Is My Friend Trying to Get out of Being a Bridesmaid?

She “might” have “work obligations”...

a woman's back full of tattoos seen through the window of a dress

Q:DEAR AMY,

I got engaged a month ago (wee!) and am planning a wedding about this time next year. Last week, I started making calls and visits to ask my friends to be bridesmaids, and I was met with a resounding yes and excitement from all of them. All except one. One of the girls I consider myself fairly close to (closer than some of the other party members) said she “would see” and it would “depend on work.” I was a bit surprised, but I made it clear on the phone I understood she couldn’t attend every event (she lives a few states away), but I’d still be thrilled to have her stand up with me on the wedding day. It still sounded like even that was too much of an ask, and her reply was still “maybe.” We sort of awkwardly hung up and now I have no idea where that leaves us.

Do I write her off as a bridesmaid and just send her an invitation and hope she can attend, or do I call her and demand a yes or no? Are you allowed to respond with a “maybe” when someone asks you to be a bridesmaid? I would have fully understood a no, but she wasn’t clear either way. Am I going to come across as pushy if I make her decide this far out? How long am I supposed to wait for a yes or no? The week before the wedding? Is she just trying to get around saying no and I misread how close we are?

—Maybe bridesmaid

A:DEAR maybe bridesmaid,

First things first, do you have a wedding date? An actual date that comes with reservations at wherever this shindig is going down? If not, stop worrying about a bridesmaid who can’t possibly be expected to commit to a vague plan and get on that!

Assuming that’s out of the way, can we start by having a little more consideration of your maybe bridesmaid? You put “depend on work” in quotes, which I think is because that’s literally a quote, but also because it doesn’t seem like you’re buying it. Nowhere else in your question do you even seem to acknowledge that it might actually be true. There are all kinds of jobs where a year or so out, you really can’t guarantee you will be available. Maybe vacation time is only approved six months in advance. Maybe your business depends on you being there to handle things, and you just don’t know yet if you can make it work. Either way, as a general rule we’ve all got to work so that our bills will stay paid, so let’s assume there’s at least some truth to it (because srsly if you believe she’s just straight-up lying to you, why are you friends?).

Because, assuming she’s not lying, this situation really sucks! And it sucks primarily for her! It’s so hard to feel like you can’t say an enthusiastic YES to things you really, really want to do because you also really, really can’t afford to get fired.

There’s one other thing lurking in your question that I think we should talk about. She’s “fairly close”? Is she actually a close friend? Do you see each other regularly? Do you talk to each other? Email? Visit? Text? Getting married has a way of making you actually look at all of your relationships in the clear light of day. I know not everyone sees it this way, but I think that if you don’t see someone, or talk to them, text with them, or communicate with them regularly in some way, they aren’t a close friend. Be honest with yourself, because it matters whether this maybe bridesmaid is an “I know what to hide in your apartment in case you suddenly die” friend, versus a “totally is happy to see you on Thanksgiving Eve and send you memes of drunk cats” friend. And if she’s the latter, she may not want to jump through the hoops to take time off work, buy a dress, and spend a pile of money to really do it up right as a bridesmaid in your wedding. And that’s okay, but you need to get that out in the open.

As for having no idea where it leaves you, it leaves you with a bridesmaid who can’t give you a yes or no answer right now. Obviously, not what you wanted to hear. It’s nice to get an enthusiastic ABSOLUTELY to this ask! It’s personal, and if you’re feeling hurt and confused that’s fair enough. Think about when you actually need to know. I’d give it a little more time and then follow up! Ask her not just if she knows for sure, but when (if ever) she will be able to commit. Let her know that you’d love to have her as a bridesmaid or a guest, but realistically you’re gonna need a yes or no answer on the bridesmaid gig in the nearish future.

She might think you are being pushy, but as long as you’re being pushy and kind, you’re on the right track. Give her some time and space, but you don’t need to give her until the eve of the wedding unless you want to. And remember, you’ve gotten a lot of enthusiastic “YES DEFINITELYS,” so, really, you’re fine. Positive self-talk is your friend here. You are kind. You are smart. You have lots of friends. One “maybe” is not a referendum on you as a person.

Y’all. Remember. The people in your lives really do have jobs and obligations and bills to pay. Even when you are planning a wedding. You measure your life in love, but her landlord measures in cash money.

—Amy March

HAVE A WEDDING QUESTION?
EMAIL ME: AMYMARCH [AT] APRACTICALWEDDING [DOT] COM.

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