The MOB Is Freaking Me out (and It’s Not Even My Wedding)


The worst part is that the bride has no idea

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

mother tying sash on daughter's wedding dress

Q: My best friend asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. We’ve been friends for over ten years, and she was a bridesmaid in both of my weddings. Even though I live on the West Coast and she resides on the East Coast, it was a no-brainer.

Both my weddings were very simple: few guests, no shower, no bachelorette, and no need to buy a special dress. I assumed I’d need to buy a dress, but my friend never set expectations that I’d be involved much beyond that.

Quite out of the blue, I found out that I’m being recruited to plan and host a very large bridal shower (fifty-eight guests) at a nice restaurant. I say “found out” because I learned of this after the fact. The two other bridesmaids and the mother of the bride started planning it all without me. The mother of the bride let me know that the bridesmaids are responsible for: invitations, postage, decorations, guest book, flowers, other centerpieces, games and prizes, favors, and cake.

I’m concerned because the mother of the bride has been very specific in her expectations of how each of these items should be handled. For example, the invitations need to be paper, not digital. And the favors need to be bought, not homemade or DIY.

Every day I receive emails of the things she’s seen on Pinterest, or of a new idea to consider. The other bridesmaids and I talked about a budget, but I’m really concerned that she hasn’t been sensitive to that, since she’s carrying the lion’s share of the cost for food and drinks for the guests.

The bride doesn’t know at all what is going on, and definitely didn’t dictate the large guest list or elaborate planning effort. I’m feeling conflicted because the bride asked me to be a bridesmaid and she’s one of my closest friends, but her mother is making the shower planning distasteful. I’m not able to shell out hundreds of dollars to fly to the shower, and also cover all of the expensive items the mother of the bride wants to include. I’m thinking of telling the bride that I can’t be a bridesmaid, if only to get the constant emails from her mother to stop.

Help! There has to be a better way!

-Anonymous

A: Dear Anonymous,

This is all just a part of the bridesmaid deal. Not the shower, but her mom.

I know you’re frustrated that your friend didn’t lay out her expectations for you up front. But the bridal shower isn’t the problem here; Mom’s wild demands are. When you’re asked to be a bridesmaid, a (hopefully) pretty dress is involved, but “manage my crazy family” is also implied, no matter how small or big or low-key or fancy the wedding. By agreeing to be a bridesmaid, you agree to take those punches—in large part to spare the bride. (Besides, you said the bride has no idea this shower is happening—how could she brace you for something she herself didn’t know about?)

Hopefully, this all points to your friend planning the wedding she wants, and her mom exhausting all of her hopes and dreams and desires on this shower. You might be saving your friend this hassle, fielding all of the Pinterest emails so she doesn’t have to. Wouldn’t that be nice? You’re doing some noble (albeit irritating) work.

Handling Mom’s demands doesn’t necessarily mean caving to all of them. If your money is being spent, you have a say in how. You mentioned that you and the other bridesmaids came up with a budget—do some research and see what you can get within that budget. It probably means some compromises. You’re right that she’s probably not aware of your budget restrictions, so voice them. If she sends another expensive idea, you can say, “That’s lovely! But if we do that, we’ll need to cut back over here, or we’ll be over budget.” An unfortunate part of handling family for your friend is being willing to be the bad guy occasionally. Sure, you want to keep Mom as happy as possible. But there are actual facts (like how much money you have in the bank) that you also have to contend with, and it’s better that you say so up front than overextend yourself and grow to resent your friend.

And, psst: I know you were frustrated when you wrote this email, but I want to mention something right quick. Not everyone is going to have your wedding. It’s fabulous that you planned a low-stress wedding, considerate of your bridal party. But one bride’s “low-stress” is her bridesmaid’s “uh, yeah, right.” And, having planned weddings before, you can understand that there are many priorities in the balance. (Plus, nobody picks their Mama.)

Godspeed, Anonymous. This part of being a friend isn’t easy.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTIONPLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

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

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  • macrain

    I just really, really feel for you Anonymous! And I know how hard it must be to keep this from the bride. Bravo to you for refraining from doing that! You are saving her some major stress and heartache by not roping her into all this drama. If this is what her mom is like, she’s probably got enough to go around.

  • Katelyn

    Awesome advice, I think sometimes people forget that being a bridesmaid is more than just a dress. If I were the bride I would be devastated that my friend backed out of being a bridesmaid because of a shower that I had no part of planning.

  • Amy March

    So, instead of saying “no, I can’t afford printed invitations, happy to coordinate emailed ones” the option you are considering is telling your best friend you no longer want to be a bridesmaid? Sorry, absolutely not.

    It is on you to speak up here. You own your own personal budget of time and money. Figure out how much you can and want to give to this shower of your time and money. The next time you get an expensive sounding email from bride’s mother, respond with “This looks so beautiful. I’m concerned we are getting away from the budget we discussed. I can contribute $xyz, happy to have that go where everyone thinks best, but I just want to be clear that I can’t spend any more than this.”

    Its absolutely an awkward conversation but I think its one that comes up in most weddings. You’re coordinating a party with people you don’t really know, all of whom have unstated expectations they aren’t aware everyone doesn’t share, and trying to set a budget without understanding what that budget will buy you. It is completely fine to say no to things you can’t afford!

    • CMT

      Yeah, I know weddings make things way weird, but the answer here is to talk to the MOB, set some boundaries, stick with them, and then not feel guilty at all if MOB doesn’t want to respect those boundaries. Which is the easier-said-than-done answer to so many of life’s problems.

    • Lisa

      Yeah, I did not understand the logic leap from “I can’t afford to pay for the MOB’s letterpress bridal shower invitations” to “I must drop out of the wedding party.” There are a couple of steps in between there (talking to the MOB, setting a financial boundary, addressing it with the bride if need be) before deciding to drop out of the wedding of a friend who’s stood up with you at your own wedding not once, but twice.

      • metafi

        Might be an Ask culture vs Guess culture thing. If LW is Guess Culture, she’s probably feeling backed into a corner by Ask-Culture MOB who doesn’t even realize it. LW is functionally unable to say no to any of these demands without looking rude/unreasonable/horrible, but really logistically can’t afford to say yes to them either, so stepping down out of the position seems like a third path. Especially if this is just the first wedding related event, and all the other wedding events are going to be impossible scenarios as well.

        • Lisa

          So I’d never heard of Ask/Guess culture until you mentioned it. This is a really interesting phenomenon, and I wonder if it’s also a regional difference.

    • Sara

      Yes – this is less about surprise expectations and more about learning to stand up for yourself. Its not unusual for bridesmaids to be heavily involved in shower planning or spending money on that aspect. Maybe the size is a bit larger than what the bridesmaid is used to, but the whole shower concept isn’t unfamiliar. The problem here is learning to stand your ground politely and managing the boundaries you want to maintain.

      • anon

        except previous commenters are having a discussion about how no, the who pays for the shower concept does vary and isn’t the same for everyone’s background.

