Hi. I'm an introvert. Neither I nor my partner have any close friends — my few are halfway across the country and don't have time/funds to visit), I cut off my abusive mother and family shortly after meeting my fiancee, my father is deceased, and my fiancee is only moderately close with his family.
And now we're planning a wedding.
If you're an introvert without friends planning your wedding and wondering, “But what about the friend stuff like bachorette parties and bridal showers?” I'm here to tell you it's gonna be ok.
We have found a few ways around some of the pitfalls and sorrows of planning a wedding without close friends. I'm going to share what we did, and how we changed our thinking about weddings in order to make ourselves happy! I hope any part of this helps you, and while it may not help everyone, just know this: I know how lonely and sad it can feel.
Here are the things that helped me, an introvert with no in-town friends, during wedding planning.
If you don't have tons of friends, go unconventional
If you're reading Offbeat Bride, you are probably already considering this.
It took a change of perspective for me to accept we'd have to do things a little differently. Since we've been living together for years, the commitment was already there and already solid – the ceremony is only symbolic of that commitment (we hope) that will not change between now and then.
It's so easy to get caught up in the ceremony, pomp, circumstance, and drama of it all that you can lose sight of the fact that you already have a commitment. That thing that you're craving during the planning of your wedding – you have it already. You HAVE a best friend; what you want or need is ANOTHER best friend. And there's nothing wrong with that.
The wedding is letting everyone else know about your intention to continue the commitment and friendship you already have, for the rest of your lives. But if you don't have an “everyone else” or your “everyone else” is limited, then YOU and your PARTNER are what's important.
It's a beautiful thing, and it's something that can be communicated so many different ways. Your love doesn't have to fit in with the mainstream!
Consider a destination wedding
My fiancee and I moved last year and our new “ships” we have here in our new city are not yet relationships… so we decided to do a small destination wedding. Why get married in a new city where we don't know anyone?
This unintentionally ended up being a great excuse for our more informal/distant acquaintances to gracefully bow out of attending. Nobody expects them to actually pay the money to go attend the wedding of someone they don't know well, but should you feel the need, you can at least invite these distant acquaintances with a pretty good idea that they won't attend. That's a no-guilt, no hurt feelings situation, friends! And if one or two of those acquaintance invitees DO want to attend, hey, you have someone there now!
Also, when I say destination wedding, know that your destination doesn't have to be exotic! We're doing a cruise wedding: Hotel + Venue + Food + Vacation. Many cruises have packages for a stress-free time. If that's a little too plebian, do a more exotic locale if you've got the money. If you don't have close friends, it means you save money on feeding them and can put it towards yourselves!
The fiancee and I are way more into traveling and exploring the world and investing in that, than we are for the wedding itself – especially because we don't have close friends and family.
Who to bounce your wedding ideas around with?
As the bride, I've struggled most with not having someone to bounce ideas off of for wedding dresses, venues, colors…well, anything really.
If you're in the same boat, see if your fiancee would be willing to at least listen. Most would listen, especially if you explained how important it was to you to have someone with whom to discuss these things. I did this with my fiancee.
While he's not great at understanding why I'd care what flowers go where, he's at least asking questions and willing to learn, which gives me an opportunity to talk about things I like, even if i'm teaching him about them. It's actually brought us closer, because now he knows what I like and why.
Sometimes these things even become inside jokes and endear you to one another further. For example, I went through a succulents phase for the wedding (aren't they amazing?) and he didn't understand the appeal. He called them “failed flowers”, to which I called HIM a failed flower, and we just stood and chuckled for a while. Now, he's suggesting including succulents because of that moment.
The point of that is, though the situation may not be ideal, good things can still come out of it.
Go dress shopping with your fiance
Dress shopping was a hurdle I was not looking forward to. I'd never been willing to admit it to anyone, but I secretly really wanted that cliche movie moment; you know, the one where the bride goes with a handful of friends to try on various dresses, and it's a montage of gowns and reactions, yes and nos.
