Ask Team Practical: Demanding Bridesmaids, Demanding Brides


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Demanding Bridesmaids, Demanding Brides | A Practical Wedding

I was married in late April and one of my bridesmaids showed up extremely late and complained the entire time. I’ve found myself having trouble letting it go. I know how expensive weddings are, so when I asked my bridesmaids to be part of my wedding, I told them all it was okay if they’d rather just be a guest. “Tiffany” accepted. I helped pay for her dress. She decided not to get alterations, but then complained on my wedding day that the dress didn’t fit properly. We had a bit of a cold snap (mid sixties) the day of the wedding. The photos and short ceremony (about twelve minutes) were outside, and Tiffany complained the entire time, to the point that others kept remarking on it. I get that it was cold and I apologized to everyone. I’m not sure why she didn’t bring her jacket for in between the shots. Someone lent her a wrap and the guys gave up their jackets. We tried to make it go as fast as possible. She continued complaining through dinner. She said she had caught her husband’s cold that morning and told me how tough it was for her to make it through dinner. I suggested I call her a cab so she can leave early since the shuttles weren’t coming until the wedding was over. She declined, and I offered her the couch in the dressing room. She went up there for a nap to everyone’s relief. I posted pictures on Facebook recently, and she continues to remark about how much she suffered. The other bridesmaids have said it was cold, but worth it to be there for me and they were only outside for a short time (about an hour?). I tried to make it a joke, but it bothers me that she’s made my wedding day into this awful thing she had to get through. I find myself irrationally angry with her and wanting to let our friendship go. It was waning already. She’s recently tried to reconnect. I’m not sure what to do.

–KD

Dear KD,

I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned about some of my friends. Some people just like to complain. No, really. I think they actually relish having something to bitch about. More than that, I think sometimes complaining gives a person a way to refocus everyone’s attention on them. It’s subconscious, I’m sure, but man. Annoying. And what better day to feel attention deprived than on someone else’s wedding day?

So, I’m not sure from your email: is this bothering you because it’s unlike her? Or is it sticking out because it was an important day to you? If this is typical of her, and you’re really just extra annoyed because you thought she’d cut the crap at your wedding of all days, well. You’re sort of stuck. Sure, you can bring it up, but old habits die hard. And you knew what you were signing up for by asking her to be your bridesmaid. Involving loved ones means accepting them with all their annoying flaws and quirks. Because we can’t change them. Not even for one really important (and expensive) day.

But, say this is out of character for her. Normally she’s a super pleasant and laid-back lady? Then maybe there’s a reason she picked this day to act out (it may even have something to do with that need for attention I mentioned above). Or, maybe (hear me out now), maybe it actually isn’t about you. Maybe there’s some other reason she had a really rotten day and decides to keep whining about it. So, the clear choice here is bringing it up, telling her it’s bothering you, asking why she had such a negative experience and seeing what happens. It’s pretty easy to phrase it less, “Quit your whining,” and more, “I’m worried that you hated my wedding, when I really wanted you to enjoy it. What’s up?”

At best, you give her room to understand how she’s making you feel and apologize. Maybe she’ll even learn from the mistake in time to avoid hurting someone else with her negative attitude. At the very worst, well. If you already feel the friendship is on the rocks, there’s no risk of ruining anything that won’t already be harmed by pent-up bitterness.

*****

One of my oldest friends has turned into a seriously crazy bride to be, and as a bridesmaid, I’m having problems coping. I mean, we’re talking elventy billion Pinterest boards that we’re supposed to all live up to, and the endless re-creation of things on design-y wedding blogs that we’re supposed to help with (which: not exactly realistic for us to each make 150 neon stylized bird nests by hand and mail them to her). How do I get through this without ruining our friendship? I don’t want to quit (I mean, using want in the broadest sense) because friendship is friendship, but this is over the top. Is there a way to get her to dial things down, at least where the bridesmaids are concerned? She is highly emotional and extremely sensitive, and I’ve already told her (nicely, seriously) that nothing about her wedding planning process is not the MOST fun her bridesmaids have ever had, exactly. Also, she wants us to do the mismatched vintage prom dress thing (I’m wishing bad things on the wedding blogger that came up with that) and all of the bridesmaids are freaking out. How are we going to FIND THOSE IN THE REAL WORLD? What’s my move? Drink heavily from now till April?

–Not A Pinboard

Dear NAP,

Being a bridesmaid, your big job is to provide emotional support. And this poor, Pinterest-addicted gal sounds like that’s exactly what she needs. (Also, maybe a break from the internet? Just a thought.)

Sometimes emotional support works itself out in tangible terms—you fold a dozen paper cranes, you wear an ugly dress, you go along with what your friend asks and smile while doing some weird dance down the aisle to hip hop. Other times, those tangible things are lovely ideas, but just aren’t feasible. When she asks you to do things that actually aren’t possible (like sourcing mismatched vintage prom gowns that fit and look good together and don’t have gross stains on them), your only option is to be both kind and honest. I said both, miss. It may make you want to yell profanities punctuated with question marks, but that won’t get you as far as, “Honey. I’m sorry. That’s not gonna happen.” Maybe throw in a shoulder pat for good measure.

Think about it this way. If you’re this worked up over making her Pinterest wedding dreams come true, just imagine how stressed she is. It actually sort of hurts to think about, right? This may be your chance to serve as emotional support in an unanticipated way. Go out for a latte, chat about how exciting the wedding is, and then ask if, I don’t know, maybe she’s stressing out about anything. Maybe you can help her make things easier for herself (and for you guys) by figuring out what she really wants, and finding the easiest ways to make that happen. I’m guessing “making everyone hate me and my wedding,” isn’t on that list. (Or it might be. Or maybe she doesn’t really give a damn either way. I don’t know.)

Beyond that, she may be focusing all of her energy on over-planning these crazy projects and details to avoid the actual emotion of it all. Getting married is a big effing deal; it’s sometimes easier to focus on weird minutiae rather than face that head-on. But that’s one of the fabulous reasons why you’re there! To help her with the big bits, as well as the little bits. At least, whenever feasible. And maybe letting her know when they’re not. Like, say, 150 neon birds nests, for starters.

*****

Team Practical, have you faced either side of this coin? How do you handle a bridesmaid who is vocally discontent? Or, how have you supported a bride who was setting unreasonable expectation?

Photo by APW Sponsor Calin+Bisous Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • http://twitter.com/irisira irisira

    I was going to be anonymous for my comment, but Gravatar hates me, so instead I am just going to edit it down. Because, f*ck it, I have something to say about this, as the first question really really really hits home for me.

    You’re sort of stuck. Sure, you can bring it up, but old habits die hard. And you knew what you were signing up for by asking her to be your bridesmaid.

    Yup. Despite the warnings we get from others, we think that the ones that we love will put aside their jerky tendencies when it counts the most. And, sometimes, we get lucky. But most of the time, we are severely disappointed. This isn’t about expecting your bridesmaids to emulate your pinterest boards (Great advice to NAP, Liz!), it is a lot more complex than that.

    Here’s the crux of it, as I see it: you and I and all of the readers of APW know the cultural conversations surrounding the idea of “losing a friendship over a wedding.” This is the stuff that is completely bastardized on trashy TLC wedding programs.

