Saturday, October 3, 2015

7 Ways to Sabotage Your Social Life with Facebook

A common misconception about social networks like Facebook is that they can only facilitate your social life. They certainly have the potential to facilitate your social life. In fact, I have many friends whose romantic relationships bloomed or even started because of a social network. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, Facebook can do the exact opposite. There are seven personas you might assume on Facebook that could ultimately damage your social life. Be careful – if you fit any of these profiles, you might be sending negative messages that will sabotage your social life.

1. “The Pusher.” More than once, I have “de-friended” a person because he or she would not stop sending me invitations to events or encouraging me to use applications. If you are “pushing” events (“No, for the last time, I do not want to attend the weekly group meetings at your out-of-town college!”) or apps (“No, for the last time, I will not water your crops on Farmville!”), you might be sabotaging your social life. This Facebook persona leads people to believe you are persistent to the point of annoyance.

2. “The Autobiographer.” Some people make such frequent Facebook status updates, they leave nothing up to the imagination. The occasional witty or informative status update makes you seem intriguing and interesting. On the other hand, repeated overly descriptive and/or insignificant Facebook status updates could sabotage your social life. This Facebook persona leads people to believe you are somewhat desperate for people to share your daily life with.

3. “The TMI Revealer.” Along the same lines as “The Autobiographer,” some people use Facebook status updates as their personal diaries. Their status updates might bring you into the middle of a conflict, medical condition, or personal situation that frankly should not be discussed outside of a confidential conversation with a close, personal friend. Revealing too much personal information could sabotage your social life. This Facebook persona leads people to believe you have no personal boundaries or sense of propriety.

4. “The Duckface.” Even if you are not familiar with the technical term (as discovered at, you have certainly come across the phenomenon on Facebook. At some point, people began taking close-up self-portraits while wearing a distinct lip-protruding facial expression and leaving tit-for-tat comments on their friends’ “duckface” pictures. If your Facebook photo pages are filled with “duckface” pictures, you might be sabotaging your social life. This Facebook persona leads people to believe you are self-absorbed and/or so insecure that you rely on positive photo comments to feel validated.

5. “The Critic.” As cynical as the world may generally be, nobody enjoys a naysayer. If your friends are nervous about posting any good news because you will immediately swoop in with the negatives, if they fear your inevitable fact- or grammar-correction, or if they expect your usual sarcastic remark, you might be sabotaging your social life by becoming “The Critic.”  This Facebook persona leads people to believe that you only see downsides and can be counted on to rain on any parade. If you can’t resist the urge to make the occasional correction or “reality check,” make sure to balance it with frequent congratulations and compliments.

6. “The Stalker.” There are two ways “The Stalker” can manifest itself. If you keep such close tabs on your Facebook news feed that you notice the moment someone posts something new and consistently post some immediate feedback (a “like” or a comment), your Facebook friends might assume you have no life outside Facebook or that you have some sort of fixation on them. If, on the other hand, you absorb all your knowledge about real-life friends via Facebook without having any one-on-one communication with them, and it comes out later (“Oh, I was sorry to hear about your grandma’s passing three months ago via your Facebook wall”), that paints the picture that despite the time you obviously spend on Facebook, you may be too lazy or disinterested to have a real relationship with them.

7. “The Gag-Reflex Inducer.” If kissing pictures, mushy status updates, romantic quiz results, and posts from your significant other dominate your Facebook wall, you might be sabotaging your social life. “The Gag-Reflex Inducer” seems to have a mind for no one else but his or her significant other, and most people – especially those who are single and looking – will not take kindly to the constant reminder that others are blissfully in love. Yes, true friends should be happy because you are happy, but out of respect for others, you might want to dial down the mushiness on Facebook.

You might be surprised to what extent your Facebook interactions can influence the perception others have of you. If you are hoping to maintain a healthy social life, be sure to avoid these seven Facebook personas. If you are generally complimentary, limit self-centered behaviors, and put yourself in your Facebook friends’ shoes, you should have no problem broadcasting a positive Facebook image into your social network.

