Wedding Party Problems And Celebrations

The best and worst of the bridal brigade.

Two weekends ago, I went to Chicago to be a bridesmaid in the wedding of one of my best friends. In September, I’m heading to western Michigan to be a bridesmaid again, this time for another best friend. In February, both of them will stand beside me at my wedding (along with two more of my best friends, one of whom will be my sole bridesman). Though we’re thousands of miles apart, I’ve been by each of their sides as they’ve gone through the planning process and have learned so much about being a bride and being a bridesmaid as a result.

As a bride, I understand the desire to honor your friends, to have them close to you the night before and the day of your wedding, and, yes, to have them help with some last-minute to-do items in the days before the wedding. As a bridesmaid, I know what it is like to feel honored and appreciated, and that while showing up in a pretty dress and fancy shoes isn’t exactly work, it’s not exactly not work either. I’ve learned that being in the bridal party, like being somebody’s best friend, is neither one hundred percent responsibility nor one hundred percent honor; it’s a little of both.

As I write this, it is laundry day and I am wearing a black Hanky Panky thong that spells out “bridesmaid” in rhinestones. Does that make me feel appreciated? Honestly, yes. This gift is our version of the BFF heart necklace and it makes me smile. I actually felt most appreciated when the bride ordered breakfast for us via room service the morning of the wedding. (What? You guys know how I feel about breakfast.) The gifts and the little treats made me feel appreciated, but what made me feel honored was the way so many other guests came up to me at the shower, the rehearsal dinner, and during cocktail hour to introduce themselves to me; that I was a bridesmaid made them make a point to get to know me.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted a wedding party when Eric and I started planning. We’re having a pretty small wedding and I have seven best friends; could I really have them all up there with me? Who would that leave in the seats? What was even the point? But a bridal party was important to Eric, and the more we talked about it, the more I got it. I see the bridal party as the people who I want to stand up for us, both literally and figuratively, to be like godparents for our marriage. But I also came to see the being in the bridal party as an all-access pass to the wedding. The dresses, the bouquets, the shoes… they are less about looking a certain way and more about donning a costume that says to the other guests, “She’s in the entourage.”

But I’ve also seen that while a bridesmaid dress may be a badge, it’s definitely not a superhero cape. Putting that dress on doesn’t change who someone is at the core. It doesn’t automatically make flaky friends get their shit together or negative friends less of a drag; even in the right dress, a bridesmaid can still disappoint you. Because friendships are complicated, so, too, are bridal party relations. And because everyone feels appreciated and honored differently (I’m told not everyone feels loved via thongs and brunch foods), figuring out just how to show people we care—or to accept someone’s display of friendship and love even if it’s not the way we would have done it—is tricky business and the stakes feel so high.

So today’s open thread is about dealing with the good and the bad parts of the bridal party: how to honor friends and show your love and appreciation, and how to deal when they let you down. How are you guys honoring your friends at your wedding? Is it a bridal party? A bridal brigade? Non-bridesmaids? Something totally different? What gifts (if any) are you giving to your wedding party? Do you have problems with your friend group and your wedding that you’re trying to solve? (Like, hey, what gifts you want to give your wedding party?) In this last post of friendship month, it’s open season. Ask questions, answer questions, or just give links to the pretty stuff you’re having your ladies wear. Have at.

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  • C

    No wedding party here. My sister wasn’t interested in being a bridesmaid and my other close friends are not only super far away, but have certain personality traits that I think would either make it difficult for them to be bridesmaids or difficult for ME to tolerate them being bridesmaids. I have the shy friend who hates the spotlight – she’s a bridesmaid for another friend’s wedding and she’s been anxious for MONTHS about it, the loud and bossy friend who loves to steal the spotlight, the jealous friend who wants to be getting married herself and is very judgmental about everything wedding-related…

    It’s not that I don’t absolutely LOVE these women dearly. But putting them in my wedding party would give me serious anxiety. So, no bridal party for us. Just good friends who are going to be there supporting us no matter what. And I save a fortune on bridesmaids bouquets and gifts. :)

  • a.non.

    I’m having a traditional bridal party, except there are more groomsmen than bridesmaids, which I feel fine about. My maid of honor is an event planner in real life, for a very high end fashion designer of which Jennifer Lawrence is the face of. So I think I lucked out in that department!
    Anyway, since I’m doing everything pretty traditionally, I want to get them a more nontraditional gift (like not jewellery or flip flops) but I have no idea where to start.

    PS. Is that really how you spell jewellery? I had no idea…

    • js

      Jewellery is the British English version. Jewelry is the American English version. Neither is incorrect.

    • Jade

      Depending on what kind of wedding you are doing you could get them something useful that relates to the (for lack of a better word) theme. For example I’m doing a daytime wedding and the reception will be a sort of fancy picnic. I’m making a bunch of really nice picnic blankets for guests to sit on in addition to having some tables for the elderly/klutzy guests to use and each blanket will have a tag with the name of a person in the wedding party. At the end of the day a (washed) blanket will be given to each of our attendants.

      TL;DR I’m giving them cool picnic blankets.

      • Lauren

        This is such a great idea – and can I please come to your picnic wedding?! It sounds like so much fun!!

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      Jade’s idea is fantastic. You can also get something that relates to their interests / your common interests and is unrelated to the wedding. My bridesmaids are tea lovers and I was living in England at the time, so I got them cute teapots + cups with a good selection of British tea, biscuits, and jam.

    • Nikki

      My bridesmaids (3) are all REALLY different people, so I’m getting a different gift for each of them as I had trouble thinking of something they’d all like. One is getting a hand-woven blanket, another I’m giving a funky framed print, and I’m still undecided about the third.

    • Manda

      I like the idea of giving gifts related to the theme or overall feeling of the wedding. I am getting married in the fall in the Rocky Mountains so I will giving my bridesmaids pashmina scarves embroidered with each of their names and our wedding date. Fun and functional =)

  • Laura C

    My fiance had about 10 people in mind as groomsmen, so he limited it to 8 and I’m having 7 bridesmaids/men. There are more people I’d be perfectly happy to have in that role, but it sort of got to where if I was adding one more person, there’d be the question about why her and not her. Anyway, my bridesmaids had an email intro thread and my MoH said to me that she felt like there was no one who was going to be the difficult person, which was great to hear. Especially since, as a bridesmaid for my MoH, I saw some problem bridesmaids up close — her sister/MoH, who showed up late to the rehearsal, a mutual friend of ours who spent pretty much the entire weekend on the phone with her long-distance boyfriend, being outrageously rude to everyone around her in the process.

    I don’t know what to get as a bridesmaid gift, though. We have two great ideas for the groomsmen, but I can’t think what for the bridesmaids. Which may point to doing very individualized things.

    • Laura C

      Oh my gosh, and I’d forgotten about how my best friend’s one bridesmaid with the long-distance boyfriend and the attitude volunteered to host a shower, then was out of the country visiting her boyfriend the day of the shower — she was supposed to be back a week ahead, then a couple days ahead, then suddenly she wasn’t going to be back and I didn’t have an apartment that could accommodate people, people were coming in from out of town, and we had no space. Luckily, a friend was able to reserve her building’s common room, or we’d have been screwed.

    • Gina

      I would love to hear ideas for bridesmaids gifts too! We’re from CO, getting married in CA, and I was thinking of getting my bridesmaids beanies handmade by a friend from here (beanies are mountain-y, right?) but other than that, I have no ideas. A couple of my bridesmaids are sporty, snowboarder-types but not all of them so I’m not 100% sure it’s a good gift for everyone. Are individualized gifts ok?

      • Laura C

        I probably wouldn’t do individualized gifts if I felt like one or more of my bridesmaids was inclined to be jealous over stupid things or take a gift misfire as evidence I didn’t love her like I loved X and Y. But while individualized gifts do bring up the possibility that someone will wish they’d gotten what another person got, giving everyone the same runs an equivalent risk that the gift will be perfect for a couple people and not a good fit for others. So…I feel ok about either.

      • js

        As the Always Bridesmaid, I love the idea of personalized gifts. In my opinion, even if it’s not much, it’s SO much nicer than one more faux pearl necklace. Unless your ladies or guys like faux pearls, then have at it! I like the idea of personalized wine glasses (so many tutorials out there for DIYers!). I also like personalized toiletry kits that you then fill with “day of necessities” or homemade or high end personal care items, depending

        • I like the idea of giving a little personalized gift in addition to the traditional matching jewelry (or whatever). That way everyone feels included in their robes or earrings, but also has something that is uniquely theirs.


        It really depends on your party. For my first wedding, I had only three bridesmaids- My little sister, who was my MOH, my best friend from grade/high school, and my best friend from college. Because my party was small and I knew my ladies so well, I gave them individualized gifts with confidence. I also spent roughly the same amount of money and stuck with a general theme (tote bags they’d like with something else small- thank you Urban Outfitters). Your mileage may vary.

      • Melissa

        Gift ideas –
        Our groomsmen received monogrammed cooler seats (coolers and seats in one, that you can carry like a backpack).
        Ladies received personalized clutches – I ordered 6 different clutches from different vendors in a style just for that lady, and they were not for use on the wedding day in particular, just life – and a handmade (by me) ceramic tray.
        Everyone got a Nerf gun. Note that Nerf Guns are not approved by TSA/FAA so if you have folks flying in, they can’t take it back with them.
        Parents received handmade pottery pieces by a very talented local artist.

      • Rachelle

        Me too! We grew up in CA, now live in CO and are getting married in CA. Small world :)

        I’m actually making necklaces for my bridesmaids based on this tutorial but in my wedding color (though they don’t have to wear it during the wedding). I think I’m also going to personalize champagne flutes and buy some of those cute mini bottles of sparkly! And maybe a lipstick or nail polish for each.

        • SamanthaNichole

          I really like this and may steal this idea and do colors to suit my girls. Oooooh I can envision a neutral or navy with 2 strands of neon!

        • Gina

          Way small world! Like the rest of CA, we moved to CO, too!! Brilliant ideas, thank you :)

      • The BY FAR best bridesmaid gift I’ve received was a pair of earrings – the bride bought us all long, gold colored earrings, but totally individual/different styles to suit each of our taste. This was years ago and I still wear them regularly, because they *are* totally my taste.

    • Carly

      I think semi-individual is great. I gave each of my 4 girls a different piece of jewelry I thought matched her style (she could wear it to the wedding or not), gave them each a bottle of their favorite wine, and then they all got a clutch. Some of my favorite gifts I’ve received were: a pashmina totally my style, a big nice beach towel, pretty earrings, and a terrarium kit.

      • Gina

        I absolutely love these ideas. And it IS helpful to think about gifts you’ve enjoyed!

    • Rebekah

      I wanted to chime in on the bride’s party gifts. I’ve been a bridesmaid twice, to very different weddings.

      Wedding 1: We (five of us) are given dress style number and color, told to get white shoes, and given earrings as gifts that match our DB dresses. I don’t wear mine anymore because my ears aren’t pierced and the clip ons were painful, but I remember them. Jewelry that matches the outfits is thoughtful as well as helpful because you don’t have to worry about some accessories and you look like you “belong.”

      Wedding 2: We were given guidelines (gray, knee length) and set loose. We (three of us) are given individual gifts chosen by the bride. Mine was a necklace that I happened to be able to wear with my outfit. I still wear and treasure it because it was a loving and thoughtful gift that just so happened to match the tone and history of our friendship.

      I’m sure you’ll choose whatever works best for you, but I thought it might be nice to hear real life examples.

    • ruth

      I had my best friend and my husband’s two teenage half sisters, so it made sense to do semi-individual gifts. I got them all a tote bag/purse (etsy) and a pair of flip-flops, but I got my friend (and MOH) a piece of jewelry I knew she’d like, and the SILs a funky oversized wood initial (also etsy!) on the back of which I wrote some sentimental stuff.

    • JES

      I got my maids each a different (but not personalized) market bag with sayings/logos to fit their personalities from and a pair of Toms- different colors/design for each girl. Since I had a destination wedding, I also made welcome bags for the out-of-town guests, and put my bridesmaids welcome bag stuff into their market bags with the Toms. It seemed to go over well… maybe consider getting them all the same things but tweaking them slightly for each girl’s personality?

    • Corrie

      The absolute best bridesmaid gift I have received (and I have been in a lot of weddings) was a tumbler (one of the plastic ones with lids and straws…) that she ordered personalized off of etsy. It was fun, personal, easy to fly home with after the wedding due to being not so breakable and perfect for mimosas the morning of the wedding. (and the day before the wedding. and possibly the day before that). I now keep it at work and it makes me smile every day when I drink from it.

    • Throwing in another vote for nice, all-occasion, semi-formal jewellery as a bridesmaid’s gift.

      Also, and this may not work for people with large bridal parties, but I took both of my maids on an adventure after the Hubs and I returned from our honeymoon. The night of the rehearsal dinner I gave them the option of “very nice jewellery or an adventure” and they were unanimous in choosing the latter.

      So, a few weeks later, I treated both the ladies to a day of skydiving! It was an unforgettable experience and an awesome way to reconnect after being in the honeymoon bubble :-)

      • LikelyLaura

        THAT IS SO COOL. I wish I’d done that. Maybe not skydiving, but something like that.

  • JJ

    I’m only having a maid of honor, since I could either have one bridesmaid or, like, nine, and I think this is the best way to avoid hurt feelings and also project the intimate wedding vibe I’m going for. I do want a few of my closest girlfriends with me the day of, though.


      A very close friend is getting married with no wedding party. She let me know that she is asking a bunch of us to do girly things (mani/pedi, etc) the day before the wedding with her and go to lunch.
      It’s a nice way to spend some QT with her before the big day, and help her relax, and I still get to pick out my own outfit. Feels like a win to me.

      • Karen

        I’m doing the same thing! A maid of honor, and then three others in my “wedding entourage” (as my fiance has called them). They’ll be around for the getting ready, photos, etc. but will not stand up with me or wear anything other than their own lovely dresses.

        However, I have a logistical question – even though my wedding entourage aren’t bridesmaids, do I need to treat them as such? One or two of them is getting her hair done and may come with us for mani/pedis. I had planned to cover the cost of these things for my maid of honor, but now I’m starting to wonder if it would be polite to do the same for members of my wedding entourage. We’re really trying to keep a lower budget (which is part of the reason that we didn’t want full wedding parties) but I’m wondering if things are going to get awkward? Any advice is appreciated!

        • ANOTHER MEG

          If I were in your entourage, and I had decided to get my nails done or hair done with you, I wouldn’t expect you to pay for it.

          I do, however, think a small gift for helping out with the wedding (that might be thoughtful but much cheaper than getting your hair done) would be a nice touch.

        • Brenda

          Just say up front, I expect the cost to be $xx-$xx, depending on style. And don’t dictate the styles or make anyone feel bad for not joining. And if you do want to pay for your maid of honor, just do it quietly with the salon when it comes time to pay.

          This is what I did – I sent an email that said “I will be getting my hair done at xx salon. If you’d like to get your hair done too, I’d love for you to join me. They charge $xx-$xx depending on length and style.” It was also a pretty inexpensive salon – my three “not-bridesmaids” came and we had a great time.

          • Karen

            Thanks for the great advice from both Another Meg and Brenda!

      • Kestrel

        I think this is what I’ll be doing with my sister as we’re not planning on any bridal party (partially because at this stage in my life, I just don’t have close friends – I just started graduate school, my college friends have mostly drifted away as they were more friends of location/convenience and my high school friends have also drifted as I live at least 500 miles from all of them).

        But it would be nice to have some ‘girly’ time with my sister (particularly as that’s something I don’t do with anyone else).

    • Caroline

      I too, am probably just having one bridesmaid, my little sister. If I had more, I feel like a) it would be an imposition on people (oops didn’t realize I felt that way til now), and b) I’m not sure who I would pick. Next would be friends and/or my cousins, although I’d lean towards friends. But I don’t have a small core of best friends, I have a whole bunch of friends who are close in various ways. It would end up being that I would have about 5-7 bridespeople, and that would be all my female friends attending the wedding, plus 1 male friend. It just seems like it is getting into the territory of “inviting all the girls in the third grade class except the one you don’t like” type of thing.

      I’ve definitely thought of asking a larger group of lady friends and family to come with me to the mikveh (and possibly celebrate that afternoon beforehand), per the sephardic tradition of turning it into a party, but I’m not sure whether my non-Jewish friends would feel uncomfortable. (Come with me to this mini-pool at the synagogue, where you can wait in the next room while I strip, dunk under the water three times with a blessing, and either one of you or a lady from the shul watching to make sure my hair got all the way under, then get dressed and we hang out and celebrate.)

      I guess I kind of want a bridal party but feel like I can’t have one (for the imposition and exclusion reasons above.)

      • Kestrel

        Just a thought, but as long as I knew what was happening, what was appropriate and what wasn’t, as a non Jewish person, I’d feel fine with a religious ceremony. I just would want to make sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong! So a bit of an explination would be nice.

        (I went to a friend’s bat mitzvah and was only concerned because I had no clue what I was supposed to be doing.)

      • The mikveh is a tradition I’m not familiar with, but it sounds like an excellent reason to have a party.

        If it’s meaningful for you to celebrate, DO IT. And your friends will catch on to your spirit and have a great time!

      • Breck

        A good theme that I’ve picked up on lately is “know your crowd,” so you would definitely know best how your friends would feel about being involved in and celebrating your mikveh, but, honestly, I would LOVE accompanying a friend there and throwing an after party. I’m totally non-religious and agnostic but have always deeply enjoyed attending friends’ first communions, confirmations, bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies (not just the parties–I really, really like the actual ceremonies). I say go for it!

