“My Matron of Honor Hates the Color of Her Dress”

I’m planning my wedding and have asked “Sue” to be my Matron-of-Honor after I was the Maid-of-Honor in her wedding. I’ve run into a conundrum with her that I’m not sure how to resolve. My fiancé and I picked out colors together and we chose a forest green color – not bright like emerald and not super dark either. Every photo of it we saw in other weddings looked gorgeous on the bridesmaids – all different hair colors, skin colors, and sizes looked good in it. Well, Sue hates it and is accusing me of trying to make her look bad. I’m trying my hardest to be accommodating. I’m not picking out a specific style — just matching up swatches from a few different online boutiques and shops local to us so that all of my bridesmaids have options to pick a style that flatters them. I don’t think she is going to look bad in this color at all; in fact, she would be the one I’d guess will look the best because she has pretty dark brown hair and a beautiful complexion, but she doesn’t believe me.

She hasn’t yet said “change the color or I’m out” but it’s kind of headed that way. Any advice on what my next steps should be? I’d ideally like to preserve our relationship and her role in the wedding as well as the wedding color we both like… but I’m not seeing a good way to do that and would love an outsider perspective. — Am I Being a Bridezilla?

You say that you’d “ideally” like to preserve your relationship with Sue as well as the color of your wedding as if the two are of equal importance, and if that’s true, then there isn’t much of a friendship to preserve after all, is there? If the color of the dress you want Sue to wear is as important to you as her friendship is, I don’t know why you’d even ask her to be in your wedding. And it sounds like she might not care to be in it either if she genuinely thinks you’re trying to make her look bad. What a strange and unhealthy dynamic it sounds like you two have. It sounds like you’re more frenemies than friends and, if that’s the case, why not extend Sue an opportunity to cut her losses and move on from your friendship? Let her know that you’re sold on the forest green color of the bridesmaid dresses but you totally understand if she’d prefer not to wear something she feels uncomfortable in and she can step down from her role as Matron of Honor, no hard feelings.

If, on the other hand, Sue’s friendship is more important to you than what shade of green dress she wears, grant her the courtesy of choosing a complementary shade that she feels comfortable wearing instead. That her role is symbolically more important than the rest of the wedding party – she is MATRON of honor, after all – gives a great cover for her to wear a shade that differentiates her from the generic bridesmaids. And Boom! – your wedding color and her role in your wedding are preserved! As for your friendship – well, it’s worth addressing directly with Sue and clearing the air. I’d suggest saying something like: “I feel terrible you would think I would want to make you look bad. You’re a dear friend to me, your feelings matter, and I hope you know I would only want you to look and feel your best. If there’s something I’ve said or done that would make you question that, please let me know because your friendship is important to me – so much more than what shade dress you wear in my wedding!”
Vintage DW (this post was originally published May 5, 2015)

I’m getting married soon and have decided to pay for the bridesmaids’ dresses for my four bridesmaids (roughly $150 each) as their “bridesmaid gift.” I’ll still give each one a nice keepsake at the rehearsal dinner, BUT my question is: How do I tell them that I’m not paying for their hair/makeup the day of, but that I will book their appointment with my stylist if they would like it? Etiquette says I should pay, but is there a tactful way of saying what I’m not paying for? — Paying For Their Dresses

Read my response and reader comments here.

***************Follow along on Facebook,  and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. I’m kind of at a loss as to why the color of the matron of honor’s dress even matters. Like, AT ALL. As I’ve said here before, this is a celebration of your marriage, and so many women treat it like they’re casting and designing a Broadway production.

    The fact that you’re joining your life with the man you love is what matters. The people you gather around you as you do that are what matters. The relationships, friends and family, that you celebrate by including them in this joining are what matters.

    When you are getting hung up on colors, you are focusing on the photos and video. Be honest with yourself, that’s what this is about. What it all looks like. No one but you and your husband will remember what color the damn dresses were. No one but you and your husband will even look at the pictures again in the future. You’ll look at the video once and then it’ll get stuck in a drawer.

    Your friend deserves, a deep, sincere, apology from you. For putting a bunch of overpriced photos and videos that no one but you cares about ahead of your friendship with her.

    BTW, I thought the matchy-matchy thing with the dresses was out, anyway.

    1. Maybe it depends where you live/ where you’re from. Here in NYC, I think it would be shocking to see bridesmaids (especially in their 30s or older) wearing matching dresses, but I can imagine in Missouri, where my roots are, that it’s probably still pretty normal to matchy-match.

      1. I’m sure you’re right, Wendy. Now that I think of it, the last wedding I went to, all the dresses matched.

      2. And Wendy, I loved your idea to do the matron’s dress in a complementary color. Not only is it a great compromise to keep everyone comfortable, but I think it would be a nice way to sort of set her apart from the bridesmaids.