    KD, would “Tiffany” been mad if you had not asked her to be in the wedding? Would we instead be reading, “I didn’t ask Tiffany to be in my wedding because of xyz trait that I think would have really disrupted our friendship, but now she’s really angry at me.” You shouldn’t expect anything of your bridesmaids, you shouldn’t ask people to be in your wedding because they’ll be good bridesmaids but because you love them, you shouldn’t expect people to be different just because it is your wedding … etc. etc. In short, you can’t win.

    I think it is better to think about it this way: Something important happened in your life, and your friend dropped the ball. Can you forgive your friend for dropping the ball? If the answer is no (AND IT IS OKAY IF IT IS – that’s totally personal), take the wedding out of the equation. You are not a bridezilla.. If the answer is yes, on the other hand, again, take the wedding out of the equation. The fact that it was your wedding has very little to do with the emotions you are feeling toward your friend.

    • http://twitter.com/irisira irisira

      Oh! Something got lost in translation here.

      “You are not a bridezilla” was supposed to link to this:

      http://offbeatbride.com/2010/01/of-brides-and-zillas

      It was written almost 3 years ago, but I think this, along with Your Wedding Is Not an Imposition (http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/01/you-guys/), need to be shown to brides regularly and not buried in the archives.

      • SomeOther Hilary

        “Please don’t call me names.” – Favorite response to “Bridezilla” ever. And I’ve never been a bride.

      • KB

        I am SO glad you posted a link to that article, I found myself nodding as I was reading the entire thing. I bristle every time I hear that word. In fact, I had the very same experience with someone saying, “Whatever, Bridezilla” to me and I swear to God that I became the Incredible Hulk – it is SO demeaning and subjugating and it really IS society’s way of telling you to sit down, shut up, and behave. Honestly, the quickest way to get a woman to go Bridezilla on your ass is to call them one.

        • http://prettypicturesbydanielle.tumblr.com/ Danielle

          Have you ever seen Feminist Hulk? https://twitter.com/feministhulk
          Maybe there needs to be Feminist Bride Hulk ;)

        • AnotherCourtney

          Mine was “Don’t go all Bridezilla on me now.” Incredible Hulk for sure.

  • Alicia

    Overall, I think APW got it right. I do want to add something to the first letter.

    I think you need to be honest to your friend and explain that you are disappointed with her behavior. That your wedding day was important to you (duh) and she did not seem to grasp the importance of vowing to love and support someone forever. This hurt you and made you question whether or not she values your friendship. By her accepting to be a bridesmaid, she was accepting being supportive during such a big moment in your life and she failed to play that role.

    If she is going through issues, explain to her that she should have had coffee with you a few days before the wedding or something. Acting out like a toddler is not good adult behavior.

    Also, I’m a Southern California wimp, but you can still deal with mid 60s for an hour on your friend’s wedding day.

    • Steph

      I feel like this is a good time for ‘I’ statements and/or the phrase “it hurt my feelings when.”

      • One More Sara

        I’ve started consciously trying to use “I” statements when arguing with my partner, and it has made a HUGE difference. It does take some getting used to though.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      On the weather, I’m from the Bay Area, and a total cold wimp. Unless I have to, I don’t put on a skirt unless it’s over 80. I wear undershirts, long sleeves, and sweaters year-round. But if I were in a wedding, yeah, I’d suck it up.

      I also don’t get apologizing for something you can’t control. Maybe in a lighthearted, “Sorry it’s cold, guys.” But not with the same sincerity I’d say, “Sorry I’m late.” The weather is not your fault.

    • Brytani

      Yes. I had a very similar experience with a bridesmaid on my wedding day. It was awful and cost me all my sleep and and a good chunk of my sanity the night before my (morning) wedding. On the wedding day, she complained and was mean to the other girls and never once smiled. It broke my heart and my emotional self never wanted to see her again but then my rational self stepped back in a few weeks afterward and I emailed her to do just as Alicia suggested. I wanted to tell her how I felt about it and to hear her out.

      Honestly? The experience made me realize that I had been big sister-ing someone who just couldn’t change her mean side and that I didn’t want to be a close friend to her anymore. I love her for who she is but I now know that it was unfair for me to expect her to be someone else when I’d been in denial of her nature all along.

      Just wanted to say that this route does not necessarily equal a happy ending but that it will let you come to terms with reality.

  • Teresa

    Yes, we really can’t expect people to change just because it is our wedding day. I asked one of my closest friends, since we were 9, to be a bridesmaid in my wedding, knowing full well that she was going to complain the entire time. At my bridal shower, she was talking about all the people we graduated high school that are already getting divorces. In J.Crew trying on dresses, she complained the entire day (and these were dresses she and I had picked out for our other friends wedding! She had already approved!). It hurt me a lot…I knew she would complain, but I thought she’d be a bit quieter about it. When we were bridesmaids in our other friends wedding, she mostly only complained to me. The bride knew she was complaining, but she was out of earshot of most of it. I thought she’d extend the same courtesy to me and it totally sucked that she didn’t, but it is how she is and I knew that going in. And, on my wedding day, she was wonderful. She was excited for us, snapping a million pictures, chatting with my neices, smiling big in all the pictures. For all her whining, I was so grateful that she could put that out of her mind and just be glad for me when it counted. She is a complainer by nature, and a fiercy loyal and supportive friend. She came through when I needed her, as she always does. I would talk to your friend if she isn’t normally so whiny…it probably means something was up. I wasn’t so cheerful about other people’s weddings when I was impatiently waiting for my own proposal…most of my comments were not made to the newly engaged/married couple, but I still know I could have been much more supportive if I wasn’t so jealous/upset/angry/impatient about my own pre-engagement. But, if that’s just her thing, I think you’ll probably have to just understand that that is how she is and move on if you can. I hope you can figure things out in a way that makes you comfortable.

    • Jashshea

      I’ve been a bridesmaid twice – for two delightfully normal brides – but it’s still a stressful job that I didn’t exactly relish. Beyond, you know, being a special guest at one of the most exciting events in the life of someone I cared about.

      For both weddings there were some events that I had to grit my teeth through – for one I was irresponsibly hung over for an outside shower in 95 degree weather; for #2 the other bridesmaids were just too much to handle. In each of those situations, I put on my game face and got through it. And I did everything I could to make them happy, relaxed, and easy-going on the day of the wedding and I was genuinely thrilled to be there for them.

      Long story longer – If you can’t get out of the way of your own shit, say no to being in someone’s wedding.

      @teresa – I’m glad your friend turned it around for your wedding day. I solved this problem for my wedding by not having any maids – though I fully understand that doesn’t absolve me of potential friend issues :)

      • Remy

        “I did everything I could to make them happy, relaxed, and easy-going on the day of the wedding”

        This is a core bridesmaid responsibility! One that I upheld in my one last-minute-notice stint as a substitute bridesmaid, and wish more wedding attendants would take to heart. (With appropriate reciprocity on the parts of the bride/groom as the wedding planning progresses, of course.)

