I’m the MOH, and the Bride Is Calling Me “Her Personal Stage Manager”

Discussing the many ways to say No

Six full length formal dresses hanging on hangers against a white wallQ: Dear Amy,

My mother got married young, and her best friend was her maid of honor. Now thirty years later, her best friend’s daughter is getting married and asked me to be the maid of honor. This girl and I are a bit like distant cousins. We’d see each other once a year or so as kids, and then we hardly ever saw each other through high school, college, and post college. Prior to her engagement, I saw her maybe three times in ten years. I barely have a relationship with her. We’ve always been friendly, but we’re not close by any stretch of the imagination.

No wedding judgment, but her Big Day has turned into a bit of a production, complete with a stage management team (not singular stage manager, a TEAM). We’re talking five parties in three days kind of production. This is in addition to a destination bachelorette party (which cost me, personally, $1,500) and three bridal showers. The bachelorette party and the showers all followed a similar pattern: Bride tells me to coordinate the whole thing (“I don’t care; just do whatever!”), changes the plans on me fifty-five times (probably because I kept picking things she didn’t like; a direct result of not really having a relationship with her) and then, once the party starts, proceeds to ignore me for the rest of the weekend/party in favor of the guests that she has legitimate relationships with.

And now, three weeks away from the wedding, we’ve reached the point where Bride has started referring to me as her “personal stage manager” and has begun to escalate the passive-aggressive behavior.

I’m flying in on Tuesday for her wedding that takes place on Friday. I have asked her repeatedly to tell me when she needs me. For MONTHS, I’ve been told, “I just need you starting on Thursday.” So I think to myself, “I have Wednesday to see my mom and try on dresses for my own wedding and to ask one or two people that I love to be in my bridal party.” As soon as I tell her this, she suddenly tells me that her mom is throwing a dinner party that I need to be a part of, which forces me to cancel all of my own plans. (Extra frustrating as I live on the West Coast and have extremely limited time to do bridal things with my mom and my friends.)

Add in to that the pressure of actually being her MOH (people keep expecting me to know things about the bride that I just… don’t. I don’t have a million funny stories because we never spent that much time together. I don’t have tons of photos of us because we never took any), and I’m at the end of my rope.

I’m not going to drop out of the wedding or anything (no one deserves that), but I’m drained, emotionally and financially, and I’m not entirely sure how to navigate the next three weeks. I don’t have a genuine relationship with this person. I know that I was just asked to be MOH as a way to honor our moms. But I also am tired of being treated as The Help and having incredibly expensive demands made of me.

Any advice on how to take a step back and chill out?


A: Dear Frustrated,

It sounds like you’re really and truly done with this whole experience, and I don’t blame you. This bride seems to have asked a lot of you, and you (probably reasonably), expect that to continue through the wedding weekend. I’m going to get there, but first let’s turn the clock back to the beginning and talk about all the opportunities you had to say no—because you missed each and every one of them. And unless you really get that, you may as well just hand her your bank account password and quit your job to tend her needs to the next three weeks.

Chances For You To Practice, “No.”

Opportunity One: A stranger asks you to be her maid of honor. SAY NO. It is so nice that you mean something to the bride because your moms were friends. That is a lovely reason to invite someone to a wedding. It does not mean you need to be her maid of honor. Maid of honor is a role that, for better or worse, tends to come with obligations. If the person asking you is someone you just aren’t close with, do yourself a favor and gush about how happy you are for her and how excited you are to celebrate her at the wedding, but actually you couldn’t possibly be her maid of honor. You just can’t, but you are so happy for her, but no.

Yeah, she might be mad. And? You barely know her!

Opportunity Two: She envisions a destination bachelorette party costing $1,500. SAY NO. Offer to plan something you can afford, if you want. If she doesn’t like that idea, then try, “I hope you have a great time. It’s not in my budget so I am not coming, but I can’t wait to hear stories.”

What is the downside here? Some girl you literally have no relationship with gets mad at you? Fires you from a role you didn’t want and shouldn’t have accepted? Gasp—tells your mom? At which point you say, “I don’t have one thousand five hundred dollars to spend on this, sorrynotsorry,” and move on.