      • Oakland Sarah

        As a non-jew, I would actually feel honored to be invited to such an important ceremony–I would even be totes cool sitting in the next room because I would know that a) this is important to you and b) you want me to be there even in this indirect way. I would totally send you woo-wooy vibes while you were dunking.

        But, as someone else mentioned, I think you should be very upfront about what this is, why it’s important to you, and why you would want the person to be there (even though they have to be in the other room). I would suggest putting this all out there in the invitation and giving people an “out”–such as, meet up with me afterwards! so that no one feels obligated to come if they would feel uncomfortable.

  • Emmy

    We don’t have a wedding party, but I did ask my best friend to be my Awesome Bride’s-Lady and help with some crafting. She also threw me a lovely bachelorette. Most important, she’s reading our Quaker marriage certificate aloud during our ceremony.

    This arrangement has worked out really well. She picked out her own outfit and volunteered to do everything, and it’s a lovely, low-key way for us to honor her.

    As far as gifts go, I shopped like it was her birthday. I looked at restaurant giftcards or a spa certificate, but ended up getting her a Sephora giftcard.

  • D

    In Holland, there is no such thing as a bridal party. However, the (American?) custom is becoming more familiar here. Usually, the bridesmaids or ‘bridal children’ are very young, more or less like flowergirls or the ringbearer. They perform the same tasks.
    It is customary to have a friend/friends be the ‘master of ceremony’ which is sort of a combination of a wedding stage manager and a bridesmaid.
    When I get married, I will not have a bridal party. I will ask lots of friends to help us before and on the day, and they will be appreciated, honored and loved very much. Just not sure on whether to get them a gift. Do you get gifts for all the people who help you DIY/DIT your wedding?

    • Mimi

      We are having our wedding on family property, so we have lots of helpers. We got gifts for the wedding party, and gift cards for all of the other helpers.

  • Kristen

    We gave the groomsmen whiskey and the bridesmaids got Sephora gift cards. I wrote the ladies heartfelt cards with messages thanking them for their place in our lives, relationship and marriage. All three ladies cried. No idea what the groomsmen’s cards said but everyone seemed perfectly happy with the gift but really touched by the words. I think honestly that would be true of anyone, unless they’re gift grubbers.

    • rys

      Whiskey, yum.

  • Bonnie

    There are 4 ladies in my bridal party – one MOH and three bridesmaids. I love each of them and they truly are a representation of my different walks in life. Additionally, my fiance’s sister is my “honorary” bridesmaid and has some special duties the day of the wedding. I am really happy to be able to honor her in a different way than the others since she has a special relationship with both myself and her brother.

    I haven’t decided what to give my wedding party yet – the wedding isn’t until May anyway – but I have some general ideas. I like the thought of giving them something they can use after the wedding (a really great bag or cool beauty stuff) but that also has a personal touch.

  • MK

    Hello, APW folks! I’ve been reading since I discovered the site a few months ago (Godsend!) but haven’t brave enough to comment yet. But I have a bridal party dilemma, and I’m hoping y’all can help.

    My college BF has accepted a spot as a bridesmaid. This is great! But she asked if she can bring a plus one for the week. I wasn’t planning on giving her a plus one, as I know she isn’t dating anyone and isn’t likely to begin (she’s been 5 years without a date…) and, you know, small wedding–I didn’t think she’d have anyone to bring.

    But after asking about who else she would know who is coming (um, mutual college friends?), she asked about having a plus one. CBF [college best friend] said she wanted a plus-one because she is afraid she’ll be “bored,” which, ouch. That hurt. You’ll be bored at my wedding and the (busy) days leading up to it?

    She wants to bring her BFF from high school (let’s just call her B), who also went to college with. B and I were friendly but never really friends, and we aren’t even facebook-level friends in the several years since college. I only know what B is doing when my CBF fills me in.

    I do not want B there. She was a bit of a drama queen/diva and I’m very worried she’s going to invite herself to the bridesmaid-only things. Furthermore, I think she’s totally unaware of the kind of busy she’ll be the day or two before the wedding, and has unrealistic expectations.

    So do I just suck it up and invite B, hoping she doesn’t tag along to stuff she’s not invited to? Or do I have a leg to stand on in not extending her an invite? I feel like CBF has really put me in a tight spot here.

    • Kristen

      I might be completely off base here, but I suddenly had the thought part way through this and wanted to ask – is there any chance your friend hasn’t had a date in 5 years and wants to bring her best friend as a date because they might be in a relationship together? I don’t know -I just wondered if this was a possibility you hadn’t considered.

      Regardless, I think it would be really hard to have a bridesmaid bring a date who is also a girl and then to deny that date access to everything your bridesmaids friend is going to do. It’s hard enough for caring brides to ask that the male escorts for bridesmaids go elsewhere while bridesmaids biz is happening which is why I ended up getting ready for my wedding with 3 ladies and one of their husbands in the hotel room. Because I cared more about their feelings than my own. (wrong choice)

      It also seems strange that she would want to bring someone who ostentatiously you would not be inviting to the wedding if left to your own devices. Is she aware of that? If so, what’s the motive then? I think you could be a champ and let her have the friend as a date for the wedding itself. But for wedding events beyond that, I think you can care about your own wants and needs more than hers and make the choice that you’re happiest with. An invite to be a bridesmaid does not include adding a psuedo-bridesmaid to the mix for her own personal (and let’s be honest, selfish) reasons.

      • MK

        I almost wish they were dating! I worry about her… but no, they’re not. 98% sure, but I guess you never know for sure unless they’d tell me?

        I guess that CBF knows that B wouldn’t otherwise be invited: she wasn’t in the lineup when she asked who else she’ll know, and CBF knows I haven’t spoken to B in at least 6 years…?

        I am so grateful that someone else thinks CBF was being selfish! That was my reaction, too, but then I worried over it.

      • anon correction

        Sorry to be ‘that person’ but I think you mean ‘ostensibly’ not ‘ostentatiously’. Just thought you should know in case you use that often.

    • Wow. I can only speak for myself, MK, but I think you are totally within your rights not to extend an invitation to B. A “plus-one” is typically reserved for a significant other, am I right? And the “bored” comment would set my teeth on edge. “Ouch” for sure.

      If B is coming along, I would fully imagine she’ll be coming along to bridesmaid-only things . . . because what else will she have to do? If she’s physically there, it will be really hard not to include her. That’s not okay.

      I would sit down with CBF and explain to her your reservations, emphasizing how much you were looking forward to spending time with her (and just her) in these crucial days before your wedding. Also, maybe mention all the fun activities you have planned — something to emphasize how very not bored she’s going to be! I would really hope she’d understand and be fine coming solo.

      • SamanthaNichole

        Also just tell her that you aren’t doing plus ones. You want to have an intimate wedding with your family and closest friends and that your venue is small or something. if it’s a blanket rule, as it sounds like it is, then that will hopefully make it easier.

        • MK

          I am, unfortunately, doing plus ones…for those in significant relationships. I hadn’t planned on offering plus ones to anyone not currently in a long-term relationship of some kind, though, so that has an element of truth to it.

          • Laura C

            I think saying that, and maybe (if it’s true) reassuring her that by the time of the wedding, she’ll have spent some time with other bridesmaids and will feel she knows more people than she’s expecting?

          • Carly

            Can her plus one come for just the wedding, but not the time leading up to it? I do think it’s a nice courtesy to let your bridal party have plus ones, even if they’re not in a relationship. But it would be sort of weird for that extra person to be there during the days leading up to it.

          • Melissa

            I think you should be the gracious host and extend a plus 1 to her. She is in the bridal party for which one makes exceptions. My BFF wasn’t dating anyone at the time of my wedding, so she brought a friend and I know she appreciated not being singled out, no pun intended. When you extend a plus 1, you don’t get to choose who that plus 1 is. And she’s coming for a whole week of activities? That’s some dedication – give her a plus 1!!!

          • This involves a bit more legwork on your part, but if you have names for all the significant others, then it’s less “Chris plus one” and more “Chris and partner Taylor.” That might make it easier for you to say “we’re not doing plus ones.”

            When I think of plus ones, I think of allowing for an unknown date, which could be someone along for company or a bf/gf the bride and groom don’t know yet.

          • SamanthaNichole

            I think inviting long term partners/ spouses type people is different than doing plus ones for people who are unattached and will end up bringing someone you don’t know or just a friend. We are doing this and have had no problems so far. But our friends know each other so the singles won’t feel uncomfortable and my one long distance friend who doesn’t know anyone is getting a plus one. I think you need to know your crowd . . . sorry this is causing stress.

          • Anne

            This may be kind of a technicality, but…significant others aren’t really plus ones. They’re actually invited, whether by virtue of you knowing them or because they’re in a relationship with someone you love. Regardless, they’re not a “bring a friend” on an invite but an invited guest by name. That may be a good way to talk to her about the distinction.

          • MDBethann

            But I think inviting a COUPLE is different than inviting a “+1.” When it is a couple, BOTH names go on the invite; with a +1 it is “Friend and Guest.”

            So unless you’re addressing invites as “and guest” then in terms of etiquette, I don’t think you’re really doing “+1s” at all; you’re inviting couples. Unless your CBF tells you they are a couple, then it’s not the same as the long-term relationship couples you are acknowledging.

      • MK

        Thank you! I’m so grateful to know I’m not the only one shocked by that reaction! You’re making me feel so much better already.

        • Aly

          I’ve also felt conflicted on plus-ones for the bridal party, especially since we’re giving plus-ones to other people. My one bridesmaid kept acting like she was automatically getting a plus-one even though she’s not dating anyone and I kind of shot her down. I mean, c’mon. You’re going to bring a fringe guy friend that knows 0 people to a wedding you’re in? What will he do during pictures/cocktail hour (if that’s how you order your day) or while you’re all getting ready? I think a lot of people assume they get plus-ones since they’re in the bridal party, but honestly I think it’s worse if it works out that way because they have more responsibilities that the average guest.

          Bottom line: I would explain all this to her and make it clear that if she does want to bring someone that badly that she isn’t just blanket invited to everything because she’s your date.

    • Rachelle

      Girl, invite exactly who you want and don’t invite anyone you don’t want. Apologize profusely, blame it on the amount of space you have and tell CBF that she can’t bring someone, but you’re sure she’ll have lots to do and boredom won’t be an issue.

    • mira

      MK, I understand your impulse not to want B crashing all the bridesmaid things, but I think if it’s possible to make room for a +1 for your BF, you should give it serious consideration.

      First, on the general topic of +1s for close friends who “haven’t been on a date in 5 years”: The fact of the matter is that it can be really hard to fully embrace the joy of a wedding weekend when you’re feeling spectacularly single — no matter how much you love the people getting married. I had a few years without a real date, years in which some of my closest friends got hitched, and those weddings were sometimes really hard (in addition to being totally wonderful). I know I wasn’t always the most sparkling version of myself on those occasions, and although cost certainly becomes an issue at some point, I tried to keep that in mind when I was assigning +1s for my own wedding.

      The point of all this is: it may be that bringing a +1 along as a bit of extra support allows your BF to be even more focused on showering you with love (and btw: it’s possible “bored” really meant “left behind” of “left out.”)

      But then there’s the issue of the specific +1 BF has in mind setting off specific red flags. This is where you need to have a direct conversation with CBF. If you decide that there’s room on your list for her to have a +1, you need to say, “I’ve found some room on our guest list for you to bring a +1 — but I want to be really straight with you about something. Regardless of who you bring, there are going to be a lot of things in the days leading up to the wedding that are for the bridal party only. I know B is your BFF, band I know she knows a lot of my other close friends from college, but I don’t feel especially close to her. There are a bunch of things in the days leading up to the wedding, and on the day-of, that I am looking forward to doing with only my closest friends– do you think you’ll be able to explain that to B that there will be times she’ll have to fend for herself?”

      • Rachel

        This is great advice!

      • rys

        This. As a veteran of the “spectacularly single” set, my sense is that BF is worried/anxious about feeling left out or different or excluded if she is surrounded by couples. I’ve been to weddings where I’ve felt absolutely included, wouldn’t have wanted to have anyone with me, and weddings where I’ve felt more sidelined. If she’s going to be with you for a week of prep, she may be concerned about how it will feel–and instead of dumping her emotions on you, she’s proposed a plan of action. Only you know her well enough to know if this is plausible, but I suggest considering why she may have asked for a +1. Also, if you would agree if the +1 were male (rather than female and possibly wanting to be part of all pre-wedding activities), I think you need to offer her the +1 (which doesn’t mean a blanket invite to everything — you can certainly set boundaries).

        But most of all, I think this situation warrants a frank (and loving) conversation about why she wants a +1 and what her concerns are (which are completely valid as her concerns, even if they seem absurd to you, and deserving of a thoughtful response, which may or may not be a +1 invite).

        • MK

          Thank you, MIRA and RYS. While space is a concern, I would absolutely give her a plus one if I knew she had someone important in her life–I want my guests to be happy!

          So my hang-up is definitely because of “who” and “why” and my feeling pressured to include B in all the things (btw, I don’t know how early CBF will be coming, but it may be the Thursday before a Saturday wedding. Plane tickets are not yet bought).

          The “who” problem I’ve explained, and I think she was genuine about the “why”–she thinks she’ll be bored and have nothing to do. While she has been a bridesmaid before, it was for a small, hastily thrown-together wedding for another friend, and I think being a bridesmaid meant wearing a dress at a ceremony and awkwardly watching other people dance at the reception. So I think that’s all she’s expecting. Of course I need to clarify what I am expecting, I guess, but I’m still working it out and her request threw me completely off.

          That leaves the pressure: Is it ok to specifically not include B (if she comes) on things? Or is that rude and I should just suck it up?

          • mira

            #1, of course B doesn’t have to be invited along to anything the other bridesmaids’ guests are not invited to! If you’re talking about things that another bridesmaid’s husband is invited to, I think that’s trickier. Other ladies will probably disagree with me. This is likely related more to our own experiences than to your specific situation.

            #2 It sounds like there’s a lot for you to talk through with BF in terms of your expectations. It’s okay if you don’t know every specific detail, but you should be clear with her up front about what she’s signing up for.

            #3 I’m not sure “is it rude” is actually a very useful question — if you make a decision and BF is hurt by it, you can’t say “well, the ladies of APW think I’m right” and just write off your good friend’s feelings. Instead, I would encourage you to think about these questions:

            1. Can I physically and financially make space for BF to have a +1 (it sounds like you can)

            2. How much will I hurt BF if I deny her request to have a guest at the wedding because she is not in a committed relationship? Have I really given BF a chance to fully explain why she made this request? More to the point: is BF feeling sad about being single right now? When was the last time we talked about something unrelated to the wedding (believe me sister, we’ve all been there!)

            3. How unpleasant will it be for me if BF brings B to the wedding and reception? Worst case scenario, but also most likely scenario.

            4. How can I best communicate to BF that I understand where she’s coming from, and that I don’t want B coming along to every little bridesmaid thing?

            Bottom line: you know your friend better than any of us do, and only you can decide what’s right for your wedding. But some more conversations with BF might help you make a decision you can feel proud of in a year or ten.

        • Carly

          Rys, can I ask if there was something specific about those weddings where you felt particularly included when you were part of the single set?

          • rys

            Carly: I don’t think there’s one thing in particular, but some factors include:
            1) tables with groups of friends (coupled or otherwise) rather than being the lone singleton among a bunch of couples I didn’t really know–the fling the single chick wherever approach isn’t so fun;
            2) a mixture between slow and fast/group dancing (basically not sitting alone at a table while others danced);
            3) being introduced to other people when I didn’t really know many others (a few intentional introductions to people goes a long way to not standing awkwardly and alone between cocktail hour and the reception or at random unoccupied intervals!).

            Mira: I think explaining your plans/expectations is wise. Perhaps a thought experiment about what you’d do or how you’d feel if you were to give BF a +1 and not know the +1. I totally get not wanting someone who aggravates you at your wedding, but it might be helpful to think about decisions pretending you don’t know B, and consider that before making a final decision.

            I’d also add that I used to think of +1s as significant others and thus actually felt frustrated by being invited with a +1, as it made me feel dumb for never having an obvious date to bring. Then a good friend pointed out to me that +1 didn’t have to mean date, just companion, and that helped me shift away from thinking I was the inept single chick. This was especially helpful when my sister got married and, for a lot of reasons, it wasn’t the easiest of weddings for me (cue: comments about singleton status from family friends, among other things). There’s a long and annoying story about my +1 being given and taken away several times, but in the end, having a friend there to support me really made the wedding much more enjoyable and let me be a better guest.

          • rys

            And by Mira, I meant MK. Sorry for the mix-up of names :)

    • Martha

      I agree with what others have already said – I think as a bridesmaid in your wedding she should receive a plus one, regardless of her relationship status. While I agree it’s odd that she wants to bring a friend and not a date, you asked her to be in the wedding because she is important to you. And, as APW has always said, your friends do not magically change when they become part of your wedding party.

      I would definitely stress the specifics of who she wants to bring. Also, perhaps point out to CBF that if she brings a date (of any kind), she is potentially closing herself off to meeting a romantic someone at the wedding. And maybe tell her the “bored” comment rubbed you the wrong way. It is most likely a code word for “left-out” and “alarmingly single,” but if you’re close enough friends to be in someone’s wedding, you should be comfortable enough to tell the truth about your feelings.

    • Ang

      I agree with the rest of the ladies that a conversation needs to be had. But I think you know that :) I think most people understand that there are certain things the bridal party only should be involved in. Just make that clear ahead of time.

