Surviving a wedding
October 2, 2011 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I have extreme anxiety about leaving the house and being in groups. I'm going to my sister's wedding this holiday weekend. I've worked up to dealing with crowds on ferries, driving there, what I'll be wearing and gifts I'll be giving. I still have no clue what to say to people or what people talk about at these events. Help? Specific special details included.

The night before the wedding his rich father wants to throw a small dinner for my mother and I to meet his family at some fancy golf club. I took 6 months to find one outfit that is acceptable for a wedding. What is golf club wear?

There will be around 35 people at the wedding so not large enough that I can hide. A large percentage of them will be deaf (I know enough ASL to talk to my sister and all the alphabet...basically really poor stilted ASL and I understand even less when spoken by someone who does not read lips as well as my sister and has the patience for my slowness). There will be an interpreter for the ceremony and maybe an hour later.

I will be unfortunately part of the pictures. I'm morbidly obese. The rest of my family has competed at national and international events in their sports. Her fiance regularly rides his bicycle for 100kms for fun. I've only met him once and he said I looked like no one in the family and could be a football player. How do I minimize my impact on these portraits?

The reception will be a luncheon afterwards. There will be no interpreter then. What do people talk about at weddings with each other? I'm currently unemployed and on disability for my depression. While I'm feeling better for my depression this is spinning me out of control. One of my anxieties is making small talk.

I guess I just am asking what do I do in this situation? How do I make it through without making my sister ashamed (I already feel bad that I'm not fluent in her language and culture but she is 10 yrs older than me and I only see her for about four days a year) What are conversation topics I can discuss? How do you take a good picture when everyone else around you is stick thin and you are not?
posted by kanata to Human Relations (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I want to just give you a giant hug, because I know all of these thoughts so well.

I know how you're feeling - not because of the situation, but because the way the anxiety is manifesting itself on a million little things. It's making each one of these things feel like a giant situation. I promise I'm not trying to downplay your fear and anxiety, but I know exactly how it is. I want to tell you everything's going to be fine.

First off, the pictures. Your weight has nothing to do with it, and you're not going to detract from anything. You're family. The pictures are there to show reminders of loved ones, friends, and people they care about all gathered together for the event. If it weren't, everyone would hire models for the pictures instead of using real people. Hell, I'd have let my wife sub me out for someone more attractive if it would have helped the pictures. You're not going to detract from them in any way - you're family, and you're there to be happy for your sister.

As far the language issue, I've been to plenty of weddings where I only casually spoke the language (Spanish). I definitely made it just fine. People are generally in good moods at weddings, so most of them will probably be happy to chat with you in whatever form you can communicate.

What do you want to talk about? The weather. The bride. The family. The time where your sister was a teen and took you to a movie or whatever. Whatever hobby you may have. Small talk is called small talk for a reason. You don't have to sit there and discuss anything in depth.

Is the anxiety towards small talk based on fear of having nothing to say, or fear that you're going to say something silly (I have both flavors, depending on the situation)? Either way, you've got to realize that weddings are generally joyous events, and people are in good moods, if not a little emotional. People from various social circles are at these things, and they always blend together just fine.

I hope things go well for you, and I hope you dread it a little less.
posted by SNWidget at 8:56 AM on October 2, 2011 [7 favorites]

Remember that you are there because your family loves you and wants you to be there. Making small talk can be really tough and you have my sympathies. One potential topic that came to my head is sharing (positive) childhood memories of your sister. You have a unique relationship with the bride, and everyone else is there to support the bride, so use that to your advantage in conversation.

You will not make your sister ashamed, not if she is a decent human being who loves you. It sounds like she wants you there so remember that. Another thing to keep in mind is that no one will be focusing solely on you. And, you will not ruin the pictures! I think that if in 10 years your sister and her husband look through those pictures, your absence would be far sadder than your self-perceived ugliness.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:57 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

A smartish outfit would be appropriate for the dinner. A nice skirt/trousers and top. Think evening, not daytime so the colours can be darker and fabrics can be a bit sparkly. As can jewellery e.g. you could wear a statement piece of jewellery with an otherwise fairly simple outfit, too.

