Friday, April 26, 2013

Importance of Saying "No" to Being a Bridesmaid

Xochitl Gonzales recently wrote an article for HuffPost on why it's important to say "no" if you really don't feel like you can fulfill the roles of being a bridesmaid.  I thought this article was so spot on and although she shared her personal experience with it, I felt that I could definitely relate through more than one occasion. 

One of my absolute best-friends is getting married this year.  Emily is an absolute doll and I love her more than anything.  One of these reasons is that she is smart.  I live in Montana and that is just simply too far away to be a major planning part of a wedding in Wisconsin.  However, I am one of youngest of my friends that's not in the military.  Therefore I get the specialty Matron-of-Honor card.  Matron = married, maid = not.  So Emily has a Matron-of-Honor and a Maid-of-Honor.

We've had the conversation numerous times about how I wish I was there and I could be more of the planning process but the fact is, I can't.  I live 14+ hours away and it's difficult to take leave for occasions like a bridal shower or bachelorette party.  When it's wedding time, I've blocked off a section of days that are dedicated to Emily and saying "hello" to my family.  Emily has the assistance of her family, her maid of honor, bridesmaids, and her fiance's family back home.  I trust that she's in good hands, especially since I get Facebook and text updates.

I said "yes" with all of this as part of the understanding.  However, I have witnessed other ladies for other weddings say "yes" when it really should have been a "no."

Being a bridesmaid requires a great deal of work and commitment. You are there for the bride on the couple's special day.  I know it's the "bride's day" but honestly, two people are committing to each other for the rest of their lives.  That's a bigger deal than the shade of peach the bridesmaid dresses seem to be.  It's their day.  That means the role of a bridesmaid differentiates per wedding but overall you are there to help in anyway you can.  It may mean having to help in the DIY department, sending out e-mails, being there for dress fittings, footing the bill for a dress, etc.

There are costs with being a bridesmaid including probably over $100 for the dress, then the shoes, then accessories, then your hair, probably your nails, a hotel room, plane tickets if you're flying in, etc.   I've seen young women enthusiastically accept being a bridesmaid when asked but then they don't follow through.  One of my friends who recently got married, had a bridesmaid essentially back out a few months before the wedding because she didn't think she could afford the plane ticket.  On one side I can understand the financial difficulties that comes with flying to a wedding and being a part of it but ultimately, if there's a possibility that you can't afford this then you need to communicate that with the bride.  Weddings can be very expensive and that's not fair to your friend to back out on her that close to the wedding.

I have always loved weddings, ever since I was a little kid.  I learned everything I could about them, including etiquette and the roles of the bridal party.  When I married Ryan, it was so stressful because I was trying to plan a very small wedding in California while I was in Wisconsin and we were all in college.  My sorority sisters threw me an awesome bachelorette party but it was difficult to plan anything else because you were working with young women at an age where none of use were really used to weddings.  From this lesson, I would highly recommend brides express their expectations and when they need help to their bridal party.  I had been so stressed out that when our ceremony got cancelled due to the passing of Ryan's father, I basically let Ryan's mom coordinate our small ceremony and low key reception.  I had like zero interest in doing it because I didn't have any help from my family.  Ryan and I would like to renew our vows but I feel like I'll still keep it a small occasion just because I think weddings get out of hand and I still want to be friends with my bridesmaids after the day ;)

How was your wedding?  If you're in the midst of the planning process, what would you recommend to other brides on their planning process?

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  1. I also got married young, and most of my friends and I had no idea what we were supposed to be doing, plus none of my bridesmaids had real jobs yet, so the cost of dresses (plus everything else) was tricky. I didn't want anyone to feel like they couldn't financially swing it, so I rolled part of the dress cost into my total wedding budget, so they each paid half. I also let them pick their own shoes, and I bought their jewelry as a gift.

    If I could redo anything about that time, I would have asked more specifically that my local bridesmaids go dress shopping with me. My mom and sisters live several states away, so I went by myself to pick out my dress and the bridesmaid dresses. At the time, it was just a practical thing, but I wish I'd had friends with me!

    1. That's so awesome of you! With my husband being an enlisted Marine at the time and I was a junior in college, we had an extremely limited budget. I bought my dress online so it only cost me $180 and add the cost of the marriage license and cupcakes, we only spent a couple hundred dollars. When we originally had it scheduled in California, I didn't want people to feel pressured so I was very explicit about that to my friends. Regardless of cost, a few of my friends were dead set on going (which was truly appreciated). In the end, we got married back home so a ton of my friends were able to drive from all over the Midwest for a courthouse ceremony. It was somewhat of a blessing :)

      I think I would love to do the traditional dress shopping but it's so much more cost effective to buy a dress online versus getting charged shop fees. We'll see, I could change my mind by the time vow renewals roll around ;) Thanks for posting!

  2. This is a message that so many need to hear -- I have so many friends getting married now. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment! I feel like it's one of those things where you would never want to be rude to a close friend but if being center stage at a wedding makes you uncomfortable, you can't afford to be a part of the bridal party, or you don't have the time, then you need to be honest. There are definitely other ways a bride can include friends into her special day without them a). feeling pressured to the point where it could ruin the experience or b). let down the bride and groom because they just can't keep up their end.

  3. I'm not married, but I think this is still great advice. If you commit to being a bridesmaid, then you need to understand what comes along with that. Its very expensive and time consuming. Due to work commitments, I missed bachelorette parties for 2 brides that I was a bridesmaid for. I still regret that to this day, so I try to put extra effort into the ones I can go to.

    I think it would be amazing for you and Ryan to renew your vows!