        • Sara

          All I’m saying, is that even if the shower was a huge surprise, the main issue here is that she’s not standing up for herself. She’s not saying no, she’s not saying “I can’t afford it”, she’s not setting boundaries. She’s saying the MOB is being pushy and sending too many emails and I want to quit.
          If this letter said “I told the MOB I can’t afford the invites she wants and she said ‘too bad, that’s what being a bridesmaid involves'” then I’d say, of course that’s nuts.

        • Liz

          My reading of the question is that planning the shower is a surprise to the LW, not because in her region bridesmaids don’t usually pay for them, but because she, herself, LW, didn’t plan a shower (and as a result sort of expected this bride would either have the same kind of wedding, or would’ve shot her a heads up at the outset).

    • Jess

      Exactly. Back out of helping with the shower a little, but don’t stop supporting your friend because her mom is over-enthusiastic.

    • LJ

      I think a chunk of this is also feeling left out.

      >The two other bridesmaids and the mother of the bride started planning it all without me.

      Also, the things you’re saying she should say are all good things to say, IF you have the personality and confidence to say them. My personality would be absolutely fine with this but I know MANY people who would be mortified and unable to stand up like that to someone with that much momentum AND who you want to avoid burning a bridge with because of your relationship with theirdaughter. This is absolutely tricky.
      It’s one thing to offer emotional support to a bride during her wedding and marriage, and help with wedding details if needed – it’s another to be told you’re planning what is basically a mini-wedding (“invitations, postage, decorations, guest book, flowers, other centerpieces, games and prizes, favors, and cake.”…. seriously that is an $8000 shower). And it seems like she ISN’T planning it, as per the quote above, she’s just bankrolling a portion.
      Yes, she should feel free to say those things. But those things are huge social risks to say when you don’t really know the person on the other end and want to make sure you maintain a good relationship. She’s truly in a tough spot and the answer isn’t as simple as you start to state because of the barriers and what-ifs attached to saying what you suggest.

      • Amy March

        What I’m saying is that being an adult requires figuring out a way to do more than just hope no one ever asks you to do something that requires a no, because your only option is to leave silently in the night if they do.

        What is her other option here? Complain to the bride? Not be a bridesmaid for a good friend because she’s afraid of sending an email saying “sorry can’t”? Hope and pray Mom comes to her senses without actually doing anything?

        It’s all very well and good to wish that Mom would just stop being so pushy, but Mom didn’t ask our advice.

        • LJ

          The lady’s overwhelmed and she asked for help. “Cahoney up”, while not a wrong response in its entirety, is not exactly the most helpful thing to suggest. She’s feeling left out, intimidated and confused and wants to know how she should handle the situation. She doesn’t know the bridesmaids so she may not feel comfortable talking to them either – the bride is only person she really “knows” in this group so she’s the person she wants to approach. Cut her a couple inches of slack and maybe we can move this discussion to how to cahoney up – maybe an email would be best since she can phrase things carefully, maybe a phone call to make it personal.

          • nm

            Agreed. This shower is what plenty of weddings are like. The whole situation sounds like a major culture clash of some kind. communication style is certainly clashing but I think some combination of class, income, heritage, religion, or region must be involved. Being upfront with the MOB is not simple at all. It is extremely fraught in so many ways. Good luck LW.

          • Amy March

            Yeah I don’t disagree with you at all that it is hard and that she sounds like she is feeling left out! For sure when everyone else seems okay with things it is hard to be the one who has to say no, or even just wants to say no. I think keeping it on the same level is probably the easiest way- so if you get an email that’s over the top, responding to that email about the issue specifically raised by that email is probably easier than a phone call about the overall feelings involved. And if that’s really just too hard, then I do think talking to the bride is a much better option than quitting the wedding.

        • squirrelyone

          Being an adult also requires being able to acknowledge you are in over your head. If this person believes the job she is being asked to do is not the job she signed on for–the expectations she had of her duties and obligations when she accepted her role are not what they are turning out to be–it’s not at all unreasonable or cowardly to say “This is not what I agreed to, and if this is what the job entails, I am not the best person for it.” She clearly had a very different picture of what she would be doing than was handed to her, and it’s hardly childish or cowardly to say “I was wrong. I am not the best person for this. I love the bride, I want what’s best for her, and this task is better handled by someone else, so I will step aside and let that someone else do it.”

          I’m not saying she should or shouldn’t, but I am saying I think it’s hardly fair to tell her to grow up and grow a pair because she’s concerned about doing the right thing.

          • Amy March

            This isn’t a job. This is part of a friendship. I think it is absolutely 100% cowardly and childish to drop out of being a bridesmaid for your friend instead of at least trying saying no. I can’t imagine the absurdity of telling someone, “oh I know you thought of me as one of your closest friends, but please actually replace me with someone else.”

          • squirrelyone

            Not a paying job, but it is a job. A role. With differing expectations. Whatever you think the maid of honor role involves, it’s probably not exactly what the bride expects, or the of the bride, or anyone else. It’s cowardly to tell your best friend “I’d talked with your other bridesmaids and we planned on doing A, B, and C, and we’re ready to go with that and make it awesome, but your family expects to instead get D. If D is what you want, that’s great, but I’m not prepared or capable of producing a good D. Bridesmaid #3 is very well suited to throwing a good D. Maybe she should take over”?

            Clearly the real issue here is communication – we don’t know what the bride actually wants here. If the bride wants something more in line with what the maid of honor intended, then yes, stand up to the mother. If the bride and her mother are on the same page about how things should be done, better to get that out in the open now and reshuffle than to stick to your guns on principle and make everyone miserable.

          • Uh…being a bridesmaid is not a job, it’s an honor.

            I mean, it can be a job if you, as the bridesmaid, volunteer to do job-like duties, but no one should be telling a bridesmaid she *has* to do anything besides show up sober and on time in the previously agreed upon dress (not shoes, jewelry, accessories, hair, or makeup unless the bride/couple is paying for it).

            I mean, sure, people can have expectations that you will organize the bridal shower and give a toast, but if you don’t offer to do so, it does not mean you get “fired” from being a bridesmaid. You do not get fired from an honor, unless you’ve done something truly dubious…

          • squirrelyone

            Disclaimer: I’m a pragmatist. I’d rather people do the logical thing up front instead of pussyfooting around toes and fragile feelings and wasting time. My own maid of honor almost asked to step down. Why? She’s been to a lot of weddings, but never a churchy one. As we progressed in the planning and she realized there was going to be more churchy stuff than non-churchy stuff, she got freaked out. It’s not her culture. She’s not comfortable. We’d be talking about parts of the mass and she didn’t know what the words meant. And she had the guts to tell me she wasn’t sure she could do this after all.

            So we just drew a line and said she’s off the hook for everything churchy – my other fabulous bridesmaid is even churchier than me, so she’s going to be my right hand gal for that, and moh is going to handle other stuff. We joke that they’re both maids of honor, but over different departments. They’re my assistant managers.

            The thing of it is, she realized this situation was not what she’d expected. And she was worried about it being more than she could handle. And she admitted that she was uncomfortable doing this and asked to be let out of it. And we worked something out so everyone’s comfortable.