You can't do anything about your ASL proficiency at this point - just show willing and assume that all guests will be there to enjoy the day and will show each other general courtesy and that means they will bear with you.

As to how to take a good picture - you take a good picture if you are happy and relaxed. So you have to start to believe firmly that you belong in the picture (i.e. your presence will not ruin the picture), by smiling and by being happy for your sister. It's her big day and the focus will be on her. So if you can get your head round the idea that your sister wants you to share this joyous occasion with her and are happy for her you will look happy and at ease in the picture which will make it a good picture.

As to what people talk about - the weather, the family, current affairs. So spend a bit of time reading the news, ideally the news where you live and where your sister lives and you will have something to contribute to conversation.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:59 AM on October 2, 2011

I can understand that you're uncomfortable being depressed and overweight, but nothing you've described is anything to be ashamed of. Lots of people are shy. And people who are outgoing meet shy people all the time so it's not like they'll think there's anything wrong with you. You haven't described your relationship with your sister, but unless it's complete poison (which it doesn't sound like) she wants you to be there with her because she cares about you and she isn't ashamed of you.
posted by Loudmax at 9:04 AM on October 2, 2011

Hey kanata, I'm really sorry for how hard this is for you. I've dealt with social anxiety on a smaller scale, and I know how debilitating that can feel. I imagine that this is pretty tough.

Just a couple of things... I can't say much for the dress, but golf club wear to me sounds like something people would wear at a country club if they were to go golfing. Not casual, but not jacket and tie.

The one main thing that I take with me all the time, and I share it with you just in case it might be helpful, is that when I had more social anxiety in the past, I was more nervous about looking nervous for being socially inept than whatever I was worried about in the event. When I realized that it was okay to look a little bit nervous and to not have perfect social interaction because I realized people didn't judge me as much as I thought they would (I mean, I wouldn't judge someone to that extent, so why did I assume the entire world was made up of social jerks towards people who had social anxiety?), this allowed me to relax a bit and deal with the situation socially, instead of worrying that my anxiety was compounding things.

In terms of conversation, a very good rule of thumb is to ask people about themselves. You do not have to come up with anything brilliant. Get the ball rolling, and people will be able to talk about themselves quite easily and help carry the conversation. Also, you don't have to force things. It's okay to be at a party and not be talking all the time. You can stand with something to eat or drink and observe. Having this flexibility really helped me feel more comfortable in social situations.

Additionally, as you may have noticed, the more you do social situations like this, the more you learn to work through issues of social anxiety. Some of this stuff (in terms of what to say, the rhythm of party discourse, etc.) gets easier with practice. So instead of viewing social gatherings as doomsday scenarios, I'd learn to see them as opportunities to gain skills to get better and more comfortable socially over time.

Regarding your obesity, if it were my wedding, and you were my brother, I would not care one whit about this, especially if I rarely saw you during the year. I would be thrilled that you were there. I don't know if this is the same for your sister (as you didn't say much about your relationship), or other people who will be there, but I do know that there are a lot of people who don't see obesity as a social issue to be ashamed of. Know that you can go with this reality in mind.

One last thought: perhaps learn some quick sign language before you go, if not for the public discussion, but for between you and your sister. I think it would be a sweet gesture. And perhaps you can use it as springboard to learn more for the future, which will help with some of the guilty feelings you are tempted to take with you. If your lack of sign language ability is something you want to improve, this is a very resolvable issue that you can start before you go.

These answers won't make your social anxiety go away, but hopefully there's something in there that might be helpful for you.

Good luck!
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:08 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't worry about your weight. You are loved regardless of size.

If someone asks what you do, just say you are in between jobs. Maybe mention some areas that you are interested in. Keep the conversation going. Ask them questions about their lives.

