by Haley Cahill-Teubert
This week my husband and I will celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I can’t help but reminisce on life this time last year. Flowers, RSVP cards, bridesmaid dresses, reception songs—it’s all coming back to me. Perhaps most memorable though, is something my mom said to me consistently throughout the wedding planning process.
“Focus on the marriage, not the wedding.”
At the time, that seemed so obvious. We were getting married, after all. But when you have favors to assemble, a seating chart to complete and honeymoon details to finalize, it is dangerously easy to prioritize the event—the production—rather than the relationship.
You may not be in the throes of wedding planning, but you may be preparing for an upcoming formal recruitment. At first glance, weddings and sorority recruitment are two entirely different entities. Take a second look. The very foundation of each event is a relationship—a lifelong relationship, ideally.
Think about recruitment for a moment. It is this unique opportunity to meet dozens, maybe hundreds of women, who are seeking relationships—lifelong relationships. You explore interests and lifestyles. You discuss hometowns, loved ones and fond memories. You share your ambitions and plans for the years to come. At the end of it all, you assess the strength of the relationship and if the feelings are mutual. And if those feelings are indeed mutual, you seal the deal with a ring… Whoops, I mean a bid.
Cue the bid day celebrations, gifts, cake and festive attire.
If you’ve ever planned a wedding, or if you’ve ever dated in hopes of finding your lifelong partner, this should sound eerily familiar. But even if you haven’t, you likely can see the similarities.
In joining organizations, the hope is not to simply find friends to help you pass the next four years. The hope is to find sisters, best friends, role models, mentors—the list goes on. How many times have you heard a woman say she found her bridesmaids when she joined a sorority? (It’s really coming full circle now.)
The ideal result of recruitment efforts is to find lifelong friends who stick with you through good times and bad, who support you and push you to be better, who understand your needs and often put yours ahead of their own. We all seek this kind of friendship, right? We all seek that kind of marriage, don’t we?
It’s not something to take lightly.
Let’s revisit my mother’s advice. “Focus on the marriage, not the wedding.” What if we swap a few words here?
Focus on the friendship, not the bid day shirts.
Focus on the conversation, not the door stacks.
Focus on the relationship, not the earrings for sisterhood round.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
It’s easy to get lost in the hype of it all. It’s easy to get caught up in the details—the outfits, the songs, the food, the gifts, the monogrammed everything. But when the music fades and the party is over, the relationship is all that remains.
We know that thousands of marriages end every year for a variety of reasons. With only one year of marriage under my belt, I can confidently tell you I am no expert on the matter, but it is logical to assume when relationships begin to dissolve, in many cases, it is because cracks in the foundation of those relationships begin to reveal themselves after the honeymoon ends.
Can the same be said when members choose to leave our organizations after the thrill of recruitment and bid day is over, and the relationships are all that remain?
Now, I know it’s fun to plan these events. Tasting cakes and trying on wedding dresses is a blast. Stuffing bid day bags and ordering ornate balloon displays is fantastic. It breeds energy and excitement about everything to come. But we cannot neglect the relationships in favor of the event, or the details surrounding it, and be surprised when the relationships don’t last.
Summer is just beginning, but for many, recruitment season will arrive in the blink of an eye. As you’re preparing your outfits, planning your work week and ordering bid day swag, I challenge you to not forget to focus on the relationships.
Your opportunity for lifelong relationships is approaching. While I completely understand the desire to make a good impression and have a memorable event, it will not matter after bid day ends and the reality of the relationship begins.
Whether it’s a marriage or a friendship, relationships you develop have the potential to endure the test of time if you lay the right groundwork, build upon that foundation and put in the work to maintain that solid structure for years to come.
Want to chat more about relationship building or preparing for sorority recruitment? Shoot me an email and get the conversation started at Cahill@PhiredUp.com!