  • http://nerdycare.blogspot.com SelkieKel

    Both of these problems are extemely common, but I feel like the issue in the first question is something that every soon-to-be-wed individual faces in one form or another. Years of fulfilling just about every possible role one chica can have during a wedding has led me to conclude the following, which I repeat to all my engaged friends:

    - At some point during the planning process/wedding events someone will let you down. Sometimes it’s the person you expect and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes that disappointment will be due to the other person’s behavior and occasionally its due to your own expectations.
    BUT…
    - At some point during the planning process/wedding events someone will come through big time and the identity of this person is sometimes a pleasant surprise.

    It’s frustrating to deal with the whining/complaining/disappointment, but try not to lose sight of all the awesome things done by others and how happy they were to be part of your special day.

    Major transitional events like weddings have a tendency to bring out the best and the worst in people. While this can be upsetting, it can also be a powerful tool to help you examine your relationships with the people in your life and reconfigure them as needed. You may end up letting some friendships go, but you may also be able to kindle new friendships where you least expected them.

    • Brytani

      “- At some point during the planning process/wedding events someone will come through big time and the identity of this person is sometimes a pleasant surprise. ”

      Totally true, you guys. Over the course of history, my relationship with my mom has been pretty bad but on my wedding day when other people let me down, she was a rockstar. It was a really healing moment for me. While it didn’t make the past go away (especially because she’s never wanted to talk about it), it did make it easier to make a place for her in my future.

      • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

        Indeed. One woman who I had been growing apart from ended up being super awesome and supportive and we are closer than ever; another who I was not terribly close w ended up becoming one of my besties; my actual aunt was a PITA, but my “Auntie Brigade” (my MIL’s sisters and my mon’s friends) were ah-mayyyy-zing ….

        I could go on. The ways people will make you feel good are truly awesome.

  • KH_Tas

    Another option for NAP’s case: The bride may be trying to put together what would normally be a very expensive wedding on a very small budget, without the crafty inclinations to actually enjoy doing so.

    And for moral support, every single old formal dress I’ve seen in a vintage shop has been hideous.

  • KB

    Re: The selfish bridesmaid issue – I totally agree that it is so hard to deal with the fact that people don’t change for your wedding. Sometimes, no matter what you do, it is always “ME ME ME!” all day, every day – and even when they DO think about other people, it’s in the context of how they are affecting them. And even when you know that they’re going to be like that, you think, “God, how hard is it for you to lock it up for ONE FREAKING DAY??” And I think that’s what might be at the heart of this kind of resentment – that, not only was she a whiner the entire day, but she keeps twisting the knife as it were and can’t seem to get a clue otherwise. It may feel like she’s doing it on purpose to make the bride feel bad – like she’s irking her for an apology somehow that she inconvenienced her friend so much (which is total b.s.).

    I second the advice of pointing out that this is hurting your feelings – even though it may seem obvious to everyone else, it might take that one comment to turn the train around. However, I would also be prepared for an adverse reaction to any conversation like this because, again, it’s all about “Me me me!” She might see it as being combative or dramatic on your part when, really, you just want to deal with it like two mature adults. Not that I think this should prevent you from having the conversation because I think this might be the further evidence you need as to whether or not you should keep her as a friend. But no matter what, don’t let her comments and selfishness ruin the parts of the wedding that YOU enjoyed because the success of a wedding isn’t dependent on one person, no matter who it is.

  • http://www.rachelwilkerson.com Rachel Wilkerson

    I read the book “Emotionally Engaged” a few months ago and I really loved it. (I actually read it before I got engaged and I’d totally recommend it; the advice on managing friends’ and family’s reactions to your relationship is really helpful even if you aren’t “officially” engaged and planning a wedding yet!) But as I was reading it, I kept thinking, Gosh, this would be so helpful if EVERYONE read this — grooms, bridesmaids, moms, future MILs, etc. It helped me see that so often, it’s not about the dress or the neon birds nests or the perfect shoes; it’s about working through the huge life change/identity crisis that can come along with getting married. It made me WAY more sympathetic to brides and it helped me understand my feelings much better now that I have started wedding planning.

    That said, there’s no excuse for making life really difficult for the people who care about you. I really like the advice for NAP to take her out for coffee to try to get to the heart of the emotional stuff ging on with her. She may not even realize what is motivating her to focus on these details or have such unreasonable expectations. Is she worried about not having Facebook-worthy photos? Is she wanting to make her family happy? Maybe if you can figure out WHY she wants to emulate everything she sees on blogs/Pinterest, you can help her find a cheaper/more convenient way to fulfill that need without her making herself (and you) lose it!

  • anon

    I’m going to throw in two cent as someone who was a horrible bridesmaid to a friend. A lot of it was that I was insanely jealous. I had gone through the worst year of my life, involving the serious illnesses and deaths of two very close family members, moving to a new isolated small town alone, starting a new job, and my partner moving across the country for a grad program. Add in some other hard stuff that happened and it was a bad bad year. I developed a very severe case of depression. It was impossible for me to see past my own situation and, even though I was very happy for my friend, I did not understand how all the things could go so so terribly wrong for me while going so so well for her.
    It could be that there are very serious things going on in your friend’s life that she is hiding from you–perhaps even because she wanted to be a “good” bridesmaid and not burden you with her problems during your busy planning process or the day itself! (That is what I did. I hid it from everyone, which is easy when you live alone 60 miles from your nearest friend/relative, but can be done in other situations too.)

    It isn’t an excuse for her behavior, but a possible explanation. I’m sure you’ve tried talking to her, but maybe try to see if there are other things bothering her, without mentioning the wedding. If this is the case, I’m sure she feels overwhelmingly guilty (I did) and will eventually talk openly and honesty with you. If she needs help, offer to assist her in getting some, and I’m sure that things can clear up.

    If she’s really just being petty and attention seeking, I don’t think it would be wrong to slowly break away. Life is too short to hold on to people full of negativity. In any event, I hope that the other warm and loving memories of your day can crowd out the negative ones she provided.

    • Shiri

      A big hug for you, Anon. I hope that things got better for you, that you’re feeling better, and that you and your bride friend are ok now. It’s wonderful that you can recognize that situation for what it was, and I hope she could see your side of it, too.

      • anon

        Thank you! My friend and I talked about my behavior and feelings during the planning process–yet another vote for open, calm, honest, direct conversation over here–and things are great. She’s now my maid of honor for my upcoming wedding.

        Personally, things have gotten better in many ways and with some therapy and being open about my struggles with friends/family I’m slowly digging myself out of the hole of depression. Thanks for you support. :)

  • Ambi

    Look for vintage dresses on Etsy.

    I can understand how the complaining bridesmaid would really get on your nerves, but my gut reaction is that she may actually be trying to vocalize the idea of “I love you so much that I was willing to stand out in the cold and suffer through a wedding when I was sick and felt like crap.” In her mind, it may not be “complaining” it may be a badge of honor. I only thought of this because I recently helped make several hundred cupcakes for a friend’s wedding, and throughout the process we posted photos and updates on social media – we thought it was a lot of fun to post “before” and “after” photos of the kitchen, the endless boxes of finished cupcakes, our tired faces covered in flour, etc. – but now I am wondering if the bride took that as complaining about the work we were doing for her wedding. That isn’t how we meant it. When we posted photos of us still frosting cupcakes after midnight, it wasn’t to say “look at what the mean horrible bridezilla made me us do,” it was to say “look how awesome we are for doing this.” The same might be true for your friend. There is really no getting around the fact that some parts of being a bridesmaid aren’t the most fun things ever, like spending money, standing outside in the cold for photos, putting on your happy face even if you happen to feel like shit on the wedding day . . . but we all do them because the inconvenience is so much less important than the happiness of sharing the event. Your friend may have just needed a bit more of a pat on the back for that than other people need.