15 of the Worst Times to Break Up with Someone

Is there ever a good time to break up with someone? Probably not – other than, I suppose, at the point in time that both people mutually decide it’s time to amicably go their separate ways with absolutely no hurt, hard feelings, or regret. Right.

But some times are much worse than others to break up with your significant other. Granted, some of them can’t be avoided – it’s always better not to drag it out – but that doesn’t stop these 15 break-up times from packing the most possible punch.

Worst Times to Break Up #15: On Valentine’s Day
It suddenly becomes “Singles Awareness Day.”

Worst Times to Break Up #14: Right before final exams
You can’t grieve and study at the same time… At least wait until exams are over, or leave enough of a buffer before they begin.

Worst Times to Break Up #13: New Year’s Eve
“3… 2… 1… I don’t want to go out anymore!” Not a great way to start the New Year.

Worst Times to Break Up #12: When you’re not face-to-face
Text messages, answering machine messages, Facebook, email, have a friend do it...? Not good! Breaking up needs to be done in person.
Worst Times to Break Up #11: At Christmastime
So much for the most wonderful time of the year… As one friend puts it, it’s unacceptable to break up “anytime from the third week in November to the second week in January.”

Worst Times to Break Up #10: When s/he’s sick or injured
My mom still hasn’t gotten over the fact that John Brooks dumped her while she had mono. Don’t add insult to injury…

Worst Times to Break Up #9: Before a prior commitment
When I was in high school, my boyfriend broke up with me just before a concert to which we had expensive, non-refundable tickets. That was an awkward car ride… with his parents…

Worst Times to Break Up #8: Just before an anniversary of dating
At least make it to the milestone before dropping the bomb.

Worst Times to Break Up #7: After you damage his/her property
“Honey, I totaled your car. And you have to pay the deductible. Also, I’m breaking up with you.” Pay for the damage before doing more damage!

Worst Times to Break Up #6: After a loss
Whether it’s the loss of a job or the death of a loved one, try to avoid compounding grief with more grief.

Worst Times to Break Up #5: Surrounding prom
If it’s before, she doesn’t have a date. If it’s during, he won’t have a good time. If it’s after, she’ll feel used. You can’t win. Leave a buffer.

Worst Times to Break Up #4: On his/her birthday
We each get one day out of the year to ourselves. Don’t take that away!

Worst Times to Break Up #3 On vacation
After it’s over, where are you going to go?

Worst Times to Break Up #2 During a marriage proposal
One person thinks he’s about to get a fiancé. One person reveals she’s about to be single. I guess it’s better than being left at the altar, but it’s still got to sting.

Worst Times to Break Up #1 After moving to be closer to you
Giving up everything in one place just to be with a certain person in another place… and then losing that person… well, this takes the cake for the #1 worst time to break up with someone.

Breakups are a part of life, and sometimes they’ve just got to happen at an inopportune time… but if you can avoid these 15 scenarios, you’ll probably avoid making the breakup worse than it has to be! 

7 Signs It's Time to Break Up

The old saying is true – there are a lot of fish in the sea. Of course, we all generally desire to find one fish and hold onto it. While a committed relationship is an honorable goal for which to strive, the problem is, we all too often catch the wrong fish. We get into a relationship with the wrong person, and eventually the time comes that we have to decide to cast that fish back into the sea. If you are getting the inkling that things might not be just right in your relationship, consider these seven signs to decide whether it might be time to break up and go fishing.

1. He doesn’t respect you. A sign of a good relationship is mutual respect, evidenced by preserving the other person’s integrity, honor, and general wellbeing. If your boyfriend constantly makes fun of you, belittles you, or yells at you, he is not giving you the respect you deserve, and it might be time to break up.

