Getting married is such an exciting time. The one you love proposes, you honor your best friends by asking them to participate in the big day, the planets align, and all is right with the world. Until the issues of time and money bring out the worst in you and everyone around you.
When did we get so weird about weddings and all their trappings? Big, blowout bachelorette parties that involve cross country plane tickets, hotels, limos, embroidered sweat pants, umbrella drinks, and financial responsibility for anything the bride orders seem to be the norm. Whatever happened to a night out with the girls and a few naughty gifts? Invitations to multiple showers; some themed, some coed, and some out of the area have even the most experienced etiquette masters confused about the rules. How does one respond to a bridezilla’s supervac sucking up more cash and time than one is willing to invest? How does one deal with the family members, bridesmaids, and others who get in on the act by switching on their own sucking machines? Perhaps a few changes on the modern bride’s etiquette website are in order.
I wonder if it would be helpful if a two-part form was submitted with every bridesmaid request so that everyone would know what they were getting into. On the form could be a few boxes to check like, “I believe I am the center of the universe”, “Only my wedding matters right now,” or “Get ready to spend some cash because I’m in competition with the last friend who got married and everything surrounding my wedding needs to be bigger, better, and more expensive.” Then, there could be a response form on which a potential bridesmaid could check, “Seriously, I love you but I need to make rent”, or “This will be my third wedding this year and I’m exhausted.”
Maybe a more realistic approach is in order. I would suggest the bride and groom make some decisions about financial responsibilities before they ask their friends to participate. Will they purchase their own dress, tux, shoes, special jewelry, etc.? What are your expectations for hair and makeup? What about lodging for the event? Etc., etc., etc. Are you asking a friend who is just starting out in her career to pay thousands of dollars to support you on your big day? Give her a reality check before asking her to write a check. While you’re at it, don’t forget to think about time considerations. Asking a friend with small children to spend multiple weekends away from home on your behalf may come across as selfish.
Feel free to keep others under control. Sometimes it’s not necessarily the bride who goes a little nuts. A friend of mine recently experienced another bridesmaid wanting to throw an over the top shower for a bride whose family had already hosted one. I suppose that’s fine, but after her big announcement she then sent each of the bridesmaids a bill for their share of the cost. When my friend put on her big girl panties and politely told the organizer that she had budgeted only enough time and money for one shower and would not be participating in the second event, the crickets were deafening.
Be sure to keep your flexibility while keeping your eye on the bigger picture. It’s really fun to get inspiration from all the great bride magazines and wedding websites on the Internet. It’s also very tempting to add a little of this and a little of that or change your mind about previous decisions. It’s your day after all! But keep in mind the impact these little decisions have on others. Schedule changes, additional work parties to tie ribbons on new place setting markers, or spending just a few more dollars on these pair of shoes instead of those pair of shoes add up. Keep your friends your friends by considering their needs. It’ll give you good practice for the marriage to come!