KAT FINNEY + GENEVIEVE ALLEN
Do you have not just your own wedding drawing near on the calendar, but that of someone else you’re close to?
Kat and Genevieve are sisters who got engaged within three days of each other and were married in the same year. “Wedding planning together was one of the sweetest experiences of our lives,” shares Kat, “but it can also come with some challenges.” For other women planning their weddings at the same time as their own sisters, family members, or close friends, we’re honored to share the fruits of these ladies’ wisdom.
In Kat’s words: One of the more obvious benefits to being engaged at the same time as your sister is the mutual experience of planning for one of life’s biggest moments. You get to giggle over wedding magazines and dream about the future together. It’s like that time you marched down the aisle of your shared bedroom together, humming “da da da dum” and wearing veils made of curtains, only it’s real. Take some time together to go to lunch and let it sink in that this is really happening. Take pictures. Toast each other. Soak it up.
A great practical benefit of getting married around the same time as my sister was familiarizing ourselves with vendors in the area. You might consider working with wedding vendors who offer referral packages, should you both choose to book with them. We used many of the same vendors, not only because we liked what they had to offer, but also because many of them had referral offers in exchange for spreading the word about their businesses.
One possible downside: we were concerned since our weddings were in the same year, our guests would have déjà vu once they went to the second wedding. The key when using the same vendors is to stay true to your own taste. It was very tempting for me to just copy all of Gen’s décor, simply because I knew she had great ideas and her wedding would be beautiful. But even though I loved everything about Gen’s wedding and the details she chose, I would have been untrue to myself if I hadn’t gone with my own choices. Never compromise your own style, even when your bestie’s is temptingly gorgeous.
In Genevieve’s words: Kath and I even had some of the same bridesmaids, so we tried to be conscious of cost when making choices for our bridal party. That's at least two dresses, showers, and bachelorette parties your favorite girls might feel pressure to pay for, so consider what investments could be optional. For example, does it really matter that all of your bridesmaids are in heels? No. So request that your girls wear nude shoes, but don't specify a style. If you want everyone in the same kind of jewelry, provide that as your bridesmaid gift.
Lots of these little things won't actually matter to you in the end, but they can provide big savings for some of the most important women in your life. I actually wish I hadn't been so firm on the color of bridesmaid dress for my wedding, because I now love the trend of mismatched but coordinating gowns. This cost consideration goes for wedding guests, too. If you have a registry, include a wide range of items and price points. Whether you’re getting married in the same year as your sister or not, this is a considerate thing to do.
Things to Do Together and Apart
Kat: One of the best decisions Gen and I made was to scheduling our own individual dress appointments, as opposed to trying to find our dresses at the same time. The first time we ever tried on dresses, we decided we’d go and both look together. It would kill two birds with one stone, right?
Wrong. We ended up not really being able to shop well, each wondering if our sister was going to want the same dress or bringing dresses off the racks for each other while forgetting to look for ourselves. We hated every dress we tried on that day and felt discouraged after leaving. This may not be how everyone experiences shared dress shopping dates, but both of us highly recommend making separate appointments. The main reason is it takes the pressure off and allows you to better dote on your friend or sister as she shops for her gown.
Genevieve: Ultimately, this day is about you, your future spouse, and your marriage. It can be easy to forget about that when you’re covered in bridal magazines and fabric swatches. Some things, like choosing shoes or wedding jewelry, are naturally going to be better sister activities.
Most wedding decisions and preparation, however, should be focused on you and your spouse. You probably will be able to identify which wedding tasks your fiancé won't care too much about, but give him the opportunity to make decisions with you before assuming he won't be interested. For example, I knew my fiancé cared not at all about flowers, so this was one aspect of planning Kath and I had a great time tackling together.
Keeping It Prayerful
Kat: We suggest saying a novena together in preparation for your weddings. Obviously this can be done with your fiancé, but it can also be done with your bestie. Nothing is more important in the wedding planning process than spiritual preparation. And when you know you have the spiritual support of your best friend, it can be a real source of grace and inspiration during a potentially stressful time.
Gen and I both took different routes for marriage prep within the Church. It’s good to recognize that your relationship and your sister’s are different, and that no one option is a “best” choice; there’s only a best choice suited to you and your fiancé as a couple.
My fiancé and I met regularly with the deacon at the church where we got married, along with about a dozen couple-to-couple meetings. I couldn’t recommend this more, especially if you know a couple you admire and if you have the time to meet. This brought up so many difficult questions that we were able to answer before getting married, and we had tons of fun with the couple who guided us. The downside to this route is if you don’t know the couple leading you or have trouble relating to them, this could be a very dull, drawn out, and frustrating process, so the Engaged Encounter weekend may be better if you don’t have a mentor couple in mind.
Genevieve: My husband Dalton and I chose to do an Engaged Encounter instead of a mentor couple. We liked the idea of being isolated in a retreat-type setting for our marriage prep, away from distractions.
I could probably write an entire book on the pros and cons of that weekend. Overall, it was very meaningful. We learned a lot about each other, ate bad retreat food, prayed for our future family, learned an overview of NFP (luckily we had our own Creighton instructor to fill in the rest), and generally felt a lot more prepared for marriage. If you have some hurdles to overcome prior to your wedding day--differences in faith practices, family of origin issues, or questions about Church teaching, the couple to couple option might be a more fruitful experience for you.
Finally, try to resist the temptation to compare your engagement, wedding, or relationship to that of your sister and her fiancé. We have found the best way to overcome this is to simply love and want the best for each other. Prayer can help with this, and so can open communication with your future spouse and your sister.
I found that my biggest point of comparison with Kath was actually our rehearsal dinner speeches. Her toast was the perfect blend of humor and emotion, and even as she was delivering it, I was regretting that mine wasn’t as good. I had to try to let that feeling go quickly because I wanted to enjoy the moment, but I’m still kind of jealous, even now! That girl can give a speech.
The joyous swirl of wedding planning is made even better when you are experiencing it with your sister. No one can better understand why you might feel the need to burst into tears when you finally find the perfect cake topper after hours of browsing on Etsy. No one is better at letting you know when you might be veering off into Bridezilla territory. No one's smile will be bigger when you finally walk down the aisle. Well, your fiancé's smile should probably be bigger, but yours might be almost as big.
About the Authors: Genevieve and Katherine are sisters and best friends from New Orleans, Louisiana. Gen is the older sister, a nurse and lactation consultant living in Louisiana. Kat is a former high school religion teacher who now stays at home in Pittsburgh with her daughter. Gen loves to stay inside and cozy up to a good book; Kat loves to be outside and to do karaoke with her husband. Gen is the introvert; Kat is the extrovert. Since they live far away from each other, they use their blog, The Sister Post, as one way to keep up communication lines and to share ideas and stories with each other and their readers. The purpose of their blog is to empower women to share in a common sisterhood; they see each other as their best resource, and they hope by sharing their own ideas, tips, and stories, other women will be uplifted by the online sisterhood they've created.