Relax, and if you can't, fake it til you make it. Many people with social anxiety do that tense muscle thing, like they are on-guard for a fight. It makes those around them uncomfortable, and that just adds to the discomfort.

About the pics, if it's the posed pics, the photographer will tell you what to do. (if you want, go up to photographer and say that you're a little awkward around strangers and would appreciate some direction from him/her.) If it's the documentary type pics, then just have some wine/liquor/beer, relax, smile, and have fun :) Look truly happy for your sister. Think of her happiness, smile because of that.
Remember: no one is there to judge you, they are there to happily celebrate your sister's joyous nuptials.
posted by Neekee at 9:10 AM on October 2, 2011

And lest I sounded a bit unsympathetic I, too, do not meet current standards of what is attractive. And I have consciously avoided events and people in the past fearing rejection. And I too have managed to blow every single perceived obstacle to something out of all proportion. But it is my experience that none of the horrible things you imagine actually happen.

People do not perceive you the way you perceive yourself. Your family wants you to share the event because they love you. As to feeling intimidated by your sister's future in laws - I qualify as obese and I have cycled 100km+ in a day a few times for charity. In fact due to my size I was able to raise a lot more money than a skinny and fit person would have raised. Only the most callous of people would hold your size against you and the groom's family are there for the same reason you are - to share the most important day in a loved one's life.
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:11 AM on October 2, 2011

Another thing just occurred to me. If you aren't hearing-impaired and can understand some amount of ASL, then they will see this as a positive. They won't see lack of fluency as a negative. So brush up and don't worry if you aren't perfect at it. The fact that you're trying counts for a lot.
posted by Loudmax at 9:16 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just one more thing to throw out there: sometimes it helps to feel like you have a friend with whom you can say, man, I have to do something that is going to suck for me this weekend. Let me give you a report when I get back! And before you go, you can have a good chuckle with that person about how life throws us things like this sometimes and you just have to grit your teeth and bear it and try to survive. But in the midst of it, you know that there's someone on the other end who can empathize with you and will be proud of you for enduring when you get back.

If it helps, confide in a friend as well, or see us as your friend in this situation. Go in, do battle, and then come back and report! I personally would love to hear how it went.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:36 AM on October 2, 2011 [8 favorites]

Re small-talk. I agree with Loudmax that people will be impressed that you have any ASL - and you should be impressed with yourself too, as it sounds as if you must have made a real effort to develop this given how little you see your sister. Asking people about themselves is always a good way to go with small-talk - the other thing to remember is that it doesn't matter if you are silent some or even most of the time.

I attended the wedding of my socially-competent, attractive sister - I have a disability, find socialising very difficult and am not attractive. Your sister is not going to be ashamed whatever you do - to be honest I imagine being at the centre of a wedding means you pay very little attention to what else is going on around you, so she won't notice you much. You may also find it helpful to remember that at least some of the other people there will be experiencing social anxiety - it's pretty common at events like that where you don't know everyone.

Two other things that were helpful to me at my sister's wedding. Firstly, just remembering that this is only one day and it will come to an end. Schedule in some hiding under the bed time for when you get home, if the thought of that helps. Secondly, I had tasks for the wedding - it may be too late for this but you might ask her if there's something specific you could do to help. Having a role gives one a focus that can take one's mind off social anxiety.
posted by paduasoy at 9:42 AM on October 2, 2011

Oh, and give yourself some credit for being able to deal with the driving, the crowds, planning the clothes and sorting out presents!
posted by paduasoy at 9:43 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

You are from the sister of the bride, so conversation is easy - 'isn't her dress lovely, the flowers are so nice, the groom looks handsome, the venue is perfect. It's too bad it rained/so nice it didn't rain.' There have been threads on conversations starters. You can always ask people where they're from or what hobbies they have, or mention a not-too-controversial news item. 'Did you see that bridge collapse in the news?' If people ask what you do, there has never been an easier time to say 'Unfortunately, I'm unemployed.' In this economy, you are in great company.