Since I don't have my mother to go with me, and I'm not close with my fiancee's sister or mom, I figured I'd have to face it alone. Luckily, I asked myself whether I was doing the tradition of not seeing the bride in the dress because I really believed it, or because I felt I “should”. Do whatever works for you because you WANT it, do what you want because you really BELIEVE it.
I ended up bringing my fiancee to a random dress shop that we walked past — and we ended up getting just the experience I wanted. I didn't know you were supposed to have an appointment to try on dresses, but someone had just canceled so they fit me in. The ladies in the shop crowded around and acted as my handful of friends, complete with yes/no signs, and genuinely seemed to pick up on the fact that we weren't with anyone else. Instead of giving pity like so many, they just happily helped and celebrated our unconventional situation.
If you can find a local shop with friendly people, you just might not miss having your close friends around. Some shops have food, too. Like cake. And wine. Which can arguably be better friends than some people. Just sayin'.
Skip the bridesmaids…
As for Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids, that was one area I really had to compromise in order to NOT compromise. If you have a bit of a broken family like me, you might feel similarly: I knew that it wouldn't be fair to FORCE acquaintances into our wedding just to fill that void, and it was also really important to me not to open the door to my abusive family. I've finally gotten some independence from them and i'm enjoying it – so that was out the door pretty quickly – this also meant no bridesmaids for me.
If that's the case for you, decide whether you have anyone in your life that could fill the role of Maid of Honor or Best Man. These are often closer, more meaningful positions of honor, anyway. Maids of Honor and Best Men are there not just for the wedding day, they also help you plan and celebrate, too.
…Or consider a remote maid of honor!
If you don't have someone close enough to fill roles NEAR you, consider someone who would be willing, but is too far away… You could consider a remote maid of honor or best man!
There are so many online collaboration and planning tools these days, that if you really want to show someone something, you can do that.
For better or worse. If you want people (other than your partner) to bounce ideas off of and help you plan, but they can't attend the wedding for whatever reason, most people would be willing to give feedback on things. In my case, my closest friend (though our friendship is a little strained after the election) lives halfway across the country and doesn't have the funds to fly to us OR take our cruise wedding.
Since my fiancee, me, and my friend are all IT professionals, she offered to be Remote Maid of Honor.
Now, it does not take an IT professional to collaborate and share ideas online, obviously. Pinterest is your friend, you already know this. You can add contributors, share your pins, all kind of things. There's always Zoom, Facebook, Facetime, Snapchat, old-fashioned text and e-mail, carrier-pigeon.
We as a species are not lacking in WAYS to communicate with each other, we just don't always. The point is, if you have people that care about you far away, you can be flexible in your expectations, and use your resources to minimize the distance between you and the people you can stand.
There are lots of ways to feel special
The bottom line is, the more concessions I made, the more I realized what was important to me: making the day special and making us feel special, and that can be done in so many ways.
We don't have to be on a big boat, or go anywhere cool; we could go to the museum, walk through the park, grab balloons, and go do our own vows by the river somewhere.
Since we saved money by only doing what's important to us, we found we could afford to do a few more little things for our wedding, before we plan our epic honeymoon!
So we're going all out for ourselves, hair and makeup, he's getting a special old-fashioned shave, I spent a little extra on flowers, and we're getting a massage package. I'm way more looking forward to that than having people at my side. I've got the one I need already.
TL;DR: What helped me:
- If you have broken family and/or no friends, you at least have ONE person: The person you're marrying. That's more important than how many guests are there. Manage your expectations accordingly.
- Screw wedding dress montages; wine and cake are my maids of honor.
- Yay for nice sales people.
- If you don't have friends to be bridesmaids/maid of honor, go remote, or elope!
- The money that you're saving on NOT feeding friends/family? You have total 100% permission to spend on yourselves instead. It's not greedy, you're celebrating!