    As far as the second question, I may be way off here, but could you just have a direct conversation with her? Something along the lines of, “Hey, I really suck at making birdsnests and I really don’t have a lot of time to do DIY projects right now, but I am awesome at Excel and would be happy to create a gift log/thank you note spreadsheet for you, and I’d be more than happy to throw you a kick-ass bachelorette party.” I don’t think there is anything wrong with being direct and getting the point across that you don’t want to do something as long as you frame the whole conversation in a kind, positive way and don’t come across as complaining.

    • Elisa

      I completely agree with your comments about the bridesmaid. Some people unfortunately need more recognition for what they “endured”, and it’s completely possible that she is looking to the bride to acknowledge how much “work” she put into the day. That ended up being the case with one of my bridesmaids, and I had no idea at the time that she was feeling underappreciated. It does not excuse her behavior (particularly on the day of the wedding), but could possibly explain her continuing jabs.

    • MDBethann

      Ambi, if a friend posted pics like that I wouldn’t think they were complaining but rather feel incredibly flattered that they went to all that trouble for me and the pictures of the process would be cool to see (sometimes people don’t realize the work that goes into baking). I hope your bride-to-be friend feels that way too.

      • Ambi

        Thanks. She is totally grateful and sweet and wonderful. I just meant that, hearing this bride’s story, I wondered if the other bridesmaid and I came across as complaining about baking for her wedding rather than just sharing. It really WAS work, but we weren’t sharing to point that out or make her feel bad – it was just kind of a fun before-and-after type project that made for great photos. I think that the bride got that, but I never thought about how sensitive she must be to the whole issue of asking people for helping and worrying that they’ll resent her or complain or whatever. Wedding land is full of hidden landmines.

        Oh, and I am pretty serious that Etsy is a great resource for vintage finds. I have purchased several tops (not dresses though). Just be sure to use specific measurements, not sizes, since they differ to much.

  • Emily

    I have a few people in my life who seem like “Tiffany”, who don’t one-up others, they one-down them. Meaning, whatever your reason to complain, they will find a way to show they have it worse. And no matter how you try to help them, they’ll shoot down your suggestions. Sometimes I wonder if these people just WANT things to always be terrible.

    What I find with these people is that they love being the center of attention (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) but have had a hard time in life, so they don’t know how to get that attention with positive things. Maybe they haven’t had a lot of money or done well in school or work. So they discover that the easy way for them to get everyone to listen is by complaining and showing that they have it worse than everyone else. They aren’t looking for solutions. They just need a way to get everyone to look.

    There’s no way Tiffany was going to get everyone’s attention for having it the best (hi, the couple getting married has that one in the bag) so she went the polar opposite and tried to get everyone’s attention for having it the worst.

    I think Liz’s answer was great, to make them see how their words are hurting you. But what if you foresee the same situation at your wedding and want to prevent it? Add in some buffer people that they can complain to instead? Sit them down early and tell them how you feel about their complaining in other situations before the big day? Maybe both?

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      One-downing. YES. Thank you for naming that. It actually caused the end of my friendship with my best friend at the time, a decade ago. It’s just so wearing to be around that constant, endless negativity.

    • carrie

      “Sometimes I wonder if these people just WANT things to always be terrible.” = Drama Llamas.

      Sorry. That term always makes me smile, despite drama llama behavior makes me tired. :-)

    • little raccoon

      Oh man, I had a friend who sounds just like “Tiffany” as well. Like, as I was reading the question above, I was thinking, “Yep, that’s exactly what she would have been like in/at my wedding.” I say “would have been” because she is such a “drama llama” that she cut me out of her life completely as soon as I got engaged to my husband. She was literally so bitter and upset that one of her (slightly) younger friends had gotten engaged that she couldn’t even come to class the next day, which was just unbelievable to me. Our friendship had been waning for a while, for reasons I still don’t quite understand, but my best guess is that she is just one of those one-downers–has to complain about everything in her life, no day is ever a good day, always negative, etc. I tried really hard to talk to her and find out what I might have done to cause her to stop talking to me, but she just didn’t seem to want to work things out, even though we had been friends throughout most of our college years.

      On a lighter note, “Drama llama” is probably the best term for this kind of person ever. The silliness of it distracts your from feeling annoyed or irritated or upset by the person in question, at least a little. :)

    • http://goingongoals.com Sarah

      This article and all the comments have really spoken with me because one of my friends/bridemaids and I “broke-up” after my wedding.

      I think your questions are GREAT for other brides to consider. There are so many “what if’s” that I wonder about, just a few months after our break-up. I am not saying I’m an expert, because I’m obviously not, I lost a friend over this, but here is some advice I received and things that worked for me.

      One coworker warned me to address the complaining problem before the wedding, but I choose not to. You better believe I regret that decision now.

      I had a buffer person and thankfully the majority of the weekend went really really well. If you have a friend you’re worried about being in your bridal party, enlist help from another bridal party member.

      I told her a month after the wedding how I felt about her constant complaining. Sadly it did not turn out well and we haven’t spoken for 3 months. She told me she has always thought I’ve seen her as a child because I constantly give her advice. Bottom line, my personality is one that wants to help others, hers is one that complains about what life has dealt her. If you complain at me daily, I am going to want to help you. I don’t know if we’ll ever speak again (I just hope we do).

      Now I look back at my wedding photos and try to remember the really good times in our friendship (and yes there are many), but it’s still hurtful. You can’t change people and sometimes I think friendships need a break. Sometimes it’s better to step away, at least for a little while.

  • http://kristinyc.wordpress.com Kristinyc

    To the bridesmaid in #2: Seriously talk to her. You can come to a compromise on the dresses.

    I had envisioned my bridesmaids all just picked a fabulous dress in a peacock color of their choice, because 1) I thought it would look great and 2) I wanted to be the cool, laid-back awesome bride who doesn’t force her girls to wear hideous expensive dresses.

    It turned out, ALL FIVE of them wanted more guidance/direction from me. They just wanted me to be happy, and realized I had given them too much freedom, which resulted in way more questions for me/the all asking for my opinion on EVERYTHING. So I assigned them each a David’s Bridal color (all different) and told them to pick out a knee-length, satin dress in their color. It was helpful for them to have some guidelines (but also flexibility in price and style), and I still got my vision of mismatched bridesmaids in peacock colors. They all picked out cute, flattering dresses, and they look great together. Everyone wins!

    Maybe you could suggest something similar to your friend?

    • Liz

      I think this is super common, right? You start out with the best intentions of helping your friends out by letting them pick their own dress, and really sometimes it’s much easier to have someone say, “Everyone wear this, please.” Just depends on the dynamic (and the number of folks in your bridal party, and how specific your expectations are).