Opportunity Three: She has three showers. As maid of honor, you should really try to make it to one shower if you can. Beyond that, just decline. She’s not doing anything wrong. Maybe her mom is throwing one in her hometown, and her fiancé’s aunt is hosting one in his, and a friend is hosting one where she lives now. That’s okay, and it’s also okay for you to only do one of these.

Opportunity Four: The Wednesday before the wedding. She told you she needed you Thursday. Great. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP ASKING HER WHAT ELSE SHE NEEDS. She did not at all force you to cancel your own plans. She didn’t need to, because you did that all on her own. “Oh, I can’t spend all day Wednesday crocheting bunting for you because I already made plans for Wednesday since you said I didn’t need to be there until Thursday.” I know you want me to be all tut-tutting her that she’s clearly just enraged you should dare to be a bride at the same time as her and she’s made this dinner party up to reassert her dominance, and while all of that may be true I really don’t care. “No, I can’t, I already have plans,” was a perfectly acceptable thing to say.

I mean yes, I’m annoyed at the bride too

Do I sound exactly as frustrated as you? Because I am. Yes, absolutely, for whatever reason this woman’s expectations on you are completely unreasonable. But I’m more concerned with you here, since you’re the one who asked and all. I think after this wedding is over you need to spend some serious time sitting with yourself and your choices. If you cannot say no to someone you barely know, don’t like, and who has objectively unreasonable demands, can you ever say no? I can feel people yelling at me for being too harsh, and blathering on about ask versus guess culture, and explaining that conflict is really hard for some people. I’m just not here for it.

Yes, absolutely, saying no can be extraordinarily challenging. I recently spent five hours mustering up the courage to say no to a second date with a guy who voted for Trump (#neverTrump). But just because it is hard doesn’t mean you can get through life without doing it! Maybe this wedding is an aberration in your life and your conclusion is, “Nah, I’m cool. That was just a really strange situation.” But maybe you’d be well served by practicing standing up for yourself a bit!

Here Is What You Do, Though

All that being said, you’re obviously not dropping out with three weeks to go, and I get it—mistakes have been made and you still need a path forward. I think you need to define for yourself what you are and are not going to do. Write down the commitments you have made so far, by hand, on paper. Write down the boundaries you are drawing around yourself. (My personal examples would be: I will leave parties to go to bed whenever I want; I will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure I am adequately fed and caffeinated, even if that means dealing with a temper tantrum; and I will not be spending any more of my own money on this bride.) And then before you respond to any request from her, circle back on those lists. BRIDE is not some magical title that means no one can say no to you all weekend. There is nothing wrong with a pleasant, “I’m running to Starbucks be right back,” or whatever personal space you’ve decided you need.

Just so we are all crystal clear, I don’t think this bride has behaved well. Having a wedding stage manager is a great idea, but you can’t just delegate that task to anyone who stands still long enough for you to hand them the clipboard. Some people will take whatever they can get you to give, and you need to figure out a way to cope with that.

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  • Cleo

    Nailed it.

    On a side note, I wonder what the dynamics between LW’s mom and Bride’s mom are. Is LW’s mom a giver and her BFF (Bride’s mom) is the more assertive one in the relationship? Is LW feeling the pressure to say yes to preserve this friendship for her mom’s sake?

    I’m not saying at all that this is good or healthy, but for things to have gone this far… I wonder where the moms are with their friendship.

    • Henri

      Totally! I am really curious what the LW’s mom thinks/says about this, if she knows what’s going on.

      • yeah, and if I were LW I would ask her mom to talk to the bride’s mom about how overwhelmed she is by all of this. not knowing the dynamics it’s hard to know how that will go, but in an ideal world LW’s mom would stick up for her and smooth things over with the bride’s mom.

    • Rachel

      Yeah, I’m curious about the moms too, because my first thought (or second, after “oh my God, fuck no”) was “does your mom know about all this?!?” Because my mom and I have very similar mental health and self-care needs so we understand each other pretty well on stuff like this, and there is just no fucking way she would ever expect me to take on something like this for someone I barely know. I mean, this is just BRUTAL. I am honestly tired and stressed out just after reading this letter, haha!