2. He constantly chooses something else over you. A good boyfriend needs to make you a priority. Yes, he should have time to himself and with his friends, but the two of you should agree upon the amount of time you’d like to spend together. If you feel as though he is spending a disproportionate amount of time on something else – whether it’s bars, buddies, video games, or even work – it might be time to break up.

3. You are not on the same page about the future. In a healthy relationship, both people are on the same timeline toward the same goals. One person can’t be set on becoming an archaeologist in China while the other is tied to a dairy farm in Kansas. If you can’t get on the same page about marriage, kids, and careers, it might be time to break up.

4. You’ve met someone else. Now, I don’t mean to say that if you meet someone else who catches your eye, you should dump your boyfriend and try to date the other guy. What I am saying is that if you find yourself spending time with someone who has a lot of the qualities you realize you’d like to find in a future spouse, and your boyfriend doesn’t have those qualities, perhaps it is time to break up and find someone more suited to you.

5. Your parents don’t like him. In general, parents actually do know what’s best for their kids, and oftentimes, they can see things that are wrong with relationships when we can’t. I could have gotten out of so many doomed relationships earlier on with less heartache if I had just listened to my mother earlier. If it’s well past the first impression and your parents still get a bad vibe, it might be time to break up. Aside from their good judgment, if you got married one day, that constant tension between your parents and husband would be a huge burden on your marriage.

6. He doesn’t bring out the best in you. I was once in a relationship in which I was constantly irritable and annoyed, and I never felt like myself. In my marriage, on the other hand, I am able to be relaxed and comfortable, and my husband challenges me to be a better person. In a healthy relationship, each person brings out the best in the other. If you don’t feel like the best version of yourself in your relationship, it might be time to break up.

7. You feel generally unhappy. This might sound simple, but so often people ignore a feeling of unhappiness because they don’t want to end a relationship. I once reached a point in a relationship when I realized I was generally unhappy all the time. I blamed it on myself and thought I needed counseling for depression, but I eventually realized the unhappiness came from being in a relationship with the wrong person. When I got out of the relationship, the melancholy vanished. If you have a general feeling of unhappiness and you think there is a chance it is attributable to your relationship, explore that idea, and decide whether it might mean it’s time to break up.

When all is said and done, there is no perfect fish out there – but there may be one who is a lot more suited to you than the one you’ve caught. Breaking up with someone takes a huge leap of faith and often causes a lot of pain, but in the end, you can’t find the right relationship until you’ve gotten out of the wrong one. Happy fishing!

Helping a Friend through a Breakup

If you have a friend who is going through a breakup, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out exactly what to do or say to help her out. You know that you should listen and “be there for her,” but there some more concrete and constructive things you can do. Here is a list of five ways you can support a friend who’s going through a breakup to help her move on from the pain and get back into the swing of a happy, fulfilling life.

1. Have a girls’ night. After a breakup, your friend will find herself in the absence of the person she probably spent most of her time with, and she will probably feel lonely and unsure of how she will spend her free time. Though it might sound trite, it can do wonders. Invite over only her closest girlfriends in the world. Rent some action movies that have nothing to do with romance, eat cookie dough, drink wine, and just relax. A girls’ night will remind her that she has a social life outside of her relationship and friends who will support her as she goes through her breakup.

2. Help her accomplish a goal. After a breakup, your friend’s world may seem as though it’s ending. To remedy this, ask her to think of a goal – something she’s wanted to do for a while. Even if it seems completely unattainable, remind her that even the loftiest of goals can be broken up into baby steps. Ask her to identify the first step of her goal, and then help her to accomplish it. Maybe she’s always wanted to learn Spanish and you sign up for a class with her. Maybe she’s always wanted to visit Ireland, and you help her create a budget and plan for saving the money. Whatever the case, accomplishing a goal – or taking a step toward an ultimate goal – will help her realize that she has freedom to do things with her life she may only have dreamed of.