      I will also weigh in that I’ve been a bridesmaid in many weddings where I was single. Like Mira, I know I wasn’t always the most sparkling version of myself, try as I might. When I read about the week of festivities I wanted to cry for your CBF. While I’m sure she loves you and she’s happy for you and wants the best for you, spending a whole week of celebrating the end of your singleness might be REALLY hard, depending on where she’s at with things in her life. As someone else said (and I couldn’t find that comment again for the life of me!) maybe she wants someone to vent to or simply de-brief with through the course of the week – to avoid having to bog you down with her emotions. While to you she’ll be busy for the week leading up to your wedding, to her it might take all she has in her not to have a meltdown while hanging decorations or organizing place cards. And just having a non-married person back in the hotel room to vent to might be all she needs to help her be a sparkling person when she’s celebrating you.

      When reading your post, I could put in the people’s names from a similar wedding I attended. I was the person (not a bridesmaid though) who brought the un-welcome plus one. And today, sadly after a divorce, the bride and my plus one are closer friends than many of her bridesmaids. People change. The plus one wasn’t the same party girl/drama queen she was in college. She was a true and valuable friend throughout the divorce while many of the bridesmaids weren’t. While this is obviously a worse case scenario on many accounts, the people/events kept coming to mind as I read through the comments related to your dilemma.

      I hope you are able to sort things through so both you and your CBF can enjoy your big day!

      • MK

        Thanks, I appreciate your input–and it sounds like I’m not the only one who feels conflicted on this, judging from the range of answers!

        But to be clear: not a week of festivities! Sorry if I mistated that; she’s far away and will likely miss everything before the wedding except for the immediately before the wedding stuff, like the rehearsal. And I’d like her to come a day earlier than that, if she can, but I understand work, etc.

        ANG, I really do wish I could write some of this off as me being non-stop wedding talk, but we’ve barely talked about it. (Another thing that has sort of hurt my feelings…she was very “meh” about my engagement and hasn’t shown any interest since).

        But I”ll definitely have to suck it up and talk to her. I hope that if B comes along, we can make it clear that she is welcome at the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception, but…not the other stuff… that’s the part I fear won’t go well. But we’ll try to be grown-ups (gulp).

  • Tess

    We went no bridal party, but are having a few friends say a blessing at our ceremony to honor them and have some community participation. We just didn’t like the hierarchy of bridal parties – didn’t want to distinguish among friends at what will be a relatively small wedding. But I am also having some girls get ready with me beforehand, and I do wonder if between those two things, we’ve sort of ended up in the same place. But I do like that it will just be the two of us standing up there.

    • Brenda

      This is exactly what we did. It worked out really well, I had my closest friends with me all day for the girly getting ready part, and then during the ceremony it was just us and the officiant standing at the front.

  • SamanthaNichole

    I have five bridesmaids, three dear friends and two dear almost sister-in-laws. I have no idea what to do for them. Originally my fiance and I weren’t really planning on giving gifts, because ya know our friends are there with us because they love us, not for a present. But I just got back from a beautiful bridal shower – and I’ve been nervous and anti-bridal shower – it was just what I wanted. My ladies went to such great lengths for me, I really feel like I need to do something for them. A gift? Something that is not a gift (what is this even???) ? I would love love love suggestions. I don’t want to give them something like jewelry to wear, but I like jewelry – like those little knot rings that you see on Etsy – so delicate. But I don’t think I could pull of individualized gifts . . . Help APW!

    • You definitely should do something for them, even if its just throwing a brunch the morning of or maybe taking them all for mani-pedis the week before. Of course they didn’t agree to be your bridesmaid for the gift, but obviously (based on your remark about the bridal shower) they are putting in a lot of time and effort for you. It totally makes sense for you to recognize that!

      I’ve been a MOH 3 times, and I’ve received jewelry (always to be worn at the wedding), customized robes, monogramed tote bags, flip flops, makeup kits, and various other small tokens. At the end of the day, it isn’t really the gift that matters. It’s the thought behind the gift – that the bride noticed and appreciated all that the bridesmaid did. I would have been happy with just a thank you card, though or a glass of champagne would’ve been great too :)

      Now that I’m the bride, I’m still trying to figure out what to give! I love the idea of Etsy jewelry.

      • I’m all about Etsy jewelry! Of course, I’m just generally Etsy obsessed, but I selected personalized pieces with quotes from the e.e. cummings poem being read during our ceremony (hope my MOH doesn’t read this). It’s just a general gift, not something for them to wear during the wedding.

        I agree with Jennifer — I would do something for your bridal party, Samantha. The idea of taking them out for manis/pedis or to a special meal is a good one, if feasible, but you could also give a small token (like jewelry), if you like. Most importantly, I would write a heartfelt card. Honestly, a friend’s thoughtful letter presented to me as a bridesmaid before the wedding meant more to me than the physical gift itself.

        We don’t always take the time to just say “thanks, love you” — but that’s really matters. I’m certainly guilty of it. Take that time this time.

        • SamanthaNichole

          Oh I am the Queen of the heartfelt note, so that they will certainly be getting! Maybe along with some lovely stationary! Or the DIY jewelry I mentioned below. :) Thanks for your advice. Sometimes just talking it out with someone helps so much!

      • SamanthaNichole

        There is a DIY necklace tutorial that someone posted above that might be just the thing. I think it would be a nice way to make jewelry personal and individualized! I’ve started scouting out bead shops! Thanks for your advice. I agree, my ladies have been wonderful and I want to give a little something to them. :)

    • Rachel

      Lately, my favorite non-gift gift is little things from antique stores! I don’t know if there are any good antique stores near you but I went to a bunch when I was home in MI a few months ago and OMG it was like a gifters’ paradise. I wanted to buy my friends All the Things. My personal favorites were the vintage aprons and vintage cookbooks, but there is seriously something for everyone. (I also loved the cool vintage camping stuff like coolers, flashlights, etc. and antique drinking glasses) We got Eric a vintage shaving kit. Also you could browse Etsy/Ebay for this kind of stuff and order it that way. Depending on where you live, vintage doesn’t have to be expensive (tons of neat stuff for under $20 and things like antique magazines and postcards are usually super cheap) and I was amazed at how perfect it could be for someone without really feeling like a big “OMG you spent money on me” gift.

    • MDBethann

      TIME! We gave our bridal party our time (and a small token representative of the outing we were giving them). One got massage & dinner (with lotions as a token); one got a winery day with me & a bottle of wine (it’s something we used to do a lot together but don’t do as much anymore); another and I love the same baseball team, so I got her a beanie of her favorite player and tickets to a game together; my flower girl (our niece) got a doll tea set and a grown up tea with me; our ring bearer got a day of video games with my husband (his uncle) and was in 7th heaven; our “best woman” (my sis-in-law) got a weekend away with her husband while we babysat the kids. My MoH (my sis) badly needed a new camera, so that’s what she got.

      We tried to think of things that were meaningful for each person and that, in most cases, would encourage us to spend time together after the wedding like we’d been doing before the wedding.

      Good luck deciding!

      • MDBethann

        The added benefit of our gifts? It was easier on the budget. Except for my sister’s camera, we were able to spread the gifts out for awhile, so if your budget is tight, it can help with that too.

  • Rachel

    Mmmkay let’s talk gifts! This and the favors are two things I’m REALLY looking forward to about our wedding!

    Lately, I’ve really been loving the idea of more unisex gifts. I know there are the more traditional suggestions like jewelry or a clutch or a pretty robe (and I’m still totally into those, don’t get me wrong), but right now I kind of love the idea of doing something a little more unisex (especially since I’m having a bridesman) and more home-related. So some things I’ve been thinking:

    – A cozy blanket
    – Stationery (maybe personalized)
    – A cocktail shaker, cool bottle opener, or other bar-related goodies, along with a nice bottle of alcohol
    – A cool art print
    – Hard to kill houseplants! Loving this Etsy shop:

    Would love to hear other fun ideas, unisex or not!

    • Emmy

      We don’t have a wedding party, but we gave restaurant gift cards to everyone who’s helping us. That way, they can have a nice night out. I’m also a fan of fancy liquor or a set of pickles and jam with a tea towel.

    • I think the bar-related goodies are crowd-pleasers (and definitely fun and unisex!). I like the idea of an art print, too! I’m getting a Beatles-related print for our wedding planner, who has been extraordinary (and is a huge Beatles fan).

      I love to give gifts, too, and have been planning bridesmaid presents since before we got engaged (really). Right now I’m leaning toward monogrammed scarves for my two ladies (we’re getting married this November! Chilly!), plus a pretty piece of personalized jewelry from Etsy.

      No clue about the guys yet, though. Our friends in the same “friend group” just got married in May, and their groomsmen gifts were monogrammed Swiss army knives, sooo . . . that’s out. But that’s all right. I was thinking flasks? Or a fun bar-related collection, as Rachel mentioned? Hmm.

      • Jessica B

        flasks are a crowd pleaser as well. I like this shops:

        They did a good job on mine. Totally washable, color hasn’t worn off. It’s great and they sell them either all matching for bridal parties or you can choose a certain number individually for a bulk buy discount.

        • Jess

          Why do the girls never get flasks?! Seriously. I wear almost no jewelry and would never wear gifted jewelry again after the wedding but a flask? Hellz yea, that would be amazing. Just saying, wish people thought more about the individuals than the genders.

          • Linsey

            Very late to this but catching up! We gave all our bridal party flasks. Engraved round sporran ones (we’re Scottish) for the men (and I bought my husband one as a surprise) and sparkly black ones for the ladies from Urban Outfitters.
            I also got my bridemaids freshwater pearl bracelets that I made and some earrings but didn’t say they had to wear them on the day.

      • My mom made my bridesmaids matching necklaces that they wore at the wedding, and now wear quite regularly, if the pictures in my iMessages are any evidence. My MOH really went above and beyond so I got her a little clutch as an extra thank you gift, but I don’t think it’s really something you must do. Harkening to the idea of the love languages, I show love through gifts, so I wanted to give her something to say yes, you are my closest friend and you did a lot for me and I appreciate it greatly.

        I thought of doing totebags for everyone, clutches, pashminas (the day before the wedding it was chilly enough that we rehearsd our outdoor wedding in fleece jackets), flasks, etc, but the necklaces were something I had fun helping my mom design, and I gave them to my ladies as gifts at the bachelorette party. I told them they didn’t have to wear them on the day of (I let my bridesmaids pick their shoes, makeup, hairstyles, etc. I was asked by my sister at the hotel on the wy to the ceremony if her earrings were okay, but I didn’t register that they were lightning bolts until the reception..).

        My husband gave his groomsmen a giant box of Magic: The Gathering cards, because when they get together it’s what they do.

    • Jessica B

      If you’re willing to spend a couple extra $$ on the gift, I really like these:

      Pocket knives are super useful, they double as jewelry/key chain, and are pretty unique. Otherwise I really like the personalized mugs with some sort of drink.

      For my bridesmaids I got them both funky earrings that look similar but aren’t the same, one got a bracelet with our college’s longitude and latitude, and the other got a Wisconsin pendant (the state we met in).

      • Rachel

        Those are so cool! My mom always gives mini Swiss army knives as gifts for things and I love mine…so useful!

    • Kestrel

      Something that is maybe traditionally a male gift could also be really nice. If I were to have bridesmaids, I’d totally give them a leatherman micra. It’s the most useful thing ever! It’s got a nice pair of built in scissors and I use it all the time. When I moved away to college, my mom got one because she was sad that she couldn’t use mine! It’s also tiny enough to fit in girl pockets.

      Bonus, they come in 5 different colors – gray, green, red, blue, and black.

      • Kestrel

        Sorry, for some reason I can’t edit my previous post. But, the micra also has a nail file and one of those things for cleaning out the gunk under your nails so it’s a bit more of a ‘girly’ pocket knife

    • Magster

      Is it just me or are those word art prints cool and easy to individualize? I pushed these for the guys but then turned my future husband over to etsy. He found some cool hand-painted signs that he could personalize for the different types of guys he had, from man cave to library signs. Could work with your bar theme ideas?

      • Thank you so much for the shout out – your groomsmen signs were very fun to make! I hope you have a wonderful wedding!


      We’re doing unisex gifts, and everyone is getting the same thing:

      1)A t-shirt that reads Team [me or my fella] on the front and “Love is a Battlefield” on the back
      2)A water gun

      We’re doing a battle the day before the wedding with food color in the water, and whoever’s team wins gets to pick the order of the vows.

      • Aly

        How fun! :)

    • C R

      For our wedding a month ago, I was struggling with what to do on a limited budget for my 5 completely amazing girls — I ended up buying a round of pedicures at a fairly inexpensive spot, with the primary goal being to lock in some ladies-only time for everyone to get to know each other. Completely worth it!!

      I also made home-made jewelry for everyone — it was simple stuff, but I wanted something that balanced an individual touch with unifying the look (the girls picked their own individual dresses in varying shades of pink/beige, so everyone was different to start with). So, I learned how to metal stamp (actually easy!) so that I could put everyone’s initial on a tiny tag on their necklace, and kept the earrings and bracelets the same. It took a bit of time, but in the end I came in pretty close to my budget, for what I would have paid for the necklace only (you can buy similar necklaces to what I made on Etsy). I think it turned out pretty well!

    • Anne

      So, if you’re into cooking, or you have friends who are, I got my three bridesmaids each a really nice Wüsthof knife. You have to have friends who like to cook, but most people have terrible knives, and they were really appreciated.

    • Martha

      I gave my bridesmaids monogrammed oxford shirts. These work for men too, you could just use a different stitch-style for the lettering, or monogram the men’s cuff and the ladies breast pocket (that’s waht I did). I loved all the pinterest photos of girls in matching shirts the morning of, but I didn’t like the over-sized aspect of some of them. I chose shirts that would actually fit them – also knowing that several of my bridesmaids are super preppy and I know have already worn them to work etc.

    • Samantha

      I just got really excited and thought about how terrariums would be the perfect gift because all my girls like houseplants. Then I remembered two of them will be flying in… dang it.

      • Oakland Sarah

        You could give them a picture of a terrarium and then ship it?

        • Oakland Sarah

          agh. Couldn’t get the comment editor to work.

          But, if you’re purchasing a terrarium you could get it shipped and wrap a picture of it so they could “open it” while at the wedding weekend. Or, you could give it to them and offer to ship it–or, I see someone mentioned something about a terrarium kit? I am pro-terrarium idea, so just trying to put some options out there so you don’t feel you have to completely start from scratch.

    • Caroline

      When I got married, I gave my three bridesmaids the following things:

      1. A bottle of wine I thought they’d like. Different for each person.
      2. A book I thought they’d like. Different for each person.
      3. Some bubble bath in a scent I thought they’d like. Different for each person.
      4. Pink flip-flops, in case (a) the ground was too wet for heels at our outdoor wedding location or (b) they wanted to switch into flats at any point during the reception
      5. Reversible scarf/shawl in two shades of pink, because they requested some kind of colorful accessory to wear for the wedding (I’d just asked them to wear black cocktail dresses of their choice)
      6. Packed all of the above items into a cloth tote bag (like the kind you could use for groceries) with some cute decoration printed on it

      My concept with the first three items was that they could lie in a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a good book. (If any of them had been way more into craft beer or liquor, I would have swapped wine for beer or liquor. And obviously if any of them had been a non-drinker, I would have swapped in some kind of fancy chocolates or other gourmet item.)

      In general, I’d go with gifts that are more individual and personalized — something that specific friend would love and use. Mine ended up being individualized variations on a theme, but I’ve definitely heard of people giving totally different gifts to each member of their wedding party.

    • Another Kate

      I really wanted to do individual gifts, but I had 8 ‘maids and I was stressing myself out trying to stay within the same price point for everyone, both in actual money spent, and how much it “looked” like I spent. Plus I got married in January, so I had just bought a lot of these girls Christmas gifts and I was out of ideas!

      So, I went with all the same thing, but with a few personal touches. I bought them robes to wear the morning of the wedding while getting ready, but that was more because I wanted cute robe pics than an actual gift for them. I bought a variety of printed robes from an etsy seller and had them each pick out one when they arrived at the hotel room the morning of the wedding.

      For their gifts:

      -initial mug from anthropologie with a hot chocolate on a stick (thought it was a good nod to the winter wedding)
      -cashmere gloves, different color for each girl depending on their style (again, winter wedding)
      -mini bottle of champagne
      -one of those “minimergency kits” for bridesmaids
      -gift card to each of their favorite stores

      I spent more than I would have liked (especially times 8), but these girls were amazing throughout wedding planning, threw me a great shower, a great bachelorette party, and each of them were supportive in various ways throughout (attending hair trials with me, dress fittings, etc, etc), so I felt it was important to recognize that.

      • Rachel

        I feel like we are kindred spirits in gifting and winter weddings! And also that you totally admitted you got them the robes because you wanted cute robe pics…I had the same thought. Anyway, I love the idea of doing nice gloves for a winter wedding…gloves, scarves, and other winter accessories are definitely on my mind for my crew too! And mini champagne just adds a fun touch to any gift.

        Like you, I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up spending a ton on their gifts but I can’t help it! It’s just how I am!!

  • Katherine

    We didn’t have wedding party, largely to avoid the stress of choosing who to include. Plus, my closest friend had a baby due the day after the wedding, so we didn’t even know until a few days ahead of time whether she’d be able to come.

    I don’t think this made any of my friends feel left out our less honored. Because we had a small-ish wedding where the majority of guests were family, the few friends we did invite were already a sort of inner circle. And I still found ways to include many of my friends in the process: The pregnant friend helped me choose a dress (which ensured that she got to see me in it!) & helped me make place cards; a wine loving friend helped me choose the wine & picked up the pie; a friend who loves to bake helped me with the brownies we gave out as favors.

