Arguments with friends are inevitable—they're a sign that we're in a serious, committed relationship that we care about. However, if there's one time in your life when friendship tensions might run a little higher than usual, it's likely when you're planning your wedding. Not only are you busier and more stressed out than ever before, but you're also asking a lot of your friends. In addition to their emotional support, you're also asking them to be present at each and every wedding event you have planned and to take time, money, and energy out of their own day-to-day life in order to do so.
Needless to say, it's perfectly normal to fight with friends every now and then, but especially during wedding season. They key is how you handle these fights, as this may make or break the friendships you hold dear. Here, wedding experts share how to avoid friendship fights that commonly arise during wedding planning.
Be open and honest with your feelings.
It's harder for some than others to communicate how they're feeling, but if you're looking to resolve a conflict before it escalates, experts agree this is the best way to do it. "If you're able to identify that your sense of connection is too high or too low, or feels unsteady, then you can communicate that need to your friend instead of acting out your feelings in passive aggressive ways," explains Rachel Kazez, L.C.S.W., founder of All Along. "If you can communicate explicitly about this, you may ward off the need to argue."
Look for what's right rather than what's wrong.
Instead of focusing on all of the things your friend might not be doing for you ahead of the wedding, consider focusing instead on the thing she is doing. Years down the line, you likely won't even remember these discrepancies. Instead, what you will remember is the joy you felt on the big day, says Aimee Bernstein, a psychotherapist, executive coach, and mindfulness-in-action teacher and author of Stress Less Achieve More. "If a friend is a bit insensitive during the planning process, look for all that is good in this wonderful period of your life and count your blessings."
Give wedding talk a break.
It might be all you can think about on a second-by-second basis, but don't forget that your friends have many other things going on in their lives. That's why Jodi R.R. Smith, owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, recommends incorporating a wedding-free day or night into your plans now and then. "Go see a movie, have a spa day, or simply focus on the friend instead of the bride to make sure the wedding has not completely taken over the entire friendship," she says. "Once the wedding has concluded, the friendship should continue onward."
Agree upon a signal to defuse fights before they happen.
"When under pressure, people tend to be more reactive than usual," explains Bernstein. "If all of you recognize this tendency within yourself and each other, decide not to allow an insensitive remark create drama and wreck your friendship." To combat this, she recommends brides and their friends choose a signal, a gesture, word, or facial movement, and agree to use it when you sense conflict arising. "If the signal is a bit outrageous it will spark a smile and a positive mood," she says.
Taking a breather when tensions arise can work wonders, especially during high-pressure scenarios like wedding planning. "When your friend makes a hurtful judgment or says something that's contrary to your point of view, take a deep breath and let your reactive energy settle," says Bernstein. "Instead of defending or fighting for your point of view, try to let go of the conversation in your head and your reactivity, so that you can actually hear her out." This can help ensure that you react calmly and patiently to the actual issue at hand instead of flying off the wall in frustration.