You’d think that with all the books, sites, blogs, magazines, reality shows, and even Barbie dolls dedicated to weddings, wedding small talk would have been – well – talked about. Nope. I know that the dress, the flowers, the cake, the catering, the champagne, the band, and the honeymoon is what makes the wedding world turn, but I find that many guests struggle with making meaningful conversation when it comes to celebrating the happy couple. With wedding season upon us, I kick off this series with: The Bridal Shower.
I just heard you say “ugh.” I swear I heard it. I know, I know, bridal showers can cause more upset for a guest than the actual wedding. Is it because of the smaller group; or the fact that the bride’s current and future family members are present but not yet friends? Perhaps it is the painful gift opening scenario that feels so long and forced? Or maybe it is because the shower includes guests that are either childhood friends of the bride or a distant cousin of the groom (or perhaps both which would certainly make for interesting conversation)? Maybe it’s all of those random people jumbled in a teeny tiny hot room looking at teeny tiny sandwiches? Who knows? What I do know is that taking the bridal bull by the horns will not only help you feel the love, but it will be a true gift to the other guests. Think of bridal shower small talk as a party favor that lasts longer than those Jordan Almonds. And those last a LONG time.
Four Simple Small Talk Tips for the Bridal Shower Guest:
- Introduce yourself to those you don’t know, and greet the guests you do
One would hope that the hostess or the bride would make introductions, but as much as it pains me to say this, it’s not likely. Brides are in a bit of a bubble and probably dealing with their own set of nerves, and hostesses are busy. This is not excuse, but rather a reality. So take the time to say hello to the folks you know and – this is the important part – introduce yourself to those individuals whom you have not yet met. Be generous and give them more than your name: “Hi, I’m Debra, my daughter and the bride went to summer camp together.” This usually puts the other guests at ease and gives them the gentle push to respond in a similar fashion; “I’m Crystal and I met the groom at his bachelor party.” You get my drift.
- Catch up with friends, but share the love with others
This is your chance to connect with those guests you just met. Strike up a conversation and pay attention to the answers. Tell your conversation partner some personal stories about you and the bride and/or groom. Find a shared experience (you both worked in the restaurant industry, you both went to school on the East Coast, etc.) and use that common ground to keep your small talk going. Chances are you will see this person at the wedding and post-wedding brunch, so you might as well put in a bit of effort now and make future celebrations even more enjoyable.
- Talk, but don’t monopolize
Once you’ve managed to continue a pleasant conversation with a guest, it is easy to grab on with full force. Don’t do it! Don’t monopolize a guest’s time and don’t isolate yourself from others. After an appropriate amount of time (you will be able to sense this), politely exit the conversation with a gracious; “It’s been so lovely talking with you and I look forward to seeing you at the wedding. I’ve got to speak with Great Aunt Bernie before lunch is served. Please excuse me.”
- Say a real goodbye
So you’ve spent the afternoon eating, drinking, oohing and ahhing over gifts, and chatting with several guests. Job well done! Now you want to leave. So do; but don’t be sneaky about it. Skulking off with your purse tucked under your arm is no way to end a perfectly lovely day. Approach the bride and tell her how much you enjoyed celebrating with her. Graciously thank the hostess, and say something specific about the party such as; “Your chicken salad reminded me of my mother’s recipe.” Say au revoir to the handful of guests you talked with; “So good to meet you, Crystal; and thanks for the spray tan tips.” THEN you walk out with your head held high because you, my friend, not only survived (another) bridal shower, but you were a small talk star.