When my fiancé and I finally booked our venue nearly a year after getting engaged, we wanted to shout it from the rooftops—but first, we had to tell all of our friends. Blame it on the ongoing pandemic and subsequent wedding boom, but it’s becoming more likely to get invited to multiple weddings on the same weekend or, even worse, the same day. “This can’t be us,” I told my fiancé, Ben. “We’ve waited too long for this.” So, we took turns telling our nearest and dearest to block off a certain Sunday in October 2023. (At the time, it was 18 months before our big day, which we thought would offer plenty of time to call dibs on that day.)
While almost every announcement was met with emphatic enthusiasm and confirmations that our day was officially saved, one of my friend’s texted me back with a single word that made my stomach drop: “S**t.” You see, my friend and her fiancé got engaged a few months before Ben and I did in 2021, but hadn’t booked a venue. While they still hadn’t secured a date when I shared the news, they were eying a venue around that time. “Adding to my calendar now, but I’ll let you know what plays out with our plans,” she told me, lending me a temporary sigh of relief. (I mean, what are the chances that two friends would know they have their wedding the same day? Bride Wars just never seemed that realistic.) Fast forward a few weeks later when my friend confirmed that her wedding was indeed scheduled for that same Sunday in October 2023.
I know, ugh. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to show up for my friends. Not only does it break my heart that I can’t be there for my friends on one of the most important days of her life, but I’m also sad that I already know someone in my inner circle will have to RSVP no. (And, if I’m being totally honest, I’m definitely bummed that 18 months wasn’t enough time to call dibs on our wedding day.)
At the end of the day, you can’t change another person’s plans—and I truly wish that my friend has a spectacular day—but it did get me thinking: How is a bride (or groom!)-to-be supposed to navigate this sticky situation? To help, I asked two etiquette experts to share their top do’s and don’ts.
Do Assess The Situation
Let’s be honest: Hearing that you and a friend are sharing a wedding date (and year!) can be disappointing at best—or a gut punch at the worst. But, before you react, it’s important to reflect.
“Take a moment to pause, process the initial news, and acknowledge how it is truly making you feel before responding to the other friend or making any significant decisions regarding the situation,” says Tetnika Marie Williamson, an etiquette expert and owner of the Poise Group, LLC. “Find a support system to lean in on when you have moments that trigger you emotionally.”
Though it can be easy to take this less-than-ideal situation personally, chances are that it’s not malicious. (Perhaps the date has a special meaning in the family, or their dream venue had limited availability, or it was a simple mistake.) If you’re still feeling a little bothered by the situation—and are particularly close to that friend—you might want to have an honest conversation with them.
“It will allow you to hear the other person out and an opportunity to work through nuances you may not have known if you chose just to be angry and not say anything,” Williamson shares. “However, first, you would want to reevaluate the status of the friendship before taking this step. Is this a friend within your close circle, a social media acquaintance, or a past high school pal or work colleague?” If this friend isn’t within your inner circle, it might be best to keep your thoughts to yourself.
Though it’s totally okay to be disappointed—and we give you full permission to feel your feelings—there’s a fine line between leaning on your support system and putting your friend down. “Limiting gossip around the situation involving the other friend and their wedding planning journey is crucial,” Williamson says. “Don't try to return negative energy by snubbing their future invitations or responding late to get back at them. People make the biggest mistake when they allow their emotions and pride to navigate the circumstance.”
Not only does this social faux pas ultimately hurt your friend—who you care about, regardless of their wedding date—but it’ll also create some negative energy around your nuptials. Once you have a conversation with your friend, let it go and focus on your big day. (Trust me, there’s so much to do.)
Just because you and your friend have the same wedding date doesn’t mean you have to be at odds during the entire planning process. Instead, try to figure out how you can both make the events leading up to your big day as special as possible.
“Work with the other bride [or groom] to ensure additional wedding events such as the shower or bachelorette [or bachelor weekend] are not on competing dates, and that you are not asking the same individuals to serve as [members of your wedding party],” explains Crystal L. Bailey, director of the Etiquette Institute of Washington.
If the details are different, it’s possible to treat your nuptials as two separate events. (Speaking of which, Williamson recommends against using the same vendors as your friends. Double dipping might raise tensions and make it seem like your weddings are in direct competition.)
Don’t Campaign for RSVPs
Make no mistake, I’m definitely bummed that one of my close friends won’t be at my wedding; however, the silver lining is that we are independent friends. Since we don’t have any overlapping friends, our guest lists will hopefully remain intact and conflict-free. (It would be a different story if this was one of my high school friends or Ben’s buddies from his grad school program.) That said, I know not everyone dealing with this situation is as lucky as we are. In fact, Bailey shares that this same predicament happened with two of her sorority sisters.
“One wedding was in Chicago and the other in North Carolina,” she explains. “So, for both weddings, I would have needed to travel. Ultimately, I was able to make the Chicago shower and bachelorette and attend the North Carolina wedding. While I feel as though I missed out on a really fun wedding in Chicago, I had a more special connection with the North Carolina bride.”
Though having your friends RSVP “yes” to one wedding and “no” to the other might feel like a bit of a popularity contest, it’s important to give your guests the space to choose whatever works best for their time and budget. “Have an open mind that some friends may only be able to participate in partial events,” Williamson says. “Remember that some friends may be compromised if they are asked by both wedding parties to serve as bridesmaids or groomsmen or be part of the bridal party.”
Williamson adds that the very best you can do is start planning immediately—and send those save the dates as soon as possible. “Due to the critical circumstances, you may need to send an informal email or instant message to close family and friends to announce the engagement and upcoming wedding news,” she shares. “The sooner you get the word and Save-The-Date out to potential guests, the more likely they will RSVP to your date first.”
Do Find a Way to Celebrate—Together
As disappointing as it might be to share a wedding date with your friend, look at the bright side: The two of you have even more reasons to celebrate. Though the two of you won’t be able to attend each other’s day, you can bond about your wedding date being one of the biggest days of both of your lives. So, why not plan some special bride or groom twin activities? (I’ve joked to my friend that we should get matching shirts and plan a two-person bachelorette party at our favorite dive bar. Okay, maybe I wasn’t joking.)
“Maybe once things subside, both couples can plan an anniversary trip or celebration together as hosting couples,” Williamson adds. Because, when you can make lemons into a delicious lemon wedding cake, it opens up endless possibilities for the best day ever. (Yes, for both of you.)