3. Give her a problem to solve. After a breakup, your friend may feel as though her life is out of her control. Giving her a problem to solve will help her to feel productive and in control of something. You could take her to the mall to help you pick out the perfect outfit for an upcoming event, or you could ask her to help you rearrange the furniture in your living room. Alternatively, you could help her conquer a project, such as organizing her desk or cleaning out her closet. Whatever problem she chooses to solve, it will hopefully lead to higher sense of purpose and self-confidence.

4. Take up a new hobby together. After a breakup, your friend may be looking for something to distract her and enrich her life. One excellent way to accomplish this is to take up a hobby, and you could support her by taking that hobby up with her. Brainstorm ideas of hobbies you might both be interested in pursuing. From crafts such as knitting or jewelry making, to service such as volunteering at an animal shelter, there are countless hobbies to choose from. Not only will this distract your friend, but it will help her to become a more dynamic person – and that will certainly be in her favor when she gets back on out on the dating scene!

5. Take her out of town. After a breakup, sometimes all you need is to get away. Plan a day trip or weekend getaway for your friend. Make it a fun trip, such as to the closest big city or a nearby amusement park, or a relaxing trip, such as to a spa or scenic mountain town. Getting away will help her to feel rejuvenated and refreshed, give her some space from her grief, and hopefully provide the fresh perspective she needs to take her new life by storm.

There is nothing more valuable to a girl who’s going through a breakup than a good friend who knows how to get her back on her feet. With your help, your friend can begin to put her pain behind her and get her life on track to being better than ever!

5 Post-Breakup Facebook Mistakes

If you’re dealing with a breakup, you have a big task ahead of you. You have to deal with the loss, reconstruct your life, and move on to a better you. After a breakup, Facebook can be either a tool for a healthy recovery or a crutch that will hinder the process of moving on. If you’re trying to get over a relationship and heal from a breakup, take care to avoid these five common post-breakup Facebook mistakes.

Broadcasting the breakup. You might think it would be a good idea to broadcast your breakup to your whole Facebook network and get it out of the way. You could do this by a status update or by ending your Facebook relationship without disabling relationship status change notifications (and in fact, beware – you might accidentally do the latter!). But don’t act before you’re ready. If the breakup ends up lasting only a few days, will you post an embarrassing “never mind” message? Moreover, are you ready to handle the surge of sympathetic, inquisitive, and potentially ex-bashing messages that will inevitably follow your update? Instead, consider quietly removing the relationship status (without updating everyone’s news feed) and allowing people to notice on their own and contact you if they wish.

Status venting. While a little venting is healthy after a breakup, try to keep from doing so in a public forum like Facebook. Angry Facebook status updates aimed at your ex will decrease the respect people have for you and burn the bridge you might one day want to maintain with your ex. Woe-is-me Facebook status updates will get you a little well-deserved sympathy to start with, but if you overdo it, you will just get on people’s nerves. Instead, use your status to update about aspects of your life that have nothing to do with your ended relationship.

Photo over-upload. After a breakup, you might be tempted to let your ex and everyone else know how well you’re doing by uploading photos to Facebook. You might doll yourself up and take some beauty shots to show your ex what he or she is missing. You might go out with your friends and take tons of pictures of yourself, cozied up to good-looking strangers, having a wild and crazy time without your ex. A few of these types of pictures here and there won’t hurt you, but if you find yourself in an uploading frenzy, you might want to back off. You don’t want to portray an image of yourself on your social network that is less honorable than you deserve. Instead, post occasional photos of the new, creative, productive, exciting, respectable things you are doing since the breakup!

Facebook rebounding. Facebook can be a rebound breeding ground after a breakup. Every old flame, good-looking friend from high school, and most distant acquaintance might suddenly turn into a potential future spouse. Try to avoid scouring through your friends’ profiles, hoping to find someone single and looking who might fill that void in your life. Re-appearing on an eligible friend’s Facebook profile after a recent breakup is only going to rouse suspicions. Besides, you should be taking time for yourself – not looking for your next relationship right away. Instead, use Facebook to reconnect with old friends you’ve lost touch with and begin to rebuilt your in-person social network.