  • Cass

    I had 6 people in my bridal party (officially known as the bridal crew), including my brothers, best friend from elementary school, cousin, and my best friends from university who I consider to be siblings. I had an MOH who was amazing, and ran interference with my sometimes crazy family all day.

    I found it really frustrating and weird got some resistance from some people close to us to having guys in my bridal party, but it was really important me to honour the role that my (male) best friend has played in my life. I love him like a brother, and couldn’t see why some of my family members were suggesting that he should stand on my husbands side when he was so important to me. It became the ONE thing I dug my heels in on and fought hard for (with my husbands blessing, he had his sisters in his wedding party). In the end, so worth it. I got to see my all of best friends faces full of love and support walking down the aisle in front of me and was blown away by their support.

    The only thing I regret or would change about our wedding is not officially having a best man along side my MOH. My photographer was amazing and kept calling G my best man, and it hit me afterwards that while people close to me knew how important he was, the rest of the people attending didn’t officially know it. Both my MOH and G are some of the most important people in my life and I wish I could of done more to show how much I love them both.

  • Anonymous Friend

    I have been a bridesmaid more times than I can count. It was an honor each time I was asked. I did my best to fufill my commitment each time and made a lot of special memories with each of those brides.

    It’s fun, it’s work, it’s an honor, and it’s a huge favor to ask of a friend. What are your thoughts on kindly and respectfully saying no when asked to be in a wedding party? Whether it’s money, time or some other obstacle? I’m willing to be of help in the planning process, I just don’t need to be in taffetta to feel like a special friend.

    • Caroline

      I think it depends on why you are saying no.
      If it’s money, you say “I’m so excited about your wedding. Being a bridesmaid often is a big financial commitment, and it’s not something I can take on right now. I’m so honored you asked. I am so excited to dance with you at the wedding/whatever and I’d love to help you out in (xyz ways you can help or just a broad offer).”

      If it’s time you say “Why thank you for asking. I’m so touched. You know, I’d really love to, but I’m finishing up my dissertation/big job project/have a new kid/whatever and I don’t think I will have the time to be there for you in planning your wedding in the way I would want to as a bridesmaid. I am so excited about the wedding though, and look forward to celebrating your new marriage with you. I’d be happy to help when I can, so please when you need things, do ask, I just might not be able to take on as much as if I didn’t have xyz things going on in your life.”


    • rys

      I’ve said no and lived to tell the tale. Actually I said yes first and then over the course of trans-oceanic dress-shopping, it became clear that this was a bad situation. Thank fully my friend’s sharp mom recognized this and helped create an out (I was already making the chuppah so it wasn’t like I wasn’t part of the planning). In the end, it was the perfect resolution as I became the “bridesmaid without a dress” (like “minister without a portfolio”): I stayed over with my friend the night before (at her grandparents, and I was the only person they knew and felt comfortable having in their house), made the chuppah, and said one of the seven blessings. I helped with assorted other tasks, but wasn’t designated bridesmaid and that was fine with everyone involved.

      Think about how you phrase it and what you can offer in its stead, but don’t be afraid to say no. It’s not a statement about the level of friendship, it’s about knowing how you’re best able to support a good friend.

      • KC

        Trans-oceanic dress shopping: never fun.

        Sometimes good for some hilarious photos, though.

  • Caroline

    How do you balance the small wedding with honoring friends? I feel like I want to honor everyone. I can’t have everyone be a bridesmaid obviously. As I mentioned above, I realize the reason that I’m mostly thinking of having my sister as Maid of Honor and no one else is it feels like an imposition on my friends and I feel like if I ask all the friends I’d like to be bridesmaids/bridespeople, it will be basically 80% of the 20 and 30 something women in attendance at our small wedding. (Basically, all my friends who we’re inviting, about 5, plus my 2 close in age women cousins, 1 junior bridesmaid younger cousin, plus my sis. That leaves only family, potential bridesmaids spouses, and some of my partner’s friends, plus a couple family friends not as bridesmaids.)

    Alternatively, do you think it would work to have my sis named as a bridesmaid, and ask the other friends to be part of a bridal brigade who may or may not walk down the aisle, but helps in various ways according to their skills and is honored by the title and various roles at the wedding? Or would that be awkward? I had thought about just having my sis stand up for me, but I’d really like to honor other friends with titles. I would love to be surrounded by friends (even if we don’t look like the WIC five best friends from college or high school who all know eachother).

    • Regardless of the specific role they play in the festivities that day, I think you could honor them with some public heartfelt words- either something in your ceremony about the friends/chosen family that got you here, or a toast at the reception. In a small wedding, I think everyone will understand and feel honored that way.

    • Katherine

      I think it’s completely fine to ask people to help, but to not have a formal wedding party. Public words of thanks mean a lot. So do private words of thanks, if you (or your friends) aren’t the type to be comfortable with public recognition. I think that, as long as you act like you value whatever your friends do to contribute, people will understand.

    • Samantha

      I’m having less than 40 people at my wedding. I have 3 bridesmaids and a MOH. They will be pretty much my only friends at the wedding. And for the man, his people will be mostly his only friends at the wedding. So our “audience” will be family + like 4 friends who aren’t in the bridal party. And that’s totally fine with us.

    • Rachel

      I totally feel you on wanting to honor 80% of your wedding!! And with regards to your final paragraph, yes, you can so honor people by the other titles/roles! I literally just came across this concept and it sounds kind of like what you have in mind:

      A lot of those look quite formalized, but I bet you could make it as formal or as informal as you wanted!

    • Ann

      I’m a bit late to this party, but I did the small wedding with no bridal party thing. One thing that *was* a bit awkward is that I didn’t think to explain this to all of my friend off the bat. Several of my closest friends were a tiny bit hurt until it became clear that there just was no bridal party. Husband never explain it to his friends (he’d been a groomsman in 4 of their weddings), but they caught on the day before the wedding.

      I asked different things of different friends. One friend came with me to the seamstress for dress alterations. Another friend did my hair for the wedding and spent time with me that morning (she also did the guest book, but that was her idea). Another was the one I called when I was OMG OVERWHELMED BY WEDDING. A fourth gave opinions about invitations. A fifth helped me choose my dress. A sixth chose the beer. I LOVED that I got to have one on one time (even if it was over the phone) with all of those awesome people. They definitely felt honored by the roles I gave them–but it felt like a natural extension of our friendships, rather than me saying “please take on this role that you may or may not have all sorts of preconceptions about.”

      It also was very clear that our friends felt honored by simply being invited to such a small event. Inviting someone to a very small wedding is a big statement (on the converse, not inviting people to the tiny wedding seemed like less of a statement than not inviting people to a big wedding. I think our moderately close but not super close friends got it. I don’t think any bridges have been burned by the lack of invitations.)

      And yes, it would have been weird had I had a bridal party. There were 35 people total at the wedding. That meant that at the ceremony, we had nearly 10% of the total crowd in front (me, husband, officiant), and one more was the photographer!

      I did go to one small wedding–about 40ish people–with a wedding party of 12 (6 and 6). The wedding party were the only friends invited–the rest of the guests were family members. That sort of worked.

    • Oakland Sarah

      This might be sorta silly (but I”m a silly person :)), but I’ve started to want to get buttons made that say “Team Wedding” or something along those lines and give them to anyone who is part of helping put the wedding together as a way to honor and thank them for their effort. I don’t want a bridal party, but I still want to recognize people.

      • Oakland Sarah

        I have also tinkered with the idea of those like 1st prize ribbons. …I might even like that idea better. Because I think it is hilarious.

  • Stacie

    We’re having a wedding party, MOH/BM, then three on each side (This is bigger than I personally want, but my fiance wants everyone to be included and feel special. Bless him. :))

    What do you think of this gift? We are planning to be married under a chuppah that is draped with an Indonesian batik fabric in our colors- purple and green (I’m Jew-ish, Fiance is part Indonesian). I was thinking of having clutches made from the same fabric for the bridesmaids and groomsgals (ha!), and ties for the bridesman and groomsmen. They could wear them at the wedding (I’m thinking no bouquets for the ladies, or else just one stem).

    But I’m kind of afraid they’ll come out butt-ugly. Also, I wonder if they would ever, I mean EVER use them again? Does this reek of “Here’s your gift, now wear it!” bridal entitlement?

    What do you think?

    • Julia

      I’m sure it would make the pictures cute, but… those aren’t the types of gifts I’d be most excited about if I were in their shoes. Do the women in your bridal party often carry clutches? I’ve never had one in my life, and wouldn’t start just because I got one as a gift. But if your bridal party is fashion-forward and this fits with their sense of style, then it might make more sense. (Then again, no two women have the same sense of style, and if all the clutches match, it’s likely that at least one person will not like them.)

      If you’re sold on the idea of the clutches though, you could use them as a vessel for gifts picked out with each individual in mind. That way you could have your matching pictures AND give thoughtful gifts.

    • MDBethann

      Would the fabric work as a pashmina for the ladies instead of a clutch?

      And some guys aren’t a fan of bow ties, so maybe vests? Or just regular ties?

  • Katelyn

    I have a kind of tinfoil theory wedding party dilemma. I have this formerly close friend from college. She spent a few years on the West Coast in which we really had a great long-distance friendship. Regular Skype dates, I went to visit at least once a year, etc.

    She verbally acknowledged how much she appreciated me staying in touch and how she felt bad about being flaky in the past because her friends in Cali were just as flaky as she used to be and how much that hurt her.

    When she moved back to Chicago, though… everything went right back to how it used to be. Ditching plans, not keeping in touch, texting every once in awhile but never making the effort to meet up despite my (numerous) attempts. I made my peace with it and just chalked it up to friends growing apart when circumstances change.

    Eight weeks ago, the first time we’d actually seen each other in 4 months, I told her about our wedding plans. In the discussion that followed it became clear to her that she wasn’t going to be a bridesmaid. She was pretty upset about it! So I kind of backpedaled and said something like “we’ll have to see how the venue, guest count etc turns out before we make wedding party decisions.”

    Now she has suddenly stayed in touch a lot more and we’ve met up 2 or 3 more times in the past couple months.

    I feel like she’s ‘competing’ to be a bridesmaid!

    Or am I just paranoid and really she’s just begun making more of an effort in our friendship?

    • Rachel

      I don’t think you’re being paranoid…but I guess the question is…does it matter? I think we can all agree that being a bridesmaid is often a big commitment, so if someone is gunning for it, it kinda seems like they would have to really want to be there for you, right? One way to look at it is that maybe realizing she wasn’t going to be asked to be a bridesmaid was the wake-up call she needed to stop flaking out and get it together. I definitely don’t think you should feel guilted into asking her because she’s stepping it up now…but if you decide not to and you know it will upset her, it might be good to have a frank but loving conversation about why?

      • Katelyn

        Thanks, Rachel! I do really want this to have been her wake up call. I had pretty much thrown in the towel after being dodged FOUR times in a row over the spring. But I think KC’s comment really hits on my fear – that after she’s ‘earned’ the bridesmaid badge, it will be back to her old ways, both before and after the wedding.

        I guess it’s time for us to have a heart to heart and really hash this out between the two of us and setting up clear expectations if I do decide to include her in the wedding party.

    • KC

      Not paranoid at all. A lot of people are concerned with “making the list” or “the final cut” or whatever, and bridesmaiding is one of the weirder places that can come out. Have the people you want to bridesmaid do the job (for whatever constellation of reasons you choose bridesmaids); if her newly rediscovered unflakiness means that she’d be great to have with you on the day of (and whatever that means to you), then go for it. If you would get really bitter if she went back to being flaky after bridesmaiding, then probably don’t have her do it.

  • JJJ

    Man, my MOH & my bridesbro (male bridesmaid) have been nothing but wonderful. Which is awesome b/c my wedding is less than two months away and I have just been forced to replan the WHOLE FUCKING THING in the past week.

    BTW if anyone knows any spots in midtown/UWS Manhattan which can handle a hundred people for a 15 minute wedding ceremony at the last minute, I could use some leads looking for a ceremony spot.

    • mira

      I don’t have leads, but I have hugs

      • JJJ

        I welcome hugs just as well as leads :) Thanks.

    • Julia

      What about doing a flashmob-type wedding somewhere in Central Park? Seems unlikely that the cops would break it up if it only takes fifteen minutes.

  • Now the Bride

    I had a very strong reaction to this post, based on my experience making decisions on a bridal party. The line “Because friendships are complicated, so, too, are bridal party relations” hit very close to home.

    Last year I was in the wedding of my best friend from college. She asked me to be a co-MOH with her sister. I hadn’t expected it at all, thinking I’d just maybe be a bridesmaid, but later figured out that she didn’t really think her sister would do any of the work, so I got a promotion. I was excited because I thought it would mean that we’d get to spend more time together, and I was eager to help her with whatever she needed. That we would be closer at the end. Wrong on that one.

    Throughout the wedding planning process and all of her events, I have never felt so far away from someone. She basically stopped talking to me. I had no clue what was going on with her wedding, or our friendship. All while I was putting up with her “new best friend” who was also in the bridal party and ended up challenging me and the others a ton on every decision that we were making in regards to showers/bachelorette parties, and made it a horrible experience overall. I honestly felt like I was saying goodbye to my friend as I was writing my toast. On the day of her wedding, she got really drunk and was awful to me. I left feeling very hurt and angry. I figured that was it – the end of our friendship. I had no intention of investing in her anything more than what I was getting back.

    When I got engaged 9 months later, I did send her a text to let her know. She immediately called me, shocked that I hadn’t called. She has since become super invested in me and my wedding, and is my go-to person for wedding related questions and freak outs. I haven’t necessarily seen a ton more of her, and the other best friend is still horrible to me, but she’s making more of an effort.

    As we started to make decisions about a wedding party, first we weren’t going to have anyone. Then we were just going to have siblings. But then I found myself making wanting to include her and asked her to be in the wedding party. I struggled with it for a bit, and my friends tried to talk me out of it, knowing how horrible my MOH experience had been. They kept telling me that she was just coming back around because she misses planning her own wedding. That I shouldn’t feel guilty or obligated just because I was her maid of honor.

    But the thing is…I want her there. Not just sitting, but standing by my side. And my experience in her wedding doesn’t reflect our 10 year friendship as a whole. She is the friend who has seen me at my absolute worst, put up with my crappy behavior when I haven’t been the best friend I could be, and gotten me through some really hard times. Although she may not be the person that I am closest with now, when I think about who I would want to be “godparents for our marriage” (Love that line, Rachel!), it’s her, through and through.

    I think one of the foundations of friendships is the ability to forgive. To understand that both of us are going to have our moments when we are jerks. When we behave in ways that could be well documented in reality tv shows. Bridesmaids have those moments, and so do brides. And I can’t promise that I won’t be the bride who slips up too. I’ve forgiven her, and couldn’t imagine my day without my best friend.

    • Rachel

      My eyebrows kept getting higher and higher as I read this because it sounds so awful; I’m so sorry you had to go through that! I’m curious…did you guys ever talk about what happened at her wedding or are you kind of just leaving it in the past and moving on?

      • Now the Bride

        We didn’t ever talk about it. And maybe that’s a problem or will be one in the future that we need to work through.

        But I guess that I didn’t want to be the one creating drama for her during the wedding planning process. And afterwards, I gave her space, figuring if she still valued our friendship, she’d come back. And she did, when we got engaged.

        I don’t think anyone wants to be the one to say “Hey, you were kind of an a**hole as a bride.” I just haven’t felt like I could do it. I don’t know…how would others do that?

        • Rachel

          I don’t blame you, that’s a tough conversation to start! And if it’s no longer bothering you or you don’t need “closure” on that chapter, then there might not be a reason to have it. On the other hand, if you have any fear that she might hurt you again or if you just feel like she should be aware of the fact that you are doing the work to forgive her without her really owning up to what she did, you may want to have the conversation. It really depends on your relationship! I guess if I were going to confront a friend in that case I would probably say (or email) something like, “I’m so happy to have you back in my life and as part of my wedding planning process, but to be completely honest, you did some things that really hurt me during your wedding that I want to get off my chest so we can really move forward.”

    • Breck

      I love your entire last paragraph, especially this: “I think one of the foundations of friendships is the ability to forgive.”

      I’ve found this to be true of all my relationships (with friends, partners, family), and it is such a difficult (seriously, the hardest ever) and important lesson to learn. Congratulations on getting to that tough place and forgiving your friend. I hope you have a wonderful wedding day!

  • The Future Mrs.-Lee

    Oh man, bridal party. This was so hard. There were so many people my FH and I wanted to stand up there with us, but in the end we erred on the side of very best friends and family members. I have several friends that live out of state, that that I would have loved to be my bridesmaids, but I know their financial situations aren’t the most stable, and couldn’t ask them to do that. So I’m involving them in as many other ways that I can so that they are apart of the day. There were supposed to be 4 bridesmaids/4 groomsmen, but we ended up with 3/3… through a series of very unfortunate circumstances (and on the day I picked out my wedding gown, no less… that’s supposed to be a HAPPY DAY, for God’s sake), a bunch of things went down, and one someone that was originally a bridesmaid/best friend, was no longer either. It’s odd how being in a wedding or being apart of one brings the best and worst out of some people. Unfortunately, in the case of this friend, it was the latter, and I had to make a decision as to whether or not I could deal with this person not only acting inappropriately as a bridesmaid, but not being there for me as a friend. It was difficult, and felt/feels like a break up.

  • anon for this

    OK, I’m going to say it – I pretty much totally despise being a bridesmaid, at least a “traditional” bridesmaid, to the point that I’ve told all of my close friends who aren’t married pre-emptively that I’m never going to do it again. Because I’m both super social and super organized (and work in the event industry) I’ve found that people end up expecting me to work/take the lead on wedding-party related things, and I’ve yet to buy a bridesmaid dress I actually really like (related: I’ve also not bought one that was anything approaching affordable.)

