“Being a Bridesmaid is Breaking My Budget!”

A friend of mine from high school asked me in December to be one of her bridesmaids in her July wedding. I was surprised she asked me, particularly because while we were close in our teens, she was usually too busy with her now-fiance´ to catch up or respond to me when I was visiting our hometown. We talk occasionally and I know she does not have many female friends and considering how close we once were, I said yes.

Well, fast forward to today and I really regret saying yes. Her older sister is the Matron of Honor and is an honest nightmare. The sister refuses to plan anything the way the bride requests and has threatened several times to not show up at the bachelorette party. The bride’s current best friend also went to high school with us and is a total flake…she hasn’t picked up the slack in planning a thing. The other two bridesmaids are her college friends and live a 6-hour drive away and are understandably not much help.

Now I am getting tearful calls from the bride since basically her entire support network is bailing on her and she has been asking me to plan the shower and bacherlorette. I am helping as much as I possibly can (I live well over two hours away and work long hours to pay for my grad school courses), but I am starting to reach my wit’s (and budget’s) end as this wedding is taking over my life and finances. One the one hand, I really want to be there for the bride as much as possible as it’s completely unfair how her family and closer friends are ignoring her wishes and even refuse to respond to any messages asking for help. On the other hand, I am honestly not that close with the bride anymore, will not likely hear from her for a year after the wedding, and cannot afford to invest the time and funds all on my own.

How do I survive until the end of July and keep as many people (including myself) as possible happy? — Disgruntled Bridesmaid

The best way to survive until the end of July with your mind — and wallet — in tact is to set boundaries. Repeat this mantra to yourself: “This is not my wedding, this is not my wedding, this is not my wedding.” If the bride wants to lose her mind or break her budget in planning her wedding, that’s her own business, but there’s absolutely no reason you — even as a bridesmaid — should be dragged along for the ride. So, let the bride know that while you are happy to pitch in with some bachelorette party and/or bridal shower plans, you have neither the funds nor the time to do the majority of planning.

Patiently remind the bride that you are in school, work long days and live two hours away, so your time and finances are limited, and suggest to her that it may be time to enlist the help of her mother or other close female relatives — especially when it comes to planning the shower (showers are typically thrown by aunts or mothers of the bride, anyway…). Choose 1-3 tasks you feel comfortable taking on — for example: choosing a venue for the bachelorette party and making reservations; ordering a cake; planning and paying for the transportation — and let the bride know you’ll take care of that thing/s, but you’re afraid that’s as far as you can extend your budget and time. This way, you’ve taken some responsibility but let the bride know it’s up to her to figure out how to fill in the remaining holes. She can continue to put pressure on her other bridesmaids to step up, she can ask her mother for help, or she can decide that since no one else is pitching in, maybe she should scale back her expectations and take over the planning reigns herself a little. In addition, I’d also recommend you decide what you can comfortably afford to spend on your remaining bridesmaid duties and not go over that amount. When you’re close to hitting that number, gently let the bride and the other bridesmaids know you’ve hit your budget and can’t take on any further expenses.

There’s no reason a bachelorette party can’t be a nice dinner and a few drinks afterward. How much planning does that really require? If the bride’s expecting much more than that, even after the response she’s gotten from everyone, you shouldn’t feel in any way obligated to make her dreams come true — especially since you don’t even plan to see her or hear from her too much after the wedding. It’s not your fault no one in her life is supporting her. If it were one of two people flaking, we could chalk that up to bad luck, but the fact that she has no one in her life to count on means she either hasn’t been a good friend to have good friends, or she’s been too busy with her relationship to invest much energy in fostering a strong social circle. Either way, it’s her problem, and not one you should spend your whole summer worrying about.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.


  1. spaceboy761 says:

    Oy. I think that Wendy has already figured out the best way to minimize the damage here, but I think that not even her sage advice is going to make this a cakewalk. The bride has already descended into “Everybody is failing me” mode and her other friends don’t seem to be ready to help out anytime soon. If you don’t set boundaries right away, she will inhale you into the void left by everybody else. I hate to say this, but be very careful with your words around her and to what to agree to.

    1. MasterKat says:

      Thumb up just for having Pint-size as your tumb tag 🙂

  2. silver_dragon_girl says:

    Agree with Wendy.

    As an aside (since we always get into wedding etiquette debates here anyway), is it really appropriate to *ask* someone to throw a shower or party for you? I always thought they were supposed to do that without being asked. I also thought it was usually the maid of honor or collective bridesmaids’ job, not the mother of the bride’s.

    1. honeybeenicki says:

      I think generally it is just done without someone being asked. Generally, the maid/matron of honor handles the bachelorette party (or the bridesmaids as a group) and often it is a family member who handles the bridal shower. For my bridal shower, my mom planned it along with my best friend (who also happened to be my matron of honor) and my husband and I planned a joint bachelor/bachelorette party because neither of us wanted what our friends made clear was going to be planned. We wanted something simple, so we planned it (and paid for it) ourselves.

    2. SpaceySteph says:

      I see your point… asking someone to plan you a shower is kinda like gift grubbing, right?

      But it would suck to be the bride who has nobody around you stepping up to plan the obvious wedding-related things, like the shower and bachelorette party. But really the bride should be taking this up with her sister, not this other girl.

    3. justpeachy says:

      Traditionally, bridal shower is planned by the older female relatives (mom, aunts, grandma, etc) and the bachelorette party is planned by the MOH.

      1. silver_dragon_girl says:

        This is interesting, because when I was MOH I planned the bridal shower, and the bride sort of arranged her own bachelorette party as a “girls night out” sort of thing. I’m also questioning how “traditional” anything about bachelorette parties can really be, since I’m under the impression they’ve only been around for the past 20 years or so?

      2. I’ve heard that traditionally the bridesmaids plan the shower. But I don’t know if that’s actually correct. Perhaps it varies by region?

      3. plasticepoxy says:

        According to Ms Manners, relatives of the “guest of honor” are never to plan a shower as it is seen as asking for gifts, etc; the host of the shower should be unrelated to the guest of honor as they have no “stake” in how many presents, etc are received. Since the woman’s family was traditionally responsible for supporting her prior to marriage (and in part after marriage, through a dowry payment), it would be considered as the family asking the community to support the woman instead of the family (for shame!). These days though, I think we could be much more relaxed about who is supposed to plan/arrange what. The bride could even plan these things herself, if she words the invitations correctly. Maybe she could only buck tradition and have a co-ed shower and/or pre-wedding party, so the groom’s friends could help plan the event.