Ex-stalking. If your ex is your Facebook friend, temptation abounds. You might find yourself looking through old Facebook conversations, tagged photos, and messages, trying to hold onto what once was. You might develop a nervous habit of checking his or her Facebook profile whenever your attention wanders. “Ex-stalking” will only make it harder to get over your relationship. You need to move on with your life and let your ex move on, as well. It will probably just upset you if you see evidence that your ex is doing fine without you before you’re feeling ready to be fine on your own, and holding onto the old memories will make it more difficult for you to make new ones. If the temptation is too much, consider blocking or removing your ex as a friend on Facebook so that you will have an easier time moving on.

For many people, the best thing to do after a breakup is to take a break from Facebook. If you foresee yourself falling into these five traps, you might want to give your virtual social life a rest and spend some quality time building your real life back up.

Getting Over a Breakup in Twelve Steps

Have you ever gone through a breakup and felt as if nothing would ever be right again? The end of a relationship is certainly a life-altering event that can turn your world upside down, whether or not you initiated the breakup. Unfortunately, it’s rare that one could go through life and escape the experience of a breakup. After all, how many of us marry our first boyfriend or girlfriend?

Based on my own experience, I have crafted a twelve-step process for dealing with a breakup and moving on once you have determined that a relationship is certainly over. Take your time completing these steps. This process is necessary, but it can be taken at your own pace. 

Before you read on, here is some inspiration for you. I have been through the end of countless short-term relationships and two very serious ones – one of which was an engagement. I learned and grew from each ended relationship, and now I’m happily married. There is light at the end of the tunnel! One step at a time, you will find your light, too.

1. Grieve. The end of a relationship is, in many ways, like a death. A breakup signifies the end of something as you knew it, and it deserves to be grieved over. Allow yourself a set period of time to grieve – perhaps a week – and do so in healthy ways. Cry, journal, take bubble baths, watch sad movies… Just remember to still continue to fulfill your life’s obligations. One day your life will go on, and when that day comes, you won’t want to be facing failing grades, the loss of a job, or angry creditors.

2. Face yourself. You must physically face yourself after a breakup. Look in the mirror and announce what has happened. When you hear it out loud, you own the truth instead of being owned by it. Continue to look yourself in the mirror every morning. Find a mantra to repeat that puts a positive spin on the breakup. Say, “This too shall pass,” or, “This is a new beginning.” Make sure to smile – forced or not – before you leave the mirror. Smiling releases hormones that elevate your mood and will help you maintain a positive outlook for the rest of the day.

3. Pray. Even if you neglected your religious beliefs before your breakup, or you never took the time to develop any, now is the time. As a Christian, nothing empowers or calms me more than discourse with my Creator. Even if you do not desire to claim religious beliefs, self-reflection and quiet time is a must in the aftermath of a breakup. You need time to process the events, gain some perspective, and rediscover who you are. This can be the turning point in your healing process as you deal with a breakup. 

4. Make a list. Now the logical part of a breakup begins. Get out your pen and paper and make a list. Write down the reasons your relationship didn’t work, and the reasons why the breakup is a good, positive thing for you. Be honest and real. Don’t exclusively point fingers at the other person; rather, look at the relationship as a whole and decide why you didn’t work together. Keep the list in a safe place, and any time you start to idealize your ex or wish you were back in the relationship, read the list and remind yourself why you are better off this way.

5. Pack up. After a breakup, you are likely to have a lot of “souvenirs” from the relationship. Fill a box with your ex’s belonging’s that need to be returned. Set up a time to give the box to your ex (if you’re ready to see him or her). You could also mail it or ask a mutual friend to deliver it. Fill a second small box with a few mementos – a favorite photo, a letter, or a gift – so that you can keep the memory of this important part of your life, but hide it somewhere so that it is not easy to get to. Finally, fill a third box with whatever remains, and take it straight to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.