      My original plan had been, “Wear anything you want in fall colors!” and we ended up buying 6 brown dresses, exactly the same, because it was just easier (and cheap!) for everyone involved.

      • Liza

        No kidding. I told my ladies “oh, just wear whatever..”…and they immediately started arguing about length/color/etc. So much for bridal party harmony.

      • Louise

        Yes! This was one of the hardest parts of the planning, because I did not care what they wore, but only one of them believed me (the only one who hadn’t ever been a bride. Thank god for her. She wore a beautiful dress she’d worn in another wedding. It warmed my recycling-loving heart). Anyhow, it all worked out, I shopped with some, I straight up picked out and bought my cousins dress so she would calm down, and they all looked beautiful.

      • Kara

        Oh my goodness, I had the same thing happen! My girlfriends wanted more guidance; I outsourced the decisions to my mom eventually.

    • KC

      Especially if your bridesmaids don’t know each other and are not shopping-gifted, it can be terrifying to try to pick out your own bridesmaid dress. What if your dress is strapless and the other four bridesmaids picked sleeves? Or if your dress is embellished and theirs are all clean-cut and plain? Gathered skirt vs. pencil skirt? Your dress is blue, theirs are all teal? You can feel like you stick out like a sore thumb in wedding photos, or be afraid that you’ll look like the only one who didn’t get the memo (or like you’re not actually a bridesmaid), etc. Design-y collections of objects are curated, not random, usually, and it can be daunting to try to fit in without actually matching and without knowing ahead of time what you’ll be trying to coordinate with. It’s really considerate in one way – you can wear what looks good on you, in your price range – but terrifying in many other ways.

      People who are not me may not have this problem so much, though. :-) And even apart from that, observers probably don’t care. In one friend’s wedding photos, I stick out like a sore thumb *to me*, but probably not to anyone else. (at least, I didn’t hear anything about it?)

      And saying “Here’s the store, here’s your color, length, and fabric, find something that looks good on you” sounds excellent to me, even as a “aack”-stricken shopper. Good work on suitably applying feedback from your bridesmaids!

      • MDBethann

        I did the X-store, this color blue (the green didn’t look good on everyone), this type of fabric and knee-length. Everyone of my 4 ladies found dresses that fit them and looked good and everyone was different (and seemed pretty comfortable at the wedding). Shoes were easy, since they all had silver shoes they could wear. Some flexibility is good, but too much can be almost as bad as rigidity some times.

    • Laura

      YES. Yes. This happened to me, too. I thought I was being super accommodating by saying, “Pick a dress in this [common] color!” In the end, I think most of the girls would have preferred if I just said, “Hey, here’s your dress, go order it.”

      Which is not to say I regret the decision–it allowed everyone to shop within their budget–but it’s not quite the stress-free solution I was hoping it would be.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I have 2 bridesmaids. They’re my sisters. Applying the usual advice (and my own firm convictions about not telling other people how to look), I planned to give them lots of choices – individual choices and things I wanted to match, but the 2 of them could choose, rather than me.

      Instead, Mom said I should just choose. Mom chose the dresses. I chose the necklaces (Mom insisted they needed necklaces.), the shoes, the pantyhose, the bouquets. They chose their hairstyles (after Mom again insisted we had to have our hair professionally styled).

      Sometimes, just deciding for everyone IS easier.

    • http://anniecardi.com Annie

      Oh my gosh, that was exactly me. The only thing I got super stressed about bridesmaid-related stuff. I wanted to find the perfect dress for everyone and ended up crying on the phone with my mom because there was no single dress that was going to be everyone’s favorite dress ever. In the end, I picked one that I thought looked good on everyone and they were all enthusiastic.

    • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

      I’ve been in two weddings (and wore the same dress for both, long story), but what I *loved* was that the first bride said ‘you’re doing any full length dress from this line of dresses in this color. Pick what you want.’ I did and submitted it to her for approval before ordering, but it was awesome, especially since I was cross country from the rest of the party at the time.

    • Granola

      I had the same idea as many of us here “Just get a fall color dress that you like!” But then I realized that three of my bridesmaids didn’t really like to shop and I was worried they would feel really uncomfortable trying to pick something that would “make the bride happy.” And since I, as the bride, didn’t want to field 20 emails of “What do you think about this?”

      So I gave them a color and designer/fabric at Shop Joielle and told them to pick whatever they wanted, though I did make a suggestion for each person, just so they had something to start with. It wasn’t quite the aesthetic I originally wanted, but I think it was a good compromise, with a minimum of stress for all.

    • Ambi

      The only exception, in my experience, has been when the bride says to wear any black dress you want – I’ve been in two weddings where the bride did that, and it was so awesome. Most people have a black dress already, and would not have to buy one, but then some people (like me!) loved it as an excuse to shop for and buy a new LBD. The fact that we all knew she wanted solid black and knee length or shorter made it easy.

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

        Ooh, that’s what we did! One person bought a dress, which I figured she could probably re-wear sometime later, and the other person wore a black dress she already had.

    • Susie

      Yes I too was the cool laid back bride who said wear any dress you like as long as its not white and pouffy. However my amazing girls were too scared of not getting it “right” with infinite choices that in hindsight me saying this colour in this length would probably have helped them out more!

  • http://peachyringsaredead.blogspot.com Ceej

    In response to the first letter, oh man. That is super lame. My bridespeople were all very careful to be smiley and appear problem-free about events before and during them, but afterwards I’d hear about the fights and tension. And I was so happy at every single wedding related event! Like, exploding with joy! So then, hearing about how two of my best friends were having a secret throwdown during the rehearsal dinner was, like, completely ruining my memory of it.

    So I told them each, “OK, well, if you guys have issues with each other, that’s your deal. But I can’t fix them and I want to keep remembering my wedding as being awesome? And not that time my friends were being super snarky to one another. So. Please stop telling me about this shit.”

    And they did. Fortunately for me, their issues were mostly with each other and not the event itself. But they appreciated the fact that these memories were sacred to me. I MIGHT ask if the girl was going through something else, but otherwise I’d tell her to shut the hell up. Because she’s my friend and I can say stuff like that to her.

  • sbc

    When I asked my sister to be my maid of honor (my wife and I had a small wedding party–my 3 siblings and her best friend), she wrote back with the following (edited below). I think it was a really good example of setting boundaries–she was the MOH in a wedding that ended up being a lot more responsibility than she’d expected and I think knowing your limits is useful. In the 6 months leading up to our wedding, she interviewed nationwide for jobs, finished grad school, sold her condo, traveled internationally, and moved across the country to begin a new job after the wedding…so she was pretty stretched for time and money.

    “I’m honored. Before I agree, I want to make sure I understand my rights and responsibilities. I think you should agree, seeing as how you’re a lawyer and all.
    Responsibilities:
    1. Look at your wedding website!
    2. Plan bachelorette party (with bridesmaids, obvi)?
    3. Provide emotional support/feedback and ideas on wedding stuff
    4. Walk down the aisle, looking good but not better than the brides, wearing an outfit selected and/or approved by the brides.
    5. What else?