    I am happy to go dress shopping, help with wedding crafts, stuff envelopes, do your hair, give a toast, WHATEVER, before/at your wedding, but I’d like to do it wearing something that I like and because I love you, not because I feel obligated to because it’s part of my “job” as a bridesmaid. That said, many people I know absolutely love the role, but wanted to put this perspective out there – if someone politely says “no” to being a bridesmaid for you, it may have nothing to do with how much they love you, or how much they want to be involved, and more with the fact that they’re happy to do those things without the pressure of the title.

    • Rachel

      I’m totally with you on being social and organized but preferring to do it without the title! I personally found that doing that kind of stuff while looking a certain way and being on display was a surprising amount of pressure! Not can’t-handle-it pressure, but a kind of pressure I wouldn’t want to be under unless it were for a very close friend. I’d seriously love to be that friend/family member who is the amateur/friendor day-of coordinator and for reasons I can’t fully explain, I’d probably prefer it to being a bridesmaid even though not all that much would be different! I guess it’s just that sometimes, labels matter!

    • rys

      “I am happy to go dress shopping, help with wedding crafts, stuff envelopes, do your hair, give a toast, WHATEVER, before/at your wedding, but I’d like to do it wearing something that I like and because I love you, not because I feel obligated to because it’s part of my “job” as a bridesmaid.”

      THIS. It’s basically my policy not to be a bridesmaid but to be completely available for help with tasks. Since everyone close to me is clear about this, it works very well.

  • Samantha

    No issues to report here. But I want to get my four girls thank you gifts that are meaningful and thoughtful… The thing is gifts are so not my love language. I am not a good gift giver. The wedding is in January- would it be terrible to give everyone pashminas/ scarfs? Is that lame? Help!

    • C

      I’m thinking of doing pashminas as well but also having them monogrammed or embroidered.

      As a bridesmaids five times over, I always enjoyed a tasteful piece of jewelry. I know some of my girlfriends found them at outlets and they were enjoyed by all! We are a tight-knit group of girls and wear them often and when I wear them (mostly bracelets) it always reminds me of each girl’s special day and the bond we have. Corny but true.

      On second thought…maybe I’ll do bracelets for my maids :)

    • LMN

      I think pashminas or scarves are a great idea! Personally, I can never have toothy of either. The one wedding for which I’ve been a bridesmaid, the bride got us each a wrap/scarf in a different color–she hit the nail on the head picking out which color looked good on each person. We used them later that evening, and I still wearing regularly.

      If you’d like to do jewelry, I had a great experience doing a custom order with Emma at WynnDesign on Etsy. She made necklaces for my ladies in our wedding colors, which meant I didn’t have to worry about picking out something different for each person. I didn’t have a bridal party, so these were thank you gifts for the friends who helped the most, and I’ve seen them being worn multiple time, which makes me so happy! :) Here’s a link: You can also find them in the “bar necklace” section of her Etsy shop. She made the gift process fun, easy & affordable–I highly recommend sending her a message if you think you might be interested!

    • Another Kate

      I had a January wedding too! I think scarves are a great idea, or just something to keep with the winter theme. I did cashmere gloves for my girls. I think someone above is doing a winter wedding and is doing cozy blankets which would be nice too. Assuming you live in a cold weather area and so do your girls, who can’t use a scarf?

  • Gabe

    OK, I would love a bit of advice.
    I guess I don’t really have “standard” wedding party stuff. My best friends, however, were going to be given a role (and were going to help everything get prepped for our DIT cheap-ass wedding).

    One of my best friends lives in the Midwest, and our ceremony is in SF. She assured me that she would be there, even though we knew it would be a bit of a hike for her (and she’s not very well-off). After she and her husband RSVP’d in the affirmative, I bought tickets for us to go on a whale watching tour togehter, because she’s always loved whales, at a personal cost of like $200 (non-refundable). A few weeks later, she sent me a text message saying there was no way she could make it, it was just too expensive, etc.

    I called her, and we talked. I offered her a whole bunch of cost-saving measures, and her excuses as to why she couldn’t come began to get more and more implausible (well, she feels disoriented in big cities anyways so she’d just feel uncomfortable in the Bay/she only has $100 of disposable income in a month/she doesn’t know when the GREs are anyways and maybe they conflict with the wedding and besides, she has to study…). I ended the conversation feeling really upset with her, and feeling like she’d decided it was just impossible so she wasn’t going to try.

    I think it’s especially hard for me because I went to her wedding, traveling from the East Coast to the Midwest at great personal cost (because she scheduled it during the Christmas season, the ticket prices were insane), which included getting caught in a blizzard, having to take three different modes of transit, driving 30 miles through whiteout conditions… but I decided I was going to make it, and so I did. I’m not in a good financial situation, either; I’m also a student, and I don’t work full-time like she does.

    She also knew this entire time that I’d been stressing out because a bunch of my friends who lived far away from SF and said they’d come were backing out now, and she actually reassured me that she’d still be there so I shouldn’t worry about it.

    It’s been a few weeks since that conversation and my feelings have abated somewhat, but I still feel like this is really hurting our friendship. I’m not going to end the friendship with her or anything, but I feel like it’s weaker because she isn’t coming to my wedding. I know there’s nothing I can do to *make* her come, but I’m still upset about it.

    Am I being a dick to feel this way? Should I tell her I’m upset with her and that I feel like it is hurting our friendship, or just hope that our relationship recovers later?
    I’m still afraid that I’ll really feel her absence at the wedding, too, although I don’t think it would sour the whole day. Please tell stories if you have them that would be reassuring…

    • Caroline

      I don’t know if this is a helpful story, but my partner just had to back out of attending a close friend’s wedding which he was to be a groomsman for. We’re in the bay area, the wedding is on a weekday in the midwest. We promised and promised he would be there, even though it meant taking time off school, when they had settled the date and we went to buy tickets, we just couldn’t afford it. They were more than we expected, and it just wasn’t possible to get him out there. We felt horrible. I could see, in that situation, giving any excuse, because you just feel so bad about it. What helped the most for us, is that his friend was really gracious and understanding about it. We felt so bad and really wanted to be there, but the money just isn’t there.

      • Gabe

        Yeah, I think I might feel differently if it had been a very straightforward answer like that. I mean, I had the date and place figured out long before she changed her RSVP. I think a lot of it is that she’s the kind of person who sometimes decides that something is impossible, so it never happens, no matter how many options she’s given. I’ve seen her do it with jobs, school applications, etc., and I worry she’s doing it with this, too. Not that my frustration will help that situation, either, it just hurts.

        • AG

          Late to this, but maybe her odd/ lame excuses come from some insecurities? I know that there have been times that I simply cannot afford to do something, even if the cost is completely reasonable. It can be really hard for me to accept that, let alone explain it to someone else. I’m just coming off a Spring in which every weekend was a different friend’s wedding/ shower/ bachelorette party, and I was so broke by the end of it that I was just really bitter about a lot of the plans. It certainly wasn’t any of my friends’ faults, but feeling like you can’t celebrate with your friends the way that you’d like to is pretty demoralizing. She definitely owed you a straightforward explanation, and I would certainly be upset if I were in your shoes, but I could see how that would be hard for her.

    • Samantha

      I don’t think it’s wrong of you to be upset. I would be very upset! If it were me, I would feel like in order to make any peace with the situation I would have to let her know how upset/hurt/confused I was about her actions. She didn’t even give you a straight forward (disoriented in cities? wtf?). You drove in white out conditions to get to her wedding after paying astronomical flight costs. Let her know how you’re feeling. I doubt it’s something you will just get over without getting some answers from her or at least telling her how you feel. If you don’t, maybe the relationship will never heal and you’ll be left feeling bitter. You should enjoy your wedding day, not look around and feel hurt at her absence. Confronting her might help prevent that. Just my two cents..

    • al

      We had this happen with some of my husband’s friends. The wedding was in a different country than where we live and not even a very big town (a resort destination – that is my home town.) He of course didnt expect all of his friends to be able to come, but only 2 ended up making it from there and there was one in particular that really upset him (I guess because this friend had gone to another friends wedding in the US recently). I think at time in private between ourselves – he questioned if it meant they werent as good of friends, but I think we overall accepted that it was a lot to ask. I basically didnt expect anyone to come to the wedding, so I was just happy when people said they would come. We did have some surprise close friends (of both of us) from our country come to the wedding – so that was an awesome surprise for us because we didnt expect them to as we had only known them a year or two.

      • KC

        One year with transoceanic flights, we basically said “we can stretch [and I mean *stretch*] the budget to fly one person overseas for one wedding, and that’s it”, so we totally missed another really good friend’s wedding that was happening that year. It was a combination of wedding attendance meaning more to that friend than to other friends (as far as we knew), and a variety of other factors (including being able to combine the wedding with visiting other friends/relatives and that it would be okay for just one of us to fly back for this particular wedding without any eyebrows being raised), not a “friendship ranking”. But, anyway, international flights + time off work = surprisingly expensive, so sometimes you can only fit one in, and sometimes that’s determined by invisible things like “oh, so-and-so isn’t as insecure, he’ll understand” or “heard about X wedding before Y wedding” or “Y wedding is at a time I just could not leave work at all” or whatever.

    • C

      You may feel her absence, and it won’t sour the day. Promise. How do I know? I got married two months ago, and my younger sister, who is also a bridesmaid wasn’t there-she couldn’t come. Different circumstances, because she was close to the due date of her second child. No matter what alternatives I proposed, she kept saying “no”. I tried “but if you drove instead of fly, it won’t be bad” or “what if she comes early? Then you could come!”. “Big deal, so she’s born in our state instead of yours”. Finally she told me (gently) that no matter what, she wasn’t going to come because the trouble of traveling with a husband, three year old and a newborn, not to mention her own stress and discomfort was just not worth it to her. It didn’t change that she loved us, but she had to put herself first. That honest account of “even if a genie granted all your wishes, I’m still not coming to your wedding and it doesn’t mean I don’t love you” helped me (and her). So, I missed her. A lot. The week of the wedding was rough and teary, especially when everyone else arrived without her. Oh, and my other sister lost her mind, threw a hissy fit at the rehearsal dinner and hasn’t spoken to me since. That didn’t help. I kept thinking “the wrong sister is here tonight”. Awful, but there you have it.
      The night before was really tough, the day of the wedding less so because SO MUCH LOVE was hitting me from all over from everyone else that it took all sting out of it. Seriously, I was not expecting all the love from everyone else – it was a palpable thing and cushioned any unpleasantness. It was the best feeling ever and didn’t leave much room for anything else.
      The next day, early in the morning, before we even had breakfast, I called her while my new husband was sleeping beside me and told her about the highlights.
      Yes, I miss seeing her in the family photos and my bridal party was one short. Three groomsmen and only four of five bridesmaids were there (and one of the bridesmaids is constantly smirking and/or scowling). On the bright side, we hired a videographer that we weren’t planning on having so we could share the day with her. And we are so glad to have that!
      Good luck with your situation, and remember: The right people will be there on your day. Except when the can’t. And that’s ok – it doesn’t mean they don’t care. It just means you get to tell them all about it later – and that is fun, too!

  • The only problem we’ve had so far is that my sister and MOH dated my grooms best friend, and best man, for three years and then broke it off horribly. It’s been more then a little awkward planning around this, wanting to accommodate both of them but at the same time trying to encourage them to be civil.

  • I am having one person in my part of the bridal party: my sister is going to me my honor attendant. Thanks to APW, I *am* assembling a “bridal brigade” of friends who are close to me, who can participate and help out with things.

    My fiance, on the other hand, has a ton of people he wants as groomsmen. I told him it was fine that the sides won’t be even, since it isn’t a sports match or something. However, some of the people he wants to ask are college friends that he literally hasn’t been in touch with at all for years. (Same goes for his part of the guest list.) I am being very hands-off about it, because it is really his call, but I am also expecting some eventual awkwardness involving wedding party.

  • C

    This post was very pertinent to me since I received the following email from my future sister-in-law a few days ago:

    “Since the two of you avoid taking about your wedding, I wanted to tell you how upset I am that I am not important enough to be included in your bridal party, but I am even more upset that neither one of you actually had the courage to come and tell me. Me being the only sister, you had to have known I’d be expecting to be a bridesmaid and upset that I’m not. Instead you avoid all talk about your bridal party and a lot of the wedding in general. It’s kind of funny because when people ask about if I am in the bridal party and I say no, the first thing they do is gasp. Then they ask if [bride] and I have a good relationship and my response is “Well I thought we did, but now I don’t really know” and it’s exactly true. I was so excited that the two of you finally got engaged and I had started saving money for your wedding anticipating that I’d be a bridesmaid. But honestly now, what am I supposed to be excited about? This is the one and only wedding that I am old enough to actually be a part of and now I’m not. There is nothing for me to look forward to. It would not have been as bad if you had actually told me why but to be perfectly honest, I can’t even think of a good enough reason as to why I’m not in it, I am the only sister on both sides of the family.
    Also, if I’m not important enough to be in your bridal party, I don’t want any “pity” job on the day of the wedding. I don’t want to do a reading, pass out programs or anything else you might come up with.
    I just wanted to let the two of you know how I am feeling about your wedding. I’m not as thrilled about it as I should be.”

    I’m over being angry and insulted by her words and really want to find a way to mend the relationship. My fiance and I had intended for her and my brother to each do a reading, but she’s made it clear she’s not interested in that. Adding to the problem is that my future MIL helped her write this email. HELP!

    • Samantha

      Holy cow. Yikes! Ok. This is fixable. It just seems like there are a major communication breakdown. Maybe let her know you had no idea how important it was for her to be a BM and that you not asking her has nothing to do with how you feel about her? I’m surprised that this e-mail was sent out without any civil discussion of the matter first… again, yikes. Sorry that’s not very helpful… My FMIL told fiance’ she doesn’t want him to marry me.. maybe that helps?

      • C

        Ah! Thanks Samantha. Fiance called her last night and tried to be civil, but it didn’t seem to help- in fact I think it hurt. I’m definitely trying to swallow my pride and will take your advice about talking to her once the dust settles.

        What an awful thing for a FMIL to say to you. Marrying into a new family is making me extremely grateful for the one I was born with!

        • Samantha

          How very true that marrying into a new family makes the family of origin seem like saints. Haha! Oh well, we went to counseling to undo the damage his family has done to our relationship with their unaccepting attitudes and honestly it’s helped a ton. He finally sees that our “baby family” has to come first so I’m no longer worried about crazy FMIL not wanting me in the family.

          I think letting the dust settle is a good idea. There were some shamefully rude e-mail exchanges between FMIL and I at the beginning of the engagement and I finally realized I had to step back, remove myself from the drama and let time pass. Then go to counseling…

    • Jade

      Wow. I don’t even. Wow.

      Were you planning on having a wedding party? How much of her perception of the situation reflects your side of the situation? (Are you just not talking to people about the wedding details that much?)

      I’m so sorry that you are having to deal with this. I would be extremely upset if I received an email like that and the fact that your future MIL helped write it *head explodes*. I think step one is to talk to your FH and get his take on the situation.

    • Caroline

      I’m sorry, that sucks. I would respond something like, “I’m so sorry you feel that way, and I wish you had let me know earlier that you expected to be a bridesmaid. I thought bridesmaids were mostly for friends, and that family was honored in other, bigger, ways. A friend might need a special title to be recognized as important, but Sister has that built in. Partner and I (note, this maybe should come from her or him) had planned to honor our family members, you included, above and beyond our bridal parties by asking them to be a part of our ceremony through giving readings. This is an extra special honor we wanted to ask of you and brother. This wasn’t, in our minds, a pity job, but a very special honor.”

      Then, depending on how you feel, you could ask her to be a bridesmaid or not. If you do: “Since our intention was to honor your special role in our lives, and it sounds like the way you would feel most honored is as a bridesmaid, I would love to have you as a bridesmaid. Would you be willing to forgive not being asked right away and be a bridesmaid for me? It means so much to us to have your support, and we want to make sure that you feel honored, not just that we feel we are honoring you.”

      If you don’t want her to be a bridesmaid, perhaps something like: “I want to honor my college friends/cousins I grew up with/whomever your bridesmaids are if you have them by making them bridesmaids, but we want to make sure to honor you in special ways also. We would like to honor you in the following ways: list out ways you would like to honor her. If those would not make you feel honored, perhaps we can sit down/talk on the phone about what might. We want to be sure to recognize your special role in our lives.”

      Not-bridesmaid honors you might suggest include walking down the aisle by herself/with family (a grandfather or grandmother? Her parents? With your brother?), wearing a special sister of the groom dress which complements but isn’t the same as the bridesmaid dresses (this is how many maid of honors are honored), (the aforementioned readings), being a witness on your marriage certificate, singing a song/performing music, etc.

      I would just stress how you wanted to give her something to honor her as special because she is family, and perhaps honor her OVER the bridesmaids (since it sounds like she views wedding tasks as hierarchical and you want to stress that you wanted to honor her) and that it never would have occurred to you to ask her (for whatever reason. For instance, I would be surprised at the sister being a bridesmaid for the fiance she isn’t related to. standing up for the one she is, sure, but the fiance she isn’t related to? That’s weird to me. Maybe asking the sister of the groom/other bride to be a bridesmaid “isn’t your family culture and you hadn’t heard of it before and what a lovely idea or perhaps you might like to stand with your sibling”

      • C

        These suggestions are so helpful! I’m going to stick to my guns about not having her as a bridesmaids because my view of that role is someone who will be very intimately involved in the day itself and I’m just not comfortable having her in the room while I get ready for example. I am going to pursue another way to honor her and work with her on this. I so appreciate your thoughts.