      4. Maybe I’m old, but my copy of Emily Post says: “Traditionally, bridal shower etiquette says that close family members of the bride (sisters and moms) are not supposed to throw a shower for the bride.”

      5. It’s time to change the rules of etiquette. For one thing, Emily Post was alive during a time when it’s wasn’t as common for friends and family to be so far-flung. For another thing, bachelorette parties are a fairly recent development. I think she’d scoff at the notion of one person who is not a close family member, and who may very well live far away from the bride, planning and paying for not one by TWO parties in the span of a few weeks…

      6. From my perspective, it looks more like gift-grubbing when family is throwing the party…

        And I totally agree that this bridesmaid is being abused by the bride’s over-the-top expectations and family’s lack of stepping up to the plate.

      7. SpaceySteph says:

        It never really crossed my mind to think of a shower as gift grubbing. More like one of those things that is just DONE. So I wouldn’t be more or less offended if the bride’s mom or the groom’s sister or the best friend invited me. I might be offended if the bride herself invited me, but otherwise… I mean if you’re going to go to the shower then you’re going to go to the shower and you’re going to bring a gift, so who cares who throws the party?

    4. yes, generally the bride shouldn’t really have anything to do with either the bachelorette or the shower. However, my wedding is in a few months, and I have already had to do damage control between my mother and matron of honor, and been involved in some degree with the shower. I don’t know what it is, but when weddings are involved, it seems that normally sane, reasonable individuals just go totally freakin’ crazy. I am at a loss sometimes.

      1. SpaceySteph says:

        That does seem to be the theme of Dear Wendy recently. Weddings make nutjobs out of everyone. What gives people?

      2. Quakergirl says:

        The stress of having to plan a large event combined with financial considerations combined with family is pretty much a recipe for disaster. Unless money is no object, you and your fiance have precisely the same opinions about everything, and your family is full of saints, there’s bound to be some stress somewhere.

      3. melikeycheesecake says:

        @ Quakergirl… you could not be more correct! You said it!!!!

      4. And I’m not even posting a quarter of the wedding-related letters I’ve received. ‘Tis the season, I guess!

      5. Maybe you should pitch for a wedding etiquette book based on the letters you received. That would be an awesome read to have. It’ll also double as a cute bridesmaid thank-you gift for future brides.

      6. Good idea…. write the book Wendy, featuring some “exclusive unpublished LW dramas” and advertise it on your site. Make it an ebook… you could use Lulu.com to self publish and distribute it… just a thought.

      7. I have a couple ideas for books (I like the wedding etiquette, one, SGMcG). Realistically, I probably won’t get around doing one for another year or two — once I get the hang of motherhood, I’d imagine, and find time to work on extra projects — but I’m definitely saving and bookmarking letters, and I’ll keep you guys posted in the future…

      8. Wow…I posted and then left for a while, and I can’t believe how many comments have been posted in such a short time! This is definitely a hot topic, and a great idea for future articles.

      9. Just be sure to include Spaceboy and his “banging” references. 🙂

      10. applescruff says:

        I’ve bridesmaided 7 times. I would buy that.

    5. I thought it rude, so I did not ask for and therefore did not get a bridal shower. No one thought of it. It didn’t bother me, though, I wasn’t really looking forward to being forced to play all the stupid games they make you play at those things.

      1. I’ve never been to a bridal shower, but I can’t imagine having to play organized games… ugh. That was bad enough at summer camp.

      2. Trust me, you aren’t missing anything. I also skipped the traditional bachelorette party – I do not need to run around town in a veil with various novelty penis items, nor am I interested in having an oily, sweaty guy in a g-string grind on me.

      3. SpyGlassez says:

        When my best friend got married, we waited till after the wedding and had a “joint bachelor/bachelorette party” so that we could go to the local amusement park together. It was awesome. Way more cool than the novelty penises.

      4. applescruff says:

        I had to make a toilet paper dress last weekend. Never had to do that particular one. The bride (and I, and the two women who were on my “team”) are doctors. Doctors!! Why do we still do things like this?

      5. Britannia says:

        I don’t think I even *want* a bridal shower! It seems so silly and over-the-top, IMO. But so do bachelorette parties, so maybe I’m just weird.

        I think that bridal showers are more for the older set, the women among your family and extended circle of acquaintances, while the bachelorette is for the people closest to you who won’t judge you if you get a little wild.

        Personally, I’m planning to have a nice brunch or dinner or something at a nice location and then all go out to see a live theatre performance or something for my female relatives who want to do the bridal-shower-y thing. The bachelorette thing? Probably go bar-hopping. I really, really hope that whoever I pick as bridesmaids know me well enough to know that I do not want to end up with a tiara on my head and penis maracas in my hands.

      6. Quakergirl says:

        Agreed about the bachelorette…although I fear that the people I pick as bridesmaids will also know that if plied with enough tequila shots, I could probably be persuaded to play a penis-maraca concert on stage at the bar.

      7. caitie_didn't says:

        I don’t like the traditional bridal shower idea, but I love the idea of a BBQ, or garden party or brunch. That’s how I want it done.

      8. I’m having a “bachelorette party” that consists of dinner (and a LOT of wine) with my 3 best friends. And that’s it. I can’t wait!!

    6. EC was here says:

      My maid of honor planned one of my bridal showers. It was mostly for my in-laws and friends. My mother hosted her own bridal shower for the people *she* wanted to invite to my wedding, but I told her that since I was paying for it, I wasn’t inviting a bunch of her friends from her church that I couldn’t stand to my wedding. That shower was the LONGEST 3 hours of my life!
      My husband and I hosted a joint bachelor/bachelorette party at our apartment several of our friends. We paid for the the food and the majority of the drinks. It was a blast and a fun way to thank our friends for all their help in our wedding.
      I would agree with Wendy about setting boundaries. There is only so much you can do to help her with your budget and school schedule. If she wants a bachelorette party, she can plan the one that she wants to have. Most of the time the bachelor plan their own parties, because if they let their groomsmen plan it, their wife to be ends up upset.

