After all, her sister Kate Middleton (that’s the Duchess of Cambridge to us common folk) went from a normal girl to next in line to be Queen of England with two simple words: “I will.” While likely still on a romantic high following her recent engagement to financier James Matthews, Pippa Middleton may feel like she has the biggest of bridal shoes to fill when planning a wedding.
An estimated three billion viewers tuned in (some waking in the dead of night to watch it live) as Prince William and Kate shared their vows at the altar of Westminster Abbey. No detail went unscrutinized, including Pippa as the maid of honor.
Social media exploded in praise as Pippa made her royal wedding day appearance in an ivory Alexander McQueen dress featuring a plunging neckline, formfitting silhouette, and the same lace and button details that were on the bride’s gown. And even though it was her sister’s day, many headlines went on to say that Pippa had stolen the show.
Still, when your sister becomes a royal in what could be the grandest wedding of the decade—if not century—it’s hard not to get caught up in expectations for your own wedding. If you have a sibling or other family member who pulled off an amazing event, you might know the feeling (minus having the Queen of England for a grandmother-in-law, that is).
It’s probably safe to say the world doesn’t expect Pippa’s wedding to match Kate’s, given that they’re two different people in two completely different circumstances. And the same holds true for your event.
“This is your day and you should do it your way,” says Brit Bertino, president of Wedding Industry Professionals Association. “This day is about the couple, not everyone else, so remain authentic to yourself. Remain mindful of your own needs and wants. In the end, people will still have a great time.”
When you start to feel the creep of expectations, try to determine the source of the demand. Are you and/or your fiancé putting this pressure on yourselves or is it coming from a relative, sibling or friend? And how serious are these expectations? Try not to read into guests who say, “Good luck topping that wedding,” as the statement may have been made in jest.
Instead of trying to one-up your brother’s or sister’s day, why not do something completely different? “From my experience, I find that people in this very scenario will do the exact opposite—either doing something elaborate or very intimate,” Bertino says. “So if the first sibling decides on a grand soiree at home with all of the extravagant touches, then the next in line [might] aim for a simpler affair or even a destination wedding with personalized details.”
If the wedding you want is similar in size and just as high profile as your sibling’s affair, Bertino recommends bringing in a team of wedding pros to help create something uniquely your own. Also, look for a popular venue that isn’t in the same locale as your sibling’s, which would mean using many of the same resources and feeling a little too copycat.
While the expectations might feel overwhelming, seeing your sibling plan his or her wedding should save you some wedding planning stress of your own. While you might not want your catering and venue vendors to overlap, if your brother or sister had a fantastic photographer, wedding planner or videographer, by all means, book them.
“I’d like to think that the sibling would have already seen how the stressful the first wedding was and wouldn’t want to experience the same thing,” says Bertino. “And no matter what the size of the wedding is, just remember that you don’t have to consult with everyone. After all, when you get too many chefs in the kitchen, the soup can become a catastrophe. Remain true to what you and your fiancé want without having to please everyone.”