    • Breck

      Oh gawd. I’m glad you’re over being angry because reading that pissed me off. How old is this girl?

      I think if I were in your shoes, (after I stopped breathing fire) I would invite her and your future MIL (and maybe future FIL, too, if you think he would be helpful) out to lunch/over for dinner to talk things over. I obviously don’t know the whole sitch, but I’d probably say something like, “SIL, we’re sorry that not having you in the bridal party hurt your feelings. We decided to do this for the bridesmaids because it felt right to us. We would still love it if you would do a reading at our wedding.”

      My boyfriend’s younger sister is kind of a brat, so I hope I’m not seeing into the future right now.

      • C

        Still somewhat breathing fire, but it’s simmering. I’m definitely going to reach out to both of them soon, but separately. It’s important and now that I’m calming down, I think I’m ready.

        Watch out for that little sis. Hopefully you can learn from my mistake, no matter what you choose to do!

      • KC

        I think aiming to stay *ahead* of the expectations train as far as possible and make things clear early and often can help with dismantling this sort of thing before it gets to the point of… well, to this point. So: structure and expectations for choosing wedding party (if wedding party exists); how you hope she will be involved in the wedding (if anything); values and priorities; that sort of thing. Even just knowing ahead of time that you have these other close friends from forever ago might shift expectations subtly such that she’s not the most important-to-you person on the scene and that’s okay.

        But trying to anticipate all insanity and defuse it before it gets to be a problem just isn’t going to happen, so yes, watch out for potential land mines, but don’t kick yourself later if you failed to spot one that is obvious only in hindsight. (if you ignored one that you knew you needed to deal with and that was just going to be worse later, then yeah, kick yourself once, forgive yourself, do what you can with the fallout, do it differently next time, but that’s it.)

        • Breck

          Absolutely agree on getting ahead of expectations. I often completely forget about familial expectations because my entire family is made up of my mom and younger brother (no aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins–nada), so C’s comment was a good reminder.

          I’m not even engaged yet (I just, uhh, like it here), but the plan is to get there next year. After reading this comment thread, I think when we get to the whole choosing attendants bit I’ll try to be up front with little sis as early as possible to hopefully ward off any tantrums (IRL or via email).

          • KC

            I have been married for, um, quite a while. I also just like it here. No shame in that. :-)

            Family expectations are a pretty weird thing, since each family tends to think it’s doing things “the only way” to do them. If there are other married couples in your intended’s family, talking with them about family tradition/expectation/etc. surprises may be helpful. (holidays and gifts in particular can be very interesting to navigate, and some people, um, fail to grasp the subtleties inherent in their upbringing, whereas already-in-laws sometimes know where the biggest or most surprising potholes are; obviously, you’ll be negotiating your own way independently of how any other couple in the family manages it, but knowing that something in particular is a Big Deal or comes “loaded” with extra meaning [the quilted throw pillow grandma makes for each wedded couple; a particular Christmas tradition; the incredibly ugly teacup that is actually a huge honor if it’s brought out for you to use] can allow you to use your resources more effectively.)

            Best wishes to you! :-)

          • Breck

            I need to second everyone in this sub-thread saying that you should get an advice column :).

            There aren’t really any other couples in their family, but luckily my boyfriend has given me a solid heads up on what to expect before the birthday and holidays we’ve attended so far. This is the first year we’re doing Christmas with them, and I’m mildy sh*tting my pants a little, since his sister runs the gift-opening portion of the morning like a militant dictator.

            At least my boyfriend thinks her general attitude is pretty crazy, too, so we can laugh about it afterwards.

          • KC

            [tries to find the positive in this]

            [keeps looking]
            … um, at least with militant dictators, you know what to expect?

            Sorry, that’s the best I can do. ;-)

            Glad your boyfriend doesn’t get defensive on her behalf – I think that 1/3 of this stuff is handling expectations ahead of time, 1/3 is taking everything as charitably and generously as possible at the time, and 1/3 is laughing everything else off afterwards, more or less. :-)

            (and thanks! Hooray for sometimes-not-pleasantly-acquired experience actually being helpful to someone else!)

    • Holy cow, that is shockingly rude of her (and FMIL). I don’t have anything useful to say that hasn’t been said better by someone else here, so I will offer hugs instead.


      • C

        Thank you!!!

    • KC

      So, #1, argh and sorry and this sucks.
      #2: sometimes there are expectations surrounding weddings – a common one is that siblings (unless ludicrously numerous or family-feuding, and sometimes even if family-feuding) are part of the wedding party. This does not mean you have to do everything anyone ever expects of you, though. But you do have to deal with the expectations in some way or there tends to be fallout.
      #3: If your MIL helped her write it so that it would be *less*… immature…, rather than agreeing with her entirely, that’s one thing.
      #4: If your MIL agrees with her in her expectations, then you’ll need to address those expectations with both of them.
      #5: It sounds like she’s young (no peers getting married any time soon, for instance), but old enough to be Insulted at not being included with the grownups (if she were more mature, whatever her age, she’d be fine with it and not see it as being deprived of a Big Chance, I would expect)(this is not to say that mature, reasonable people are not sometimes mistaken in their “friend ranking” and hence disappointed about being bridesmaids or whatever, but their email addressing that fact would be rather… different). I would not take it too much to heart that her likely-equivalent-aged friends are responding to her Shocking News in exactly the way she wants them to, since, frankly, a lot of friends, especially of the self-absorbed, do that (those who say unpleasant truths to the self-absorbed tend to get ignored or weeded out). If some of these people are older in-laws who also have the “siblings are in the bridal party!” expectations, then they will probably get a clue that this is not your tradition when/if they note that your brother is *also* not in the wedding party.

      I’m guessing you have some degree of unspoken criteria for bridesmaids; length of time known? been with you through rough times? can make you laugh? If you can, in some way, explain why you care about Groom’s Sister and you like this and this about her and are looking forward to getting to know her better (especially as she grows out of sending emails like this, ahem), etc, but you want the people helping you get ready on the day-of to be the same ones who have supported you through this story and this story and this story, that may take some of the sting out. Of course, depending on her age and whether she would attempt to use it against you, if your bridesmaid criteria is “has held my hair up when I puked while drunk” or something similar (I know a number of people where that was their basic bridesmaid criteria – it’s basically a “yes, this person has not ditched me when things got ugly”), you might want to rephrase the wording somewhat. :-)

      There’s also the possibility of adding her onto the groom’s side and your brother onto your side, although honestly it’s probably too late for that to help things and it would get complicated (you’d have to explain that bridesmaid events are for bridesmaids only insofar as you wanted that, etc.), *but* it would potentially help with the “I’m picked for the Official List and I have a Uniform and I’m in the Wedding Party I’m a Big Kid Now” thing.

      Obviously, talk it over with Future Spouse and come to a mutual decision as to what to say. After that, I’d suggest preferably talking it over in person with the two of you and with his sister and with your mother in law (unless her email involvement was limited to things like “no, it is undignified to call your future sister-in-law a bitch. Take that out.”, which is dimly possible), noting that your brother is also not in the wedding party and you were planning on including family by doing readings, which she is of course welcome to decline if she chooses, etc.

      Good luck, and sorry the situation sucks.

      • rys

        This is tough, but I’m also guessing that she is fairly young and possibly immature, and it sounds like she may have only been exposed to a certain type of wedding/bridal party/marital tradition. As a result, I agree wholeheartedly that some explanation of your plans and views might help. Emphasizing the equitable treatment/roles of siblings is important, and offering a rationale for your bridal party (whatever it is) might help assuage feelings of exclusion. Or it won’t, but as she grows up, she may start to realize you weren’t being unfair but rather wise in ways she can’t yet grasp.

      • KC

        Also, potentially crazy thought: your FMIL may have assumed that Groom’s Sister would be a bridesmaid and started her on saving as a Becoming a Financially Responsible Grownup project (since, honestly, saving up to be part of a bridal party is not something that would have occurred to me), which might have left your FMIL feeling more responsible for her disappointment. (and that responsibility/guilt can end up taking all sorts of forms, unfortunately)

        It’s weird all around, though.

        • C

          Not a crazy thought at all. I think there was definitely an assumption on the part of FMIL that fueled the feelings/words of FSIL.

          • KC

            Oh, dear. I hope your FMIL behaves responsibly in regard to mistaken expectations and that this is resolved happily, soon!

            So sorry you have to deal with this.

    • Gina

      Is she really young? I only ask because she said “this is the one and only wedding that I am old enough to actually be a part of”. And you said your future MIL helped her with it. If both those things are true, it could be that she’s just immature, maybe a little hurt because she hasn’t really been through the bridesmaids-picking process with any of her friends, and your FMIL is adding fuel to the fire. I would try to have a talk with her one-on-one so you can figure out her true feelings and explain yours.

    • C

      I am so grateful for these replies and perspectives. It’s amazing that people I’ve never met can help me so much with an issue that is deeply personal. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      FH has been with me 100% even before I decided not to have her as a bridesmaid. His support is so crucial.

      I do have bridesmaids: five of them. They are my closest friends and I was in each of their weddings. We are a tight group, I love each of them dearly and wouldn’t dream of doing this day without them. We’ve been together through thick and thin, to use a tired cliche, and they are what I need the day of.

      Honestly I didn’t ask the sister-in-law because I wouldn’t be comfortable with her on my wedding day. She tends to be negative and immature (see above). She’s 23 and I view her as extremely self-centered (see above). I’ve always tried to be kind and helpful to her, such as in her job search, but with little gratitude. I take most of that with a grain of salt, but decided to draw the line at the bridal party because this is the one day I get to make the choices. I totally take responsibility for not addressing it with her earlier because I knew she’d have that expectation. I was procrastinating. I just couldn’t stomach the idea of her being with me the day of my wedding.

      Because she is my FH’s sister, I hoped to honor her with doing a reading. We’re also having 4 members of my FH’s family in the wedding (two brothers, ring bearer and flower girl) and my only brother is deployed and may not make it. We’re holding a spot for him to do a reading in the ceremony. I view this as an honor and FH and I are debating whether we will still extend this to her. We’re both still angry and hurt but searching our hearts for ways to move forward.

      I’ve decided to ask her to coffee next week and will communicate much of what you all have written here. Your thoughts have really given me a positive framework for that discussion. I’m still not going to have her as a bridesmaid because I feel strongly about that, but I’ll try and talk with her the best I can to help her understand.

      As for FMIL, there are obviously some other issues here that are coming to light after her involvement in this nastygram. I’ve tried including her in the wedding plans through phone calls, inviting her to my dress fitting, sending her pictures of decor ideas and asking for her advice. It’s beginning to feel that I can’t win but that is a story for another day! For now, I’ll focus on the FSIL and hope that’s a step to smoothing things over with FMIL.

      *Thank you* all so much for taking the time to read and respond.

      • Breck

        That sounds like a great plan. I hope things go smoothly from here on out and you’ll come back and let us know how everything went!

      • Jessica

        Oh, e-mails. Never as good of an idea as they seem haha.
        I will say, if you have two of FH’s brothers as groomsmen…this is a pretty awkward spot. To me that makes it pretty obvious that your definition for the bridal party is “people close to us that we want to be by our side right before the wedding” and not, say, “only friends.” I think that while it might be true that you aren’t as close to her as FH is to his brothers, it sort of implies that FH isn’t as close to her either.

        Basically, if she’s not included as a bridesmaid, that’s one thing, but if you’re excluding her from being a bridesmaid (and including her brothers as groomsmen)…I can see how her feelings got hurt. I think you’d really have to weigh the long-term prospects: is having her with you the morning-of so awful that you’d rather risk years of cold-shoulders at holiday gatherings? Only you can answer that question. Maybe looking back at pictures with her in it will make you grind your teeth every. single. time., or maybe the love and warmth of the day would overwhelm any of her negative vibes.

        Of course, if I misread your post and the FH brothers aren’t groomsmen but have some other job (I think you said they’re “in the wedding”) then totally disregard my advice. In that case, I think your plan of coffee/discussion sounds great.

        • KC

          I think this is one where “groomslady” might really be the right way to go if it will not make anyone’s head explode, because there is often so. much. behind the scenes bridesmaid time/stuff at a lot of weddings, and having someone with the focus not on the bride and groom, but on what she’ll get out of it personally, around for all that… well, honestly, I wouldn’t want that either. (my sister’s wedding: they put the makeup artist who knew what she was doing on my sister, which left the “backup staff” for the rest of us. I got to look like a glitter-raccoon from the 80’s. It was my sister’s wedding, so apart from it being a story that goes along with some hilarious photos, who cares? But if any of the bridesmaids had chosen to throw a hissy fit, that would have become a Wedding Problem.)

          Like, yes, bridesmaids should be allowed access to food and water and treated humanely, etc., but stuff goes wrong (lunch orders get messed up; group photos are taken on a lawn which turns out to contain goose poop and eew, sandals; small relatives give hugs and leave snot on the dress you’ll be standing at the front of the church in; your special gift gets broken; you smudge your manicure), and even just generally you’re getting herded from point A to point B and you are not the point of the wedding, and bridesmaids who are going to be everything-is-all-about-me when less than ideal things happen, rather than rolling with stuff as much as possible, are not bridesmaids you want to have around, yes?

          The problem would most likely only be compounded in this case by the bridesmaids knowing each other and being a close group; she is most likely going to feel “excluded” unless they basically spend all their time focusing on small talk instead of referencing in-jokes or things that happened way back when and all that other sort of talk that generally happens when you get a bunch of old friends all smooshed together again with a wedding in the middle. And especially if she’s paid “bridesmaid admittance fees” and is already coming in with a bride-doesn’t-care-about-me-enough chip on her shoulder, then… I don’t know. I can’t see that going well. Some younger sisters/relatives can totally just soak in the atmosphere and satellite the forever-friends group and do what they can to help and appreciate the attention they do get and learn interesting things from the next-life-stage group and enjoy themselves thoroughly. This email is not promising in the “approaching the wedding from a position of humility, honor, and support rather than entitlement” regard, however.

          Being groomslady, however, she’d be with at least several people she knows (groom and his brothers, so the brothers could take care of problems she has, potentially, without getting the groom into it) and would not be on the outside of a group. And it makes more logical sense, what with her being related to the groom and not to you – and your brother, if he can come, could stand on your side in a parallel role. (they could still both do readings, potentially, if you wanted them to?) But yikes, what a mess.

          • rys

            KC: I hope advice-columnist is in your future :)

          • KC

            RYS: I’ve got the verbose-answers-to-short-questions thing down pat. ;-)

    • Katelyn

      C, I was, in a sense, that future sister in law who felt dissed to not be in the bridal party. There was a lot of other stuff going on that led to our whole side of the family feeling pretty ticked, but I was hurt since I thought she and I had a budding friendship – we were living together as she got her Master’s and I was in undergrad.

      And I did, indeed, end up with something of a “pity role” – about a month before the wedding, they asked me to sing at the ceremony. It wasn’t very well communicated so at first I thought they just wanted me to sing as part of the church choir. But it was eventually made clear to me that it was a solo gig with just a few weeks to prepare 2 pieces after I hadn’t sung for an audience in 3 years….

      So I kind of fell into this huge role at their ceremony but the entire communication and timing of it was pretty awful. (Voice lessons aren’t cheap and a couple of weeks isn’t much time to prepare. I was pretty nervous about it.)

      Everything is fine now between us (I admit, being a bridesmaid would have been a terrible idea), but I thought you’d like to hear from the other perspective. Given, I think your FSIL’s reaction is a bit more extreme than mine (I would describe my reaction as “miffed” not full-on anger), but it did strike that same nerve reading it as I felt 4 years ago.

      Being open about why I wasn’t chosen as bridesmaid (and maybe some consideration for other roles earlier like you’ve already done) would have really helped patch up a lot of the drama. I’m really proud of you for ‘rising above’ her attitude and trying to mend the relationship, even in the midst of all the wedding planning stress.

      • Anon

        I’m with Katelyn and was/is also the non-included sister. The wedding is a few months away and we (two other sisters and myself) were asked to be readers only when my mother issued an ultimatum to my brother that he NEEDED to ask us to be a part of his wedding by the end of the day (I’m not sure if future SIL knew he hadn’t asked us yet). While it’s not necessarily a hierarchy, the simple fact that the bridesmaids/groomsmen/ushers were asked/announced and bios written for the website six months ago…the fact that we were asked on Sunday makes it feel a little like an afterthought.

        I understand that it’s hard to find room for three sisters of the groom. But, following this website and having been in numerous weddings myself has me looking at weddings in a totally different view. My future SIL is the first in her group of friends to get married and is planning an extravagant event with a wedding party of 12 plus 3 ushers. It would be justifiable if they were having a small, intimate gathering. But, when half the town is in the wedding party and the sisters are left out, it does hurt a little.

        I’m completely fine not being part of the wedding party (yay for getting to wear what I want!), but I’m pretty sure that e-mail could have been sent by my youngest sister. She is the same age as the bride but younger than my brother, and viewed their relationship as extremely close. The fact that my brother chose nine other people (mostly frat brothers) to be groomsmen/ushers was really hard on her. The real family vs. ‘brotherhood’ thing. But I don’t think my brother and future SIL thought it was ‘acceptable’ to have girls as groomsmen.

        It doesn’t help that there was actually a beauty-queen type competition between my sister and future SIL in the past where my sister beat her for the title. Future SIL forbid my brother to talk to my sister for a period of time because she won. And although my sister has moved on, future SIL sent some pretty nasty emails to her and has said that “she’s just not ready to put that behind her.”