    Rights:
    1. I can’t fly in a zillion times, so I reserve the right not to come to everything (showers/tastings/fittings/etc.)
    2. I have to be ok with the shoes. Because I don’t want to be in severe pain so that your pictures look better.

    Ok, as long as we’re cool with the above – I’m in.”

    I wasn’t offended by it at all; the tone was a joke and how we talk to each other. I didn’t expect her to do everything she mentioned (I didn’t have the bachelorette party she mentions, but I swapped that for “handle mom and dad and encourage them to like/tolerate our choices”). My wife and I picked a fairly neutral color for the dresses and let folks pick their own style at their local David’s Bridal (with free rein on shoes). And we scheduled the cupcake testing while my sister was in town because I knew she’d like that.

    So, I guess for us the main things were: as bride I kept my expectations low and as MOH she kept her expectations clear. It seemed to work for us.

    • Brytani

      Amazing response. I think maybe there should be a universal checklist out in the world for brides to give bridesmaids so that they can all pick and choose what they want to do.

      • KC

        A checklist would be awesome, perhaps with “vitally important”, “maybe, if you’re up for it”/”maybe, if it’s really important to you” for the bride/bridesmaid, and “Good heavens, no! Never!” as triple checkbox options.

        But it would have to be put together by APW, not the Knot, or things like “make 150 neon nests” and “attend every single dress fitting, cake tasting, shower, party, vendor interview, etc. even from across the continent” might end up being classed under “traditional” responsibilities…

        • Jashshea

          Is it weird that I’ve done tastings, fittings and dress shopping events by myself? Willingly and happily? I mean, I wanted all the cake for ME. :)

          • KC

            Not weird! I think there are usually two potential reasons to haul someone else along to those things:
            1. You need backup or a second opinion or help resisting the sales force.
            2. It would be fun/meaningful/bonding-ish for all involved.

            If neither applies strongly, then feel very free to eat all the cake! :-)

          • MDBethann

            I took my then-fiance (now husband) with me to the tastings and the vendor shopping. My feeling was, it was his wedding too and his opinion counted as much as mine. I did get some weird looks from a few vendors when I deferred to his opinion on things, but then we didn’t use those vendors :-)

            My MOH (sister) was out of town too but I tried to schedule the most important thing she needed to do (bridal party dress shopping) for when she would already be in town for a visit.

            I was also okay that not all of my girls could make both showers (one for the family, one for friends since we live in a different place than our families), but I knew that going in, just by virtue of where everyone lived.

          • ElisabethJoanne

            I wasn’t even there for bridesmaid dress shopping; Mom took care of it. My maid of honor was literally on the other side of the world for most of the engagement, and her allergies meant there’s no point in her attending tastings. (She’ll be able to eat the actual wedding-food, but we hadn’t gone over all the allergy factors at tasting-time.)

            I offered to take my sisters/bridesmaids shopping for their jewelry; they had better things to do. The only opinions I could squeeze out of them on bouquets was 1) no feathers, 2) they shouldn’t look like vegetables, 3) they shouldn’t contain vegetables. That actually eliminated one florist from consideration.

            I went alone for everything for my dress (designing, first fitting) except picking it up, though Mom and one bridesmaid went with me for one round of try-ons.

            I invited them to other meetings, but they didn’t want to come. That was totally fine. I was happy to have my future husband there. His opinions are most important. I even jokingly had him approve my sisters’ hairstyles.

      • oh, meredith

        I agree!!! Or, for gender-neutral terminology, there should be a universal, APW-sponsored checklist for brides and/or grooms to give to their wedding party members.

        I picked my two best ladies because they are long-time friends, and I wanted them, more than anyone else, to be the ones celebrating with me as I get ready on our day. They both live out of state and are incredibly busy, however, so I knew up-front that they wouldn’t be able to be very involved with wedding stuff. And that has been okay. A few local friends have gone above and beyond on being supportive and filling that role, so I feel very fortunate.

        On the other hand, my fiance asked his long-time best friend, who lives locally but is also incredibly busy. He has been beyond uninvolved with our wedding. My fiance organized his own bachelor party; it’s 3 weeks until go-time and his best man still hasn’t gone to get measured and order the suit my fiance picked out for him to rent. My fiance is incredibly hurt that his happiness appears to be so unimportant to his friend. I understand that his friend is really busy, but I don’t think my fiance is expecting too much. (If his friend is actually on time and mentally present for our wedding day, I will be impressed.)

        If there was some kind of standard, “I expect this, this, and this from you” reciprocal conversations, it could help prevent situations like this. At least the wedding parties would know what the bride/groom’s expectations were before agreeing to be in the wedding party, and the bride/groom could be held to the initial agreement if need be.

    • Granola

      I think this is adorable – obviously you and your sister are really close. It’s awesome that you can be so honest and supportive with each other.

  • RDS

    I think it’s a very important distinction between whether your friend is normally whiny or not. I happen to have a very rocky relationship with one of my sisters, but I invited her to be a bridesmaid because we’re family and I wasn’t going to let a few sour conversations get between family on my wedding day. It’s worth noting here, too, that she had been a bridesmaid 11 previous times, so she knows what’s up, as far as bridesmaid shenanigans go.

    I was quite intentionally the least demanding bride I could possibly be, partly because I didn’t like my own wedding (frankly, my job and my master’s degree both came before it), so I was not specific about getting dresses altered, etc. Didn’t think it needed to be said. On the day of the wedding, said sister showed up with her too-large dress unaltered… and her nipples literally basking in the sunshine. By the time the reception had begun, she’d tied a ribbon to the straps of her dress to keep her breasts inside. I thought, “okay, she knows better, but whatever. I’m having a great time, and that’s all that matters.” 3 weeks later, when my husband and I finally got around to opening cards and gifts, though, hers was nowhere to be found. Not having a gift DID NOT BOTHER ME. I cannot state that clearly enough. It did bother me, however, that she couldn’t be bothered to drop by CVS and scrawl “congratulations” and her name, which would’ve taken $4.50 and about 150 seconds.

    Now… back to the actual subject…

    I should have seen it coming. Seriously. I should have known that my sister was not going to “show up” emotionally for me or commit to even the smallest of tasks. Our relationship was not in the place that allowed her to do that. Likewise, I should have been clear that nipples were an unwelcome sight ahead of time, and that having a dress that was at least reasonably fitting was non-negotiable.

    It’s been 2.5 years since my wedding, and I’ve come to forgive my sister. I have yet to really stop being angry at myself, though. Relationships are a two-way street, and, especially in the sometimes dicey world of bride and bridesmaid relationships, they sometimes take more work than we’d like to think they do. I could have done a better job as a bride of letting people know where I was with my expectations, because apparently I did not do a good enough job of that. And I should not have expected a different person than the person my sister has always been to show up on the wedding day. That was not fair to either of us.

    So, KD, I will pass on what I am still learning: we cannot go back and undo our wedding, but we can impact what’s going to happen in the future. I think there’s a decent chance both you and I need to put on our big girl panties and have that difficult conversation not only with our sister/friend, but with ourselves about how much responsibility people took to our weddings.