    • Jan

      For real. I also wondered if LW hasn’t even telling her mom any of this, because I feel like if it were my mom and her best friend, she would have been like, “Cheryl, your daughter is coocoo for Cocoa Puffs, tell her to clamp it down.”

  • Katia

    Spot on advice, Amy. The bride sounds terrible but it’s up to LW to draw boundaries and make sure no one intrudes them. You should have said no long ago, but you’re still in time to make sure your time in the next days will be ok. For example, next time she calls you stage manager instead of maid of honour you can correct her no matter who is around, as long as you do it nicely. I am sure you will be a great bride to everyone involved. Congratulations on your engagement and please don’t invite her to be your maid of honour.

  • sofar

    Good tough-love advice here.

    Whenever I’m in a situation where someone is trying to take advantage of me and (for whatever reason) it’s hard to say “no,” I ask myself: “What are they gonna do? Fire me?”

    In your case getting fired would be a HUGE relief, probably. So, do exactly what Amy says (the bare minimum) up to and including the wedding. You have the power here (she needs you, clearly). And if she does throw a tantrum and fire you, so what? She ends up looking bad and to anyone who asks, you just say, “You know, I did everything I could and it wasn’t enough. I wish her well.”

    … oh and make your own plans for Tues and Wed. Say you can’t go to that dumb dinner after all and offer no explanation.

    • Katharine Parker

      “What are they gonna do? Fire me?” is the perfect attitude here. The only possible recourse I can see in this scenario is that the bride complains to her mom and her mom tells LW’s mom–but even then, the bride is acting crazy and the LW isn’t going to do anything other than be polite while doing the acceptable minimum.

      • sofar

        I also wondered if there’s some kind of family pressure to do all this stuff — LW’s mom pressuring her not to let the bride down or something. Even so, that’s messed up. And as you say, LW wouldn’t be doing anything wrong by being polite and fulfilling minimal obligations (as she’s already gone above and beyond).

  • Katie

    Totally siding with Amy on this. There have been SO MANY opportunities for you to say no, you almost don’t have a right to be mad now. I personally struggle with saying no to people, and what helped me was slow realization that I would spend much more time agonizing over “why didn’t I just say no?!?!” than worrying about people getting hurt (spoiler alert: most of the time they don’t even get hurt. They just ask because 1) they think you’d be happy to do it 2) they are pressured by “traditions”, like the bride who thought it would be a nod to your moms 3) they are assholes who genuinely want others to help them for free and spend other people’s money on their showers).

    So, yeah. Please take care of yourself and your wedding, too. Say you can’t make it to the Wednesday dinner because something important popped up (it did: you spending precious time with your mom, doing things that are important to YOU, not to a girl you barely know).

    • AP

      There was a fabulous recent episode of the Dear Sugar Podcast where they interview Oprah about how she learned to say no after years of being everyone’s yes person. There’s one example she gives about when she realized why she always said yes, “because I want them to think I’m nice.” And then she realized that wasn’t actually all that valuable to her, and that people who truly love you still think you’re nice even when you say no. I love that even Oprah struggled with this.

      • Jess

        I LOVED those two episodes.

      • Violet

        Woah, I want to listen to that…
        Counterpoint: sometimes I feel like saying “no” IS the nice thing to do. If I’m doing something for you, you can be 100% sure it’s done with my full energy, attention, and love. There’s no building resentment anywhere, because if there was going to be an issue, I would have told you “no” already. So you don’t have to value “nice” above everything else, but sometimes being the person people can count on to be honest and upfront is a nice person to be.

        • Amy March

          couldnt agree more

        • Sarah E

          Yup, was just talking to a friend about this from a different angle. I’m a very forthright person, and I have to be because I can’t spend my time and energy wading through everyone else’s subtexts. I need to be able to take you at your word, and I have to mean what I say in kind.

        • Yeah, I generally think that if you value treating both yourself and others well you usually land on something that is at least nice-adjacent.

          • Violet

            Heehee, “nice-adjacent.” Now I’m almost bummed I’m married, or I’d create a dating app profile where I describe myself as “nice-adjacent.”

