3 reasons why you might want to avoid talking about your wedding at work (and 1 reason why you totally SHOULD talk about it)

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Original photo by Victor1558, remixed by Creative Commons license.
Original photo by Victor1558, remixed by Creative Commons license.

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.

Comments on 3 reasons why you might want to avoid talking about your wedding at work (and 1 reason why you totally SHOULD talk about it)

  1. When I got engaged I told my co-workers at the time and they were really excited, but we weren’t planning the actual wedding for some time after that so there wasn’t a lot to talk about. Then I switched offices and was working with mostly different people (same company but one contract ended and I was moved to another). I kinda mentioned the wedding thing in passing a couple of times but didn’t ever make any kind of announcement to the new office since it wasn’t a new thing. Then about 3 weeks before the wedding I requested a couple of days vacation off for right around the wedding and then the full 3 weeks vacation for our belated honeymoon a couple of months later. My boss was totally surprised – he had no idea I was getting married! He didn’t say it in so many words but there was a little bit of a “why didn’t you tell me?” implication in his response. I told him we’d been engaged so long (over 3 years at that point) I’d lost track of who I had and had not told & just assumed everyone knew through the grapevine. A week before the wedding we had our regular quarterly meeting and I announced it to everyone – I think about 80% of the people had had no idea.

  2. Ohhh, I had such anxiety about talking about my wedding at work. I knew from the start I wouldn’t invite any coworkers (they’re all perfectly nice people, but really no more than coworkers – not friends by a long shot), so I didn’t really want to talk a lot about it anyway. But then they kept ASKING about my plans! I felt so awkward every time they did that, because not answering/being really curt in my answers would probably be rude as well.

    Though I have to say – it all turned out fine. I answered questions just fine and they just seemed happy/excited for me (and I could see that once the wedding was over and I was out of my stressed out bride mindset).

  3. I didn’t have any intention of talking about my wedding at work, because I didn’t intend to invite anyone, but the ladies I work with asked me questions. From the questions came offers to help. Now, they help me with my crafts, and supported me through mama drama. I realized that this amazing group of women are helping me get through a very tough time (as we all know wedding planning can get). Now they are so totally invited.
    I do try to limit myself on the amount I talk about it. Even someone that wants to hear about it doesn’t want to hear it 24/7.

  4. This is really interesting, and definitely resonated.

    When I’m not sitting at home, eating cheesy poofs and recuperating from work-related injuries, I work as a nurse mentor and leader. It’s an interesting and awesome profession, mostly female-dominated, and it’s really really REALLY onbeat.

    BUT. I have hot pink hair. And eyebrows to match. My coworkers often regard me with, at best, tired amusement, and at worst, skeptical fear. When we sit down during breaktime or charting time or night shifts and chat, it can be a little difficult. We have a few points of contact- We share recipes, talk about troubles with sergers, chat about the weather etc. I tend to not talk about what I do on weekends much- I’m pretty heavily involved in the Burner and fet communities. So we stick to sewing and other innocuous hobbies. It’s just easier.

    BUT. Then I got engaged. I didn’t mention it at work, and none of my coworkers are my friends on FB for the aforementioned reasons. But one day, one of them noticed my innocuous ring. An suddenly, many of my coworkers and I had something in common- Being engaged normalized me to them, and gave us a starting point for conversations.

    I’ve been able to learn SO much about my coworkers through this commonality- From the comparison stories of younger and older colleagues about their arranged marriages, to the freaking awesome craft and chocolate-making tips they’ve offered, there’s been a wealth of sharing and bonding surrounding it. While we’ll never all be BFFs, it’s absolutely opened doors and helped us all become more receptive to each other’s differences.

    If people ask about wedding things, I tell them, then use the opportunity to ask them questions about their own stuff. While some of them have been a little weird about some of the details, others have been genuinely curious about our reasoning behind them (ie: no wedding party or white dress). None anticipate being invited, but many have asked to see photos ofter the fact. It’s been great, and I’m hoping to keep up the rapport we’ve all established well after the event.

    • Offbeat Nursing student here. so nice to hear from one of my own. So. Rare. ohgodsoonbeatallthetime. 😉

  5. I talked about my wedding planning to 10 people or so at work. One of them had a crush on me (and talking about the wedding was an attempt at setting barriers) and he told the others we weren’t going to last and he thought we were going to break up some time soon.

  6. While we were planning our wedding, I was working in the forest (8 hours from Ed) helping care-take a historic house museum. My coworkers were retirees (average age 70 but -fit-. Let me tell you there is nothing like failing to keep up physically with someone nearly half a century older than you) and I was a little worried about talking about my wedding (costumes! no church! bridesmen!), however it turned out wonderfully. I heard so many stories about marriage from people who had been together for forty, fifty, sixty years. I didn’t talk about my wedding too often (Ed handled all the final details, and honestly my mind was on work, missing Ed, and whether or not there’d be a bear outside my cabin most of the time), but talking to my coworkers really got me excited about marriage.

  7. My policy for talking about the wedding is “don’t talk about it unless someone asks you” with anyone outside of the immediate people involved, certain family members and some friends. I assume you either don’t want to hear about it, or don’t care, or both.

    I get to keep my personal things personal, only get opinions I value, and keep from driving people insane with incessant wedding talk (something that happened to me when others were engaged and would.not.shut.up). It’s been working quite well, so far, with 6 months to go.

  8. My policy when I was planning my wedding was:

    – mention it to the higher ups so they’ll know I’ll be taking vacation around that time
    – only talk about it if people ask

    It worked out well. The only people who asked about it were a couple other women, (one woman’s daughter was planning her wedding as well so it gave us something to gab about), and my bosses were given the head’s up so they knew when and why I’d be taking vacation during an odd time.

  9. I didn’t want to talk about my wedding at work. I didn’t want to be That Girl. And then, one day I came to working wearing my engagement ring, which was not a typical ring. The stone is black opal. The setting is sturdy and thick and not particularly girly, and it could totally pass as a birthstone or just a cool ring. But I am not a Jewelery Person. Then one of my co-workers saw it and got really excited. And then five other co-workers, like, leapt out of their cubicles. I was working a newsroom at the time, and someone actually hung up on a source (she was on hold a really long time, anyway) to jump around and be happy with me. So I thought, “WOW, these people really care about me.” My co-workers cared about my wedding. They were invested. They won the offbeat, badass version of “how well do you know the bride” game at my pseudo-shower, which surprised even me. They carpooled four hours to get to the out-of-town event and one walked my dog down the aisle. I realized how much time I spent at work (I’m a hardcore “it’s not a job, it’s a calling” person.) Talking about my wedding at work not only taught me that there are real benefits from Living to Work, Not Working to Live, and one of those benefits was having the people I eat lunch with every day being some of the loudest people cheering me on down the aisle. It was nice.

  10. Oh my GOSH! I have been waiting for this post. I was promoted recently and I was already engaged by the time I got over here. So people immediately started asking me questions – mostly because they didn’t know me. They found out pretty quickly how incredibly nerdy i am. Lost of the older ladies didn’t quite understand my ideas for comic books and super heroes. I had one divorce tell me pretty blatantly that I was an idiot for changing my last name. But I’ve mostly been able to shrug off the negativity. I just brag about all my awesome projects and show them pictures of big beautiful dress! Which they love and think is SO ME! 😛 The guys I hang out with on the other hand hate hearing about it and change the subject very quickly. Oh but I have to listen to sob stories about the most recent ex girlfriend *hurl*

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