    • KC

      That is one of the many reasons my day-of bridesmaid kit contains both duct tape and a large number of safety pins. Yeesh. Nipples basking = not culturally appropriate.

      I will note that I didn’t actually give my sister a card when she got married, either, I think, on the theory that she knew I cared (I flew to her wedding and gave her a highly-personalized [but also no-card] bachelorette gift and played buffer between disgruntled relatives and was a bridesmaid and stuff) and I’m horribly, horribly bad at selecting and writing in cards and avoid it as much as possible (and, er, possibly more than possible). I sort of saw bridesmaid-wedding-cards as “If I’m just going to write “congratulations!” in the card… they already know that!”, and all the more-gushy personal advice and hugs and love and best wishes are usually either in person or pre-wedding and post-wedding by phone or email… but, based on this, I will probably have to revise my practices and become a real grownup and brave the card aisles more often.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        RDS’ and KC’s comments both really show me how every girlfriend relationship is different.

        Cards aren’t a big deal in my family. I try to skip them even for friends’ weddings. (I write “Mazel tov!” on the tiny card from the store with the gift, and I inscribe a cheap book re: marriage to toss in the card basket.) I find cards ridiculously impersonal. I might even be hurt if my sisters/bridesmaids gave me a card at my wedding.

        Presents are a big deal in my family, but my sisters are so young, with such tenuous incomes, I don’t expect birthday or wedding presents from them. They still live with our parents, too, so that covers some of their social responsibilities. (though to me, the whole idea of family is there are minimal social responsibilities from etiquette books – but, again, every family is different)

        If I floated the information that their nipples need to be covered, they’d take that as insulting. Of course they know that!

        Likewise, their displeasure would never be displayed so much in actual verbal complaining, like Tiffany’s, but in their posture and countenances.

  • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

    Dear KD, are you me? Okay, my wedding was in March and it hit mid-60s in a freak WARM spell instead, but my SIL bridesmaid complained all damn day, and it was pretty annoying. She didn’t bring a jacket, borrowed my husband’s suit coat, etc.

    I was a little annoyed, but whatever. I was so happy at my wedding that as soon as we were done the formal stuff, I spent the evening hanging with everyone else and it was over. A couple of years later and she ruined Christmas with that same whiny shit? It took my 6 months to get over that. (Wait, it’s October? 10 months. And barely.) But she’s my sister in law, and she is fundamentally that person, so what can you do? Nothing, as it turns out. I need to accept that she is a whiny, unhappy person who likes to inflict it outwards, and that, better or worse, she’s in my life forever. You, however, have options. If that’s fundamentally who she is and it’s exhausting, you can choose to just let go if you want to. Or hold on to the friendship and accept that this is the price of admission for a relationship.

  • Brytani

    In response to the NAP letter, I am there right now. One of my best friends is getting married and she loses her sh*t over some weird things, in my opinion. Last week she texted me all in a frenzy because her sister-in-law, who is not a bridesmaid, wants to wear red to the wedding, which is the color of the bridesmaids dresses, and she doesn’t want her to look like a member of the wedding party. I also found some beautiful rent-able bridesmaids dresses that everyone in the wedding party loved but she said, “I don’t want them to take away from my dress.” Which. To be honest, made me want to slap her. However, every time she has a moment like this I calmly, out loud, say my mantra, “How do I want her to remember my part in this wedding?” And then I say to her, “Does this really matter to how you want to remember your wedding? Ten years from now, will you think of it as worth the drama?”

    And you know what? It’s usually not what she wants to hear. She wants someone to join her in the drama and feed that negative energy. It’s what she needs, though. It doesn’t make me popular for advice, but I think it makes me important because every time I say it, she gives me a long pause and says, “I need to spend more time with you.”

    • carrie

      Bless you. How does she react when you say those things, though? Is she receptive?

      • Brytani

        Well, at first, I can tell she’s disappointed because she kind of does this stilted, dribbling on thing but as she winds down, she kind of comes back to her senses and she’s embarrassed. Then my task is to make her feel like it’s okay that she went temporarily crazy, even if it totally pissed me off, because that’s really why I’m her bridesmaid.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I’m developing this theory: It’s a standard APW line that people do not change their fundamental personalities for your wedding. I think it goes farther. People’s fundamental personalities become clearer to you around your wedding.

    Part of this is the whole process of the life transition; getting married makes you see everything else in a new perspective. Part of it is the high emotional stakes and stress of wedding planning rub off on all involved, and that tension crystallizes personalities, no matter the source.

    • http://prettypicturesbydanielle.tumblr.com/ Danielle

      I would argue this is also the case for other transformational/intense times too. Like the death of a loved one, etc.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Certainly, though I struggle to find other events that involve the same tasks as wedding-planning. Procrastination, a gene dominant in my family that I mostly missed, isn’t quite the same factor when it comes to (sudden) death or the birth of a baby. OTOH, one sister’s tendency to put another sister down at any opportunity would grate on me even worse if we were dealing with another kind of event.

        • http://prettypicturesbydanielle.tumblr.com/ Danielle

          Hi Elisabeth Joanne — I’ve never actually planned a wedding (non-married, non-engaged reader here), so can’t really comment on that. But what you said really resonated with me. I’ve been through a couple intense situations where I expected/wanted close friends or family members to really be there for me, and some just couldn’t. People were just themselves, even more so, if that makes sense.

          Side note — it’s surprising, but other intense life changes can require a lot of planning as well. A break-up, serious illness or death in the family can demand certain logistical planning, unfortunately when you’re in the worst emotional state for that.

    • KE

      Yikes, you’re making me nervous. My futures in-laws, generally friendly people who are close to their son, are acting like our wedding is a gigantic imposition and that it’s distasteful that we’re having a more formal and traditional wedding (a “too big for your britches” attitude). (To be clear, my parents are paying for it, and his parents are very wealthy and live a wealthy lifestyle, so this is more than a little surprising.) Meanwhile, my entire extended family has been overwhelmingly generous and supportive and just plain thrilled. My fiance can’t help but noticing the difference.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        It can have a happy flip side. My parents’ tendency to not meddle in their adult children’s lives meant I got to make a lot of decisions without their input, even though they’re paying.

        And my future in-laws’ awkwardness at being immigrants with narrow social lives means they’ve gone along with the biggest decisions (church wedding, non-kosher food, etc.).

    • Granola

      Yes, though one caveat here is that I’ve found added stress in planning a wedding because the people I’m “working with” as it were are people that I didn’t really choose. So partly you’re thrown together because you’re family, or about to be family, and that has no bearing on whether you have personalities that function well together on large group projects.

      So for me, there’s been a lot of “We just have to get through this and will never have to plan a wedding with them again.” So there’s clarity, but also fit and context.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Yup.

        This has been clearest for me with the church. I’ve been involved with the church since I was 12. The disorganization and passive-aggression in dealing with it never really registered with me until now. It’s easy to shrug off an annual picnic that starts an hour late.

        But the stakes with the church for my wedding are crazy-high. I literally can’t get married without the church’s cooperation. When e-mails go unreturned and requirements are unclear in this context, it’s hard to stay nice. Especially when spiritually, literally, and aesthetically, the church is the most important aspect of the wedding to me, and of course the church preaches that it should be, at least spiritually.