      • Katie

        couldn’t agree more. I have been that person for far too long – wanting people to think that I’m nice. But how can I be nice when after saying “yes” I start quietly resenting those very people I wanted to be nice to?

  • Katharine Parker

    Along with Amy’s advice to practice saying no, practice saying no and offering no explanation. You do not owe anyone an explanation. A legitimate reason not to do an optional thing (inc. being maid of honor, planning and attending bachelorette parties, attending showers, going to this random Wednesday dinner) is that you do not want to do the optional thing. It is impolite to say that, and making up a reason is ill-advised, as it is unnecessary, can backfire if proven false, and creates an opportunity for the person to offer a remedy which you do not want (can’t make Wednesday dinner? Come to lunch. Can’t afford $1500 bach party? We’ll make it $800. Can’t attend shower? We’ll plan for the days you can make it.). So just embrace the decline without explanation!

    • sofar

      Yes! This is something that takes practice. ESPECIALLY because so many people will pry for an answer and ask you why you can’t make it. THEY are the rude ones. And you have to stand your ground and say, “I just can’t, unfortunately, but I’m sure it will be fun” … “Again, I’m sorry to be missing this, but I can’t manage to make it.”

    • Cleo

      Yep. It’s so hard to stop after no, but you can.

      Channel Phoebe in the pilot of Friends when Joey asked her if she wanted to go to Ross’ and help them put his new furniture together: “I wish I could, but I don’t want to.”

    • Katharine Parker

      Also, even if you have a legitimate reason (a $1500 bach party is out of your budget, for example), you do not need to give it if another part of the reason is that you do not want to do the thing. If you want to solve the problem, explain that and brainstorm solutions. But if you do not want to do the thing, politely and firmly decline without explanation.

    • Amandalikeshummus

      I think fewer explanations also leads to fewer hurt feelings in the long run. They don’t need to know what you’re prioritizing over their thing. I know when I receive a no for something, I often prefer it to not come flowered with some weird excuse. Can’t contribute to my charity thing? Cool, catch you later. Can’t contribute because your doll collection needs to go to the salon that day? Ouch. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, I just don’t need to know.

      • Katharine Parker

        There is a reason that “I can’t, I have to wash my hair” is understood to be a brush off.

        • Jan

          I used to I do a lot of recruiting for events and was given this line on the regular. Felt awesome every time.

        • quiet000001

          Funny story diversion: when she was younger my mom didn’t realize it was a brush off, nor did her roommate/best friend, so she’d gone on like one date with this guy and he called about a second one and she’d intended to go out again if he asked but she was actually legitimately washing her hair at the time so she couldn’t come to the phone. So my mom’s roommate said “she can’t, she is washing her hair” and that was the end of that dude. My mom had no idea why for YEARS.

    • NolaJael

      Typically I’m on Team “No Is A Complete Sentence” but, since you are doing wedding stuff while home, I do think it’s the golden opportunity to say, “No, I’m sorry but I have stuff to do for MY wedding, you know how much there is to do!”

      • Amandalikeshummus

        And who says, Get Coffee with Bff isn’t a wedding task? ;-). Gotta keep those bridesmaids caffeinated!

    • Jess

      The good old “No is a complete sentence” advice. My favorite.

    • Jan

      Yes, though maybe be sure to nix the “because I don’t want to” from your actual act of declining. I wouldn’t care if someone doesn’t want to go to something I care about, I just don’t need to know that’s the reason because I’m, like, a human being with lots of feelings.

      • Violet

        I think that’s what Katharine is saying- give no reason, because the real reason (I don’t want to) would be impolite/hurtful to give, and the fake reasons cause their own issues.

        • Jan

          Yes, agreed. I was just adding it for anyone who might have misread and been like “Yes, tell someone I’m not coming to their birthday party because I don’t want to, this is me living my best and strongest life.” Because I 100% misread it at first and was like, “merp?”

          • sofar

            I agree, this needs to be clarified. Because I had one friend turn down an invitation who straight-up said, “I can’t, because I’m only saying ‘yes’ to things that bring me joy.” Like, you couldn’t just say, “No thanks”? When she was out of earshot, my husband and I agreed we’re not inviting her to anything, ever again.