            But it’s far better to my mind that she had that talk with me and expressed that she was willing to step aside since she’s little help planning church functions and knew that Other Maid would be better for it. She was thinking both of her own discomfort and for the overall smoothness of the event, and she didn’t sit on it and stew over it. She is my friend, she was concerned, and she told me so. I am her friend, I understand her discomfort, and we worked it out. She’s not a coward for admitting she was out of her comfort zone to the point where she wanted out.

            Frankly, I’m glad she did it so early on so we could shift the responsibilities around before any vendor relationships were established.

            But again: I’m a pragmatist.

  • BSM

    Hmm, I don’t really agree with Liz’s response, which is unusual for me.

    I would hope that the bride would be open to hearing some feedback on what’s going on with the shower/her mom. Since she’s not involved in the planning, it’s totally possible that she has no idea how crazy things have gotten and would be mortified to find out how it’s being handled (I would be!).

    Also, I do not think “manage my crazy family” is an implied requirement for being a bridesmaid. I explicitly asked my MOH (who has known my family for 20+ years) to do this for me, but I didn’t have a run-of-the-mill MOB situation, either.

    • sofar

      Co-signed.

      Bridesmaids technically have one job — be there the day of the wedding and support the bride (which may include dealing with her crazy family). NOT included in this job is managing her crazy family during a 14-month engagement. That part, like party-planning, helping to make favors, etc., is totally optional and done on a volunteer basis.

      If my mom were doing this to my bridesmaids, I’d want to know. Yes, LW should deal directly with Mom first, just as Liz says, to attempt to save the bride a headache. If mom keeps pressing, you might say to the bride (assuming the shower isn’t a surprise), “Hey, your mom seems to have a very specific vision for the shower and that’s cool. But I can’t afford to contribute as much as she seems to want, and I’m worried about disappointing her — and you.” If I were the bride, “I’d be like, ‘Mom, back off. Pay for what you want and let the bridesmaids handle the rest. And stop sending them Pinterest crap. They have lives.'”

      Years ago, the Mother of the Bride (I was MoH) told me that a day-after brunch and gift-unwrapping is “traditionally” held the day after the wedding — and asked where I was planning on hosting that. And I was like, “Um, I have to fly out that day, sorry.” Mother of the bride found a cousin to guilt into planning the day-after brunch.

      • Amy March

        I don’t think of this as a bridesmaid requirement so much as a being-a-grownup requirement. You are required as a grownup to deal with people, including people who are sometimes on a different path than you. Step One to dealing with a tricky person shouldn’t be complaining to their loved ones about them. I don’t think Mom is really doing anything all that bad- she’s sending some Pinterest ideas to a group of people, seemingly none of whom have ever asked her to stop or told her that they have serious budgetary concerns. Escalating this to the bride seems premature to me and calling Mom crazy a bit over the top.

        • tr

          Thank you!!! Like, yeah, if Mom goes totally over the top and demands that she sell her house to pay for a marble fountain with the bride’s face carved into it or something, then yeah, you might figure out a polite way to mention the issue to the bride. But this? This all sounds like normal wedding drama, and nothing the mother is doing is outright crazy. Odds are, she’s just gotten wrapped up in things and has forgotten that 20-somethings don’t have the same flower arrangement budget that her friends do.

        • s

          This might be colored by my experiences with inlaws, but it’s possible there’s communication problems here. The bridesmaids may have mentioned budget in passing, in an “oh wouldn’t emailed invitations be more cost effective” and the MOB turns around with an oblivious “paper isn’t expensive!!”. Genuinely believing it, because the paper she has in mind is white cardstock and not embosses.
          It took me a couple years to figure out that I had to directly (in a way that feels rude to me) tell my MIL “No, I’m not going spend money on that” in response to upwards of 20 emails a day about fancy couch cushions.

          • sofar

            haha maybe my response to this post is colored by my MIL experience, too! My MIL is the same way.

            If I say: “No, I am not going to wear a dress that has a ruffled skirt and a 10-foot train. I will look awful in it,” she hears, “I always wear boring clothes, so I don’t feel comfortable looking like the princess I really am. Please convince me to wear this dress!”

            I have to say, “I think that dress is ugly. Stop telling me I should wear it.” It’s frustrating because any normal person would have taken my first response at face value. And I hate having to be rude.

          • s

            I hear you!! It sucks to feel like you have to be rude! But I’ll still take being rude over dealing with three days of “convincing” me about how perfect a 500$ wool handmade rug would be in our living room with four cats (one of who’s a chronic puker)

          • sofar

            I am glad I am not the only one whose MIL thinks she is “ruining everything!” ;)

        • sofar

          Liz used the word “crazy.” I was quoting her. I think Mom is more like my mom and a lot of moms — good intentions but a bit intense.

          And, as a bride getting married in two weeks, I would absolutely want my bridesmaids to tell me if my mom (or any of my loved ones) was getting out of hand. My decision to get married is what smushed them together in the first place. It’s not like my friend is working with my mom at her job and complaining to me about her. As the guest of honor, it’s my job to make sure my mom (who has more power and resources and emotional clout in the situation) isn’t steamrolling my bridesmaids. I’d hope they communicated their concerns with my mom first, but I can totally see her being oblivious if they tried — and needing to be told (by someone she has a close relationship with — me) that she needs to cut it out.

          And, yes, I do think this Mom is steamrolling them. In addition to Pinterest stuff, she sent out a laundry list of expectations from the get-go (ie, invitaitons “must” be paper). In that context, “innocent” Pinterest “ideas” can seem a lot like expectations.

          A reasonable person would have sent out an email saying, “Hi ladies, a couple of you mentioned you’d be interested in coordinating the shower. I’ve got the food and drinks handled, so no need to worry about that. Just figured I’d send out a group email so we have a central place to plan, since we’re so spread out.” … and yes, at that point, it’s the grown-up thing for the bridesmaids to voice budget restrictions and ideas.

          • Rachel

            “My decision to get married is what smushed them together in the first place. It’s not like my friend is working with my mom at her job and complaining to me about her.”

            Yes!! This is such a great comparison/distinction. I definitely wouldn’t put this in the category of “avoiding dealing with a tricky person by complaining to their loved ones about them.”

          • sofar

            Thanks! Weddings are such a unique situation that force people to work together who would NEVER want to work together, all in the name of someone they love, without getting paid! So, when someone is being obnoxious, they’re being obnoxious on MY behalf. And it’s therefore my responsibility to step in.

          • Liz

            My b for using an imprecise and charged word. I guess I meant more like, “nutty.” My own family is pretty nutty, but you’re gonna be in my bridal party, you’re gonna deal with some nuttiness. Just by nature of being my friend, you’ll probably be stuck listening to my aunt describe in detail why she doesn’t wear thongs (I wish that was a made-up example).

            I love my friends and I cringe at the idea of putting them out. But I would get pretty exasperated if they ran to me every time my mom emailed them something made out of pink tulle that they saw on Pinterest.

