Copycat Friends: How to deal with stolen wedding ideas

Inspirational platforms like Pinterest and Instagram have forever changed the wedding planning industry. Now, couples can draw inspiration from other celebrations, implementing ideas in all aspects of their big day – from food and decor to music and attire.

Incorporating details from a stranger on the internet is one thing, but what happens when someone you love has copied significant details from your wedding? Whether your cocktail hour appetizers or the fun first dance you spent hours putting together, seeing a friend use one of your creative ideas can sting.

After all, you’ve put a lot of effort into planning your wedding — it’s natural to feel hurt if you think someone has stolen your idea! If you’re unsure how to handle the situation, take note of these best practices to honor your hard work while mitigating the drama.

Photography: Julia Wade Photography

Remember what’s most important.

When planning a wedding, it’s easy to get caught up in surface-level details, sometimes forgetting that every couple’s special day should be a celebration of their love. Yes, it’s fun to think about the cake and flowers, but if you find similarities at someone else’s wedding, remember where your focus should truly be.

The Soulful Wedding’s Maureen Cotton reminds us, “This feeling stems from a misunderstanding about what makes a wedding truly unique. It’s not the palette, venue, or food, but rather how the love and connection between two people and their community can be experienced and celebrated.”

“After a meaningful wedding, people remember the toasts, the vows, how the couple looked at each other during the first dance or the conversations they had reconnecting with old friends,” Cotton assures. “Guests are not at home recalling the floral arrangements.”

Know imitation is the finest form of flattery.

If someone took something from your wedding day for their own, give yourself some credit! It means you had something so incredible another couple couldn’t wait to have it as part of their celebration. Kudos to you and your creative mind!

“If you’ve already had your wedding and your friend has copied something you did, take it as a huge compliment of how much it stuck out at your wedding that they wanted to do the same thing, then move on,” shares Laura Maddox of Magnolia Celebrates. “You just started a new trend – go you!”

Amber Anderson at Refine for Wedding Planners agrees, adding, “With Pinterest being a predominant source for wedding inspiration, couples are going to see this more and more. It’s hard to say who saw something first and adapted for their style and personal touch. The world of weddings is all about inspiration and expanding on ideas, so imitation is considered flattery.”

Avoid making assumptions.

With the amount of wedding-related content online these days, chances are someone may have had a shared idea in their plans before attending your wedding. So though it may be challenging, try not to take it personally.

“What you may have thought was a unique idea could also be all over Pinterest or Instagram, so don’t assume someone has stolen your idea,” recommends Nora Sheils, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and founder of Bridal Bliss. “Share with them that you are disappointed that they are doing the same thing, and allow them to explain themselves before becoming accusatory.”

Photography: Jenny DeMarco

Acknowledge your feelings.

It’s okay to feel bummed if you believe someone took one of your ideas. You spent a lot of time planning your special day, and the initial reaction to seeing your hard work elsewhere can be tough! So acknowledge your feelings but don’t let them ruin your day.

“Give yourself a time limit and choose to be upset for a moment, vent with your partner, then let it go,” notes Anderson. “It’s okay to be upset! But if we can think about things from the perspective of not having all the context, giving the benefit of the doubt, and asking what negative impact it has, we can often shift into a more positive headspace about things.”

Give yourself time.

Though it may seem like the end of the world when you first arrive at a friend’s wedding and see something suspiciously familiar, you likely won’t think about these small details when the big day comes to a close. That’s why it’s essential to give yourself time to decompress.

“What seems like such a big deal at the moment could appear petty to you just a few weeks later,” Sheils affirms. “So, let the steam simmer down and take a second to ground yourself before approaching someone. There are always going to be new ideas and even though you thought yours was the bee’s knees, use it as inspiration to find something even better!”

Know things won’t be the exact same.

With so many photos, videos, and checklists online, it’s nearly impossible for original ideas to stay original for long. Plus, no two wedding days are the same. Remember – it’s about the couple, not the minor details guests won’t remember one week later.

“There is almost no way that any idea can be copied exactly,” notes Keith Willard, owner of Keith Willard Events. “There will be differences in colors, setup, locations, and timing. Also, there is no such thing as an original idea in the age of Pinterest and Etsy.”

Photography: Caroline’s Collective

Consider the friendship itself.

If this is someone you’ve known and trusted for years, you likely don’t want wedding-day details to come between you. So instead, think about the person you’re frustrated with and ask yourself if this is worth damaging your friendship.

Monika Kreinberg, director of Furever Us, asks, “How much do you value your friendship? Is it respectful? If it’s not a healthy friendship, maybe this is the sign to cut ties. If it is, do not let one day ruin or hurt something you have spent many years building.”

Put it aside on the big day.

It’s essential to put yourself in your friend’s shoes here. You wouldn’t want someone critiquing your wedding on the day itself, so set it aside and focus on celebrating!

Anderson says, “The hardest thing here is taking the high road, but it’s a good one to take. Do your best not to mention it to others at their wedding. Instead, choose joy, take a spin around the dance floor and have fun! Because remember, marriage and friendship are more important than any detail at any wedding!”

Seeing elements from your wedding at someone else’s celebration can be tricky, but with these helpful tips, you’ll find it easier to put it behind you and enjoy your friend’s big day!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

We’ve partnered with OFD Consulting to bring you this great advice from their collective of wedding professionals.