          • Jan


          • AP

            Ah hahahahahaha. This story brings me joy.

          • Katharine Parker

            Good lord people can be rude

          • SHE DID NOT. Dude. Live your truth, but hit the mothereffing mute button.

          • SS Express

            Bahahahahaha your friend is a DICK. That sounds like something that would happen on Kimmy Schmidt.

        • Katharine Parker

          Exactly! Your reason: you don’t want to. Your response to the inviter: “I can’t make it, but have a great time without me!” I guess this could have been clearer in my original comment, but that’s what I mean by “no explanations.”

      • Katharine Parker

        Yes, to clarify: my advice is to offer no explanation for why you will not be doing something. “I’m sorry I can’t make it; I hope you have a lovely time without me.” Full stop, no reason given. No one is owed an explanation for why you will not be doing something.

        It’s maybe slightly confusing in my original comment, but as an additional point for people who have a hard time saying no, you do not need to have a reason other than “I don’t want to” to choose not to do something. And with that as your reason to give yourself permission not to do something, you return to point one: tell people no, offer no explanation.

        I have edited my original comment, because I definitely do not want to encourage anyone to tell people blithely that they just don’t want to attend something–the thought makes me cringe :)

    • AnnaM

      This, exactly! One of the hardest things about saying no is not JADEing – don’t Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain. “No” is a complete sentence.

  • Amandalikeshummus

    I kinda think there was an option at that first juncture for, “Sorry, I can’t take on the full responsibilities of MOH; but how about I be a regular bridesmaid?” Since her standing up there is largely symbolic, it may have been a good compromise and gotten her out of a lot of things. A symbolic bridesmaid really only needs to be up there during the wedding. Maybe she’d be at some of the other stuff; but she would be less important, since no one else really knows her anyway.

  • Her Lindsayship

    Have to agree with Amy here. I feel for you, LW, because I too am not great at saying no. However, “If you cannot say no to someone you barely know, don’t like, and who has objectively unreasonable demands, can you ever say no?” is such an important point. Maybe this bride is rude and demanding and disrespectful of other people’s needs, but you gotta watch out for your own needs. Especially when dealing with someone who is not even important to you! If you spend all your available energy on the people who demand it, you might find you don’t have enough leftover for the people you actually love and want to support – or even yourself.

  • Alli

    Man, I could really use an Amy March in my life to give me tough love every once in a while.

  • jayne

    Maybe all this is true, but how is this helpful? Ending a response with “you need to figure out a way to cope with this” is exactly the opposite of constructive. LW did not ask how to avoid this situation in the future, which tells me that she probably realizes how many opportunities she had to change this situation, but hindsight is 20/20. As mentioned, there are possibly a million jillion reasons for why things happened the way they did, and there’s no need to lay into the LW for what has already happened. Let’s assume she’s a grown woman who can recognize her own mistakes and address the question at hand, which is how to move forward.

    • Cleo

      That was what the whole last section was about (“Here is What You Do, Though”).

      The “learn to say no” advice is also helpful for the LW in the future and also the bulk of the readership here, I’d wager. Not that we don’t know how to say no, but as a reminder that being asked to do something doesn’t create an obligation (as women are socialized to think, etc. etc.)

    • Jess

      The “HERE IS WHAT YOU DO, THOUGH” section addresses this pretty well.

      Restating it: The LW should establish what she has already committed to do (attend this dinner thing, probably give a speech, wear a certain dress, attend a rehearsal & dinner, maybe set-up somethng?) and say “no” to anything not on currently the list.

      LW should also look for ways to take care of herself, whether that’s heading out from the reception early or going out to pick up Starbucks to get a break.

      That is good and practical advice to survive what is likely to be a very stressful week.

      • Yep. I think physically writing out a list or otherwise concretely delineating boundaries is great (and at this point honestly the only) advice for how to cope. LW is 3 weeks out, creating a boundary and recharge plan is basically her only option besides dropping out.