6. Prepare for future interactions. After a breakup, you must now redefine your relationship with your ex. The next time you see your ex, whether in a planned or unplanned scenario, he or she will not be related to you as intimately as before. Actually imagine yourself encountering your ex. Walk yourself through the interaction, relating to him or her as any ordinary friend. Don’t overanalyze it or script your words. Rather, get comfortable with the feeling of interacting with your ex as friends or acquaintances so that you are not hurt or taken off guard when it happens in real life. 

7. Take care of the logistics. At this point in the breakup, some logistical things have to happen. First, you may need to let others know about the breakup. You might do it all at once through a medium such as Facebook, reveal the news to a select few friends who will spread the word, or share the news on a case-by-case basis. You may also have to handle some complicated issues, such as moving out of a shared apartment or splitting up assets. It may be best to take care of these logistics in person. On the other hand, if the two of you have a tendency to fight or to get physically intimate when you see one another, then do things from a distance until you are detached enough to spend neutral time together. 

8. Schedule your time. After a breakup, your schedule might change dramatically. You were probably used to spending a lot of time with your ex, and you may have planned your schedule around him or her. Take the time to make a daily schedule. Try to find a balance between social time, productive time, and self-reflective time. Follow the schedule to the best of your ability. Practicing discipline during this time in your life will be crucial, as it will give you a sense of balance and accomplishment.

9. Set goals. One of the best things about a breakup is the opportunity to re-discover who you are. To get started on that process, consider some small goals you would like to accomplish during the next month, such as signing up for an art class or finishing a project at home. Write down your goal deadlines on your calendar, and hold yourself to them. Alternatively, you could create a list of ten life goals, such as backpacking through Europe or learning to cook. Then, set yourself deadlines for reaching small goals that will move you on your way toward accomplishing those larger goals.

10. (Re)connect with friends. After a breakup you may come to the startling realization that many of your other friendships have fizzled over time. Now is the time to try to reconnect with some of your old friends. Start by apologizing for being absent. Then, invite a friend to do something specific, and set a date and time to get together. Make a pact with yourself that you will maintain this friendship, even if you enter another romantic relationship! In addition, get out there and make new friends. Join a gym, a club, a church group, or a volunteer organization, and develop some new friendships to keep your social life rich.
11. Define what you are looking for. The time will eventually come after a breakup when you are ready to enter the dating scene again. By all means, don’t rush in! Allow yourself time to heal, and very honestly decide when you are ready to enter another relationship. The most important thing to remember about your next relationship is not to settle. Get your values and priorities in line, and write out a wish list and a “deal-breaker” list. The next Mr. or Miss Right doesn’t need to match all of your desired characteristics, but at least you can have a compass with which to navigate the dating scene.

12. Write a reflection. If you’ve gotten to the point after a breakup that you’re able to think about future relationships, it’s time to do something tangible to put your former relationship away and move on. Write a reflection about your relationship. Record your favorite memories, the lessons you learned, why you loved the person, the reasons for the breakup, and what you want to go differently in future relationships. Pour your heart and soul into it, cry if you need to, and be as honest as you can. Then, put your reflection somewhere hidden – in a book you’ll never read, an old shoebox, or even buried in the garden. Physically let it go. 

Breakups can be incredibly emotional and trying, but at the end of the day, they are a blessing in disguise. They give you a chance to let go of something that’s broken, rediscover yourself, and prepare for your future relationships. You have grown, you are returning to your old self, you have a full life without your ex, and you have a bright future ahead of you. As you face each new day, keep in mind one of my favorite quotes of all time by a band called Nine Days: “You should never let the sun set on tomorrow before the sun rises today.”

Thursday, October 1, 2015

How to Make Out of Town Wedding Guests Feel Welcome

Being an out of town wedding guest usually means making a lot of sacrifice. From making travel and lodging arrangements to potentially feeling out of place at the wedding, those out of town guests deserve some special attention. Here are some ways to make out of town wedding guests feel welcome at your wedding.