          • sofar

            Right, there’s totally a difference between running to the bride and saying, “Augh your MOM sent out another Pinterest thing, GAWD” and saying, “Hey, we have tried to talk budget with your mom and feel like we’re constantly disappointing her by falling short of her expectations for the shower. How would you like us to handle it? We want to make sure you have the things that are important to you, so can you help us prioritize some of your mom’s ideas, because we can’t swing it all.”

            Obviously that comes *after* LW is upfront with mom. But if they say, “Hey having X and Y AND Z isn’t do-able on our budgets,” and mom is still saying, “We must have X and Y and Z” and doesn’t offer to pay for any of those things, then I think it’s OK to loop the bride in.

            Yeah, it’s nice to save the bride a headache if you can, but at some point, enough is enough.

          • Courtney

            In defense of the “crazy” mom, paper invitations are not actually a crazy, steamrolling requirement if you’ve got a guest list that includes older relatives who don’t do email. While it does seem like this mom might also have Opinions about what those paper invitations look like and cost, the insistence on paper alone is actually not unreasonable. You can DIY paper invitations for an affordable price, and maybe that’s an option that this bridesmaid should suggest.

          • sofar

            That’s cool, I agree and we did paper invites for our wedding (due to older relatives). But the way I read the column, mom is *insisting* that the bridesmaids do paper (which requires extra expense and DIYing which is too much of a time commitment for many). If they’re being made responsible for the invitations, they get to pick how those get sent out. If mom wants them a *certain* way, she pays/handles it.

          • Courtney

            Yeah, I just think the insistence on paper is the least crazy thing this woman has done. If she’s insisting that they be purchased from a particular place or be a certain type of paper, then yeah that’s a big requirement and she should just pay for it herself. I could see this woman requiring that they be gold foil letterpress with diamond accents, and then yeah – that’s on her. But just paper? I mean, you can get print-your-own invitations at a craft store, which costs $30 and an hour. To me that’s not at all an unreasonable expense or time commitment, especially when split between several people. I just don’t think her *insisting* on that is such a big deal. I would be much more pissed about the must-be-purchased favors. But, to each their own.

      • BSM

        Yeah, I have a strange family situation, so maybe I’m just missing something, but I would not expect my bridesmaids to manage this situation without me.

        My mom did try to sabotage my wedding on the day of (not as dramatic as it sounds; it was only via text, her preferred method of communication lol), so I had my MOH deal with that and hold onto my phone for me while we got ready.

      • Sara

        I don’t see how getting the bride involved solves the problem. This bridesmaid seems to not really have set a line with the MOB – my interpretation of the letter is that the bridesmaids agreed on a budget between the three of them and they feel bad pushing back at the mom because she’s paying for food and drinks for 60 people. If the bridesmaids aren’t willing to say ‘stop’, the MOB has no way to know she’s gone overboard. She might just be excited or want to impress people or is fanatical about showers. The bride getting involved just adds stress to the bride’s life.

        • BSM

          I see what you’re saying, but I also don’t think not adding stress to the bride’s life should always outweigh lots of added stress to everyone else’s lives. But there seems to be a lot of variation to how involved people expect their bridesmaids to be with each aspect of the wedding/wedding-related events, so YMMV.

        • Jess

          It’s totally fair to involve the bride IF the bridesmaids have already said “slow your roll” or if they are dealing with a potentially explosive mom. I would not expect any of my friends to confront my mother without me. That shit is scary.

          Otherwise, it’s time to strap on the big girl panties and draw a line.

        • sofar

          That’s why I agree that the bridemaids should approach mom before involving the bride. If Mom still argues, “No, the invitations MUST be paper, AND we must have XY and Z,” then I’d loop the bride in. I just wasn’t a fan of Liz’s advice that it was their “job” to keep the bride from having to deal with her mom, no matter what.

          I think it’s perfectly acceptable to ask someone someone with a closer relationship to the offender to deal with them. I have told my fiance countless times things my MIL has said and done and said, “I tried, now YOU handle it.” Because he can tell her forcefully, “Mom, if you don’t stop that, we won’t visit as often.” I can’t do that.

      • toomanybooks

        “Traditionally” – I don’t know everything about wedding traditions but I feel like “traditionally” doesn’t the married couple like, leave and go on their honeymoon etc? I mean, I know brunches are a thing now… (but also, gift-unwrapping?)

        • Lisa

          I think the farewell breakfast/brunch is common in several circles. I’ve definitely heard of it before today. I also have heard here that there are many family members that expect gift-unwrapping to happen in front of the givers, even going so far as to insist it happen at the reception. It’s not out of consideration to me that places where the brunch is a thing might also lump in gift opening so as not to detract from the reception but still allow it to take place in the presence of guests.

        • sofar

          The day-after gift-unwrapping is regional, apparently, especially in the region where I grew up (upper midwest). I moved away after high school, so I’d never heard of it, until my friend’s mom told me about it. As more of my high school friends have gotten hitched, I’ve gotten more invitations to gift unwrappings and said “NOPE” to all of them. Why would I want to get up early the day after a wedding and watch someone open presents?

          • Greta

            Ohhh yes! I had never heard of this either until a friend of mine’s parents (from Wisconsin) absolutely insisted upon it. He was horrified as well, plus it meant they had to delay leaving for their honeymoon by a day.

          • MuddieMae

            Well, that explains it – my MIL asked about this for our wedding a couple of weeks ago and I just brushed it off because it sounded horribly boring and stressful (plus we mostly got checks). They’re from WI and it sounds like maybe its traditional in their area.

          • JC

            Yeah this is a really interesting tradition that I’m familiar with too. (I’m from the PNW, but with extended family from farm country and originally from Minnesota.) A lot of our family have their weddings in their large backyard, so the day after present opening was also a “help us clean up after last night and we’ll compensate you by giving you a big brunch.” (There’s always food included.) Only family and wedding party were included. For my sister’s wedding, the gift unwrapping was a chance for just the family to be together, when the bride and groom didn’t get a lot of family time the day before, and it also included breakfast. I can’t imagine going to one for a friend, unless I was in the wedding party and I was expected to help clean up.

      • Huh?

        I’m still wrapping my head around the fact the MOB is even planning a shower.

        It’s an etiquette faux pas and for good reason in my opinion. This is an event only friends/bridesmaids should plan.

        • Violet

          I understand you feel that way; plenty of people do. But even if LW felt that way too, it’s not really a solution to her problem. Thus far, she hasn’t even been able to say that what MOB is proposing is outside of her budget– is there any way we realistically think it will be productive/possible for her to say, “This is an etiquette faux pas, for good reason, and as such, I’ll have none of it.”?

          • Huh?

            I never said the LW should bring it up. I said I’m still wrapping my head around it.

          • Violet

            Oh! Gotcha.

          • Huh?

            Also, it’s not that I “feel” that way. It is an actual etiquette rule and one of the best IMHO because of the premise behind it.

          • Violet

            Correction: “I understand you subscribe to that specific stated rule of etiquette.”

          • Huh?