    • Jan

      But if what you say is true, and she recognizes she needed to say no multiple times along the way, then why is she writing in at all? Because surely the only two options here are “say no to unnecessary events” (which would be her recognizing her mistakes and rectifying them), or “grin and bear it”.

    • Amandalikeshummus

      I’m thinking all that is addressed to the rest of us who haven’t made the mistakes yet. There’s a reason to publish a response rather than respond directly.

      • SS Express

        Exactly. I looooove reading advice columns, and it’s just not because I’m interested in the exact steps an internet stranger will take right now to solve a specific problem (although as a busybody I do enjoy that aspect too), it’s because I’m interested in how a problem of that nature comes about and how I can avoid or at least handle similar situations in my own life.

  • NolaJael

    I think I understand why this bride had to go all the way to the “distant cousin” bench to find a MOH…

    • sofar

      Yeah, pretty clear here that the bride doesn’t have friends. Gee, wonder why.

      • quiet000001

        Or at least not any friends stupid enough to sign up for the job.

  • AP

    I love all this advice so much.

    It’s almost word-for-word what I said to my mom earlier this year. Her parents asked her to plan their 60th anniversary party, and the further along they got in the planning, the more it spiraled into a full-on wedding, complete with paper STDs and invitations, vow renewal ceremony, cake cutting, cocktail hour, sit down dinner, and dancing. She was doing the work of a full-time wedding planner.

    Guess who she leaned on for venting throughout the whole process? Oh yeah, this girl, who almost always responded with “just tell them no, mom, what are they gonna do?” I even got to role-model this for her when she called me to tell me my grandparents hated every invitation design on Minted and Wedding Paper Divas, asking if I could “design something on the computer?” I said absolutely not, you don’t even know what you’re asking (also I’m not a graphic designer), surely in the thousands of options online they can find something they can live with. And because I knew her next step would be to try to design an invitation herself in Microsoft Paint, I threw in “and you’re not agreeing to it either.”

    Boundaries are my favorite thing ever.

    • Violet

      Oh my goodness. My sister isn’t quite this bad, but with one friend of hers in particular, she lets herself get steamrolled. She’ll ask me what I would do, but this at the point of about 7 “yesses” in that I would’ve said no to. I always tell her honestly, “I don’t know what to do, because I wouldn’t have gotten this deep in the first place. I’m sorry.”
      Sometimes I feel like I got 99 problems but saying no ain’t one.

      • AP

        The best was when my grandma told my mom she wanted all the guests to wear name tags so that everyone would know each other. Almost a hundred people. Mom called to tell me this, super upset that she was going to have to make a hundred name tags (also wtf name tags at a wedding?!) in addition to all the centerpieces, favors and everything else.

        When it became clear that she wasn’t going to say no, I offered to do it, with the full intention of never making the name tags and then “losing” them on the day of. (Granddaughters can get away with a lot more than daughters.) Fortunately, my grandma came to her senses and the name tag idea was scrapped.

        • Violet

          FWIW, I think your solution is passive aggressive genius. I mean seriously, name tags at a wedding!? So glad she saw reason.

          • AP

            I think what did it was a friend telling her name tags can ruin people’s clothes. (Not the fact that her daughter had too much on her plate or anything, but we’ll take it!)

        • toomanybooks

          HI DID I JUST GO TO ALMOST THE EXACT EVENT YOU DESCRIBED?? Except we actually did have to wear nametags! It turns out more than one person at my table was allergic to adhesive!

          • notquitecece

            this made me cackle

        • Rose

          Ok, that situation sounds awful, but I have to say that I love love name tags at weddings. Some of our friends did it, and then we did, and then some more friends did, and I loved it as a guest. There were all these friends of our friends who I’d heard mentioned, and then I got to find out who they were and I could actually remember names. We made ours, and it wasn’t too bad–we wrote names on paper cut-outs and hot-glued little clips to the back of them, and also wrote the table numbers on the backs. Not that demanding that work from someone else is ok, but personally I’m fond of nametags at events.

          • SS Express

            I always turn my placecard around so the other people at my table can see my name. If you’re lucky someone asks why you’re doing it, and when you explain everyone else on your table copies!