  3. I agree with Wendy, but I would add that the LW might also contact the bride’s sister and best friend, who are also in the wedding party, to try and plan the bridal shower and bachelorette party together. While I understand that there are some issues with both, the LW might be able to get one, or both, of them to help if they realize it’s more of a group effort in planning the events instead of it resting all on the shoulders of one person.

    However given that the wedding is in July (at most, six weeks away), there isn’t much time, and the bridal shower is probably going to need to be a low-key event if certain details haven’t already been worked out (invitations, location, etc.). That reason alone – the lack of time until the wedding – should be obvious to the bride and why she needs to have realistic expectations about it, but a gentle reminder might be necessary.

    Good luck, LW.

  4. SpaceySteph says:

    I wonder if my friend wrote this? Ok a few details are different but its close…
    My friend is a bridesmaid for a friend of ours. By her account it is a disaster. The bride’s sister is the maid of honor and an absolute nightmare. She has not one planning bone in her body and from all accounts has done nothing to plan. The other two bridesmaids live out of the state, did not show up to the bridal shower, have been arguing for weeks about date/location/content of the bachelorette party. One of them is so consumed planning her own wedding set for next March that she is basically unable to do anything for our friend. The poor bride, who I talked to a week ago, is so overwhelmed dealing with her insane family that she has nothing left to deal with the insane bridesmaids.

    I think Wendy’s advice is spot on. Its too bad this girl doesn’t have friends (or even a sister) willing to bend over backwards for her wedding, but that is not your problem. I think taking over the bachelorette party would be a great idea though. First of all, prep for that is pretty simple compared to other bridal party tasks. Second, being in charge of that will give you the chance to pick something in your price range. You don’t have to go to a 5 star steak restaurant and get bottle service at the ritziest club in town to show the bride a good time. Just find a restaurant that is classy but not overpriced, a decent club, get a Bachelorette sash from Party City and go with it.

    1. SpaceySteph says:

      Also, though I know this doesn’t help the LW, I think this should serve as a lesson to the rest of us… don’t be a bridesmaid for someone who isn’t really your good friend NOW. And for the brides out there, don’t ask this kind of committment from people you can’t count on (like your flaky sister). As we discussed last week, being in someone’s wedding is not winning the contest for who’s the first string friend.

      1. honeybeenicki says:

        I made the mistake of trying to include my sister as a bridesmaid out of family guilt. It wasn’t her I couldn’t count on (except of course, she was completely dependent on her mother)… it was her mother. Eventually, I gave my sister a choice to either step up or step down and she chose to step down and one of my very good friends stepped in for me.

      2. Amen.

      3. silver_dragon_girl says:

        Yes. Also, brides: You are not entitled to a fancy shower or a bachelorette party. You’re not entitled to bridesmaids who obey your every command and wait on you hand and food. You invite your friends to be a part of your wedding, and then you should just be grateful for anything they want to do for you on top of that.

      4. honeybeenicki says:

        I think basically that same thing every time I see that show “Bridezillas.” It sure scares me that some people behave that way! I wouldn’t have had anything in the way of shower/bachelorette party except that my family insisted.

      5. Just be aware that that show is ridiculously scripted. I used to work at a bakery and we were commissioned to do three cakes for a woman on the show, and she and her fiance and everyone related to them was an absolute charm.

      6. Quakergirl says:

        I’m probably about to start a shit-storm, but while I totally agree that no one is entitled to a party, especially a fancy one, I can understand why the bride might be a little bummed that neither her sister, mother, aunts, nor friends want to throw her a shower. It’s sort of an expected part of the getting married process, and it would hurt a little bit if no one wanted to or was able to throw you one– even a simple potluck. All that’s needed to organize a potluck is to pick a venue with enough chairs and tables and send out e-vites. You can ask people to chip in food, drinks, tablecloths, etc. and just say no gifts. If no one will even put in that minimal effort, or no one would put in the minimal effort to show up, that hurts.

        For me, the appeal of the shower isn’t about the gifts or being the center of attention (I don’t really see why people give shower gifts in addition to wedding gifts, and I hate being the center of attention), but more about the older women in the two families welcoming you into married life and sharing their knowledge and experience with you.

      7. I’m totally with you. I’m getting married in October, and I absolutely didn’t expect a bachelorette party or a shower (especially something fancy), but I am so fortunate and extremely lucky to have lots of people in my life who *wanted* to plan those things for me. If no one came through, I would be really hurt too, not because of the gifts or being the center of attention but because, like you said, it’s about “the older women in the two families welcoming you into married life and sharing their knowledge and experience with you.”

      8. Again it all goes back to the bride. If the bride is a good person and a good friend, people will want to do things for them.

      9. You’re absolutely right. No one is going to want to do anything for a raging bridezilla-bitch! My mantra from day one has been, “make this as easy, financially and time-wise, on my bridesmaids, and everyone else involved with the wedding, as possible.” Just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean you get to stop being a good friend. I think, sometimes brides need to step back and see the bigger picture, and remember what their wedding day is really about.

      10. Quakergirl says:

        While generally that’s true, and very well might be in this case, some people just have crappy families. Like one friend whose mother has forgotten her birthday at least 4 out of the last 5 years. Granted we still love her and try to step in, but she lives a 3 hour plane ride away from the rest of our friends and her only sister, so it’s really hard. I imagine her wedding-planning process would go similarly to the past 5 birthdays…

      11. silver_dragon_girl says:

        Nah, I’m with you, it’s certainly expected, and I’d be hurt, too, if no one threw me a shower. But at the same time, you’re not entitled to it, certainly not to the point of asking anyone else to do it. It would be a bummer, indeed, but that doesn’t excuse being so tacky and asking around to see who wants to throw you a party. Which goes back to Spacey Steph’s comment about being verrrry careful who you ask to be in your wedding!

        For instance, when I threw my BFF’s bridal shower, nobody showed up. Seriously, it was me, her mom, our other friend/bridesmaid from college, and one friend of hers from high school. Out of the 10-12 people I invited. I was really embarrassed for her and felt horrible, but she seemed to have a good time. By that time we were in college, her HS friends had scattered or lost touch to the point where they apparently didn’t feel the need to RSVP that they couldn’t come. Some came to the wedding, but still. I felt awful for her, but I guess all her close friends were IN the wedding, and that’s the important part.