            The funny thing is that this MOB is not only illustrating why this rule exists; she is illustrating it spectacularly.

            The reason family members do not host showers is because they are not a disinterested party. It looks like they are trying to enrich a family member at other people’s expense. It looks greedy.

            This mother has one-upped it by not only planning the party where her daughter gets presents, but also demanding bridesmaids spend more than average to throw the party her daughter will benefit from.

          • Violet

            Honestly, I don’t even necessarily disagree with you that it’s not a good idea. EVEN if we set etiquette aside, the logistical nightmares as they are unfolding now are a pretty good reason to avoid this scenario of family hosting. I just thought you were bringing it up as a way LW could get out of the situation and wasn’t sure how that would work, and then you clarified for me that wasn’t what you meant.

          • Huh?

            Yes. Basically I was sort of in shock.

            The thing that get me about not knowing or caring about etiquette is that it’s free. It doesn’t cost anything to know about it.

            Sometimes etiquette is out-of-date and you have to adjust. This isn’t one of those. If you look at the reason for the rule, it’s timeless.

          • Liz

            Well, I don’t think I completely agree there. In many (all?) of the weddings I’ve been in, the moms (whether of brides or grooms) were involved in the shower planning. I think what has changed since the time the tablets were handed down from the mount to Emily Post, is that we all have so many social circles now. Moms are sometimes the ones who best know not just who to invite (which could be easily gathered other ways, I guess), but also the culture of the family. There are just more… logistics to consider these days.

          • Amy March

            I don’t really think it’s timeless. A big part of the rule is that the bride was leaving her mother’s home, and that anything others didn’t provide for her would be her mother’s responsibility, so a mother hosting was seen as trying to get something for herself. That clearly isn’t the case now with most brides living independently prior to marriage. Most showers I see are pretty similar to this- the bridesmaids might be officially the “hosts” in that they send the invitations and receive the RSVPs, but the mother of the bride is often in the background helping and bankrolling a major part of the expense. I’m genuinely surprised you’re so shocked by it!

          • Huh?

            Parents did not necessarily provide beyond paying for the entire wedding. So say my mom.

          • Jennifer

            But in this case the MOB is trying to do the exact opposite. She wants the credit for organizing the shower, but expects the bridesmaids to make significant contributions.

          • CMT

            No. These “rules” are not immutable laws of the universe. Trying to apply them like they are is unfair and isn’t going to do anyone any good.

          • Antonia

            “The funny thing is that this MOB is not only illustrating why this rule exists; she is illustrating it spectacularly.”

            Exactly.

          • Courtney

            This totally varies by culture and region. In lots of places, it’s now considered completely normal and expected that the mother host a shower. I would guess that probably has something to do with the fact that in those places it has become common to have large, cost-prohibitive showers.

          • CMT

            Etiquette rules aren’t universal!!!

        • sofar

          Thanks for pointing that out. I feel like, whenever I take the etiquette angle on any wedding site, I get lots of posts saying, “But that’s outdated and different cultures are different!” Never mind the fact that LW clearly lives in the U.S., and her friend’s wedding seems to have all kinds of trappings of a “western” wedding. In other words, the “no-immediate-family-hosting” rule applies. And, as you said, there are good reasons for that.

          I’ve helped plan a few showers where the MoB will discretely offer help or offer to pay for some of the food (especially if the bride wants to invite her large family to the shower). But I’m always shocked when I get an invitation to a shower the mother is clearly hosting.

          • Yah, I think paying for parts of the shower and/or supplying a guest list that the bride approves are fine inputs from a MoB perspective.

        • April

          Not sure if this is regional but almost every wedding party I’ve been in has had the MOB hosting the shower and my MIL hosted my own shower as well as my SIL’s a couple of years ago. I think etiquette is great but we can’t pretend that it’s totally global and all etiquette applies to everyone, everywhere.

    • Alex K

      I was just coming here to say the same thing. While I agree LW should talk to MOB first, if my mom kept pressing I would totally want to know because my MOH is my friend and I don’t want to make her life any more difficult than it has to be. I feel like MOH/bridesmaids have one job (unless others are discussed and agreed upon) and that is to be there the day of and support the bride and this does not fall into that category.

      • BSM

        Yeah, I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that they’d already voiced some concerns to the MOB, since it seems weird to mention the bridesmaids have a budget in mind but haven’t discussed it with the MOB, and yet are frustrated she isn’t respecting their budget? IDK!

    • Rachel

      OMG I’m so glad I’m not the only one. I would absolutely never ever ask that one of my friends deal with any of my crazy family (they are mostly not crazy, but sometimes a little, like everyone’s I guess) so I didn’t have to. I had no idea that was a commonly expected wedding party requirement. Although I’ve never been a bridesmaid before, currently am for the first time but my friend absolutely DOES NOT want a shower, so I guess we all got lucky? :)

    • Eh

      My family is pretty reasonable, but my MIL and her mother are off the wall. I shelter my friends and family from them. There is one friend I ask to deal with my MIL and that is a friend that I went to high school with, who set me and my husband up and is married to my husband’s cousin. She has known my MIL longer than I have, and knows how crazy she is but has learned that it is worse than she thought after helping plan my bridal shower and my baby shower. My friend didn’t want to stress me out either time so kept the problems to herself for a long time and then got to a point where she exploded (I wouldn’t have had an issue with her coming to me earlier). I would not put any of my other friends or family through that.

  • Dea

    Wow, this whole pile of advice is just so far from my experience. A bridesmaid is suddenly responsible for managing batshit family members? She’s on the hook for an optional give-me-presents party in addition to cross country flights to get there? And here I was thinking asking my bridesmaids to pay their share of our AirBNB was kind of asking a lot.
    If I were the Bridesmaid, I would probably come up with an amount I was able to contribute, send it to the mother, and show up to the shower with bows on.
    If I were the bride and my mother was driving my best friends this batty, I’d want to know so I could tell mom to chill.

    • tr

      I mean, usually the bridesmaids are on the hook for at least part of the shower, but I don’t think that applies when the bridesmaid would have to take a plane just to get to said shower! In fact, under those circumstances, I don’t quite get why the bridesmaid is even expected to come to the shower…
      I feel like the mom is trying to apply the old rules to a situation where they just don’t really apply. Showers were a lot easier when a bride’s friends all lived within 20 minutes of one another, but you can’t really maintain those same expectations when people are spread across the country.

      • Dea

        I think it’s pretty ridiculous to expect your bridesmaids to pay for your shower, to be honest. Bachelorette, maybe, at least that’s fun for them too, but showers? But I find showers to be kind of antiquated now anyway.

        • tr

          I mean, I don’t necessarily support the expectation (my shower was done on an absolute shoestring budget, and most of it was paid for by my mother), but it’s still largely considered par for the course in most circles. I know I’ve chipped in for showers in most of the weddings I’ve been a part of.

          • Dea

            May be one of those regional / social circle differences.

          • tr

            Oh my gosh, yes! I had NO IDEA how many regional/social circle differences there are in weddings until I started planning one! At this point, I’m starting to think that literally every single person has a different idea on who does what/what a wedding is supposed to include!