People will not be focused on you. One way to cope is to pretend that everyone else is terribly shy. I'm not socially comfortable, but I fake it okay, so pretend that lots of people are faking it, and be gracious and kind to them.

Wear your nicest outfit and your nicest shoes to the dinner before; life has gotten a lot more casual.

Social phobia is a bear. You are really doing a fabulous job of coping.
posted by theora55 at 9:53 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Re: the country club, it's actually likely that it has a dress code. So if you know the name of the club and you're up for calling on the phone, you could probably inquire about the dinner-attire dress code and get a useful answer. You wouldn't have to introduce yourself or anything; you could just call and say that you're going to be having dinner there with a member and wanted to make sure you'd be wearing proper attire.
posted by limeonaire at 9:59 AM on October 2, 2011

Talk about your sister, her husband, and the guest you're currently in conversation with. You can ask the guests how they know the bride or groom. Maybe they went to school together -- then you can ask what they studied, what they're doing now, mention that your sister loved the subject/school (if she did), etc. Maybe they work together -- same idea. If they're friends of the groom's, you can talk about how he seems like a great guy and how they look so happy together. If a guest says something nice about your sister, agree and add something else about how great she is. Really, weddings are possibly the best kind of party for people who are bad at small talk, because there's a built-in common interest.

When people talk too fast in ASL, just give them a big smile, ask them to talk more slowly, say that you're still learning. You can say that you practice with your sister when you see her, and that way you can work the conversation back to her. You can practice some of these sentences, and even the smiling while anxious, in advance. Also, there are bound to be guests there who know even less ASL than you do, and they'll be needing someone to talk with too. Keep an eye out for people sitting around looking uncomfortable.

One good thing about the current recession is that you really don't need to feel embarrassed about being unemployed, whatever the reason for it may be. Say "I'm out of work right now; I've been a ____; I'd like to do ___ one day, but we'll see." If you get cornered about whether you're looking for work right now and don't know how to work around it, just say "I'm on disability for some health problems right now." People will respond with sympathy or confusion, and then you smile and say "it sucks, but it's getting better, and eventually I'd like to get back to ___. In the meantime, I'm really happy I could make it to this wedding!" and then the conversation is back on an easier topic.

Along with all that, I don't know about you, but imagining the worst case is usually helpful for me. In the worst case, you'll have an awkward, boring wedding where you worry about what the other guests and your family think about your presence. That describes most of the weddings I've been to! You're not alone. It passes. Also I'm not morbidly obese but I always come out terrible in pictures and never know how to handle myself when they're being taken and so end up making weird expressions and slouching and it's all bad but that's how it goes. It's one of the stupider parts of life. If, unlike me, you manage to relax and smile, be prepared to find out after the fact that you actually looked nice in those pictures.
posted by trig at 10:02 AM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh, and I didn't mention the country-club dress code thing to send you into a spiral of worry about whether your clothing will be correct—like others have said above, it's likely that if there is a dress code, it's a fairly casual one that amounts to "wear something nice, clean, and without holes in the dining room that isn't jeans, a T-shirt, sweats, flip-flops, or big puffy sneakers." I've found it helpful, as a woman who's visited such clubs on occasion, to note that as long as you're wearing a nice slacks/shirt/shoes combo or a nice dress and shoes or a nice shirt/skirt/shoes combo, you're pretty much fine across the board.

From what I've seen, at the same club or society event you'll sometimes find sixtysomething women baring tons of cleavage and flashing heavy jewelry and twentysomething women in fairly conservative sweater sets and pearls—or you'll sometimes find women fresh off the golf course in a "nice" athletic top (a fitted Dri-FIT polo) and slacks. There's a lot of variation, but the basics are a nice top, nice slacks or skirt, nice shoes, and no more than two or three items of jewelry.
posted by limeonaire at 10:14 AM on October 2, 2011

We don't even know you and yet the support and warmth is like a hug on AskMefi. The people at the wedding are family and close friends and you are the bride's beloved sister - no one is looking to judge or evaluate you, and if they had an inkling of your discomfort, most certainly any of them would want to give you a hug and a blanket and a warm beverage, you know?

