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Being a Bridesmaid

On my local radio show this morning there was an interesting discussion on the topic of being a bridesmaid. I was mildly interested until I started hearing the responses. I love my own friends very dearly but wow, what a reminder again of how catty women can be. Needless to say this really set me off. And thank goodness I have a blog so I have a vehicle to rant when something gets me going. To understand my rant you'll need to read the original letter. For some odd reason I could not copy the post so here's a super professional screen shot share, whatever it gets the job done.


First off, CJ needs to grow a pair. There's nothing in this letter that is menacing or "psychotic" and questioning the mental stability of Lisa really angers me - it plays into the stereotype than women are unbalanced, over emotional nut cases. If a guy spent hundreds of dollars on his friends getting married and complained about it all the other dudes would nod in agreement and go back to drinking beer, end of story.
 
So the majority of the responders basically said that if Lisa couldn't afford to be a bridesmaid she should have said so and declined the position. I was really truly shocked so many people supported this belief. Silly me I have always been under the impression that one asks their closest friends to be theirs bridesmaids and this decision is based solely on friendship /closeness (and let's face it, sometimes family connection) not on financial status. If you want to be really traditional it shouldn't cost a bridesmaid anything to be in a wedding, those expenses should be a part of the wedding budget. Somehow our society has gotten away from polite manners and it has become the norm for bridesmaids to cover the attire they wear on the wedding day, attire that mind you is selected by the bride. I've been to a lot of weddings, some super fancy and expensive and some simple yet elegant so I understand everyone has different budgets to work with but if you're one of those women who has a $40,000+ wedding but won't cover some $300 dresses and put your bridesmaids up in a hotel for one night then you just might be the selfish brat here not the bridesmaid.
 
But like I said, bridesmaids buying their attire has become the norm and I do think most women today know this and accept the position willing to make this purchase. But it's not just the wedding day attire. Based upon my own experience and witnessing many friends get married here is a general list of expenses / attire a bridesmaid can expect to have:
 
Engagement party dress
Engagement present
Bridal Shower Hosting
Bridal Shower Dress
Bridal Shower Gift
Bachelorette Hosting
Bachelorette Outfits
Rehersal Dinner Outfit
Wedding Day Attire
Wedding Day hair, makeup and nails
 
Ok, so if a bridesmaid happens to have the occasion appropriate outfits in her closet she might be able to get away with not buying any clothing except for the wedding day attire. And if you're a friend and would be invited to the wedding you're most likely buying a present anyway so I also won't call those "real" bridesmaids expenses - so I bolded the bare minimum bridesmaid expenses. Least we not forget travel and lodging should the wedding not be in your hometown. And I think we all know there are brides out there who ask their maids to wear something specific to their various wedding events. Like oh hey, my colors are pink and cream so if all my bridesmaids could wear pink to the engagement party that would be great - stuff like that can cause a bridesmaid additional attire costs.
 
But here's the deal - a friend, a true friend at least isn't going to complain about this or really tip you off to how much they're really spending. Because she knows as much as this is a happy time it's also a stressful time. It's also really not polite manners to discuss one's financial situation, I don't care how close of friends you are. But there are a lot of things brides don't even think about costing their attendants. For example - makeup needs to be done a little differently when being professionally photographed. Ladies there is a very fine line between wearing enough makeup to not look like a pasty ghost but not wearing too much to look like a clown / whore and unless you're a professional makeup artists you'll probably want some help skating this line. So while it's all nice for a bride to say oh, you can just do your own makeup it's better to get makeup either professional done or have a professional consultation prior to the wedding - this costs money. Your makeup should not only take into consideration the color of the dress you are wearing but the flowers as well - don't wear red lipstick if you are going to be holding pink flowers. Brides while you may think you're doing your maids a favor, on this one just eliminate the stress and pony up for a makeup artist. As a bridesmaid I was once told I could just wear black shoes I owned - but my black shoes are either businessy shoes or tall heel night shoes, neither of which was appropriate for an 11am wedding; also I'm already taller than the bride so wasn't about to tower over her - my goal as a bridesmaid was to make HER look good while still looking nice myself - so I went out and bought day time, not work appropriate, low heeled shoes. I also bought a super strength bra to accommodate the awkward, non supporting neckline on the bridesmaid dress that would keep my girls where they belong - because again as a bridesmaid I shouldn't be drawing attention upon myself.
 
I give these examples not to complain, I was happy to bear the expense, but to point out that the expense of being a bridesmaid is more than just buying a dress. I addition to being a pretty big financial commitment it's also a time commitment. At some point a night on the town where you live became an unacceptable bachelorette party so now there's taking time off for a trip, taking time to go to wedding related events, the time to plan, throw, and clean up a shower and of course the time for the wedding - and preparing for the wedding itself. Because even if you're doing your own hair, nails and makeup bridesmaids don't have magic wands that make this happen. Weddings have in fact become big productions.

I hate to break this to y'all but anyone who is married was probably an annoying bridezilla at some point during her engagement.  Luckily 90% of you return to your normal, aware that there are other things going on in the world selves a few months after the I dos. For the most part, your friends don't fault you for this, it's a very exciting time and something you're very exited about - of course you get wedding blinders on; plus our society really encourages it. But too many of the former brides commenting on this really gave me a bad taste the way they patted themselves on the back for being a "low key bride" and said they wouldn't want such a "jealous bitch" to be in their wedding anyway.