      12. Quakergirl says:

        Agreed– asking an already strapped-for-time-and-cash bridesmaid with whom you’re not that close to throw you a party doesn’t speak well of the bride’s judgment or character.

        I’m sure your friend could tell how much the people who were there loved and cared about her and had a good time with them. That’s the mark of a good shower– when people are happy and in good spirits, excited to wish the bride well in her married life. Everything else is just gravy.

      13. YES. THIS.

      14. I was thinking this too. When my best friend got engaged, she called me up, asked me to be in her wedding, and then told me she knew I was poor and 1000 miles away (PhD program) so she didn’t expect me to be able to really help much other than on the wedding day. And she had two showers, a Vegas bachelorette party and a Jack and Jill. None of which I could attend. She didn’t care a bit, because she is a pretty awesome friend. After reading DW, I feel lucky.

      15. Totally agree! I’m getting married in September, and I told my mom I just wanted a BBQ in her back yard. Of course, she thought that was unacceptable and rented tents and got it catered, but I just really wanted to spend time with the people I cared the most about and that was it. I would have been happy with paper plates and hot dogs!

      16. Anonymous says:

        Amen sister.

  5. Oy is right. Good advice from Wendy, (follow it, really), but I totally agree with spaceboy that no matter what you do at this point – there is going to be a bunch of headaches in your future. Definitely set boundries right away, hopefully the bride isn’t totally unreasonable and will understand your situation. Honestly, if you set the boundries now, and take care of yourself in this situation, your ability to stay calm and collected for the bride will probably be the best help you can give her in the long run.

  6. Wow, LW. I have to say that, at a time when everything has *seemingly* gone to sh*t for this bride and her wedding, you’ve been a true friend, and the bride is truly lucky to have you as a friend. I have a feeling that the bride is in freak-out mode because the wedding is in ~1 month and she still hasn’t had a shower or bachelorette party, and who knows what else needs to be planned in this crunch time. I think a calm conversation with the bride is definitely the way to go, either in person (if you happen to be in town) or over the phone. Definitely set boundaries, let the bride know which tasks you can take on and explain that since she’s short on time, something simple for the bachelorette and shower would be easiest. If she still wants you to plan these events, as Wendy said, something as simple as dinner and drinks for the bachelorette is perfectly acceptable. If the bride is into wine or beer, perhaps you could go out for a tasting. It’s also acceptable to ask the guests of the bachelorette party to pitch in for dinner and drinks, so that the LW isn’t stuck with the whole cost. Also, since you live far away, and if you end up getting stuck planning the shower as well, you could plan the shower and the bachelorette party for the same day or weekend. Why not have the shower Saturday afternoon, and the bachelorette party Saturday night? The shower can also be simple–why not have a potluck luncheon? That way, you’re not stuck providing the food/beverages for the shower. I know these solutions may not alleviate the time that you’ve committed to this wedding, but it could ease the monetary commitment.

  7. I think the problem serves more as a reflection on the bride. If she really valued her strong support network, she wouldn’t be in this situation, and frankly that is not DB’s problem. It’s all about boundaries. It’s not your wedding and you can not let the bride emotionally or financially bankrupt you. Someone should not be begging you to throw them a party. That’s just bizarre.

    1. So agreed! What is it about getting married that makes people think it’s okay to demand these sacrifices from their closest (or not) friends and family? I’ve been in several friends’ weddings where all they asked or wanted of me was to buy the dress, show up, hang out with them and have a good time. One bride even forbade me to give her a gift, since I was traveling for the wedding. I don’t understand why some couples set these expectations – it is only inviting extra stress and drama into a time that is supposed to be joyous. No thanks.

      1. SpaceySteph says:

        Have you seen the movie See Jane Date? Aside from my girl crush on Charisma Carpenter, the movie has a pretty good bridezilla depiction.
        The bride wants all her maids to show up for like 1000 pre-wedding events (there’s something referred to as a pre-shower) including the one where they all get matching toenail polish even though the shoes they’re wearing for the wedding are closed toe. I would call it ridiculous movie exaggeration, except I totally buy something like that happening.

      2. I’m sure that’s happened to somebody out there. Sounds like one to Netflix when my husband is on a business trip! 🙂

      3. LOVE Charisma Carpenter

      4. I actually have seen that movie! I can’t let go of my BTVS obsession years later. But you’re right! It does happen. What gets me is some brides are engaged for more than a year, and they want their friends to be 100 percent committed to their wedding for the entire time. People do have lives outside your wedding.

      5. spaceboy761 says:

        We’re 2-for-2 in Buffy references in the threads today! GO TEAM!!!

  8. Technically, bridesmaid etiquette states that NO ONE should be really throwing together ANY showers or bachelorette parties. The bridesmaid is supposed to be helpful during the wedding day only. I know the role of the bridesmaid has evolved since, but for the bride to ask her sole remaining involved bridesmaid to throw both a shower and a bachelorette party for her in such a short amount of time before the wedding is just so tacky. I know the bride is desperate, but it’s still tacky – no wonder the bride does not have many female friends.

    LW, you need to talk to your bride about her expectations on what she envisions. Then slowly address the reality of the situation, including the lack of help and your small budget. Ask her if there are any older relatives in the brides family who could act as a geographic scout/additional planners for these festivities, or any concessions that the bride can make in her expectations. If you haven’t talked to the other bridesmaids yet, ask them how much they are willing to contribute to the potential shower/bachelorette party.

    Yet before you even talk to the bride, see if you can call the bride’s mother. What specifically is the bride requesting that the MOH refuses to do? Is there some underlying sibling rivalry that is trickling down into the bride’s wedding? If you express your concerns and financial woes, the bride’s mom may be willing to contribute financially to these events.

  9. fallonthecity says:

    This is very good advice. I’ve been in enough weddings to know that the very day I say yes to being a bridesmaid, I need to set a spending cap and let the bride know what that is. In most cases, it’s been $250 — and I personally feel like that’s a friggin’ LOT of money to spend on someone else’s wedding, when I’m underemployed and about to start living solely off my TA stipend. But the dress, shoes, hair, nails, gifts… it adds up fast and there’s nothing wrong with checking yourself so you don’t neglect your own priorities on account of someone else’s event.