Please try to understand that no reasonable person would judge you as harshly and unsympathetically as you are regarding yourself in your question. And Deaf folks are used to varying levels of ASL proficiency - and understand that fluency or lack thereof is no reflection on how good of a person you are.

And you just have to BE IN the picture and smile. People aren't taking wedding photos for magazine fashion spreads, they're taking them to remember familiar faces at special events. When you look at wedding pics, do you think Uncle Victor should have hid in the back because of his ridiculous toupee, or Aunt Gert should have sat this one out because her nose is so godawful huge? Of course not. You're probably thinking how great it was that they were able to show up and how lovely it was to see them. That's all people are going to think about you. If they get a shyness vibe off you, honestly? if it was me it'd endear you a bit more. Because despite the challenge, you showed up.

I'm just trying to recalibrate your perspective a bit. No one is glaring at you with laser eyes. Most people are nice, especially at weddings. And we're all carrying our own anxieties, too - yours seem big but most folks are distracted by the need to hide their own.

tl;dr: more people are like you than you could suspect.
posted by Lou Stuells at 11:50 AM on October 2, 2011

Thanks for answering. The whole idea of this wedding is making my brain just go GAH!!! but I'm trying to work through it. Good idea about phoning the country club. I've already scoped out the routes to the wedding resort, to the airport, to the country club, etc on google maps. Thank goodness for street view for those of with anxiety about parking too :)

My relationship with my sister is one of warmth I suppose. When I was 1 she was already going to a Deaf boarding school in another city and only coming home on the odd weekends and in summer so we do not have any childhood memories in common. Our relationship since I graduated high school (18 yrs ago) has been mainly one of seeing each other for 4 days at Christmas and now e-mail which has helped bring us a little bit closer but not really as she doesn't keep up as much as I would like. I'm the shut in type and she's off kayaking.

This plays into the anxiety as I fear that I just won't have anything to say about her to people but then I do have tasks for the wedding. It is my job to pick her up at the airport and to help organize the flowers and the night before the wedding her, her maid of honor and my mom and I will be sharing a hotel suite. So I guess in the morning we are helping her get ready too.

I guess I'm most worried about what to say when people ask questions about me like work, living (I'm currently renting with my mom), etc. All the small talk questions that they tell you to ask others. All I really have to say is hey, decided not kill myself after all. Only took 20 years to do it and that's not really a conversation starter :) My week is usually taken up with therapy, trying to leave the house 3x, taking my meds, meditating and tentatively starting to do some yoga.

I know I'm the last person the wedding is about. It is just hard not to feel like the whole thing is a burden on me. And I feel bad for that. But thank you for your tips and I will add them to the things I can do to calm me down and take the apparel wear into mind.
posted by kanata at 12:55 PM on October 2, 2011

Hey kanata, if you're worried about what to say when people ask horrible questions like, "So, what do you do?", I can totally sympathize. I HATE that question, mostly because it seems like I'm supposed to answer it with talk about what I do for money (which is boring as hell), or what I do in my free time, and I'm a quiet nerdy homebody. What am I supposed to do, talk about the posts I read recently on MetaFilter? :)

The best thing I can think of to do in those situations is to be cheerily vague and then turn the question back on them. Someone says, "So, palomar, what do you do?", and I'm in a period of unemployment (which has happened quite often and makes me hate the bejesus out of that question) -- "Well, I've been in the widget industry for a while but it's starting to get kind of old, so I'm looking into cow-herding. Any chance you're in the cow-herding industry?", smile, wait for them to talk. Ask leading questions. "Really? What's that like?", et cetera. Someone asks what you do for fun, or what you're interested in? "I've taken up meditation lately, and I'm surprised at how useful it is. Have you ever tried it?"