        On the other hand, the clergy’s generosity with their time and their depth of knowledge when we can sit down, are all the clearer to me, too.

    • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

      YES. I think that’s a very good point. Well said. (This needed more than an “Exactly!”)

    • Sara

      I think this is generally true, but with the caveat (similar to what ANON said above) that sometimes there are things going on in people’s lives way beyond the scope of the wedding that impact behavior in pretty drastic ways. I was a less-than-stellar bridesmaid for one of my best friends, due in part to stress around living in another country, a rocky relationship, the end of grad school and no job prospects. This isn’t an excuse, and thankfully my friend was (and is) extremely generous and forgiving, and I’ve tried to support her and her marriage in the years since. I hope that I’ve learned from my mistakes and grown into a better version of myself (with and without major stress).

  • carrie

    One of the biggest takeaways from our wedding was that having a bridal party was a mistake. If I could do anything over, I would have had a maid of honor and called it a day. Note I said, *I*, not *we.* It wouldn’t have been fair to David to have to only pick one person.

    One of the biggest wedding myths or visual or whatever that so many of us seem to have ingrained is that we NEED a wedding party. I thought this was just something you did, I never really thought about the why. The four women I chose are lovely, intelligent, considerate ladies most of the time. But together, they were terrible. They involved me in ALL the fights. Two of the women who had been friends through me are no longer friends. And they made me miserable. They made me feel like I must be a horrible person if they felt the need to act the way they did surrounding my wedding. I still worry sometimes when I am in a worry spiral that I was a bad friend and/or bride. When, no. It just brought out the worst in them.

    If anyone were to ask me for me for wedding advice, that would be my number two thing is the question, “do you really NEED a bunch of people up there with you?” I hate saying this out loud, I feel cynical and it doesn’t exactly speak highly of myself or my friends. But man alive. It wasn’t worth it for me.

    Even though all relationships I have with each woman is still intact, there is still that small part of me that is hurt by their actions at different times surrounding my wedding, over a year later.

    • KC

      So sorry to hear about the drama – that sounds really, really lousy.

      I tend to think the whole sides-must-match thing is silly (because of course every couple has the exact same number of closest people each? Riiight.).

      I really loved my “team”, but just one good friend/sister backing me up that day would have been awesome, too. And some people don’t really want any bridesmaids, which is also fine (but I think it’s still good to have someone who is taking care of you that day, whether that’s finding your shoes or making sure you eat something or deflecting unnecessary questions).

      But it can easily become a giant mess between “who will be insulted if I don’t ask them to be a bridesmaid” and “who will be a well-functioning bridesmaid” and “who am I closest friends with” and “who will get along with the rest of the bridesmaids” and all the rest of it. Hmph.

      • Carrie

        Thank you! Everyone was a champ on the wedding day though. The worst was that one maid didn’t look very happy in pictures, which makes me sad because I wanted everyone to be as thrilled as I was. But hey. But your last paragraph? Amen. But I still think not having a wedding party needs to a standard option too.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      One of the best wedding-planning decisions I made was to have just my sisters as bridesmaids. It’s made things much simpler on a practical level (only 3 people who know each other amazingly well to coordinate together; and now they live with each other) and on an emotional level (The relationships can’t be broken, and I always have the “Mom says…” excuse.). In retrospect, I can’t imagine dealing with the inevitable headaches with friends in the picture, too.

    • Jashshea

      This is why I went with 0 maidens. I have 1 male sibling – if someone absolutely by law needs to stand up next to me then he’s the one.

      My friends are lovely people and generally get along decently well (the ones from the different parts of my life), but 2/3 of my closest friends are bossy control freaks (I say this with so, so, so much love – I need them in my life). There would have been a trail of tears (for me and the other 1/3).

      • Carrie

        Oh, so much this to bossy control freaks. That was part of the problem! Anyway, smart lady.

    • Sara

      As someone who has been a bridesmaid five times, I understand WHY people have bridal parties and honestly treasure the times I was a part of a friend’s wedding. That being said, my best friend, college roommate and I have an understanding that I will never have bridesmaids but they will be ‘secret MOH’ (their term) since I was their MOH at their weddings. They also love to plan parties, so that helps.
      I just have a complex with being afraid of offending someone, so it’d probably end up being 15 bridesmaids or 4 bridesmaids and 11 ex-friends (in my mind, probably not in real life). My mother is completely up in arms with this idea – note: I’m not engaged, but have mentioned this in passing to her – and insist that SOMEONE needs to stand up with me. I told her that if its that important, my goddaughter can be my MOH. She’s five, I’m sure that’ll go well.

      • Carrie

        I love this. I know a six and seven year old who would be thrilled to stand up there, so why not?. :) and if you have learned anything from APW, you know that our peeps can’t help but tell us what we have to have. Then we go right on doing what we want to do. Nicely. But firmly and without apology.

  • April

    I really feel for KD and dealing with the complaining bridesmaid. I dealt with a best friend that did nothing but complain for nine months leading up to me and my husband’s wedding. It was always something with her and very draining on my emotions. I finally couldn’t take it any longer, had a difficult conversation via telephone (we live two states away), and said she could shape up or ship out. She told me that I couldn’t handle her “honesty”, and that I was “delusional for spending thousands on a girly wedding”. I bluntly replied she was no longer a part of the wedding party. Her reaction was to break off a friendship of 13 years…she didn’t come to the wedding and we’ve not spoken since. Sad, but that’s life.

    If KD still has lingering feelings about how awful her friend was at her wedding day, I advise KD to speak up and have a conversation with her friend. People who are shitty need to be called out!

    For NAP: I think APW’s advice is spot-on. And a drink or two wouldn’t hurt either.

  • Sarah

    At least the bride didn’t ask for “Jessica Biel’s youth” as her something borrowed…

  • http://laorencha.blogspot.com channamasala

    It’s one specific answer to one specific issue rather than a broader answer to a bigger issue, but on that mismatched vintage prom dress thing:

    Rather than “sorry honey, that’s not gonna happen” (full stop), why not offer a compromise – one that, in the end, will actually be better for you than wearing some matchy-matchy dress the bride picked out?

    Tell her actual vintage prom dresses that fit, look good together and aren’t wrecked will not be possible, but how about she picks the vague color scheme (not “you wear magenta, you wear turquoise” or “you wear mint, you wear pale yellow” but “jewel tone” or “pastel” or “vintage neutral” or “shades of purple”) and gives a general guideline about length and you all go out and buy dresses in that scheme – new dresses, vintage only if you can find one – and try to keep it to ones that have a vintagey look about them, even if they’re new. You could even buy a plain, nice dress from eShakti or wherever, and with vintage or vintage-style accessories (nothing wrong with fakes! Nobody will care!), that could totally pass as a vintage dress.

    If you all stick to a vaguely similar color scheme and have some agreement about length – even if it’s “half of you short, half of you long” rather than one uniform length – and all go for a style that’s either vintagey or plain-but-can-be-dressed-up-as-vintage, then the dresses will certainly look good together, and she’ll get her aesthetic.

    And you’ll get a dress you like.

  • kristen

    60 degrees? Cold? Oh my. That is toasty warm where I live. :)