1. Send a Save-the-Date card. A save-the-date card sent about six months before the wedding will provide all the important information out of town guests need to make wedding plans. Include the time, date, and location of the wedding and reception, as well as information for making hotel reservations. Reserving a block of rooms at a comfortable hotel will ensure your out of town wedding guests have a convenient place to stay.

2. Post information on your website. Out of town guests may turn your wedding into a vacation. Be sure to provide information on your wedding website about directions to the wedding, hotel and reception, as well as suggestions for local activities and attractions. Be sure you are explicit about wedding-related activities so guests can plan their itineraries accordingly.

3. Provide welcome bags. When out of town guests check into their hotel, having welcome bags waiting for them is an excellent way to ensure they immediately feel welcome. Leave the bags at the front desk and instruct the hotel staff to give one to each guest staying in your block as they check in. My husband and I provided candy, homemade kettle corn, playing cards, and gifts with his company logo on them. At my cousin’s wedding, she provided a mix CD of Colorado-themed music and sunscreen to combat the Colorado sun.

4. Include out of town guests in the ceremony. There are always special roles to be played in a wedding ceremony. Perhaps you could invite your out of town guests to perform some of these roles to make them feel more involved. Out of town guests could distribute programs, do a reading, seat guests, or provide music.

5. Host a pre-wedding gathering. Many out of town guests will arrive several days before the wedding. Especially if you have a large number of out of town guests, you may want to provide a social activity to allow everyone the chance to get together and see you before the big day. When my family traveled to Colorado for my cousin’s wedding, she and her fiancé hosted a dinner party on Thursday night for out of town guests. Because most out of town guests at my wedding didn’t arrive until Friday, we invited them to attend the rehearsal dinner.

6. Provide an activity between the ceremony and reception. If there is a gap between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception, out of town guests might not have a place to go – especially those who have only traveled in for the day. If possible, you could provide an activity for out of town guests between the ceremony and reception, such as a small gathering at someone’s house. Providing suggestions for activities would also be perfectly acceptable. You could include this information in your wedding program, on your website, or in a card included with your wedding invitation.

7. Make sure there is space for your guests to lounge at the hotel. If you have lots of out of town guests coming who know one another, they may want to spend time hanging out together. Make sure you visit your hotel to ensure there is adequate gathering space, such as a patio or a large breakfast room. My husband and I had a Country Inn & Suites as our hotel for out of town guests, and the management allowed us to book a meeting room for the weekend for free. We kept refreshments and games in the meeting room, and our out of town guests spent Friday and Saturday evenings gathered in there.

8. Consider seating arrangements for out of town guests. When your out of town guests arrive at the wedding, they may be concerned they will not have anyone to sit with. This is when having assigned seating would be especially helpful. When you assign seating, give special consideration to the tables at which you seat your out of town guests. If you can’t seat them with people they know, make sure you place them among people their own age or who have something in common with them.

9. Include special entertainment at the reception for out of town guests. Out of town guests will feel especially welcome if you give them special attention at the reception. We also played “New York, New York” for my family visiting from New York State, and everyone gathered together to make a kick line. You could also have an out of town guest group picture or include an inside joke or hometown memorabilia in your wedding décor. Special touches such as these will make out of town guests feel more included and make their trip more memorable.

10. Thank them for coming. Above all, remember to thank your out of town guests for coming. Although it’s difficult to pay close attention to anyone at your wedding, try to go out of your way to speak with your out of town guests. Thank them in your wedding speech. Be sure to include a very special thank-you in the thank-you card.

You might not have the time or resources to consider all of these suggestions as you plan your wedding, but your out of town guests will appreciate any little touches. Keep the sacrifices they’ve made in mind, and take the time to embrace the understanding of how much these people must love you to have traveled so far for your wedding!