Remember, people looooooooove to talk about themselves. And most people in a social situation are more worried about how THEY'RE coming off to be too concerned about you. I have some social anxiety issues myself, and when I've compared post-social gathering notes with extrovert friends I'm always like, "Oh god, while Bob was talking to me I very weirdly pulled out my lip balm and applied it without breaking eye contact, he probably thinks I'm insane," or whatever, and my friends are like, "Really? I didn't even notice, I was too busy trying to wave away the stench of me farting on Bob's dog."

Just remember, leading questions are your friend. Get someone talking about themselves and they'll take care of the rest. It can help to have a beverage in your hand at all times during a party or reception, that way if you feel like things feel weird or you need to make an exit, you can be like, "I'm just going to go freshen this up, excuse me a moment," and head for the bar. (Stick to non-alcoholic drinks if you need to, of course -- YMMV, but getting tipsy makes me feel way more self-conscious.)

At heart we're all just dumb scared animals trying to get the other animals to like us. They're as scared of you as you are of them! You will do just fine. :)
posted by palomar at 1:28 PM on October 2, 2011

I think you should stop selling yourself short. You've been doing meditation and some yoga? Those are super-popular topics. You probably read some things too, have hobbies, watch movies, follow some websites, in general do some of the many things that pretty much anyone can find interesting in one way or another. It's not like you need to work those things into conversations; just realize you've got as much going on as anyone else.

As far as talking about your sister, I think that at her wedding, to be honest, feeling is more important than content. That is, people aren't going to care much if you do or don't have anecdotes or updates about your sister. If you want to make a good impression, all you have to do is seem to be happy, and happy for your sister. Of course seeming happy when you're anxious is really hard so that might be more stressful than helpful. Maybe you won't be able to do it and that's okay. But that really is all that people are looking for -- at this wedding, you don't need to be dapper or athletic or on top of anything. If you're happy for your sister, no one can ask for anything more. And as people've said, if you're happy for your sister and interested in what they have to say, they'll just remember you as being nice as hell.

So I would do two things. The first is put some time aside before the wedding to think about your sister, maybe spend some time with her if that's possible (might not be), and really work out how you feel not about the wedding itself but about her being married and happy. Hopefully you feel good about that, but if not, or if you're too anxious to feel happy about anything right now, don't worry about it too much.

The second is to plan out the different kinds of conversations you'll be having, just as you've been planning transportation and everything else. You'll meet people who can't stop talking and people who aren't big talkers themselves. You might get questions about yourself; think about what they might be and figure out some basic answers. Think about how you can turn conversations around so they'll be interesting to you -- maybe some guest has an interesting life, or lives someplace you've heard of but never been, or they can tell you some stories about your sister or the groom that can show you another side of them. (Hell, make it a game: pick up five interesting stories or facts by the end of the wedding.) Work out some imaginary conversations, and then go back and figure out how you can make them more interesting for you to listen to. Imagine a conversation that veers too close to territory you're not interested in covering, and imagine steering it elsewhere. Finally, imagine some conversations that just don't work out, and make peace with those.

It is kind of a burden, but it can be a good one. By the end either you'll have levelled up to whatever gathering is more awkward than weddings, or you'll have gotten closer to that goal. I hope there are some interesting guests.
posted by trig at 3:13 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Do you have a camera, or access to one? I used not to be able to deal with family gatherings at all; I'd come back shaking and deeply upset because they were so stressful, and mostly I wouldn't go. Since I got my camera, I now spend the whole time trying to get really good candid shots of everyone there while they interact and talk to each other. Sometimes I make them into books. People seem to like this. It gives me something to focus on; I no longer spend ages wandering around, not knowing what to do with myself. It also means I don't have to talk to people for most of the time, and when we do talk, it's mostly about my camera. Doing candid shots is really different to getting people to pose, because you're actually trying not to be noticed; you get to make something positive about the instinct you get to disappear into the ground.
posted by Acheman at 3:37 PM on October 2, 2011

I agree with those who point out that meditation and yoga are great topics - a lot of folks do yoga and love to talk about their experiences (do you have a kind you especially like? a teacher you love?). I've had some really great conversations with people about health month, how the social aspect of it is fascinating and helpful.

