Q: I am the MOH for a family member who is getting married in the fall. Very long, dramatic, emotional story short, we (the other bridesmaids, and mothers of the couple) planned what we thought was a beautiful bridal shower for the bride. We worked well together, made lots of decisions democratically, and divided the tasks to be completed. The bride got wind of what we planned (read: prodded each of us until she collected all the details), then literally pitched a fit. She told me she was hurt that she wasn’t included in the planning of the shower, and thought it should have been a collaborative effort between her and me, a bonding experience, and that the shower should match the wedding more. I was hurt because when I asked for input, she gave me none, and I thought we did a great job planning something she would love! In the end, all the shower details (menu, drinks, favors, invitations, etc.) were changed to match what she wanted. The bride’s mother felt so bad about us having to re-plan everything that she and the bride’s father paid for the whole shower.
My question is this: what the hell do I say during my toast at the wedding in the fall? I have known this woman since we were children, and she has always been spoiled, but this wedding planning business has brought out the worst of it. Everything I have planned—the shower, bachelorette, etc.—has been re-planned by her. I am her verbal punching bag and have taken millions of passive aggressive sucker punches over the past few months. I’d love to use the toast to jab her back, and make a few jokes about the stressful planning process, but I know that will only upset her and give her a reason to be angry with me the day of the wedding. I need to write a very generic toast, that she cannot possibly find fault in, but I don’t even know where to begin, or if that is possible. Any suggestions, on dealing with a very difficult, emotionally abusive bride? Or how to toast to her and her new husband that I really don’t know very well?
Exasperated Maid of Honor
A: Dear EMOH,
This is the stuff of nightmares for bridesmaids everywhere. You always hear these stories, and hope against hope that they’re not really real, yeah?
Snarking during the toast is a terrible idea, as wonderful as it might feel in the moment. Sorry miss, but you know that. Taking the high road is always better for your soul in the end. (Though please, imagine the toast you’d like to give at your bitterest moments in great detail. Just keep it in your head, where it belongs. No making the speech, but also no emailing about it. That stuff has a way of coming back to haunt you.)
The problem here isn’t just that she’s been sort of picky (and okay, maybe a little bitchy) but also that she didn’t voice her expectations. She didn’t tell you she wanted to be involved in the shower planning (an unusual request, but all the more reason for her to voice it). She didn’t mention hoping that the shower decor would match the vibe of the wedding day. So, moving forward, don’t make the same mistake. Passive aggressively joking about her attitude at the wedding is a bad call, not just because it would piss off someone who seems ultra piss-off-able. It’s the wrong choice because it doesn’t actually address or resolve anything.
If all that’s left is the wedding day, it may be too late to change things. At this point, you might be better off just diving in for those last six hours, and then shake it all off. But, if she’s continuing to talk to you in a way that isn’t appropriate, or tear into you for something that isn’t your fault, you’re allowed to say, “Please don’t.” You’re allowed to voice expectations about how you’d like to be treated (even if those expectations are seemingly obvious).
Whether or not you address it at this point—that’s your call. But you do still have that pesky speech to make. How do you do it? Say something innocent, and get the eff out of there. “So happy for you both,” mic drop, shove some cake into your face. Once this wedding is over, you’re finally freed from caring about planning things to her exact, unvoiced, perfectionist expectations. Just get it the hell over with.
It’s actually surprisingly easy to say something lovely and sort of neutral, without lying or sinking into snark. Meg suggests a story from your childhood, which is easy to make both funny and poignant (good speeches are either funny or poignant—bonus points if you hit both). Otherwise, try to think about her good qualities. (Come on, you know she has some or else you’d have never agreed to be in her bridal party.) Talk about those without saying anything that is an outright lie. You could offer some encouragement and advice from your own experience in relationships, or you can stick to some hopes and dreams for theirs. Coming up with something nicey-nice is easy! (Check out our easy guide to toast writing here, and feel free to make yours less personal.)
Squelching that resentment is… less easy. But I have faith that you can do it! Then you can come back here and get a pat on the back for a job well done. Deal?
Team Practical, how do you deal with a demanding bride? How do you make a good toast about someone you’re less than happy with?
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!