    2. Wow, I don’t think bride is the one who owes an apology at all. It is practically a rite of passage to wear at least one shitty bridesmaid dress. C’mon. They made a whole movie about this (27 Dresses). It is so not a big deal for Sue to suck it up for one day, my gosh. And the dresses aren’t “matchy-matchy;” the LW flat-out said that they can all be different except for the color. I can’t imagine telling my friend that she has to change her color scheme due to my vanity.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        I agree. Matron of Honor? Try Deranged Bitch of Dishonor…

        Fuck her. Seriously, fuck her.

        And her friendship.

        People like this? Eh… who needs them.

      2. Ruby Tuesday says:

        While I agree that the bride could be more flexible, it’s not Sue’s wedding. It doesn’t matter if the bridesmaid dress color isn’t flattering on you. What makes her feel so entitled in this situation? Why does she care so much? What a bitch.

      3. katmich15 says:

        No kidding, talk about making everything about YOU, really??? You don’t owe her an apology, she owes you one. I was a bridesmaid four times and I would have worn a paper sack if it made them happy. The furthest I would go if I was the LW was Wendy’s suggestion, which is a good one. People’s self-centeredness astounds me sometimes. (not sure that’s a real word)

  2. Avatar photo veritek33 says:

    This letter makes me SO appreciative of my bridesmaids. I picked a color – navy – they all bought a dress in a price range of their choosing. WEDDING WAS CANCELLED DUE TO RONA.

    They didn’t even get to wear the dresses they spent the money on (hopefully they will this fall) and not a peep of complaint from any of them. Why do people have friends they don’t like and that don’t like them or get along with them – I’m genuinely curious.

    1. Maybe I misread, but I thought they just picked a color, not an actual dress for them to be all matchy matchy. They just wanted the color to be the same. Which I think is understandable. The matching dress trend I do believe died out years ago…

  3. Wedding post! I love reading about wedding drama because it’s always so ridiculous.

    I feel like this is about more than the dress color. It would behoove the LW to figure out what that is.

  4. ArtsyGirl says:

    Unless Sue has a history of being difficult and demanding, then I would let her change dress color. She likely knows better than you which shades suit since she has lived with her coloring her whole life. Let her pick out a complimentary shade like sage green, harvest yellow, or maroon especially if you are letting them choose dresses which they will be able to wear outside of the wedding.

  5. Avatar photo MaterialsGirl says:

    There has to be something else going on here than the color of the dress. For my dearest friends, I would wear a brown paper bag and say nothing.

    1. I agree with this. I am pretty sure I have never LOVED a bridesmaid dress because it is the taste of the bride, not mine. Some were better than others but I just wore what I was told. If I was given a choice than i picked the best choice I had. I was a bridesmaid 7 times and I always loved my friends and it was their day and their pictures. I think the friend is being odd here.

  6. Perfect answer by Wendy. I hope that you are a bit dramatic, LW, and that Sue doesn’t seriously believe and states that you WANT her to look bad. My bet: she has already a dream dress. Or, she has her style, which is different from you. Some people can’t conform, feel uncomfortable with patterns. Sure, it would be better, had she the flexibility to let you dress her (you speak of her a little bit like a doll). I would wear anything for a friend’s wedding, if she fancies to see me in such a shade. But let her do.
    She can wear many shades to accommodate forrest green in a nice harmony. All light green, all warm colors, even some light blue, all but brown (who would choose brown for a wedding anyway), which would look like a fall poster, and dark blue. But even though she chooses a flamenco dress or a deep brown, or grey, or whatever doesn’t fit, let her do. It isn’t grave. It adds some pitch of spice to the wedding picture. And actually, it can all melt in a lovely way. Happy wedding! Don’t make it a nightmare for yourself and your team. And don’t register your fiance in this dress shade drama.

    1. mellanthe says:

      This. I think Sue is being excessive, but the main aim here should be to cut stress for the bride. And kicking up big fights may be fine if she really doesn’t care for the friend but it might totally cast a cloud over her wedding if that’s when she chooses to have a blowout row with someone about somethign that doesn’t matter.

      This isn’t about Sue, it’s about the bride moving on from some detail to focus on her life and the rest of the wedding with less big drama.

  7. Or she is short of money and doesn’t want to buy an expensive dress in a shade that she will never wear again. Some people have their adverse shade – however subjective that is. I like forrest green, beautiful color. But some woman will think it makes them pale. I thought so for a long time, but now love it (as a brunette). There was the English period movie where Maggie Smith plays the role of a nasty old snob, who says to offend a young poorer lady dressed in green: “green is difficult”. I think it will look gorgeous and your “matron-of-honour” (whatever that is – totally unknown in my country and hysterically funny to read) will look fine as well.

  8. Bittergaymark says:

    Eh, I’m genuinely baffled so many are saying change the color of dress… Okay. Great. Then what?