          • Rachel

            And the extra funny part is that so many people feel STRONGLY that the way they’re accustomed to is THE one and only way and OMG how could you consider anything else?!?! ;)

        • Greta

          Yea, I always felt like someone volunteered to host a bridal shower, and then usually, they paid for it? I was a bridesmaid across the country from a friend of mine – I was invited to a shower (hosted by her aunt) but could not attend because plane tickets are expensive. I sent a gift for the shower, but as far as I know, none of the other 5 bridesmaids contributed anything financially. Maybe my friend did things totally differently, but if this bridesmaid didn’t volunteer to host, and wasn’t involved in the initial planning, I don’t feel she should be on the hook financially for any of it!

          • tr

            In most of the weddings I’ve seen, the shower the bridesmaids contribute to is the one thrown by the MOH (albeit often in conjunction with a family member of the bride’s). If anyone else hosts a shower, the bridesmaids don’t contribute. However, that’s more of a guideline than anything else, and if the MOH wants the bridesmaids to contribute, she’s responsible for figuring out how much everyone is comfortable spending and planning the shower with those limitations in mind.

      • Sara

        It doesn’t really say that the bridesmaid is being forced to attend. She just said she can’t afford to do both a flight and high cost pinterest projects. If she reminded the MOB that she’s spending a lot of money to just attend, it might help out.

        • tr

          Very good point!!!! I can see how the mother would easily forget to take that into account!

        • Rachel

          Yeah, that’s a really good point.

        • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

          That’s what I was thinking! If she could say something like “My flight was more than I budgeted for, so I can’t contribute a ton to the party, but I’m happy to hop on stamps.com and order the stamps for the invites! I can have them sent to whomever is sending the invites! Thanks for understanding!”*

          *note that I can come up with something like this now, but 10 years ago when I was a young, naive bridesmaid, I refused to speak up for myself and got roped into helping pay for a fancy shower that I really couldn’t afford!

      • Mrrpaderp

        Well put. No one is obligated to fly cross-country 3 times in a 6-month period for someone’s wedding. If they plan the shower and bachelorette for the same weekend, then awesome, but otherwise, none of the far-flung bridesmaids attend the shower.

      • Courtney

        Possibly this is the reason the MOB and other bridesmaids started planning it without her – because they know she’s far away and probably wouldn’t be able to come? I can see that conversation happening. Mom and local bridesmaids start planning, then someone says, “Oh but we should include Anonymous. Even if she can’t make it, we wouldn’t want her to feel left out.” And at that point, isn’t it really up to her to speak up and say, “Sorry, I won’t be able to fly out for the shower, but I hope you all have a lovely time!”?

        • Violet

          If the other two bridesmaids started planning the shower with the MOB, then maybe *they* set the expectation of what the ’maids would take on by volunteering for those items, and the MOB is just the one who is spearheading communication. Not saying that was fair of the other bridesmaids to sign LW up for things she didn’t agree to, but then LW simply needs to tell MOB, “Oh, sorry, I don’t know how the message got across that I’d be the one to dip the turtle doves’ wings in solid gold, but that’s not in my budget,” or whatever. Why not first just share the budget with MOB or say you can’t attend before considering dropping out?

          • Courtney

            Agree completely, and also super love the image of bridesmaids gathering around to dip the turtle doves’ wings in solid gold.

          • Violet

            Haha, thanks!

    • Amy March

      Which is why, I think, Liz’s advice also includes “But there are actual facts (like how much money you have in the bank) that you also have to contend with, and it’s better that you say so up front than overextend yourself and grow to resent your friend.” No, she isn’t on the hook for this party or for flights. She is on the hook for communicating what she is and isn’t going to do clearly.

    • Jess

      In a lot of ways, I think your last comment is great. Bride can say, “Hey, maybe calm down just a little. This is awesome and exciting and I’m grateful for this event. It’s overwhelming the girls trying to help”

      Caveat: Difficult Parents. Some parents are just… like this. We cannot control them, and we certainly (as Liz says) do not get to choose them.

      • emilyg25

        But you could at least step in and be like, “Hey, my mom’s kinda nuts. Sorry you have to deal with it. I’m happy with whatever you plan!”

        LW should communicate clearly what she’s willing to do, but it’s not her job to manage difficult family members.

        • Jess

          Oh for sure, it is totally not her job to manage family members, and if my mom were being crazy at my bridesmaids, I would want to know, hands down.

          I was just thinking that intense moms sometimes cannot be changed – which (like you said) I would have to communicate to them anyway!

        • sofar

          Exactly. If my mom were doing this, I’d like the opportunity to tell my bridesmaids, “My mom is kinda crazy. Plan what you want and can afford and think would be fun and ignore her emails.”

          My bridesmaids are respectful, sweet people and might feel obligated to keep my mom (who fortunately isn’t as intense as this mom) happy. I’d love the chance to empower them and acknowledge the difficulty of their situation and say, “Nope, I’m on your side here.”

  • ART

    At first I saw this from the perspective of the bridesmaid and thought wow, that is an excessive ask by the MOB, she’s being unreasonable. But commenters below have rightly pointed out that it’s unclear how well anyone has communicated back to the MOB that they’ve agreed on a budget and need to make decisions that fit within it. While I love all things handmade and DIY, I can see from the MOB’s perspective that if she’s inviting a bunch of her friends to shower her daughter with gifts, she wants to host it in a way that will cater to their tastes and expectations. That doesn’t mean forcing the ‘maids to blow their budgets, but that doesn’t need to happen (and I’m not seeing a demand for that…yet) as long as they’re willing to be clear and firm about what they can contribute.

    • tr

      The main thing that the MOB is being unreasonable on is that usually if bridesmaids contribute to a shower, it’s a shower thrown by the MOH, and the MOH is responsible for seeing what everyone feels comfortable contributing. There’s no inherent problem with the MOB sort of stepping into the MOH position for these purposes, but if she does, she’s under the same obligation to ask upfront what everyone is comfortable contributing, and planning around that. She can have all of the professional centerpieces and gorgeous favors she wants, but if the bridesmaids as a whole are only able to contribute $150, she’s going to be the one making up the difference.

      • ART

        I am woefully out of touch with “usuallys” for weddings, and didn’t have a maid of honor, so that isn’t part of my experience but sounds like a reasonable approach for a MOH (or any organizer) to take. My point was just that it’s unclear that MOB even realizes there’s a $150 limit (or whatever it is) – the LW didn’t say that MOB has specifically pushed back on their budget, just that she’s concerned that MOB has specific ideas about how things will be accomplished and doesn’t have a clear sense of the budget or how the cost of those items will or won’t fit within it. MOB may have neglected to ask upfront (fail, I guess), but that doesn’t mean the bridesmaids can’t volunteer that information as soon and as firmly as possible.

    • Jennifer

      But the MOB isn’t truly hosting it if she’s demanding that all of the bridesmaids contribute.

      • ART

        Would the same apply to a MOH organizing the shower instead, or is it because it’s the mother?