    If your friend is getting married and has asked someone who is going to grad school to be in her wedding (and now to take over the planning for the shower/bachelorette party), she shouldn’t be expecting something really fancy. If it were me and the planning duties were dumped off onto me, I’d plan something I could afford and had time to prepare for, and just be done with it. It’ll take more time to convince the bride and the other bridesmaids that you don’t have time for it than it will be to just do something within your capabilities.

    Here’s how I did a bridal shower in April: mixed up some punch (kool-aid and ginger ale), cut up some fruit and laid it out nice on a tray I borrowed from my mom, and make some cupcakes. The cupcakes are super easy — box mix, canned frosting, just add a bit of food coloring to the frosting and I had some cute lavender cupcakes ready to go. And the whole thing cost me about $20.

    And, the bachelorette party for my best friend this past weekend: Made reservations at an Italian restaurant that runs about $15 a plate (I bought my dinner, and half the bride’s dinner — her sister paid for the other half), made a cake (about $8 for the supplies and I had a nice chocolate cake with pink frosting roses), bought her one of those goofy “bride” tiaras, and we had dinner and then went to a lounge downtown for drinks. That one cost me about $40.

    But the bottom line is what Wendy said — it’s not your wedding! She shouldn’t put the pressure on you to make it perfect.

    1. I’m a co-MOH. Last week, the bride alerted me VIA text of the $130 shoes we were to buy. Her sister, the other co-MOH, had already alerted me to this situation and other Bridezilla moments. I informed the bride that this was not financially possible and presented the idea of a group shopping trip for shoes for something within our budgets. She essentially told me that was impractical. I am not buying those shoes. A good friend, bride or not, would not put her friends in uncomfortable situations and be mindful of their time and money. I think a lot of brides feel that they can be shitty friends but still have all the parties they feel they deserve. Something is very wrong about that.

      1. $130 for shoes you’ll probably only wear once? That’s insane. Of course, I’m sure she thinks you’ll wear them all the time! Just like the dress she’s making you get…

      2. honeybeenicki says:

        I wouldn’t spend $130 for shoes for my OWN wedding or any other reason for that matter. Then again, I’m not a shoe person. I laugh when I see the comments about the bridesmaids dresses. I wanted to avoid that issue, so my girls got to pick out their dress. I really wanted them in floor length, but realized that I wasn’t the one who had to pay for and wear the damn thing. All three girls picked a dress they could all agree on (about half calf length) and I’ve seen 2 of them wear it again. One wears it a lot. She uses it as her little black dress for other weddings and even threw a cardigan over it for a funeral.

      3. ha! I got my wedding shoes at DWS for about $40.00. I love them!

      4. and yeah, I did the same. I let my MOH pick out her dress (I only have one in my party). I just told her what color.

      5. ME EITHER! My shoes for my wedding cost like $40, and they’re gorgeous! I wanted to avoid the bridesmaid dress/shoes issue too, so my bridesmaids are getting to choose their own shoes, and they told me that they wanted short dresses, not strapless, and preferably something they could wear again, like a cocktail dress, so I went to the store with several of them and had them try on dresses that fit that description. We ended up narrowing it down to 2 dresses, and each one got to choose whichever one they liked better. It worked out really well!

      6. SpyGlassez says:

        My BF and I decided on deep green and navy for wedding colors, so I can wear the emerald earrings he gave me for our first Christmas together. Either color will look good on my sister and my best friend, and so we’ll probably have them pick out a dress that suits them in one of those colors. That’s for the best; my best friend is tall and curvy in the hips, and my sister has a runner’s body (broader shoulders, and then nothing but bones and ligaments to the thighs). There is no human way to pick out a dress style that will suit both of them.

        RE shoes: I was in a friend’s wedding a few years ago; she told us strapless in “clear, white, silver, or something like that” and I found a pair of kids strapless low-heeled sandals in a pearly white. I still love them, and they were less than $20 at Target.

      7. plasticepoxy says:

        even $20 seems like a lot to spend on a pair of shoes. but i buy mosto f my clothes at through thrift stores, so my sense of what something “should” cost is incredibly skewed.

      8. SpyGlassez says:

        Understand what you mean 😀 However, for shoes I don’t skimp because I have really high arches and so I usually buy slightly more expensive shoes that will last. I just don’t like having to buy expensive shoes that I can’t wear more than once or twice.

      9. fallonthecity says:

        Pfffft… $130 for shoes is ridiculous! Sometimes when people are planning weddings that cost tens of thousands of dollars, their perception of “expensive” gets WAY warped.

    2. SpaceySteph says:

      Wow $250? I agree thats alot to spend on someone else’s wedding (and alot in general), but I’m also surprised you manage to hold brides to that budget. For some, the dress alone costs that much.

      I’m glad to see some trends popping out of the crap economy in weddings- people letting bridesmaids all wear little black dresses or at least pick a style that actually flatters them, not have matching cookie cutter shoes, etc. I’d like to see it get to the point where you tell your bridesmaids “blue, cocktail length” and they show up in something blue. Nobody is going to look at your wedding photo album in 20 years and go “Oh my god I can’t believe that girl is in navy and that girl is in aquamarine!” More likely they’re going to look at it and go “I can’t believe halter tops were ever in style” like I do with my mom’s bridesmaids in pepto bismol pink puff sleeves. Yuck!

      1. fallonthecity says:

        Haha!! My mom’s bridesmaids had puffy sleeves too… Hideous.

        But yeah, the trick to the $250 cap is to tell them about it before they start making you buy stuff. I usually explain (a day or two after they asked at the very latest) that I’ll have to be on a budget, and I can’t spend more than $250 on the whole wedding, and offer to bow out if that’s not enough. My friends have always been very understanding, but sometimes they’ve needed a gentle reminder when they get carried away (“Those little shawls are gorgeous but I only have $30 left in my budget and those are $45… it’s going to be July, are you sure we’ll need to cover our shoulders?”). So far, so good, although I know it could always backfire…


      3. SpaceySteph says:

        Oh puffy sleeves! I wonder what it’ll be like down the road, because our fashion seems so normal to me that I can’t imagine what future generations will find ugly. But I have to remind myself that people thought the same thing about those puffy sleeves, and now look at them. Funny story- my grandmother kept a dress up chest in her house for the kids to play with. Included in there was an absolutely hideous dress that I only recently discovered was my grandmother’s bridesmaid dress from her brother’s first wedding. It was also pink with a flapper style slip and a puffy sheer tulle overlay with long sleeves that had ELASTIC at the wrist. God.

