Our Problem with Friends and Strangers

Normally, I hate when people are talking on the radio. If I'm in my car between about 5 to 9 in the morning, I need some T. Swizzle to get me through! I do not need to h ear people talking about how busy they are, how they're not sure if their boyfriend is cheating on them, or what Kanye West is up to. Nope. I don't.

But last week, I got sucked into a little segment regarding one of the host's upcoming nuptials. She was asking listeners their advice on hiring a wedding planner. Should she go with a friend (who she defined as "third tier") who is a wedding planner or hire another professional who is also a stranger?

Every single caller said to ditch the friend and go with the stranger.

But I found the reasoning behind this advice, as well as the overall conversation, uncomfortable. It all just made me wonder about society's issues with alienation and disconnection and rudeness and hate. Wow. Am I saying if you don't hire your friend to be your wedding planner, you are a literal hater? Seems like a big jump, right? I don't know exactly. But here's what I noticed.

Our Problem with Friends

Everyone seemed in agreement that if you work with a friend, you'd never be able to tell her what you really think. One caller even said, "Only do it if you never want to be her friend again." Basically, it was hardcore conflict avoidance, as well as a fear of being seen in a vulnerable, stressed out bride moment.

I understand completely that it may be difficult to tell a friend, "Hey, these centerpieces aren't really my style. Can we think about adding lollipops?" But that doesn't mean it's impossible.

Disagreeing or having hard conversations are part of friendship. You can do that with dignity and grace and hopefully move forward.

Also (and this will betray my feelings about weddings), so what if someone does it a little differently than you imagined? Aren't people more important than chair covers and floral arrangements?

And then there's the fact that this person might stumble across a rawer, not-so-nice version of you in the bride moments. But that's okay. Most of the time, when we are vulnerable, it actually draws people closer rather than pushing them away.

I think so many of us desire community and belonging. But that can only be developed in time spent together, important moments shared, and conflicts resolved. Why continue to promote isolation and individualism just to possibly make your wedding planning experience a touch easier?

Our Problem with Strangers 

But then, why would it be easier with a stranger as a wedding planner? Well, my takeaway from the conversation is that you can be a straight shooter and say whatever you want without having to worry about their feelings. (Sound like any presidential candidates you know?)

This whole premise startled and disturbed me a little bit. Because if you're just looking for someone you can be rude to without consequence... well, that's actually not a thing, folks. You may be thinking of a robot, not a human who happens to be a stranger.

Because I write and think a lot about immigration, it made me wonder how we can talk about welcoming the strangers when in reality, people think of strangers as someone you don't really need to worry about. You can boss them around, spill your unfiltered thoughts and feelings, and keep on trucking.

I just keep thinking that I want to treat both my friends and strangers better. I want to invite friends into the reality of my life, let them see me in some of my more stressed out moments and have those hard conversations when needed. And I want to be extra kind to the strangers I encounter at preschool pick-up, Sonic, and everywhere in between.

What do you think? Would you hire a wedding planner who was a friend or go with a stranger?

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