Most people hate asking for help. I know I do.
There is discomfort in knowing that you are not a self-sufficient, multi-tasking wedding planning god or goddess who does not require sleep the way other mortals do. There is also discomfort in knowing that not everyone will lovingly hear your cries for help; some may say "no" to your requests (and I know that's hard to hear), or they may even go so far as to judge you as dependent, lazy or tacky.
You see, it takes a village to pull off a celebration. Some people hire that village - and magically, in comes an army of people in black and white uniforms, eager to save the day and pour you refills. But if you've got a budget like mine your village is your family and friends.
So for the sake of your wallet (but mostly your sanity), ask for help. Yes, you will have to get over the fear of judgment and rejection that typically prevent you from sending out an SOS call to your village. But seriously - if you can't ask them for help, who can you ask?
This is, in part, the reason why we are born into a family and why we don't stop forming and nurturing friendships during our time on Earth. People need each other- to feel full, to feel comforted, to feel connected, and yes...to be rescued at times. And it takes courage to accept this truth and be completely vulnerable to it.
Okay, now that we've all got our balls in check, it's time to go over some practical stuff.
How does one ask for wedding help without coming off as a complete bung hole? How do you gain the sincere help and support of others without instilling in them a desire to and make voo doo dolls that look remarkably like you?
Here are some pointers that worked for us:
1. Send out a general SOS to the masses. When work is spread out evenly it feels much more manageable, so make a smoke signal that will call in a good number of helping hands. Also, this approach eliminates pressure on a single person or small group of people to do all the work. Brian and I accomplished this by writing our SOS call in a note on Facebook. Then we tagged about 20 of our closest friends and family - people we knew would be open to our cry. (People: This worked for us because we communicate frequently with our friends and family this way, wedding or not. I do not advise approaching people via Facebook if you don't normally do so because it may come off as impersonal and rude. If you prefer a more personal approach, invite your mini village over for pizza and make an announcement there.)
2. Let people choose how they will help you. If you want people to be sincere in their desire to help out, let them choose a task that appeals to their interests and calls on their abilities. What we did was list all of the tasks that needed to get done and instructed people to choose one (or more) that they would like to take care of. I suggest that you present the tasks in categories. Here were our headings for each category:
- If your are a whiz in the kitchen...
- If you're strong...
- If you're crafty...
- If you're a techie...
- If you've got wheels...
- If you've got stuff you're willing to lend us...
3. Be clear and honest about what you need help with. Don't sugar coat any tasks ("Oh, just pick up a cake from the bakery - whatever is easiest for you."), and then unpleasantly surprise people down the road ("A made-from-scratch cake by you would be much tastier than anything from the bakery. By the way, the cake needs to be vegan.")
4. Be organized. Yeah, having a list of assignments with corresponding names of volunteers looks a little psycho, but your guests will appreciate it in the end. An unorganized leader slows things down and causes a lot of avoidable frustration.
5. Be flexible. Nobody likes a tyrant. Remember when I said to be clear and honest about your needs? Well that only applies if your needs are reasonable. If they're not, re-think them. Cut them down to bite size pieces. And know that while people will do their best, they have boundaries, too.
6. Be grateful. Say thanks in a way that feels right to you. Some people like thank you cards and small gifts. I like making impromptu speeches about people in front of a large audience so that everyone knows how freakin' amazing my peeps are. (I love showing off about my friends' and family members' big, big hearts.)
7. Remember what the Rolling Stones taught us: "You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need." Most things on your to-do list will get done. Some things won't. And when this happens and you find that you have a beautiful, joyous, and rockin' good time at your wedding anyway, you'll realize that the Rolling Stones were right. Your understanding of need vs. want will change over time into a remarkably evolved perspective. Trust me. And what a liberating thing that will be.
Now off I go to put all of my advice into action. Some time after my wedding this Saturday I will write about the outcome of relying so heavily upon help from my village. (You know - what works in theory vs. what doesn't.) Until then, good luck, people!