        Your budget plan is brilliant, because then if they get bridezilla-y you can gently remind them that you gave them the chance to choose a bridesmaid with more cash. Hopefully they’ll then realize that the reason they chose you is because you’re a friend, not because they care whether you have a shawl.

      4. fallonthecity says:

        Oh, yeah, I know people are going to think our fashion is awful a few decades from now… I try not to make fun of my mom’s wedding pictures when she gets them out on my parents’ anniversary every year 🙂 And her wedding dress was gorgeous, so I can forgive her the bad choice for the bridesmaid dresses.

        But you know, your grandmother’s dress-up chest is a GREAT idea. I think I’m going to start one with my own old bridesmaid dresses for when my little cousins visit!

      5. SpaceySteph says:

        It is a great idea! She kept a bunch of her own clothes and also bought some at garage sales occasionally. Shoes and handbags too. We had a great time wearing them. When I was 5 I didn’t know that dress was the ugliest thing walking.

      6. SpaceySteph says:

        Also my mom’s wedding dress had terrible puffy sleeves. And alot of sparkles. About 3 years ago she said to me “I was saving my wedding dress in case you wanted to get married in it but now I’m cleaning the closet and thinking I should get rid of it…” and I’m like “get rid of it! please!” Its too new to be family heirloom and too old to still be fashionable.

      7. I wish I could have set a cap like this! I was in a wedding this past weekend, and from start to finish, I spent more than $500. The shower alone was $100 per bridesmaid, plus the money for the gift; plus we were each expected to contribute $75 as a wedding gift; plus bachelor/bachelorette party (our own costs, plus the cost of their dinner, drinks and games); $75 for hair and $45 for nails (neither of which was optional); $145 dress; etc etc. I love my friend dearly, and it was an honor to support her in her wedding, but it was just so expensive. And there were six bridesmaids!

      8. fallonthecity says:

        I definitely give you props for paying for all that stuff and being a good sport about it! 🙂 I love my friends and consider it an honor to support them emotionally and give them as much of my time as I can (seriously, I will tie ribbons until my fingers fall off), but it’s not necessarily an honor to be expected to shell out major cash. Maybe I am a just a hillbilly from Podunk, Alabama, but I cannot imagine paying someone $75 to put my hair in some up-do. Eek!

      9. The funny thing is that it wasn’t even an up-do! She just put some bobby pins in, left it long, and curled it. Crazy.

      10. applescruff says:

        I am so doing this. My friend tried to do this with purple dresses (buy a knee length purple dress) but her fiance picked the bridesmaid dresses, of all things, to have an opinion about. He wanted them matching. So they were. Luckily she found ones one sale that don’t look like bridesmaid dresses. They’re actually pretty cute. I appreciated her effort.

      11. SpaceySteph says:

        Oh thats going in my prenup or something! Things groom is allowed to give a damn about: food, cake, tie vs bowtie, seating chart, guest list, photographer, flowers vs. balloons. Things groom is not allowed to have an opinion about: bridesmaids dresses, bridesmaids shoes, my dress, my shoes, makeup, jewelry, nail polish.

      12. applescruff says:

        Awesome! And smart. I have an agreement about bridesmaiding. I will wear whatever they want me to wear, do my hair however they want, and participate in damn near any stupid activity. I will do this for my friends. But the one thing I refuse to do is participate in a bouquet toss, and they know this up front. Luckily, of my four brides last summer only one even had a bouquet toss.

        And then there was my friend who wasn’t planning to have one, but a drunk high school friend of hers grabbed the mike from the band and insisted. Somehow my friend ended up with a couple roses tied together (because she refused to toss her actual bouquet), with only the drunk friend on the dance floor waiting. She threw the bouquet, and out of nowhere our other good friend tackled the drunk girl. She said it was to add drama. It was spectacular.

      13. sarolabelle says:

        I don’t get why bridgemaids dresses have to be so expensive. They have some seriously cute dresses at target for $50

      14. SpyGlassez says:

        My mom was living in Missouri while planning her wedding to my dad, but they were getting married in Alabama where her family was from. Basically she told her bridesmaids the colors she wanted, they found patterns they liked, and the MOH and my grandma made the dresses in fabric they wanted to use. Know what? It looks great!

  10. I feel so weird! Seems like everybody on the planet has been to a hundred weddings… In my 25 years, the only weddings I’ve ever been to are my mother’s in 2009 (which was only about 20 people) and then my brother’s about 6 months ago. I’ve never known anyone else getting married!

    1. honeybeenicki says:

      I have a ridiculously large family, so I’ve been to quite a few weddings. I have only been to 2 friends’ weddings though because all of my married friends either eloped to a pretty destination that I couldn’t afford or courthoused it.

    2. caitie_didn't says:

      Me too! I’ve only been to two weddings in my life….I feel kind of left out!

    3. plasticepoxy says:

      Most of my friends aren’t married. They’re dating, seriously or casually, but not married.

  11. I’m 27. I had a few before this year and been a MOH once. This year, my bf and I have six. We’ve gotten through three so far. Weddings are great learning experience. Both good and bad.

    1. SpaceySteph says:

      Holy crap, 6 is alot. I’ve been invited to 4 for the year, with 2 out of state, and my Southwest Airlines credit card is still smoldering from the plane ticket purchases alone!

      1. 4 weddings in one year? And I’ve never been to any in my life? Maybe people just don’t get married in my city…

      2. SpaceySteph says:

        Consider yourself lucky. The flying (for me + bf), the hotel, the gift, the rental car… each out of town wedding is costing me almost $1000 to attend when all is said and done.

    2. I’ve been a bridesmaid once so far (and a flower girl 3x, doesn’t count). Have 4 weddings this year so far. Been to many. one of my cousins has been a bridesmaid at least 10 times!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Since too many friends read this, I (a regular commenter) will go anonymous to say that I will most likely decline any future requests to be a bridesmaid for the exact reasons listed in this letter! The expenses even in many reasonable weddings, are just out of hand. And for me, the insane costs, high anxieties, time commitments and never-ending obligations it entirely ruins the celebration. Being a bridesmaid is sometimes like being an unpaid Wedding Planner.