Mostly, I agree that having a role will help, smiling and nodding and sometimes saying "it's a pleasure to meet you" will go a really long way. Asking if there's anything you can do to help. Saying how good the food/flowers/kids are (don't eat the kids, you know what I mean). People love to hear good things about their family, so saying how great the groom seems will go far with his family.

Two more things that help me: 1) thinking of people and pets I love most - anxiety and love have a hard time coexisting in my brain at the same time. 2) valuing my self-care, whether it be meditating or going for a walk by myself or giving myself permission to have an extra drink before dinner because all of that family is making me anxious.

You're brave and awesome for doing this really hard thing for your sister. And you'll have gotten through it by this time next week!
posted by ldthomps at 5:45 PM on October 2, 2011

Morbid obesity is irrelevant. I bet you're gorgeous and a great person too!

I kind of know how you feel and I have a lot of social anxiety too. But honestly in April I went to a wedding alone for the first time ever, and I'm so glad I did because I had a great time, and I didn't have to worry about having to leave because the person with me wanted to.

If there are any small kids there, play with them a little bit (assuming you like kids). I always used to do that at awkward family stuff. Kids aren't judgemental like adults so you don't have to worry about what they think of you. :)
posted by IndigoRain at 7:15 PM on October 2, 2011

One of the great things about weddings is that if you don't want to talk about yourself, you totally don't have to, there's a whole wedding to talk about. Talk about your sister. "Yes, I'm A's sister. She's such a lovely person, I'm so happy for her." "We don't see each other as often as I'd like, but we get a lot of holidays and special occasions. I'm so looking forward to including [husband] in that." Think of some minor anecdote(s), a particular event memory when she was home, child-you and your mom sending her a care package at boarding school, anything old and kind of sweet.
Ask questions. Ask his family to tell you a story about the groom. not "give me the dirt" but "oh, you're his cousin! Did you spend holidays together? Oh, Thankgsiving all together at the grandparents'... what's your favorite cousins story?"
posted by aimedwander at 7:40 AM on October 3, 2011

Ugh. Now the groom will be spending the next two days at my house due to a family member he was going to visit being in the hospital and him having no place to stay. So I will have to start off in the deep end with a stranger in my space starting tonight. My own fault for offering a place when asked on the phone. I guess I will take your advice and find a ASL video to scan online before he gets here.

If it is allowed to tag on a second question: Any help for a sudden house guest in this situation?
posted by kanata at 2:48 PM on October 3, 2011

When I'm a house guest, esp. if I'm m using family for a place to stay, I'm pretty happy knowing what the unspoken rules are - 'Mom & I get up early, but we're usually quiet in the morning, so feel free to sleep in; I'm sure you'll need it before the wedding. There's snacks in the cupboard next to the fridge, and bottled water, as the local water isn't wonderful. I've left clean towels out for you.' Otherwise, I'm pretty happy if I don't have to be super-social. Clean sheets, and a willingness to help with information and maybe a pre-wedding errand or 2, are all you need.

You offered somebody a place to stay - pretty good for an anxious person.
posted by theora55 at 4:34 PM on October 3, 2011

Hope it's going well! For what it's worth, you're doing a big favor for him and your sister and making a real contribution to their wedding. Best of luck with it all.
posted by trig at 6:32 AM on October 4, 2011

« Older SO and I are at an impasse regarding his parents'...   |   If we don't pick a wedding location soon, I'm... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.