        • idkmybffjill

          My general understanding is that when one “Hosts”, one pays. When others also pay they become “Cohosts”, but idk if that’s universal!

          • Marcela

            In my community, it is expected that bridesmaids will all contribute to the cost of the bridal shower with some fiancial help from the MOB. Hosting would just indicate who is the point person or the person who owns the house it’s taking place in. YMMV.

        • Jennifer

          I think the same would apply to a MOH organizing the shower instead. Either one could give the bridesmaids the opportunity to co-host, but it seems rude to expect it.

          The fuzzier line would be if a few bridesmaids wanted to host it, and just assumed that all bridesmaids should be co-hosts.

  • Greta

    I’d be curious to know what the relationship between the MOB and Bride is, and how aware of this relationship the LW is. As a bridesmaid and close friend of someone for many years, you may have some knowledge of the bride’s relationship with her mom. If I were the LW, I’d maybe reach out to the bride and ask how mom is doing with the rest of the wedding planning. If the MOB is doing this for the bridal shower, I would imagine she is also doing this to the bride for everything else. Maybe MOB isn’t allowed any input in the wedding so she’s taking it all out on this shower. Maybe MOB is just a huge planner and is also overwhelming the bride with all the details and expectations. Maybe the bride is loving her mom’s help and input, maybe she isn’t.

    My mom is all about planning and has high expectations. She didn’t get to be very involved in planning my brother’s wedding because he didn’t let her. She offered to pay for and host the rehearsal dinner though, and went totally over the top with it. Granted she paid for everything herself, and my brother and SIL let her run with it, but since she wasn’t involved in the wedding planning, she put all of the energy into the rehearsal dinner, including customized favors, separate invites, special desserts, the whole shebang.

    My point being – I feel like how the LW might best handle this situation may be made more clear if she more deeply understands the relationship between the bride and her mom, with special regard to the wedding planning process.

  • toomanybooks

    I would’ve thought the part where you live on the other side of the country would be an easy out! it seems like it would be pretty rough for you to plan any of the things to MOB’s specifications as an out-of-towner, and how could you be asked to pay for (let alone plan) something you can’t attend? If it were me, I’d just say, “Sorry, you’ll have to count me out of this one since I’m too far away and can’t make it.”

    • Violet

      I totally agree with you, which is why I’m so confused. Yours seems like such a simple solution (as does just talking to MOB, as others have offered), but LW is reaching WAY past it to considering dropping out (not of the shower, of being a bridesmaid) entirely. Maybe she wants to drop out, and is using this as her justification? If she doesn’t want to be in the wedding, she just… shouldn’t.

  • Courtney

    I wonder if the living on different coasts thing has anything to do with what appears to have been a gap in communication here. Not sure exactly where on the East Coast this bride lives, but where I’m from, it’s not at all unusual for the bridal party to pay for the whole shower. Each time I’ve been a bridesmaid, I’ve gone into it expecting to do so unless told otherwise. Sometimes, the bridesmaids were left to plan it ourselves and often chose less expensive venues in those cases. Other times, the shower was held in a restaurant and the mother of the bride kicked in a significant amount. So the MOB might feel she is being very generous by paying for the entire cost of the restaurant, and therefore doesn’t realize that she’s still asking more than the bridesmaids may have expected. It’s also not unusual here to go to a shower with 50+ guests – in fact, that’s more like mid-sized in my experience. So it’s possible the MOB is just planning the kind of shower that she has been to for family and the daughters of her friends, and doesn’t realize that this may seem extravagant to others.

    And really, the more I think about it, geography doesn’t even necessarily have to be a factor in it at all. My husband and I grew up only about two hours from each other, but our entire wedding planning process was an exercise in understanding that our different communities had different expectations. Lots of tears were shed because my vision for our wedding and his mom’s vision weren’t always the same, and eventually I came to understand that his mom just wanted our wedding to fulfill the expectations of her friends and family. She had been to a lot of weddings in her community and wanted to make sure that her people felt taken care of in the same way. And you know, even though it wasn’t always exactly what I envisioned, her feelings were still valid. What felt extravagant to me was just her way of participating in her community.

    This it not at all to say that this is right or that it shouldn’t be addressed – just because it’s expected in one community doesn’t mean it’s the be-all-end-all doctrine of weddings. But it may have something to do with the miscommunication between this bridesmaid and the MOB. It seems that all parties here have different expectations regarding the role of the bridesmaids, and that may be why the mother (and also possibly the other bridesmaids?) are proceeding this way – it hasn’t occurred to them their expectations might not all be in sync. The bride might not have even realized it. The letter writer didn’t realize it either, until the emails starting pouring in. So yes, something should be said, budgets and expectations should be clarified, but to just drop out of the wedding seems a bit rash and also unkind. It’s likely the bride has no idea her friend is being made to feel uncomfortable, and it’s possible that this mother has no idea that the shower she’s envisioned for her daughter might seem like too much to others involved.

  • Antonia

    I really do feel for the LW here. “Manage my crazy family” the day of the wedding? Sure, with some help. “Manage my crazy family” for the duration of the engagement? Yeah, no. Also, and correct me if I’m wrong, but why is the MOB hosting the bridal shower anyway? I thought the MOH was supposed to host, with possibly the bridesmaids and/or other family members as co-hosts. I thought a family member hosting a bridal shower was considered “gift grabby.”

    • CMT

      There are all sorts of comments here about different regional and cultural expectations around showers. I don’t think there’s any one right way to do it!

      • Antonia

        Fair enough. But it sounds like MOB could be construed as toeing the etiquette line. Would probably behoove her to tread a little more lightly.

        • CMT

          Okay, I need to get this rant off my chest: Personally, I think “etiquette” in the sense of Miss Manners says to do this or that is antiquated BS that applied only in one time period to one specific culture. (Probably white, probably middle or upper-class, in a time when everyone you knew lived close to you, and a time when there were no cell phones or email or internet.) There are a lot of regional, cultural, socioeconomic, generational, technological differences that don’t make any one set of social rules applicable to everybody.

          • TheOtherLiz

            YES. Thank you.

          • Antonia

            Fair enough; point taken. I worked for a regional wedding magazine and the editor only had two hard and fast etiquette rules: 1) No registry info on the wedding invite, and 2) No cash bar (her reasoning being that paying for your own drink at a wedding is akin to paying for your own drink at someone’s home). But I’ve seen even those rules fall somewhat by the wayside in recent years. Not saying I agree, but like with most situations of etiquette, it’s probably a matter of “know your people.”

        • Courtney

          Yeah, I don’t think that’s necessarily true at all. In some communities, the MOB planning an elaborate shower for her daughter is totally normal and expected. She may be toeing the email etiquette line when it comes to hounding those bridesmaids, but she’s not breaking any etiquette rules by planning her daughter a shower.

    • idkmybffjill

      Like Miss Manners rules, showers are to be hosted by friends only. Cause even MOH is still a family member. But honestly, I feel like that rule of etiquette is pretty much moot.