As much as I like to joke about "my friends are married" I really love going to friends weddings, it's such a special commitment and it's exciting to witness someone near and dear starting their own family.  I always wish the best for my bride and groom friends but I am glad someone like Lisa spoke up. Your wedding shouldn't take over your friend's life, or bank account. Your wedding is a time of joy and shouldn't be a burden to anyone involved (and yes, that includes your parents). I hope all the brides of the world will start cutting all the Lisa's of the world a little slack and have a little realization that even when you're a bride the world does not revolve around you. And for heaven's sake, if you can afford to spend thousands of dollars on freaking flowers, be a good person and just buy the damn dresses. 
 

Comments

  1. I basically agree. I think brides should temper their expectations of bridesmaids (when I was getting married, I was going to pay for everything but the dresses, just because I was going to have them order their own and everyone was spread all over the place). But I also think it should be okay to say, "I love you. And your day is going to be beautiful and special because you're beautiful and special. I'm so excited to be included. But I am in a tight financial spot right now. Would it hurt you terribly if I came and enjoyed your day without obligating myself to expenses I may not be able to afford?" The bride in this scenario should be kind and try to help, because weddings are expensive and being a bridesmaid is expensive (especially when other bridesmaids don't have money issues - I've definitely had the bridesmaid competition happen to me before!), or should give them some other job if they have serious time/money issues. I think people get so hurt and upset at weddings, while forgetting that at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is you got married to the person you love surrounded by the people you love.

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    1. I totally agree that society needs to make saying no more acceptable. Sadly I think sayng no invites gossip about not being a good friend or a poor financial situation and hurt feelings all around.

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  2. I've never been a bridesmaid, only a bride. 3 out of my 4 bridesmaids are single, except for 1 that did not want to burden me with the cost in being in her wedding since it was 500 miles away. I had my wedding in my hometown, which was 300 miles from where I was living, and I ended up having separate bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and other wedding celebrations to be fair to my wedding party. I only asked that my bridesmaids cover the dress cost, which was under $300, and I let choose their own hair, makeup & shoes (1 of my bridesmaids was pregnant and the dresses were floor-length). I'd say I was rather fair expense-wise since only the now-married woman was the only one working in a professional full-time position. Maybe other brides could be more fair with their expenses.

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    Replies
    1. thanks for sharing. It was really nice that your friend took travel into consideration. Of course, the polite thing would have been to ask but say I understand if you can';t and let it be your decission. Or to buy the place ticket, but I understnad not everyone can afford that.

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  3. I've been a bride and a bridesmaid. When I was getting married I only wanted my sisters to be my maids. They are both younger than me and I knew my parents would pay for all their stuff because they were paying for the wedding. I and I thought I asked my husband just to ask his two siblings but he kept asking more and more people and we ended up with seven female attendants! I bought them all dresses. I offered to buy strapless bras for some of them since those can be challenging and good bras are expensive. I paid for the local maids' alterations and I took them there to get fitted. I wish I would have thought to offer to pay for shoes (I figured it would be easier comfort wise for everyone to choose their own shoes) and the hotel stay for those who weren't local and not related to me. I didn't want a bachelorette party though and my bridal shower was low key (recipe cards no gifts) and hosted by sister at a local for me restaurant. I didn't register for any gifts at all since I knew most of our families were coming from far away and I didn't want them to have to pay to come and for a present since what I really wanted was for them to come. I was so frazzled while getting ready for the wedding because I was also studying for the bar exam that summer. There was so much more I could have done to make it easier for our attendants and guests. Like I wish I would have had someone to help with the make up but I just couldn't find the time to find anyone. I told all the bridesmaids that they couldn't wear heels that made them taller than me too! My little sisters are both taller than me now. And I was a total bridezilla to my sister and told her she had to dye her hair a natural color and I hope I didn't hurt my now SIL's feelings when I told her she needed concealer for her under eye circles (I took her makeup shopping with another bridesmaid with a similar complexion because she was 16 and didn't wear much make up). We had a pre wedding party for the female attendants where I brought a bunch of nail polish in my wedding colors so we could all paint our nails together. I was trying really hard to be sensitive to costs since my family is relatively wealthy but my husband's isn't and most of our friends don't have much money either (my college roommate and my husband are both teachers so their work is rewarding but not finically so).

    I was so happy to be asked to be a brides matron in my college roommate's wedding. She lived near byish (two to three hour drive) so it wasn't expensive for us to go to her prewedding events and she let me sleep over at her place after the bachelorette party and shower so I didn't have to stay in a hotel which would have been the biggest cost and she didn't impose any onerous dress codes for the events. She let us choose what to wear to our wedding and coordinated it so we all had different colors and there's this cute picture of us making a rainbow! I horde dresses so it was easy since I already had a dress in my color in mind and I purchased matching yellow shoes on sale. We did our own makeup, which is what my bridesmaids did. And we all look great in the pictures.

    Anyway, I think brides need to be considerate of their attendants financial situation. I would feel so bad asking my teacher friends to be a bridesmaid, pay for a $300 dress, shoes, a girls weekend bachelorrette someplace far away, &c. And I'd feel so sad if they didn't feel like they could be a part of my day because of the expense so I'd want to try to help them out so they could be there on the day. Sorry, that was long. I have a lot of feelings about how my wedding went and I it makes me rant.

    You called it right about CJ. He needs to be more respectful, is he a shock jock?

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    1. Thanks for all your thoughts, you sound like a dream bride! It's so exciting to hear from people who treat their weddings like the celebration of love and family like it should be.

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