Q: 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.
A: 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.
Q: 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
A: 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?
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!