          • AP

            Yeah, I think if it hadn’t been one of a million complicated ideas that my grandparents had and expected my mom to execute, we might have been more open to it. It’s not a bad idea in general, it was just one more thing to add to the to-do list. I think it’s awesome that you made your own name tags and that people loved them!

    • sofar

      Dude. I would TOTALLY have considered designing one in Microsoft Paint myself and being like, “There. Here’s your invitation bwahahaha!”

      • AP

        They were like, “doesn’t AP have Photoshop?” Um, no, AP’s husband the photographer has Photoshop. That’s not the same as AP knowing graphic design. Also Photoshop is not how you make wedding invitations. I’m still smh over that one.

        • sofar

          But, “you’re a millennial, can’t you just whip something together?”

      • laddibugg


        I probably would have typed something up in Word and sent it to them. You’re going an extra step with Paint.

        • quiet000001

          There’s probably even a boring default template already that would work.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        Comic Sans it is!

        • Violet

          *snort* I love a good Comic Sans ribbing.

  • Tolkien Gay

    I used to be a claims adjuster for a large insurance company. It was a brutal, brutal job but when people ask me about it I always tell them that I learned things I didn’t know I needed to learn (like how to say “no”, the power of silence, etc.). Saying “no” is SO hard.

    Now I’m in an MBA program and I’m being told I have to work on being more assertive … so I’m thinking my journey to draw boundaries and self-advocate is going to involve life-long learning. My Leadership professor has been an invaluable resource throughout this process. Maybe LW can find a good mentor? Someone in LW’s personal or professional life who is good at saying “no”? If not, I’m sure there is literature out there from experts. A quick Google search founds this:


    • ssha

      This link is is really helpful, thank you for sharing!

    • I hate confrontation, but I’m actually pretty good at saying no… I think one thing that helps me is I usually frame it sideways as in “unfortunately, that won’t be possible.” Which is probably less ideal than being fully direct, but the best is the enemy of the good and all that.

  • Booknerd

    I think this is great advice if the LW could jump in the time machine and fix things before it escaladed to this point, however pointing out how the LW contributed to their own situation is not constructive advice for moving forward.

    LW I absolutely think you should reclaim your time before the wedding and follow through with your plans. Commit to nothing more than what you did initially and stand your ground. As other commenters have said she’s not going to fire you!

    • cupcakemuffin

      I think it’s constructive because someone who would get to this point with a near-stranger probably has trouble saying no with other people/in other situations. Hopefully this experience can be a cause for reflection and doing things differently in future situations. I mean, presumably she won’t be asked to be a MOH for a distant acquaintance TWICE in her life (even once is pretty crazy), but there are many situations in which boundaries and being able to say “no” are important.

      • Mrrpaderp

        The comment about being “forced” to cancel her plans really stood out to me, too. Not to be a jerk/sound like my mother, but seriously did bride hold a gun to your head? No? Then she didn’t “force” you to cancel anything. People only have as much power over you as you give them.

        • Sarah E

          Yeah, that was a record scratch for me, too. Like, forced to cancel plans? To me, LW has plans, so Bride must be forced to cancel dinner if we’re abiding to that flawed logic. I mean, she shouldn’t have canceled a casual happy hour with friends, much less cancel her own actual wedding planning errands.

        • cupcakemuffin

          I agree! How hard would it be to say, “Oh, I’m sorry, based on our previous emails I had already made plans for that evening, but I hope the dinner is lovely! Look forward to seeing you on Thursday.”

          • Sarah E

            And then use copy/paste to direct Bride back to email dated the 7th of January at 2:10pm wherein she first utters the phrase “I don’t need you til Thursday.”

          • sofar

            So well phrased. Sometimes you gotta deal with a difficult person on your personal life just like you’d deal with a difficult coworker. Cordially formal.

        • I totally agree, and I almost wonder if it’s a kind of sunk-cost fallacy creeping in… Like LW is so stressed out and overwhelmed by this ridiculousness what’s one more thing? I’ve fallen into that trap and aaaaalways regretted it.

        • rg223

          I’m late to this discussion, but I’m wondering how much LW’s mom figures into this. Maybe LW feels she “has” to do all this stuff to make her mom happy as well as bride/MOB. If mom’s pressuring her too, LW might have a mom problem as much as a bride problem.

