My sister got engaged in August. It's a pretty big deal for the family.
One of the cool things about starting off with an abnormally large number of siblings is that you're bound to end up with an abnormally large number of siblings-in-law and odds are you'll like at least a large percentage of them, which expands the number of people 'on your team', so to speak. Yes, from a purely selfish perspective, it's good for you when your siblings get married to awesome people. It's also good for them.
But what exactly are you supposed to do when your little sister announces her engagement and plans to wed in the next year? I've never been in this situation before. I'm the only married one among my siblings. How did they all feel when I announced Angel's entry into our family? What did they do about it? I can't really remember how I felt, let alone how they did, that year was kind of a blur for me.
So, how should you respond to this joyous news?
1. Successfully resist the urge to tell anyone you're not supposed to tell until the engagement news is made public. I'm giving myself a pat on the back for this one. I hate keeping secrets, it's just the worst, but people deserve the chance to share their own good news in their own good time, so don't spill when you've been ordered not to.
2. Don't compare: fiances, rings, engagement timelines, wedding budgets, wedding dresses, wedding day gorgeousness. Realistically, she's definitely going to "win" on some points and you're going to "win" on others and everybody will be left feeling awkward and not completely happy if you and others are busy comparing. Complete happiness, people!! Truthfully, you wouldn't want to be married to anyone else, so it doesn't matter if your sis's ring is bigger or her dress is prettier or her guy is taller. None of those '-ers' add up to make the guy you're head over heels for, anyway.
3. Remember that uniqueness is what makes everything awesome. Err on the side of support rather than critique. Odds are, the bride is going to get enough critique from family members belonging to previous generations when it comes to her wedding planning. Times have changed, and they don't always approve of the changes. As long as she's not truly planning something unsafe, unkind, or illegal, you, being a sibling and belonging to the same generation, should probably support it.
4. Don't speak overly negatively about marriage. In the season of being engaged, it's very advisable for your sister to seek premarital counseling, to read some marriage prep books, and to talk to people she trusts about concerns that she might have, and to think through whether she's ready for the commitment. What she doesn't need is another, more experienced, wife constantly winking and joking about what a drag husbands are, and how all the fun in life is before marriage. If you actually believe that, go get some marriage counseling, but if you don't, and you're just joking around and trying to freak her out, stop. Not helpful.
5. Celebrate her! If you're there--host a bridal shower. Make shopping for wedding decor fun and go out for lunch in between wedding errands. I'm not around for my sister, but I'm already developing schemes for a virtual bridal shower because it would be a shame to let my epic party-planning skills go to waste just because I don't live in the same country. Write her cute letters, make her a wedding day countdown, send her a surprise wedding gift. Remember her favorites--colors, movies, songs, hobbies--and find ways to tie them into your celebration of this exciting change in her life.
6. Offer your help--if you can and if you want to. Don't offer to help send out invitations or DIY flower arrangements if you're busy and are going to resent spending time on a project for her event. Don't offer to do something and then not to it, or do a slapdash job of it. Do offer if you are skilled in some area, have the time, and want to make life a little easier on her. I love DIYs and basically everything to do with getting ready for an event, but I'll be content with helping digitally from a distance since I'm not there.
How have you found practical ways to show your love and support when your sibling announces that they're getting married? After June, we'll only have 5 more rounds of this to go in my family...