    Here’s my bitch list of things that I hate about the “job”:

    *Showers that have become mini-weddings! Bridesmaids are expected to plan and pay for the venue, decorations, food, a special cake, games, etc. The casual backyard potluck sounds great but if your bride gives you a shower invitation list of 50+, you don’t have many options.

    *Sparring bridesmaids, especially when family is involved.

    *Bridesmaids who don’t or cannot pay, leaving the rest to foot the bill. Ditto for those without time or interest in helping with the doing and planning.

    *Playing bouncer and designated driver at the Bachelorette event.

    *Penis straws.

    *Constructing flower arrangements, favors, menus, and centerpieces.

    *Spending a fortune on an ugly dress plus expensive alterations.

    *Being partnered with a groomsman that you don’t know (walking the aisle, dancing the first dance, etc). Some brides expect you to be a pair for the evening even if you already have a significant other.

    It’s sad to say it because I used to think it was an honor to be asked but now I dread it. I will not be having bridesmaids at my wedding and I won’t need their time or money to plan a shower, bachelorette, and all the rest because I plan to have a quiet beachside ceremony with about 25 people.

    I know, I really know, that brides have it worse. I fully agree to that point. It’s just that expectations and the bridal industry is SO out of hand, that every bride feels obliged to take on way more than a single person (or court of bridesmaids!) could ever hope to pull off. I have seen too many wonderful, kind, and down-to-earth friends reduced to a ball of anxiety on their wedding day –worried about schedules, car pick-ups, bouquet deliveries, etc and miss out on what should have been a loving and romantic day.

    1. spacefemalefriend761 says:

      You ungrateful bitch! I spent $160 on those penis straws!

    2. fallonthecity says:

      Oh God, the penis straws!!!! Why did anyone ever think those were a good idea?

      1. It’s almost as bad as seeing the penis pasta salad. Or having your crazy aunt wrap up gifts of kielbasa sausage with plums in precarious positions that you can open in front of all those attending your shower. Yet the best yet had to be the crudite platter with baby carrots and olives through toothpicks so you know what they’re supposed to represent and cut/notched to show that they’re circumsised.

        Not my shower, yet one of my older cousins. I was 8 or nine at the time. Attending that shower is probably the main reason why I insisted on not having a bridal shower.

      2. fallonthecity says:

        WOW. Ok, I take it back about the penis straws — all those other penis things are worse… but points for creativity to your aunt/family!

      3. applescruff says:

        What the WHAT?

    3. SpaceySteph says:

      “Bridesmaids who don’t or cannot pay, leaving the rest to foot the bill.”
      Ugh. I was invited to a bachelorette party though I wasn’t in the wedding party. I flew there while 2 of the bridesmaids lived in the city we had it in. I fully intended to pitch in for my share (plus my fifth of the expenses for the bride) but one of the other girls was bringing up money IN FRONT of the bride, which I think is very tacky and was making the bride feel badly.
      “I live here so I could just stay at my apartment, I don’t need to stay in the hotel so you can just split it amongst yourselves.”
      “Can we get separate checks because my entree only cost $10 while yours cost $12.” (but who’s gonna pay for the bottle of wine?!)
      One of the girls was gracious, she did all the driving for us, she refused the money I offered for gas- she said because I flew there and was already out plenty of money she could foot the bill for gas. The other girl actually stiffed the girl who paid for almost everything and was owed about $60 a person for the weekend. To my knowledge she never paid her.

    4. I only plan to have one bridesmaid, and I’ve already picked out her dress because I fell in love with it and I have no excuse to buy it for myself. I also plan to pay for it (since it’s expensive and I wouldn’t expect her to spend that much money). I also told her that if she absolutely doesn’t like it she can pick out her own, but lucky for me she loved it. This is all just fun and games of course, since I’m not even engaged. But sometimes it’s fun to imagine.

      1. SpyGlassez says:

        I was actually glad as I got older and the female friends whose weddings I had been in grew apart from me. It reduced the number of bridesmaids I had to inconvenience. I have one sister; she’s my maid of honor. I have one best friend who has been by my side since college, and she’s my bridesmaid. I don’t want anyone else, honestly; too much hassle!

    5. Chaotonic says:

      Thank god my Bachelorette party didn’t have a penis theme, the girls bought fake mustaches and mardi gras masks and a sombrero. We were french, mustachioed, Spaniards. 🙂

      1. caitie_didn't says:

        best. ever. This is a bachelorette I could get behind.

      2. LOVE the fake mustache idea! I have already vetoed any form of penis paraphernalia for my bachelorette… and the mustaches sound like so much fun! 😀

    6. I didn’t have bridesmaids at my wedding, and I didn’t feel like I missed out on a thing. I didn’t have a bridal shower either, and couldn’t have cared less. For the record, I’ve never even been to a bridal shower, so it wasn’t something I even thought about. My friends threw me a surprise bachelorette picnic at the beach. It was low-key, mixed gender and awesome. No tiaras were harmed (or worn). in the process

      1. SpaceySteph says:

        Oh but tiara harming would be fun! Tiara wearing, not such a fan.

      2. Anonymous says:

        LOVE that. Maybe I should reconsider the idea that there IS some middle ground between a “typical” wedding (the runaway train of cost and stress) AND an elopement that shuns the whole thing.

        Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, right?

      3. Oh, and in lieu of bridesmaids, I had my best friend (a gay man) hold the chuppah pole, and my sister signed the wedding license as a witness. I wanted them to feel included without dealing with any stress.

      4. spaceboy761 says:

        Spacewife and I had our respective ‘best-friends-of-opposite sex’ sign our ketubah. It was definitely a nice touch, and now I get to read their signatures when I dust the bedroom.

      5. I also didn’t have bridesmaids or a bridal shower. My husband and I had been putting off getting married for about 10 years and we finally needed to for health insurance. Neither one of us wanted a big wedding, but we thought it would be fun to have close friends and family around. We had a small group (~40) go to Vegas for the wedding – it was supposed to be smaller but basically everyone we asked could make it. We had a great time, we were able to spend time with everyone, and just all went out the night before together. My mom was pretty insistant about throwing a bridal shower and a more extravagent reception back home after the ceremony, but she lost interest and it never happened. My agreement was that anything else she wanted to plan, she could, but I was happy with exactly what we did and if she wanted something else she had to do all the planning. Once the ceremony took place, I think she realized that we didn’t want/need anything else and let it drop.