        My brother also didn’t earn many brownie points with Sister #2 when he proposed to future SIL days before Sister #2’s wedding. For the reason, “I didn’t want to be asked, ‘when are you getting married?’ without having an answer.” Definitely stole some thunder from Sister #2’s big day.

        Oh, weddings! Always bring out the best in a family!

      • KC

        I think living together definitely changes the equation of what a bridesmaid-hopeful is likely to expect, especially if the close friends chosen instead aren’t strongly visible from the roommate perspective (which unfortunately is likely when the close friends were made and cemented during an earlier life stage or in a different location; it can also happen when you had a friendship with a group of people and then go on to make additional history with just a few of them, which is invisible to the others-who-weren’t-there-later). You gotta make it clear how you appreciate people and why and how that is not a massive insult to the relationship they do have with you, especially in slightly-asymmetrical relationships, and find ways to honor those people *before* things implode.

        (but please, please tell me you wouldn’t have written that you have nothing to look forward to, since you are not being a bridesmaid in this wedding? Because… yeah. I think parts of this email were potentially a good idea; directly addressing being hurt and feeling that your relationship isn’t what you thought it was due to not being a bridesmaid, etc.; but a lot of other parts… were not a good idea.)

        • Katelyn

          Wow, KC, you are so dead-on it’s eerie. Seriously. Get an advice column going. I would absolutely read it.

          I would have never written something like that at the end of the email. I was under the impression that they asked me to do this minor thing and was still pleased they thought of me. Yes, it felt like a “pity role” but you know what? Pity was better than being dismissed altogether.

          When it ended up being this *super huge* thing (Like, literally, singing in the front of the church, all eyes on me, for 2 whole songs during their ceremony), it was a pretty big olive branch for both me and my family.

          Just to put some closure on the drama of the past – it has become inherently more clear as the years go by and we get to know my brother’s in-laws that my SIL’s mother runs the show for everything and everyone in their family.

          It seems silly now that we were all in a fuss when I’m sure it was just as frustrating for my brother and SIL to have the entire thing put together/controlled by her mother.

          TL;DR: Communication solves a LOT of wedding problems.

  • Bryna

    I have had a rocky wedding party party!!! Of my four bridesmaids:

    # 1 – friend-dumped me. Way harsh, Tye! I still haven’t quite figured out what on earth happened there;
    #2 – can’t afford to fly here for the wedding and I can’t afford to pay for her to fly over;
    #3 – my maid of honour, has just found a lump in her breast and is going in for the crazy round of check ups next week. What if it’s cancer?!?!
    which brings us to #4 – who just broke it off with her fiance and is considering moving town.


    Also, my fiance still hasn’t actually got around to asking his groomsmen to be groomsmen. Tick, tock, tick, tock….

    The GOOD thing that has happened is that my sister (who has been a bridesmaid 101 times and hates it, so I specifically didn’t ask her) is going to be a ring bearer with my son! He’s five and was worried about standing in front of a crowd on his own, so suggested that his aunty be second ring bearer.

    • KC

      That is a stunning number of sucky things. I’m so sorry. :-(

      With bridesmaid #2, depending on how much it would cost and whether she’s a friend of your family as well, it might or might not be at all possible to see if a relative who has offered to pay for part of something would be willing to use frequent flier miles or otherwise cover her ticket (or part of her ticket). I had two bridesmaids where I bet my aunts would have covered their tickets if they hadn’t been able to, up to a certain point, since they’re kind of surrogate-niece-y. But that’s just something to keep in mind if Relative Y who knows Bridesmaid #2 and who does business travel all the time makes an offer to help out with the wedding, and may not be at all useful in reality. (also, always provide an alternate in case that’s not what they’re willing to do, obviously)

  • Jennifer

    So I had four bridesmaids and one brideman, but then added my younger sister in last minute (she is fourteen). I never expected to have so many bridesmaids, but I really can’t see it any other way. All of my them are either friends from different times in my or siblings, and I cannot think what to get them. They all have pretty different personalities, but I would like to get them a necklace or trinket of some sort that we can all share together. They all through me a surprise bridal shower a few weeks ago and I was just blown away by how much work they put into it so I really want to show them how much I appreciate them because I never expected them to be so invested in planning.

    Also, my brother is my MOH, and I am not sure if he should dress like the groomsmen or wear something completely different!

    • Samantha

      My fiance’ is having a groomslady. The men will wear grey suits and the grooms lady will wear the same dress as the bridesmaids except hers will be grey to match the GM. My BM will be in pink.

    • Caroline

      If you are having coordinating bridesmaids, maybe give your brother a slightly different outfit from the groomsmen? I’m thinking, for example, maybe all the groomsmen have purple ties with their grey suits and your brother has a yellow tie with his grey suit which matches the bridesmaid dresses? (Please forgive me if those colors don’t match. Color matching is not my strong suit, it’s just an example.)

      Alternatively, I think having him dress the same as the groomsmen is fine. What does he think?

    • MDBethann

      My SIL was our “best woman” and she wore something completely different than the bridesmaids – they were in blue dresses and my SIL wore a satin, 2 piece outfit (pencil skirt & top styled sort of like a tux vest). My husband and our nephew ring bearer wore tuxes.

      Not suggesting that your Man of Honor wear a dress or skirt, but maybe he could wear a different colored suit than the groomsmen – i.e. if they are in black, he could wear gray.

  • Meghan

    I’ve got what I call “Team Bride” two ladies (one of them the MoH) and my two brothers as bridesmen. I’ve got gifts planned out for the ladies, but I’m having trouble with what to get my brothers.

    I got them some colorful socks to wear with their tuxes (mustaches + argyle ftw) but I don’t know what else to put together for them! Anybody have ideas? Examples of what you got your own bridesmen that’s not WIC-standard cufflinks/flasks/tie clips?

    • Another Kate

      Booze seems to be most appreciated by guys. Nice bottle of what they usually drink? Bourbon, scotch, etc? My husband got my two brothers gift certificates for a local golf course and some golf accessories since they both play a lot, but obviously that might not work for you. Depends on their interests. Husband got his best man a really cool vintage camera. Records? Books?

      • Meghan

        Good thoughts, Kate! My brothers are both huge music lovers (one is a drummer, the other an EDM composer) so that is an excellent jumping off point. Thanks!

  • vita_trefusis

    No bridesmaids or groomsmen. We are getting married in our adopted country (Scotland) where none of our close old friends live. Many of them can’t make it to the wedding either. We have a handful of lovely new friends based here, all of whom have been super supportive during the process. But intuitively it just made no sense for us to try to force the bridesmaid/groomsmen deal on the random people who could actually make it to our wedding.

    In the end we will be surrounded by a bunch of people who love us, and we will have had help from some very generous folks. We are grateful for this, and we will make sure to acknowledge it during and after the wedding.

    • CeeBeeUK

      Another Scotland wedding! I’m just having my best friend and my partner is having his brother. I have lovely friends here but none who I want to subjugate to the dress shopping and hoopla.

  • Sarah

    No bridal party or groomsmen here either. I’m happy to see I’m not alone.

    My reasons: It’s a small wedding, basically the only friends I’ve invited are people I would otherwise have stand up for me. Also, the three women I’m inviting have drastically different body types and any uniform outfit would be comical. I know they don’t have to match, but if they weren’t going to be the same I felt it would be easier to just let them wear whatever they want and be comfortable. One is way out of town and the other just had a baby. That’s reason enough not to have to coordinate clothes. Another reason is that my fiance’s best friend is a woman and he didn’t want to have mixed gendered groomspeople (for tradition’s sake). I thought replacing her with someone he wasn’t as close to wasn’t genuine, so, no groomsmen which suits him fine. All our close people are coming and now they can sit with their partners the whole time.

    I’m very happy with our decision. Our friends will be included in pictures as the best friends they are and we don’t have to rank them. The only hiccup I’ve found is that there isn’t the assumption that our friends will help with the details. People will help, of course, I hope, but with a bridal brigade it’s a little easier to delegate and assume they’re up for pitching in.

  • anon

    I had my sister as my MOH, my sister-in law (bro[s wife), my 2 sister in laws (hubbys sisters) and a very good friend (that i dont keep in touch with very well.) My husband had his two good friends and my three brothers.

    I got them flip flops, very nice leather wallets (in different colors) and jewelry for the wedding. (They didnt have to wear it.) For the grooms men we got them rum or whiskey depending on where they were from. I did not think through the fact that we gave these presents at the rehearshal dinner and all of the groomsmen drank their bottles that night except for my eldest brother!!! Not smart of me, but everything turned out ok… Just had one cousin (not in bridal party) throw up in the trolley on the way to the wedding.

  • Concetta

    We had three groomsmen (including Best Man) and five bridesmaids (including MOH). Three close friends of mine and my two sisters, one of whom had to bow out five months before the wedding because she knew she would be too pregnant to travel. My niece was born a week later :-). If I could have avoided having my other sister as bridesmaid, I would have. Her moods are always a gamble at best, and she behaved horribly for three solid days. Luckily, she didn’t break through the shield of love my family and friends threw up around the two of us, so our memories of our wedding weekend are very, very happy!
    My husband gave the guys expensive purple ties to wear with their own suits and I gave each of my friends (and my sisters) personal gifts based on what each of them like. Took a while, but since they are all so different, I couldn’t think of anything that they would all enjoy.

  • LMN

    I’ve got one BM for sure and am on the fence about adding more. I keep running into a bunch of people who make comments likes like “well OF COURSE if you have sisters they’ll be your bridesmaids.” I have 2 sisters who I love dearly, but at 5 and 10 years apart and spread across the country we are not *super* close so my gut tells me to go with my friends.

    One of my oldest friends I’d love to ask because she’s incredibly important to me, except she tends to be quite negative, especially in regards to relationships and doesn’t much care for being in the spotlight. I know she’d say yes if I asked her, but I really don’t think I can cope with her negativity or potentially playing the martyr (“I really hate this sort of thing/weddings are stupid/this is why I refuse to date… but you asked me to so…”) while trying to prep for an awesomely happy day. Friend #2 I’m considering is on somewhat shaky ground with the current BM and while I’m sure they would both behave themselves, I don’t want to put either of them in uncomfortable situation. Plus there’s the added complexity of if I were to add 2 more BM’s I’m sure I’d have people questioning why I didn’t choose my sisters, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings either (although I’m pretty sure they would not be deeply offended). Fiance is saying stick with just one, but that’s because he only wants one attendant and “likes symmetry.” I could care less about even sides, but he would expand his side to match mine (easy enough since I would max out at 3).

    And I thought these would be some of the easier decisions…

  • Bri

    I have a practical question: what is the easiest option for dressing my bridesmaids? I’ll be having three ladies on my side, who all have fabulous and unique personal styles. I’m not into the super matchy-matchy look, and I’m WAY into making things easy (and affordable), so I’ve thought of just asking the girls to pick out a purple cocktail-length dress they each like. But I’ve read some other bridesmaids’ accounts that have said it’s sometimes stressful when the bride doesn’t give enough guidelines about what to wear, and they would just prefer if they bride picked out the dresses in the first place.

    Can some of you all with lots of bridesmaid experience tell me what you typically prefer? I want my friends to look and feel comfortable, and I certainly don’t want to treat them like they’re props for some stage show. But I also want something as trivial as what they’re wearing to be as stress-free for them as possible (so we can all focus our energies on more important decisions, such as what microbrew keg we should choose for the reception!).

    • KC

      To be honest, purple is a hard color to coordinate without clashing next to each other unless you’ve got actual fabric swatches (blue/red content varies, color saturation varies, and some purples look different under different lights, especially with interesting fabrics).

      If you could get ahold of an identical purple swatch for each of them and say “pick a purple cocktail dress that goes okay with this”, that might be enough for confidence? Or they may be able to coordinate with each other via email/whatever, or go shopping together. Or, y’know, you could ask them “I was thinking about just asking you all to wear [insert description], and I’m totally happy with whatever you come up with [provided this is true!]; is that enough direction, or do you want me to make up further specifics?”.

      For non-matchy-matchy but color-coordinated, if they do want more guidance, a lot of places do dresses in the same color family but with different fabrics/styles, which might work (“pick out a dress from X in Color and Length, your choice”).

      Hope things go fantastically!

    • Caroline

      So I was a bride who just asked my bridesmaids to wear black cocktail dresses of their choice. And I’m currently in a wedding where the bride’s only guideline was “fall colors.”

      “Fall colors” was not at all specific enough, especially when on further questioning, the bride actually didn’t like brown or green much, and didn’t want us all in bright red, and didn’t want red, yellow, and green in case we looked like stoplights, etc.

      Black, though, seemed to work, because there weren’t a lot of possible variations, and I literally did not have any preferences beyond “black, knee- or tea-length.” When one bridesmaid sounded a little lost, I sent out some pics of a bunch of little black dresses in various styles, and she got what I meant.

      So if you say purple, either really mean “just pick a purple dress” and be prepared for and happy with different shades of purple and different fabrics and dress styles — or give more specifics, preferably including pictures. Like “eggplant, plum, wine, but not lavender please; no super-shiny fabrics please; see these reference photos for the kind of thing I’m thinking of.” And if they seem really struggling, get more specific with suggested dresses; don’t leave them floundering trying to guess what you want.

      What’s stressful is when there are a lot of unspoken expectations, visions, likes and dislikes that you keep tripping over and trying to piece together.

    • LMN

      The absolute easiest for everyone involved would be to pick a shop or designer, pick a color/fabric, and tell your BM’s to go from there. If you honestly don’t care much and your BM’s won’t get overwhelmed with dress choices then give them the guidelines that you care about and let them go from there. If you’re going purple I highly recommend providing them with a color swatch (or range) because “purple” is *really* general.

      My dress guidelines are: knee(ish) length, navy (I’ll give a swatch and ask her/them to find something similar, but you’ll never get an exact match if you go this route) cocktail dress. Sleeves/straps? Fabric type? Neckline? Don’t care.

    • MDBethann

      The catch with purple is that there are huge shade variations – you’ve got light purple all the way to deep purple and some color combos won’t go well together.

      Try looking at a bridal store like Alfred Angelo which has a color palate and then a bunch of styles that come in that color. I did this with my ‘maids last year. I picked a turquoise-y blue color in cocktail-length chiffon and there were a bunch of different cuts and styles for my 4 ladies to choose from. And if you don’t care about length, you get even more options. I would strongly suggest picking the fabric though – different fabrics handle dyes differently and you might not want 1 shiny bridesmaid and the others more muted.

      My BFF was a groomswoman for a friend of ours last fall. She was told to wear the same thing as the bridesmaids, which was a “pick your own” black jersey with sleeves. It was A LOT harder to find something that worked for her (I know because I went shopping with her to try to find a dress). She kept wishing she’d been given more guidance or at least told what to buy.

      I think a lot of it depends on what your bridal brigade may already have in their closets, what their budgets are like, and if they have the time to go hunting for something purple. If nothing else, they may appreciate that you at least asked them.

      Good luck!

  • Julia

    I had three maids of honor (they have all been best friends to me at different stages in my life) and they each put in a tremendous amount of work towards the wedding. For me, there was no question in my mind about whether to get them individualized gifts. They don’t all like the same things. And, in my experience, matching gifts don’t mean as much as personalized ones. For example, my grandparents make a big point of giving all their grandkids the same stuff for Christmas each year, I guess to prove that they love us all equally… but all it’s proven to me is that they don’t really know me that well. I know each of my maids of honor like a sister. So I got each of them a gift that I knew she would love.

    So for one, I painted a picture and bought her a serotonin molecule necklace (from Etsy). For another, I put together a “med school survival kit” with a lot of chocolate, coffee, maps of the town she’s moving to for school, and a gift card to the local coffee shop. For the third, I ordered a hand-carved game called “Stacking Kiwis” from New Zealand. (Weird gift, I know, but she was SO stoked about it!) All the gifts cost me about the same amount and all were well-received. None of them is the “jealous type,” so they all opened them at the same time, and it didn’t feel weird at all.

    • Ilora

      I used to have Stacking Kiwis! My aunt brought it back from NZ when I was little. It was awesome! (until my dog at all the kiwis…maybe I’ll get it again…)

  • Charis

    So I’m kind of late here, but maybe someone will read this and can help?

    I picked out navy as a colour for my wedding, ordered some nice bridesmaid dresses, then my two sisters said they don’t think navy suits them and my mum thinks navy isn’t right for a summer wedding. My other bridesmaid really like it.

    I know it sounds daft, but I kinda had my heart set on navy and I think it looks very flattering on pale complexions?

    So I told them they could pick their own dresses, which everyone decided would be just horrendous, then I said could they think of a colour they did like, which they couldn’t, so I’m stuck not able to plan anything else until I pick another stupid colour.

    Part of me thinks, just stick to navy, it’s your day… but then does that make me the awful B-zilla word?!

    • Ilora

      Personally I like navy and think it could be super cute for a summer wedding. If you’re okay with going mismatched (and it sounds like you are) maybe you could pick out a dress that can be ordered in different colours and just get them to pick their own colour. Then they don’t have to worry about finding a dress, just picking a colour for themselves. Alternately you can just lay the options on the table (pick their own/ pick a new colour) and give them a deadline. Let thwm know that if they don’t decide by X date then you’ll be going with the original navy.

    • Stella

      Have you been with your sisters to try on any navy dresses? (Depending on location of course it might not be feasible) but that might help — you can at least see if Navy really doesn’t suit them or not… and see if you all have the same idea of navy in mind. Real “navy” color can sometimes be almost black…. but there’s a range of dark blue shades that might allow you to find a compromise…. On the summer wedding thing, I’m having a summer wedding with navy BM dresses, so… it’s not unheard of.

