Think Before You Say Yes - Why Being A Bridesmaid Can Suck
So Here’s The Situation (not the one from the Jersey Shore)
I'm a female in my 20's with an active social life, plenty of casual friends and a few close friends who mean the world to me.
I've had idyllic visions of these close friends and I calling each other about our children in our 30’s and vacationing together in our 40's and spending grandma time together in our 60's.
Over time, I've been lucky enough to add a few people into this close group, and it's always been a pleasant surprise. The not so pleasant surprise-- slowly losing friends who I thought were a permanent fixture in that idyllic vision. All because I was a bridesmaid. And it fucking sucks.
How It Started
She and I met in the 9th grade and became BFFs. We could talk about anything and the hours would pass seamlessly at slumber parties and on the phone. Although we didn’t always see things in the same light, we respected each other and more importantly, we listened to each other. She was someone who wanted to know me. She was someone who cared, and it meant a lot.
As we grew up, we made other friends. But she and our core group of mutual friends became an important fixture in my life. Effort was no question. Birthdays were never missed. Traditions were made. Accomplishments celebrated, losses mourned together. In my mind, this was a friendship for a lifetime.
It Doesn't Always Go Down In the DM's
We were asked to be bridesmaids and said yes without a second thought. For a few weeks it was exciting conversations about dates and locations, outfits and music.
And then it started.
She asked us to help plan the wedding. I had already been a bridesmaid a few times before so I knew what to expect. But very quickly, the requests became bigger, more time consuming and more expensive. And suddenly (and quite painfully), our feelings became irrelevant.
Time commitments were the first issue. I had no problem helping her plan the wedding. But being on-call for months? That wasn't a part of the plan.
Polite and flexible requests turned into firm demands that eventually came without a please or thank you. “We're meeting next week. Attendance is required,” I was told. I was expected to rearrange my schedule to be there. If I couldn’t, I needed a hell of a good reason (apparently not being able to skip class wasn’t good enough).
Then came the money. We were asked to pay a flat amount that'd cover our dresses, hair and makeup. Later, we were told that it didn’t include outfit changes or the expensive accessories she wanted.
Pre-wedding events were planned at fancy restaurants and entertainment venues. When people gently spoke up about the rising costs, they were hit with guilt. “It’s a big day. You should want to make this nice.” So much for tuition, I guess. Or rent.
I hardly ever heard from her anymore and it bothered me. Sure she was busy, but just because she was wrapped up in her own existence didn’t mean I didn’t exist anymore. When I tried to tell her about my life, she didn't seem to care. When I was sick, I got no messages of concern but rather questions about how it'd affect the ceremony.
Did she even care about me anymore?
The thing was, I really didn’t know. At first I thought her change in attitude was just stress. But then, when some of the bridesmaids and I couldn't attend a last-minute meeting, we got radio silence.
We did, however, get cornered by her 'wedding committee' and told that our time constraints were causing the bride unnecessary stress and that it needed to stop. My life was suddenly a nuisance for her planning process and she had no problem having other people tell me that rudely on her behalf.
Was this really happening? Were we all really expected to put our lives on pause until her wedding was over?
Respect became another problem. Common decency and general manners went right out the window. We were shouted at during meetings, and not just by her but by her wedding planner too.
If she saw people yelling at us, she didn't say a word. "If you're not firm, nothing will get done," I remember her saying. "I have to speak up to make sure I get what I want."
It took a while for me to realize that we were being looked at as business providers, expected to provide exceptional service on demand. But hang on a minute, I wasn’t being paid for this! I was doing this for her, as a favor. How was that being overlooked?
When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. She didn’t think there was anything wrong with what was going on. So what if her team was shockingly rude to us while we took time out of our lives to her make her wedding incredible?
So what if she was rude to us? So what if we were broke, sick or getting in trouble for constantly rearranging our lives to be there for her? Nothing mattered, and that was OK. Because she was the bride, and that’s how it was going to be.
Selfish. Inconsiderate. Opportunistic. These were words that I'd never have thought to use to describer her, but I was thinking them now. I saw a different side of her- one that I wasn’t ready for and one that I really didn’t like.
And So They Exchanged Rings
Despite all of the pre-wedding issues, the wedding day went smoothly. She was happy and I was happy for her. But things didn't feel the same anymore. Intense anger faded, but it never fully went away. She was a different person to me now and I wondered if she really had changed so suddenly, or if maybe this had been her for a long time and I had just been too blind to see it.
Although she thanked us all for being a part of her wedding, she never did apologize for how we were treated. I no longer had that same inclination to talk to her. We caught up from time to time, but that pull to each other was lost.
I'm not the first person to share a story like this, and I definitely won't be the last. Being a bridesmaid isn't a joke. No one dreams of saying no, except for legitimate reasons.
Here’s my advice - think seriously before saying yes. And if you do decide to say yes, know that you might be risking your friendship if shit hits the fan for you too. Maybe your friendship will grow, or maybe it'll fail. Maybe you’ll create lifelong memories, or maybe it'll be an experience that you'll regret (or learn from, because nobody likes regrets).
But whatever you choose to do, don't be blindsided. Be ready to accept the outcomes, whatever they may be. Good luck.