      6. Sounds fun!

      7. It was really fun and was really our style. I’m one of those people who always goes to weddings and thinks, wow – i’m glad that isn’t me having to do X (insert anything about dancing, long ceremonies, or most traditional wedding activities). The only people we involved in our wedding were: my dad walked me donw the aisle (I didn’t care, he didn’t care, but my mom insisted), my husbands sister was the flower girl (she was 7, so that was a must), and one of our friends performed the ceremony (the disadvantage to vegas is you may get some weird creapy guy performing the ceremony). I just wanted our friends/family to be able to show up and enjoy it instead of feeling like they had to help. I also really can’t motivate myself to care that much about color schemes or flower arrangements or shoes…

    7. Addie Pray says:

      Let’s play guesss who “Anonymous” is! … I give up.

  13. Not sure if this has been said as I did not read all of the comments, however, although a lot of showers are put on by family members this is actually a big NO-NO. It’s not proper etiquette and quite tacky. Family should never send out invites and solicit gifts for one of it’s own. Showers are put on by friends of the person being honored.

  14. sarolabelle says:

    Am I the only one that thinks bridal showers are unnecessary and boring?

    1. SpaceySteph says:

      Heh I’m with you.
      I saw a friends episode a few weeks ago where Monica threw Rachel a bday party and was having all these lame party games and people were trying to escape but she wouldn’t let them.
      Showers are like that: play lame games, watch bride open gifts and pretend she needed more oven mitts, socialize with bride’s aging relatives who don’t understand what a space station is (…or is that just me?), eat pretty but not extremely tasty food… yeah I could do without it.

    2. Heck, I didn’t have one. Yet the female relatives on my husband’s side of the family insisted on treating me to a small “welcome to the family” dinner at a restaurant. Then they pitched in and got me a food processor. Couldn’t ask for anything more.

    3. Avatar photo Public Pearl says:

      Yeah, I didn’t have a shower or a bachelorette party (didn’t want/care to have them). Maybe people wouldn’t be so stressed about weddings if they *only* had a wedding and not a dozen other random events to plan, too.

      1. honeybeenicki says:

        My mom insisted on the bridal shower. My MOH and my husband’s best man were planning the strippers and drunken bachelor and bachelorette parties and we squashed that idea since I don’t drink, he barely drank and neither of us needed one last “wild night” before we got married -we had already lived together for awhile and gave up our wild nights long before our wedding. We ended up doing a joint bachelor/bachelorette party that was a 3 part deal – dinner, laser tag, strip club together. Worked out quite well and everyone was happy.

      2. Ding ding ding!!

    4. I told my family and MOH I didn’t want one, and I wasn’t kidding. My fiance and I have been living together for 4 years, we pretty much have everything we need. Also, Our wedding takes place over a weekend, so most people are staying one or two nights at the venue. I didn’t want to impose on people any further for more gifts/time commitments. But alas, I was “outvoted” on that one and there is going to be one. Don’t get me wrong, I know it is with good intentions and it is because they love us and such. But I definitely agree that it isn’t necessary or desirable in many cases.

    5. applescruff says:

      I’ve made my best friend swear that when the time comes she will not, under any circumstances, throw me a bridal shower.

      1. SpyGlassez says:

        My bridal party will consist of my best friend and my younger sister. They have been warned that I don’t want a bridal shower and that I don’t want a traditional bachelorette party. We can’t control what my mom might want, but they at least know my wishes. I don’t want to be a strain on anyone. For shit’s sake, I’m 30! I lived on my own for 6 years and have lived with the BF for about a year. I don’t need or want a gift grab.

      2. applescruff says:

        Amen, sister. Most women don’t get married right after leaving their parents’ house, or even leaving college. I’ve been living on my own for a while now, and have accumulated the things I need.

      3. SpyGlassez says:

        Exactly. And I don’t exactly have room here for more STUFF.

    6. I love bridal showers! Not because of the lame games and whatnot, but because weddings tend to be super busy. Everyone’s competing for the attention of the bride and groom (the whole reason they got dressed up), and it’s pretty easy to get through the whole wedding plus reception and have your only contact with the bride be “congrats and best wishes”. The shower gives you time to talk to all the women in the families, get great marriage advice, and generally just socialize in a way that’s much more relaxed than at the actual wedding.

  15. BlueBella says:

    New weekend thread! Wedding war stories!

      1. YES!!!! This thread has reminded me of MANY crazy wedding war stories. Can’t wait to share them! 😀

  16. caitie_didn't says:

    Here’s a tangentially-related wedding etiquette question:

    My good friend has been recruited to be the maid of honour at the wedding of a girl who worked for many years on her parent’s farm. The girl is only 22, the groom is 23 and has a three-year-old child from a previous relationship (beyond that, my friend says he’s verbally abusive and horribly misogynistic). Anyways, the bride seems to think that “maid of honour”= “wedding planner” and my friend is spending her whole summer coming up with guest favours, centerpieces, tableclothes, flower arrangements and miscellaneous decorations to match the purple + gold theme. All on a miniscule budget, and since my friend can’t say no to anyone I *know* she’s going to end up spending a ton of money she doesn’t have. Am I alone in feeling like this bride is utterly out of line??? My understanding was that the maid of honour plans the bachelorette party, acts as a witness, and helps the bride out a bit on the day of, but maybe I’m wrong about that….

    1. I think Emily Post (or her descendent) outlines the general duties very well.

      What your friend is asking the MoH is WAY too much. She should hire a wedding planner for that.

      1. Agreed. MOH DOES NOT = wedding planner.

      2. SpaceySteph says:

        I think the key in your link for both the LW and caitie didn’t is that organizing/hosting the pre-wedding festivity or doing other wedding prep (addressing envelopes) is OPTIONAL. Organizing TWO parties or doing all those other prep activities is well above and beyond the call of duty.

    2. Yup. Completely out of line.

  17. I feel like she wrote for me — I had a friend from childhood who wasn’t close anymore ask me to be a bridesmaid for her wedding (5 weeks before my own wedding) and I agreed but then the MOH was so horrid that she ended up leaving and I got “promoted” between flaky bridesmaids, terror of a mother of the bride and the cost, time and the lack of understanding from my friend who thought she wasn’t asking much (my friend became a bridezilla) I was broke, at my wits end.

    I was relieved when it was over

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *