matters of taste (the most subjective issue evar!), social anxiety-producing etiquette issues (there are no right answers!), and even politics (marriage equality, anyone?). In the same way that it might not feel quite right to chat with your coworkers about your credit card debt, existential/religious issues, or the dramatic phone call with your mother, so too much talking about your wedding (which can involve all these matters!) just not feel quite right in the workplace. Respecting your coworkers emotional space isn't really an issue of offbeatness or not. It's just common courtesy in social settings where you're trapped with the same people day in and day out.
2. Are you inviting coworkers?
Oh and speaking of social anxiety-producing etiquette issues, let's talk about your guestlist. Are you inviting any of your coworkers? All of them? None of them? If you're talking about your wedding at work all the time, shit may be about to get REAL awkward real fast.
While I'm not one for most social etiquette, I think we can all agree that it kinda sucks to hear all about a party you're not invited to. Maybe you want to go, and it's lame that you can't. Maybe you don't want to go, and it's just mildly irritating to hear about it. Either way, if you're not inviting someone, don't talk to them about the wedding. This is especially true at work — you know your coworkers will chat, and whose feelings are going to get hurt if they're not invited? Tread cautiously if your guestlist is limited.
3. Are you ready for “you'll seeeees”?
Ok, so maybe your coworkers all love weddings, and they're all invited. Awesome! You still have to prepare yourself for the fact that if you talk about your wedding at work, you will likely deal with unsolicited wedding planning advice, which could include lots of “You'll seeeee” fear-mongering. As I said back in in 2010:
I mean, of course people want to share their experiences with each other. But all too often this storytelling slips into fear mongering. It's sort of a pre-emptive commiseration — an anticipatory sing-song of Oh, you'll seeeee…. It's our way of telling each other, “I had this experience, and I'm assuming my experience is universal and you'll have the exact same one. And mine was like this, so yours will be too — and then we can roll our eyes and bond over how awful it was together.” We all love a common enemy, and all too often in pursuit of this shared experience, we project our challenges onto others.
Oh, you'll seeeee… people say once you announce your engagement…
“It's going to be so high drama and hard and you're going to be forced to do all these things you don't want to.” And maybe it will be hard and high drama — but it doesn't have to be. If you chose to side step the drama (“Actually we're planning to skip place settings completely and let people sit where they want, so I'm not worried at all”) people then seem aghast. “But, you can't do that,” they say. “You can't just skip place settings!” I think what goes unsaid is You HAVE to worry! It's what we're going to bond over, because bonding over hardship is awesome!
People LOVE to commiserate at work, and your wedding may give your coworkers one more thing to commiserate over. Don't want to deal with pushing back against unsolicited wedding advice from people you may or may not have anything in common with (other than a paycheck)? Consider keeping wedding talk at work to a minimum.
Ok, ok: So here I am being all scary big sister omg don't talk about your wedding at work doom doom doom the entire world is listening and judging yaaargh! But you should know this: I totally talked about my wedding at work all the time when I was planning back in 2004. I was working in a creative marketing department, so everyone totally wanted to hear about all the details (#1), I had an open reception that all my coworkers were invited to attend (#2), and I knew that all my coworkers were down with my weirdness, so wasn't worried about fear-mongering (#3).
Really, I liked talking about my wedding at my job because I felt like I was doing my part to change people's impressions of how weddings could be planned. This brings me to my one big reason why you totally should talk about your wedding at work:
You are an ambassador!
Guess what? In the eyes of your coworkers, you're now officially working public relations on behalf of all brides anywhere, ever. This is both an opportunity and a curse. Use your bridal ambassadorial powers for the forces of good. (I'm reminded here of Operation: This is why we can't have nice things).
When people ask you how wedding planning is going, give them a nice vague but thoughtful answer like, “We're really taking some time to examine all the traditions around wedding planning and figure out what's personally important to us. It's being a real challenge.”
When they give you unsolicited advice about how you'll seeee, you can smile and give them a nice vague but thoughtful response like, “Yeah, I'm getting a lot of feedback about how difficult this is going to be. My partner and I are just doing our best to try to go into the process with a lot of intent and careful thought. We're balancing a lot of input — from both our friends and family, as well as just the culture around us.”
Think of yourself as doing offbeat reconnaissance, seeding the core tenets of nontraditional wedding planning with your coworkers…
You could even tell them, oh gosh, I don't know: “Yeah, it is being really difficult — thank goodness for this website, Offbeat Bride. It's really giving us some great ideas about how we can do things differently, in a way that reflects us but still respects the people around us.” Heck, you might be chatting with a future reader!
Think of yourself as doing offbeat reconnaissance, seeding the core tenets of nontraditional wedding planning with your coworkers… “Oh, how's wedding planning going? Well, it's being really interesting to examine which aspects of a wedding are actually important to us and our families. I'm learning a lot!”
Generally, when casual acquaintances like coworkers ask weddings, they're looking for some entertaining gossip or an opportunity to share their own experiences. If you don't want to give them anything to gossip about, just turn the tables and give them an opportunity to share their stories. In many cases, people just want an excuse to relive their own wedding planning — you might someday, too. Because what's the best way to avoid talking about your wedding at work? By turning the tables, and listening to other people's stories instead.
Ultimately, as with all things wedding, only you can make the best decision that's right for you and your specific situation. I'd love to hear about how y'all are navigating the challenges of if or how to talk about your weddings at work.