    • Nell

      In my part of the country/culture (Northeast/Jewish) it has been the extended family of the bride that holds the shower (or close family friends). Your bridesmaids do the bachelorette, your great aunts do the shower. Might not be the Miss Manners way, but it’s the only way I’ve seen it done!

      • Sophie

        Yup – me too. (Midwest/Lutheran) :)

    • Emma

      I really agree with you that the time frame is an issue here. Yes, it’s reasonable to expect your bridesmaids to manage some family drama for a day or weekend, but for months?? I really disagree the months of daily emails etc etc. are “all just a part of the bridesmaid deal.”

  • Violet

    I’m pretty flummoxed by this letter. Both by the events that happened, and LW’s making dropping out her Plan A. For whatever reasons, all of which might be valid, LW assumed she was going to do very little as a bridesmaid. But you know what happens when you assume… You could say it was on the bride to communicate any expectations, but LW acknowledges the bride doesn’t know any of this is going on. I find it really striking that LW’s first plan of action is one that will directly hurt the one person who doesn’t even know this is going on.

    Liz hinted at LW’s judgmental tone in her footnote. I’m wondering if the tone is not just a footnote, but is actually a bigger part of the picture. Knowing that we only have this letter to go off of, I do get an overall sense of ambivalence about being in this wedding. LW says it was a “no brainer” that she would do it. The rationale she gives is a long friendship (well, later she does mention they’re close, but in the same sentence as distasteful showers being enough to offset that closeness) and reciprocity for being in her own weddings. Maybe it felt like an *obligatory* no-brainer to her? I’m not exactly seeing any warm and fuzzy feelings towards the bride. Then she uses her own weddings as the anchor to set expectations for her friend’s, relying on her friend to correct any misconceptions. That seems like LW is assuming her way is the default, obvious option, when most people get by now that there are many ways to hold a wedding. Again, interesting she hasn’t even checked in with the friend to find out what her friend is thinking of for her bridesmaids. Using language like, “shell out hundreds of dollars” seems to imply LW isn’t happy about attending the shower at all (especially since she did not have one/two), let alone put money into planning it. Why not just say you can’t attend the shower? It’s across the country; the bride would understand, right? Either go happily or don’t go?

    Anyway. I think something is up here beyond poor communication between MOB and the LW.

    • Her Lindsayship

      YES. There’s a lot of heated discussion here about whether LW should bring her issues to the bride or not, but LW never even mentioned that as an alternative. (For the record, I don’t think the bride needs to be involved anyway since it’s the shower, something that’s typically out of the bride’s control.) I don’t think the issue is what is expected of a bridesmaid. The real issue here is a certain level of maturity that is expected of an adult. Even if MOB is completely unreasonable and a monster to deal with (and since LW hasn’t tried voicing her concerns with her, we can’t say that’s at all the case), sometimes you do things you don’t particularly love doing because you’re a) an adult and b) there to show love and support to your BEST FRIEND on the occasion of her wedding!

      • Violet

        Yeah, I don’t feel strongly about whether she should bring it to the bride or not either, because it’s probably a know-your-bride situation. (I’m seeing in the comments a pretty equal split between “I’d want to know if I were the bride,” and “Don’t stress the bride out; just talk to her mom,” indicating there’s probably no right or wrong way, only preferences.) But LW doesn’t seem to know her friend’s preference or even seem inclined to try to feel her out, along the lines of writing, “I’m getting so stressed out by these emails, I don’t know if I should be thinking about letting my friend know I’m not sure how to handle this.” Just, “I’m thinking of telling the bride that I can’t be a bridesmaid” to get emails to stop. Huh?

        I mean, LW, if you aren’t feeling good about this, maybe you shouldn’t be in the wedding. But not because of the MOB. Because you’re not feeling this wedding, for whatever reason.

    • rg223

      I’m flummoxed as well! I feel like the LW may be looking for justification to drop out, for all the reasons you listed. But additionally… maybe I am wrong about how well friends know each other’s families, but it seems like LW doesn’t know bride’s mom and bride and MOB’s relationship particularly well. I met my best friend as an adult, and I’ve only met her mom a handful of times, but I know what issues she has with her mom, and would be able to predict MOB’s wishes and how to deal with them. Which makes me feel like maybe the LW doesn’t WANT to put that emotional work into it. I’m curious if people feel differently though!

  • gonzalesbeach

    probably just me, but now all I can picture is an Anonymous member in a guy fawkes mask and black hoodie showing up to the bridal shower and being really (silently) annoyed with hanging store-bought decorations and placing all the expensive floral arrangements evenly throughout the restaurant

  • MsDitz

    I feel you LW. Last year I was the MOH in a wedding, and when the bride asked me she was very chill, essentially saying, “I don’t care much about what you wear and there might be a shower that you should attend if possible, but don’t stress.” My son was 6 months old at the time and she was very aware of that and did not want anyone to have added stress for anyone involved. Then her mom got involved. The bride was an only child, so her mom had ALL THE EXPECTATIONS for her daughters wedding, and she was putting a lot of those expectations on me. It was a really stressful time for me, between dealing with the mom, the bride (who was still trying, but failing, at keeping things “chill”), and being a first time mom. But, you know what? We all made it through. The wedding is over now and I have not seen or talked to the MOB since, but my friendship with the bride is a lot stronger after being there for her during her wedding. Sometimes it is easy to forget that weddings and the planning that goes along with it are temporary. Be clear on your budget and reality, but you will also need to grit your teeth at times and just get through it, because it will all be over soon.

    • Jess

      This advice is so much of what I am trying to put into words in response to this LW today. So… just yes to all of this.

  • Vanessa

    To me, this is the best takeaway:

    “Not everyone is going to have your wedding. It’s fabulous that you planned a low-stress wedding, considerate of your bridal party. But one bride’s “low-stress” is her bridesmaid’s “uh, yeah, right.” ”

    LW’s weddings are irrelevant to the issue at hand, and conflating them with the current situation is not serving her.

    • Violet

      Yes! I wonder (all speculation is based on limited intel, of course) if LW isn’t even really conflating as much as she is deciding how much she wants to contribute to her friend’s wedding by using what her friend did for hers as a means of comparison. Like mental accounting: “Let’s see, assuming one nice dress, plus reciprocating for being my bridesmaid, times two, subtract for mine both being low stress, carry the one… equals attend shower, contribute $X dollars to it, buy dress, attend wedding. Should anything else crop up, drop out.” I don’t know for sure if score keeping is happening here, but if it is, it’s probably coloring LW’s perception of this shower planning.

      • Vanessa

        I agree. And I wonder if sometimes scorekeeping comes from the unconscious mistake of thinking “my wedding = the right way” and “everything else = the wrong way”. I don’t think it’s usually intentional – I don’t know anyone who would come out and say those things – but it’s a message I’ve received from various family & friends a number of times, and I wonder if it’s happening here.

    • Keri

      I also wonder if her thinking about dropping out of being a bridesmaid means that maybe she was in it if it really was kind of a one-day thing, but that she might not have said yes if she realized there would be more to it (like planning a bridal shower and dealing with mom).

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