    • SS Express

      But Amy did give the LW advice for what to do now. She just also pointed out how this or similar situations could be avoided, which is possibly useful for the LW and definitely useful for the other readers who aren’t currently having this exact problem but might want to get better at saying no in general.

  • Mrrpaderp

    Agree with all of this. I yelled at the screen when LW said she canceled her dress shopping plans because of bride’s last minute request. LW, is there any way you can reclaim your plans? “Hey Bride, I know you mentioned a pre-pre-pre-wedding dinner and I said I’d go, but it turns out I can’t actually change my other plans. See you Thursday!”

    And I just want to echo Amy here: “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP ASKING HER WHAT ELSE SHE NEEDS.” LW has to show up on Thursday. She has to fulfill whatever obligations she’s committed to as MOH. She does not need to volunteer for one more thing. Every time you think to yourself, oh I can just take care of that/I wonder if anyone else wants coffee/maybe she needs someone to swing by the house, STOP. She will give you enough errands. Don’t create more!

    • Violet

      That part got to me too. People are going to keep pushing you if you’re going to keep giving them what they want. I don’t blame the LW for how she’s being treated, but there is a fine line here. She’s rewarding the bad behavior in a pretty blatant way.

  • Jan

    I agree with everything Amy wrote, and would like to add that you, LW, can still say no to a Wednesday dinner. “I’m sorry, I know I told you I could be there but I just can’t.” Full stop. This applies also to any other obligations, short of ones she or any other person has shelled out money for already, besides her actual wedding and reception.

  • This letter stressed me the eff out, and I don’t even know any of the people involved. I think the advice covered how to get through the next few weeks, but I hope that LW gives herself an epic reward when this is all done. Like, at least something like a bottle of bubbly, a bath, and 18 hours of alone time.

  • mjh

    Excellent advice. I’ll just add that with so little time until the wedding, I think the name of the game at this point is just to get through the next couple weeks. Yes, the situation sucks. Yes, it sounds like LW could have headed at least some of this off. Yes, the bride sounds like she’s being awful. It all sucks, but it isn’t going to matter for much longer.

    +1000 on LW keeping the time time before Thursday night with her mom/friends/own people focusing on her own life, and for drawing whatever lines feel right for managing Thursday night on and the wedding itself. I’m a big believer in taking the time to figure out (looking at it as objectively as possible) what I think would be needed to be fair and right/give what I think x situation deserves, making sure to hit those notes, and after that knowing that I did my part, f*** what anyone else might have to say about it. I strongly recommend LW does the same. Figure out what lines you can stand behind and take pride in, live by them, and don’t allow guilt and bs in; if someone starts laying the guilt on, just remind yourself of your standard, how fair it is and that you lived up to it.

    LW asks how to step back and chill out. I think it’s all about drawing lines and keeping perspective.

    Silver lining of a shitty situation- while I’m sure LW wouldn’t do a bunch of the things this bride did anyway, having this crappy experience right before planning her own wedding gives a bit of a preview into how one could bogus their MOH without realizing it. Like not thinking of how expensive shower planning can be or how “I don’t care, do whatever you want” can lead to more stress and pressure.

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  • Kate

    Anybody have a clue where the red dress in the photo is from?

  • I feel like some of this is the flip side of the conversation people are having in the wedding planning post, about how to deal with people who say “I can help” and aren’t specific about it. If you keep asking someone what to do, they will find something for you to do, because they think you want to do a thing. If you don’t want to do a thing, stop asking. Don’t offer and then complain when you’re given something to do, because the bride didn’t intuit you were actually hoping she’d give you something else to do / say there’s nothing else she needs you for.

    There’s no sense that LW has expressed any kind of unwillingness to do any of the events or the work around them so far, so of course the non-psychic bride thinks she’s okay with it all. You have been stage managing her personally, so she thinks of you as her personal stage manager. If you don’t want that, stop enabling it!

  • LydiaB

    I’m going to say that the reason there are no comments is because Amy NAILED this advice and said exactly what we were all thinking!!!

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