So, you got engaged over the holidays? Congrats! It’s so exciting for you and all the other newly minted fiancees who can’t stop staring at their ring fingers. (Or their partners sighing over freshly dented bank accounts.) Surveys have shown that a third of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. Once the bubbly stops flowing, the planning begins in earnest, with the first workdays after New Year’s showing huge spikes in traffic for wedding websites.

I spent four years covering weddings for The Washington Post and wrote a book about the relationship lessons I learned on the job. All told, I’ve attended 255 weddings — maybe more that I’ve blacked out. I hope that yours will be the greatest, most fun, meaningful wedding there ever was. And more than that, I hope you don’t lose friends and alienate everyone you know in the process!

To that end, here are my tips on how not to make your 2016 bliss the bane of anyone else’s existence:

1. Your loved ones will want to be involved with your blessed day and help in whatever way possible. Except by refereeing fights over guest lists, registries, wedding bands, seating charts, or appetizer options. That is on you.

2. Don’t feel that you have to keep everyone updated on your progress or stress levels via daily updates on Facebook. They’ll be able to live with the suspense.

3. Over the course of your engagement, your friends will occasionally want to talk about something other than the wedding. To facilitate this, it’s advisable to posit the following questions: “So, how are you?” “What’s happening in your world?”

4. As requested, many will save the date of your wedding. They may not, however, save the dates of multiple engagement parties; your bachelor or bachelorette weekend; the first, second, and third shower; the rehearsal dinner or morning-after brunch. Again: Keep. It. Short.

5. Do not make your guests wait 30 or more minutes for the ceremony to start. If the invite said 5 p.m., the masses will get restless by 5:15.

6. No tongue at the altar.

7. If possible, try not to book your ceremony and reception a stressful 60-mile drive away from each other. Also, please try to avoid scheduling a five-hour gap between them. If this cannot be accomplished, be prepared for your guests to show up half drunk.

8. It’s wonderful that you are a gluten-free, dairy-free, raw-food-eating, vegan locavore. But your guests may not be. Don’t be offended if they duck out in search of a nearby McDonald’s.

9. If you are happy and enjoying yourself, your loved ones will be, too. If you are overwrought and yelling at the event manager for arranging the floating candles wrong, they will notice. You set the tone. Everyone will follow your lead.



May the Lord bless you … unless you’re single

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