    • We had a spring wedding with dark hunter green and even though some people said it was a wintery color I said, well it’s our favorite color. Both of us. Shazam. Power on, lover of navy.

      • Charis

        All good advice, thanks!

        I think I’m going to track down some colour palettes and see what goes with navy, message them with them and then try and find some colours everyone likes. I think I’m still going to base my colour scheme around navy, but try and find some complementary colours for dresses. If no one can decide, then navy it is :)

        I’m totally open to them having different dresses, it was my sisters who were against it! We’re in a very old-fashioned part of the UK, I’m not sure mismatched bridesmaids dresses have reached these shores yet. Might have to do some trial blazing with that one!

        • KC

          If you can find wedding photos from summer weddings where the bridesmaids are wearing navy, that might help. There is a surprising amount of resistive force in the “I just can’t visualize it” part of new things…

          • Charis

            Yeah I tried that, I have a pinterest board full of them lol!
            Sister still not convinced. Then I went through the Style Me Pretty galleries (not something I enjoy that much…) to show them more modern dress ensembles, that didn’t do any convincing either!

            I think it is literally one of those things where I’ll say ‘I told you so’ after the wedding…

          • KC

            Aw, phooey! That is frustrating (especially since a navy dress is way more likely to see the light of day again than something pastel, at least in my experience; maybe they go to more afternoon functions, though).

            Any possibility of keeping the navy dresses, but “lightening” the look with a scarf/sash/shawl/bolero in white/silver/grey/light-blue/something?

            Or, depending on how attached you are to navy, picking a dress that comes in many colors and having each bridesmaid (and possibly your mother, if she’s going to torpedo things) individually rank the colors in order of preference and choosing that way?

          • Abbey

            This is really late, but I saw this and thought of my friend’s wedding. She had navy and pink as her colors and it was totally gorgeous. Her bridesmaids wore navy in the middle of summer and no one thought anything of it. Here’s a link to her wedding:

        • Catherine McK

          Not sure if this will help, but we had navy bridesmaids for our June 1st wedding and I thought they looked adorable:

          • Charis

            Your wedding is gorgeous :) that was totally the look I was going for with my maids, will show them!

    • Katelyn

      Navy is quintessentially summer! It’s the color of the nautical theme! It’s so classic and it coordinates with pretty much every other color!

      But I digress. Honestly, is there something else going on with your bridesmaids? Are they funneling frustration about something else into something as trivial as their dress color? Because the way they’re waffling on every alternative you’re offering them makes it seem as if they just want to argue for argument’s sake.

      Maybe they just didn’t like the style of the dresses you ordered and instead of saying “I think they’re ugly” went with the less-abrasive “I don’t know if the color is flattering on me”.

      I think you need to get to the bottom of the issue. If it’s really truly honestly about the color, I would try to be open to changing it. But if it’s *really* something else, getting to that is the #1 goal to resolve the issue.

      And for your beautiful navy consideration:

      I love love love these dresses and honestly, may change my entire color scheme to make these work.

      • Charis

        They are lovely dresses! These are the ones I originally ordered, but sent them back so I could think about it a bit more…

        I think with my mum and little sister it’s just them being very opinionated, and to be honest maybe just being a bit selfish, we’re a very upfront and honest kind of family and I think whereas many people would put their feelings aside for the sake of co-operation mine want to make a fuss lol. My older sister is just not very fashion-conscious and always wears neutral colours and I think is just a bit nervous about wearing something bolder.

        I think we’ll be able to compromise in the end, be it with the same dress or individual ones, I think I should stick to navy though, try some more different styles, and see if they like anything pale blue/blush? colour though which might match.

    • Kristie

      I say it’s your wedding, do what you want. I’m also having a summer wedding (6/6/14) with navy as one of my colors and worried about the exact same thing that you are, but in the end, who cares? There are plenty of other colors you can put with navy to make it more summer-ey.

    • Rachel

      I looove navy for summer! (Actually any time!) “It’s not a summer color” is not a very strong argument. I agree with Katelyn though…is it really about the color? Maybe try some different styles? If they aren’t offering other suggestions with regard to color though, I guess I don’t see the problem of going with navy!

    • Heather

      My bestie is planning a summer wedding and is thinking of navy dresses for hers, and I was a bridesmaid wearing a navy dress for a May wedding earlier this year- I’m totally in camp Navy bridesmaids dress for summer weddings. I also think Navy is a fairly universally flattering color (as opposed to something like light pink or light yellow). I think you’re being very sweet and considerate of their feelings, and that you don’t need to worry about being a Brideszilla-it’s alright for you to pick a color that you like for them to wear! I’d suggest setting a deadline to sort it out so that you can move on and not have to work on it past a certain point. And you can always tell them that if the dress/navy is unbearable, they don’t have to stand up with you :D

  • Sarah

    I have now been a bridesmaid at two weddings – one for my cousin, who added me to round out her party and also appreciate me as a family member, and one for my childhood best friend, where I was the maid of honor. The experiences were completely different. In my cousin’s I took a pretty laid-back role, being only 19 and therefore not expected to pay for anything. Even though she’s now divorced, her backyard wedding is still one of my best family memories. In my friend’s wedding I was stressed to the MAXIMUM. I wanted to do everything I could – find a cake, lock down a groovy DJ, and throw a killer bachelorette party (that still remained within her tasteful boundaries). I had a hard time shelling out so much money for my bridesmaid’s dress as well as all her gatherings so I wasn’t able to do the extras like manis and pedis. I loved being a part of it, but because we lived in different cities her sisters and cousins, biological and in-law alike, took on the majority of my MOH duties, including my once-planned bachelorette party. At some point I sort of sighed, stepped back, and realized that for a wedding planned in 4 months I wasn’t going to be able to be responsible for everything in the traditional playbook. My friend gave me a sweet ornament to commemorate her winter wedding, which will be a perfect piece of our holidays, and I have delightful memories of giving my speech, hugging her in her wedding dress, laughing as she directly tossed me the bouquet, and dancing all night with our friends. To me, those snapshots are more cherished than anything.

    I learned a lot from those weddings. Though mine is still a few years away, my bridesmaids will have reasonably priced dresses that they will likely have to buy, but that will be something they can wear again if they want to. As a gift I’ll use my resources so I can treat them to manis, pedis, hair, and makeup done with a glass of champagne in their hands. And I will most certainly plan and throw my own bachelorette party. I don’t want anybody to have to guess at what exactly I want to do to celebrate. As I get older I realize I’m not much for gifts that will eventually be tucked in a keepsake box, even though they are fun to discover years later. I’ll give them a beautiful picture of the two of us to compliment the pampering and maybe sneak in some sweet treats or pretty farmer’s market earrings.

  • A little late here but I have a tiny/huge issue of maybe regretting one of my bridesmaids. We have been friends since 6th grade and since she is one of my only girlfriends that isn’t at least 10 hours away I thought it would be perfect to have the support of one of my oldest friends. However, she is notoriously… difficult… as in has serious self esteem issues which makes her a bit rude, disrespectful, and self-absorbed. She’s mostly been fine regarding wedding stuff but friendship-wise she gets disrespectful and obnoxiously guilt-trippy if I don’t hang out with her/have other plans/the world doesn’t revolve around her and it’s really starting to piss me off! I’m just not sure if I can trust her to put her ego away and not add to my stress as our wedding day comes closer.

  • EG

    I’m a bit late to this but OH YES. Bridesmaids are The Source of wedding stress for me.
    I’ve got a friend from university who assumed she was going to be a bridesmaid – even told people before I’d asked anyone! I was quite surprised by this because whilst I’ve had a pretty tough year, involving family deaths and a horrible work life, she’d been bitching about me to other friends for not paying her enough attention…. (My dad commented recently that he always thought she was friends with me for her sake not mine.) Plus I’d phoned her to tell her I was getting married and she sounded thoroughly bored/unimpressed. Anyway, I end up in an awkward she assumes she’s a bridesmaid chat with me and figured, what the hell? Maybe it will help mend the friendship. Bad idea. She instantly asks if she can have a plus one. I explain that the budget/guest list doesn’t stretch to anyone we don’t know as we’ve already cut out people we want there, but commented that I didn’t know she had a bf. She doesn’t, she wants to bring her f*** buddy who I’ve never met, because “I really don’t like weddings and he’ll keep me sane about the whole thing”. Not really sure what to say to that (gee thanks!), I move on to the hen do “oh I’ve got it planned, we’re going to have a week in Spain”. More mind boggling from me, as I explain that I don’t have the time off work, the money – and nor do any of my friends – to spend a week in Spain… So having attempted to explain this, I then mentioned dresses, and how we could go to this fab designer outlet: [insert bored tone] “oh, can’t you just send me a swatch or something and I’ll go and buy my own dress?” (In the UK, we usually pay for bridesmaids). I was so bewildered at the time I didn’t know what to make of it, but now I really don’t know what to do about this. She’s making the whole thing out to be a massive and inconvenient favour I’m asking of her, when she declared bridesmaid status! I think she genuinely think she thinks that’s what is happening – that someone’s got to be a bridesmaid, and she hates weddings but she supposes she’ll have to do it. That is absolutely not the case, I’ve got 4 bridesmaids and could easily have had 6. Not sure what on earth to do now, and how to give her an exit option without entirely destroying the remnants of the friendship. I think she would be very hurt if I suggested she wasn’t a bridesmaid, but would twist it so that it was me being a bitch and disrupt the wider friendship group…. ARGH.

  • LifeSheWrote

    I’m a little late to the party but I have a Bridal Party question that I would LOVE some advice about. I have asked my sister and three really close friends to be my Bridesmaids. I’m totally stoked about each of them standing beside me on our wedding day. My FH has four really close friends (he has no siblings) who he has asked to be his groomsman. (3 of them are married to my 3 friend Bridesmaids. We’re a tight crew.)

    The situation is: I have an 8-years-older half brother who I am reasonably close to (love dearly, just don’t keep in touch on a super regular basis, more we catch up at family gatherings a few times a year) and he is married to a woman I also love dearly but am not particularly close to. And they have 4 kids under the age of 7. When they got married 10 years ago, my sister and I were her Bridesmaids (along with her sister), despite the fact that she had met us only once. There IS a cultural difference – they’re members of the LDS church. We are not religious and will be having a friend marry us outside.

    The question is: do I ask SIL to be a Bridesmaid? Does FH ask my brother to be a Groomsman? We love them and want to honor them (and certainly don’t want them to feel like they don’t matter) but they are not a part of our daily lives and relationship the way our other Brigade Members are.

    If I do ask them: 5 on each side is not “too many,” they would certainly feel honored, etc. But they would be uncomfortable, I think, if we were drinking champagne (or whiskey) during the getting ready process. And they DO have kid responsibilities so they couldn’t be “hanging out” all morning with the rest of the bridal party who they don’t really know (and again, we’re all very close). So I don’t want them to feel like outsiders or feel obligated to get special clothes, be in situations they’d prefer not to be in, etc.

    If I DON’T ask them, how do I manage this so they don’t feel hurt? Chalk it up to being a different wedding style than theirs was? Mention the kids? Honor them another way? Also, I may ask SIL because I do think she might feel hurt but FH could go either way about my brother (they get along just fine, just aren’t particularly close). Is that touchy to ask one but not the other?

    I’m so torn! I do love them dearly, but I don’t have the close relationship with them that I do with the others I’m asking. And I don’t want them to feel obligated to do stuff they’re not comfortable with. And they’re great people who love us both – they’d be perfectly fine “godparents” of our wedding, even if they don’t really understand a non-religious wedding. So maybe I should just ask them to avoid hurt feelings? But that’s not a great motivation… HELP!

    (Sorry for the super long post but I feel like details matter here!)

    • never.the.same

      Can you ask them to do a reading? Or you could reach out to your brother and explain the situation. Maybe say that you love him and SIL and want to honor them in your wedding, and ask what they might like to do. Your brother might welcome the opportunity to express his feelings. If being in the wedding party isn’t important to him it gives you both an easy out. If he or SIL would be hurt by not being included in the bridal party, this allows him to say, “I always imagined standing up with you…” or something.

      You can suggest, as well, that you want them to relax and take care of their family/kids on your wedding day, and so hoped to include them in a way that asked less of them on the day-of, but would include them beforehand. Maybe SIL comes dress shopping? Or you invite them over to help you put invitations together?

      Are their kids candidates for flower girl or ring bearer?

      I think you can also smooth any hurt feelings by making sure they are honored the way other family members are. Family is paramount for the LDS community and if you make sure they are seated up front or at the family tables or included in the program, all of these things can show you care and want to honor them.

      • LifeSheWrote

        This is great advice. Any of those solutions (probably starting with the conversation on expectations) would help me here. Thank you!

  • Heather

    So I’m finding myself torn on whether or not to have my sister-in-law as part of my bridal party. We’re on good terms, and I was delighted to be part of hers and my brother’s wedding a couple years back as recognition as my relationship with my brother and the joining of our two families- and my fiance is planning on including my brother as one of his groomsdudes, but I’m not super close with my SIL and super excited to have her up there with me the way that I am about my close friends– our families are already joined, so while I get including my brother, I’m not sure about including my SIL. She’s been very supportive and super excited about wedding planning with me, and I think she sees herself as the older female family figure which I don’t have (my mom passed away, my family lives across the country, mine and my fiance’s relationship with FMIL is complicated and not positive, my bridesmaids are also across the country), which is sweet. And when she took me to a bridal showcase she sorta self-appointed herself as a bridesmaid when the greeter was handing out stickers and asked if she was the MOH- I wasn’t even sure if we were going to do a bridal party at that point in time, and I haven’t asked her, but I think she’s assuming she’s a bridesmaid.
    We’re very different people, and I feel like this is going to come out a lot during the planning/wedding process (ie, I think it’d be awesome to do my own flowers, not super hard, and yay saving money- she thinks that the one thing I should absolutely not do for myself is flowers and it’s alright, your Dad is paying for it and he’s good for it! < just because the money is available, doesn't mean it needs to be spent :< ) Also, my feelings towards SIL have been somewhat soured in the last year by how she's behaved towards my Dad and Dad's fiancee.
    I don't like the idea of having a super big bridal party for no super specific reason, and I have 4 close friends that are non-negotiable, and she'd make 5, and while I don't care about symmetry and having even sides, I don't want to make my fiance uncomfortable, and he has expressed concerns and some insecurity over who's standing up with him and that I have more extended family and more friends we're likely inviting.

    SO TL:DR- Part of me says to let it go and include her as a formal part of the bridal party since it comes from a place of love and support, but part of me would prefer her not being a bridesmaid and limiting it to the people who I have irrationally great amounts of love for (my friends are amazing ya'll and I'm so excited to be a part of their weddings/have them as part of ours).

    • MDBethann

      Could she be responsible for escorting in your grandparents (if you have them)? Or doing your readings? Or even being your “day of” coordinator – it sounds like she likes organizing things, so maybe “day of” coordinator would be a good role for her since it would keep her busy and definitely be a point of honor, respect, and responsibility.

      Or is she a good singer or musician? Maybe she can perform your processional or recessional, in which case it wouldn’t really work for her to be a bridesmaid.

      Or, be really up front that you appreciate all the support and help from her, but that you had long ago promised your 4 friends that they would be your ‘maids and you and your fiance don’t want a larger bridal party, but you have some other important jobs that only she could fill. And then you make sure you get her a corsage do designate her as a VIP.

      I had 2 very good friends who I asked to be readers because I wanted them involved in my wedding but needed to limit my bridal party itself (I had 4 ‘maids & a flower girl; my DH had a best woman & a ring bearer, so any more on my side would have made things really awkward for us). They are also my only friends who go to church regularly, so asking them to do the religious readings was a really good fit. It also worked out well because my one friend was nearly 8 months pregnant for the wedding & she was much more comfortable reading than she would have been as a ‘maid on her feet for much of the day.

      Good luck!

      • Heather

        Thanks! I’ve been thinking it over throughout the weekend and talked it over with the fiance, and it seems like we both came to the conclusion that she’d probably be disappointed about not being classified as a bridesmaid, since she’s been expecting that title and no matter how important anything we ask her to do (which would probably be more important that bridesmaiding!), it still wouldn’t meet the expectations she’s had. Although I will probably ask her to help out with some of the important stuff day of and coordinating (very good idea!), which will allow me to focus more on spending time with my good out of town friends, which I think is part of what I’m really concerned about.

  • Very beautiful bridesmaids

  • Bridget

    Hi! My fiance and I are just discussing some bittersweet news from one of our groomsmen. He and his wife are having a baby! We’re so excited for this little guy/gal to join our circle, but we are a little disappointed that the due date is the DAY of our wedding. Mr. Groomsman is trying to be really good about this, but we know that even if the baby comes early/late there is no possible way for him to be there. He’s two states away and we think that it is absolutely more important for him to be with his new family.

    My fiance is a little bummed. He and Groomsman have been talking about being in each other’s wedding for ever, and he was a groomsman in this guy’s wedding in October. (so the baby thing has happened very quickly). However, he understands and does not want the groomsman to feel guilty.

    We’re okay with just having an uneven bridal party, not a big deal. What we are really struggling with is how to keep one of our best friends included in the wedding, so he still feels like a part of it. We have until July to plan. Any ideas on how to honor an absent groomsman? Has anybody done anything interesting at the ceremony/reception? This guy is really a great friend and the life of the party. Any ideas?!?

    • scw

      this is a little late, so maybe you’ve found a solution, but you could consider having the friend record (or skype in!) a toast to be played at the reception. it could even be a surprise for your FH. best of luck!