    Change the venue to suit her? Maybe the lighting will not be flattering to her? The stained glass windows could clash with her contact lenses! Uh-oh. What about the dinner menu? Is it to Sue’s own special tastes? Heavens. The cake! What about the cake? Has dear sweet Sue weighed in on the flavor, design and style of the cake? It may make her look fat? Or worse — make her fat! I dare say, it has best be vegan, gluten, sugar, and flavor free. Remember… We must please Sue.


    1. Might as well change the date. Better yet – switch out the Groom for Sues liking.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Hah. Seriously. I simply can’t imagine pulling this shit.

        It my twenties, I hated wearing a tuxedo — yet somehow never demanded that I instead don my usual khakis and navy blazer when I was a member of many a wedding party. ?‍♂️

  9. LW1, you seem like you really just don’t like this woman.

  10. I think it comes down to the fact that you don’t sound like you like each other–changing the color slightly for the matron of honor is commonly done, and wearing a dress you hate is commonly done, so the fact that neither side wants to compromise says a lot. My best friend got married in mid-February right before COVID, and I wore a dress in a color and style that were not flattering to me–but I was PROUD to wear that dress and be there as her MOH.

    1. I’ve never heard of changing the color slightly for the matron of honor. Never. Not saying it can’t be done, but I’d say it’s much more common to wear a dress you aren’t crazy about if you’re in the wedding party.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        It’s definitely a first for me…

  11. I think Sue is acting like a brat. I have never heard of accommodating a request like this either or asking the bride to do so.

  12. mellanthe says:

    LW1 I don’t think your request of Sue is unreasonable. It seems pretty common for weddings. However, you can’t change Sue or her reservations about the colour. And if you’ve already talked to her and that hasn’t worked, you’re going to have to think about what you can do.

    If she’s an important friend and you don’t want drama that could compromise your friendship, then have a chat with her about what colour she’d rather prefer – as Wendy said, something complementary to your theme. Your wedding will have a LOT of planning and drama, ask yourself if this is really the hill you want your friendship to die on right now. Yes, it’s very likely that Sue is the one being excessive and unreasonable here, but you can’t change her. And whether being right is more important than minimising drama and keeping a relationship that means something to you. If it were me, I’d try to get this drama over with so that I could focus on dealing with all the rest of the wedding.

    Personally, I’ve never been asked to wear a bridesmaid’s dress, but I’d be happy to wear something unless it was truly scandalous. And the friends who’ve had them seemed to pick a colour and ask people to wear a style, which i think is a reasonable compromise. TBH if I get married, I won’t have bridesmaids and hence, no dress dilemmas. So for me, it just seems like a really unimportant detail. But then, the longer I’m in a relationship and contemplating whether I might need to plan one of those things some day, the less I want to get into the fuss of it all. I think people get far too bogged down in tiny details (shades of color, furnishings etc) that really don’t matter when all’s said and done.

    LW2: As above, the ‘traditions’ of weddings truly baffle me. Maybe it’s because I’m in the UK, and maybe because my friends are diverse so not all the weddings have been Western, and none have been very traditional.

    Like, why don’t bridesmaids pay for their own hair/makeup traditionally? Why do they even have to have it a certain way? Photos? Why would you dictate to the letter what your friends would look like? Why does that matter so much?

    I’d have thought that paying for the dresses (that YOU as the bride) chose down to the shade and frills should be standard TBH. If you pick it, you pay for it. If they pick it, they pay. It sounds like LW has to take them for a nice catchup and just… explain. But please don’t make your expectations of their hair and makeup expensive if you’re asking them to fund it. And please don’t put down the dresses as a ‘gift’ FFS – it’s something not of their choosing that you’re making them wear, it’s nowhere near an actual gift.

    If you don’t make your wedding a huge financial trial for your friends, then you won’t need to give them ‘gifts’ to make up for the excessive effort and money they’ve had to put in, and everyone wins.

  13. If bride is buying the dresses, it’s kind of up to the bride. If the bridesmaids are expected to shell out for them, then it’d be kind to give a little leeway (though the accusation that bride wanted bridesmaid to look bad puts a whole other shade on it). I’ve been a bridesmaid thrice, twice a real bridesmaid (dresses not exactly flattering but who cares, you are there like a bunch of flowers to flank the bride in pics) and one where poor Bride was so overshadowed by her absolutely stunning friend that she used me, a lesser friend, to avoid comparison in photos. Which was sad all round but hey we all lived and that dress was no worse and I’d have worn it if it had been the proverbial paper bag, as she was a good mate.
    . Did feel sorry for the real bridesmaid, but it was all made up to her on the day anyway. Gosh; weddings should be fun!! Why on earth does it end up like this.

  14. Oh man, blast from the past. The dress question was mine from maybe 2 years ago – before our wedding – and some of the commenters were spot on. Sue and I barely speak, there have been many moments since the wedding where it’s become evident our lives are diverging and I’ve decided to let it happen. People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

  15. So Bride, what did you do about the dress issue? And how was it received? Great to get an update!

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