Friday, October 24, 2008

Always A Bridesmaid

If there is one job I have epically FAILED at in my life—its being a bridesmaid. I’ve done it not once, not twice, but three times (two within two months of each other!). I was set to stand up beside a former best friend as her maid of honor a little over two years ago, when I did the unthinkable. I said “No,” three months before the wedding (that had taken a year and a half to plan). There were a lot of reasons I felt the need to step aside, everything was out of control – the costs (we went from $200 gowns to $450 gowns after most of us had placed money down and ordered the first gowns), the ceaseless phone calls, the incessant emails beginning “Ladies,” the “get to know the bridal party” luncheons and activities. Honestly, it was just more than I could handle. I’ve never been very good with participating in weddings, but this one took the cake. Worst of all throughout the wedding planning process I felt like I had lost my best friend and in the end, I did.

I have been known to watch marathons of “Say Yes to the Dress,” “A Wedding Story,” and my favorite “Bridezilla.” I honestly am very, truly happy for people who have found the one who completes them, the one who they chose to share the rest of their life with, and I think there is really something beautiful about two people pledging to be together, if that’s what they choose to do. I’ve even been known to shed a few tears at a ceremony. I just prefer to do it from the balcony, not the front row. I’m not sure why I suck at weddings, I just do. I don’t do well with all the organization, the planning, the preparing— really with having all the responsibility that goes with being a bridesmaid.

Last night, my cell phone beeped and I picked up a text message from a friend saying that she had gotten engaged earlier in the night. She and her boyfriend have been together for five or six years so I was genuinely excited for them and I told her so. We texted back and forth for a few minutes when I received the text that made me want to drop my cell phone in the toilet so I could say I hadn’t gotten it, it made the tips of my ears turn red and my cheeks to get hot like I had a very bad fever, it made me want to go into convulsions, and my heart dropped into the very pit of my stomach. It was the text message that said “I would love for you to be a bridesmaid!” Me? A bridesmaid? Again? Why me? In a moment of sheer terror I decided to be optimistic; I hoped the she was text messaging several people at once and that it had inadvertently been sent to me, that it was meant for another closer friend. Yes, that was it! She was just sending text messages to too many of us and had sent the wrong email to the wrong person. Denial, its not just a river in Egypt right?

The one thing I am really good at is convincing myself of things that aren’t true when I don’t want to believe them. Convinced that the text was most certainly for someone else I sent a text message back saying that I was a huge failure when it came to being a bridesmaid but would be happy to help where ever and when ever I could. I may or may not have suggested that I would do much better tending to the guest book or some such task. I made sure to include lots of LOL’s to keep it light and joking, because after all, she didn’t want me to be bridesmaid. I didn’t give it a second thought—until this morning.

I opened my email while sipping my cup of coffee and found a letter from my less than 24 hour engaged friend. It included all the details of the proposal, the thoughts about the upcoming nuptials such as the when and the where, and then there was this:

“I really wish you'd change your mind about being a bridesmaid! I understand though if you don't want to. Even though it makes me sad! :(“

A sentence signifying that the text message was indeed intended for me complete with an unhappy face at the end. I had once again potentially damaged a friendship by saying no. I quickly turned to Google (a very close friend of mine) and within a few hours had crafted an email saying all the sorts of things the etiquette sites told me to say – that I was honored to be chosen, I was very happy for the couple, that I would love to help out any way that I could. I attempted to politely decline the offer of being a bridesmaid properly after I had jovially done so the first time.

I haven’t heard from her since so I don’t know if her feelings are hurt or if she really does understand. After telling another friend the story, he told me I was the only woman he knew who adamantly refused bridal party detail. Surely there are others right? I cannot be the only person known to tell a soon-to-be-bride no. Google says there are! Have you ever told a newly engaged friend no? Where you ever the bride who was told no? Please share so I don’t feel like a complete moron. In the end though, I really feel that I made the best decision and in the long run, given my past history, am doing her a huge favor.

And, I hereby decree officially that my days as a bridesmaid are over. For good. Now I just have to spread the word.


Unknown said...

Geh. I've been a bridesmaid 4 times (and have my FIFTH rotation in 2 weeks). Completely understand where you're coming from.

Unfortunately, I have a bad case of "what if I hurt someone's feelings" guilt and bought into my own delusion while planning my own wedding. So when it came to choosing my bridal party, I invited anyone and everyone I thought MIGHT have their feelings hurt if I didn't ASK. Unfortunately, none of them said now. I'll be having an 8-person entourage...even though I'm convinced that most of them would rather have sat out. Oh well.

Good for you for being brave. Bridesmaidness and all related nonsense is one of the most silly parts of being a woman. That and menstration.

LBluca77 said...

You definatly did the right thing. I would not be a good bridesmaid either. I hate all that annoying shit, like the engagement party and the bridal shower. It all just seems cheesy and fake to me.

Personally if I ever get married i am not having a bridal party, I mean why torture people that you consider a friend to wear an ugly dress?

Jill said...

I SO feel you pain. Let me tell you (since it IS all about me, right?) that prior to me getting married, I had been a bridesmaid 9 times... NINE TIMES... I seriously am NOT friends with 9 people right now, so 9 weddings who thought that I was the most important person to have there... GET REAL. one was a cousin, the other was my brother the rest were friends from hs (I was maid of honor in 2 of those) and sorority sisters from college (maid of honor in one). 2 of which not only was I personally in, but my daughter was a flower girl (non-family weddings). Talk about not having ANY $$$$. LORD!

What I am trying to say is that if it is not your thing, don't do it. If they are a REAL friend, they will ask you to do something that makes you comfortable (ie, giving a nice toast at either the reception or shower, managing the guest book/gift table, doing a reading, etc).

When my sister in law got married a few years ago, PRIOR to her getting married, I made it clear without directly saying that I would be happy to help her plan, but I would rather poke myself in the eye with a spork that be a bridesmaid AGAIN! I am sure she was less than thrilled, but she ended up having Jeff and Alli, and did not ask me. I threw her a shower, I made a scrapbook, I did anything she asked, but would not and could not be in it! :-)

Talk with her... explain your reasoning... no form letters, no texts, be personal because this is personal to her... make sure she knows that it is not her particular nuptuals that have made you not want to do it, it is the nature of the event.

by the way, I asked all of those ladies to be in my wedding and had a HUGE wedding party (feeling like I had to) and NONE of them are my friends now...hmmm.

Did you want that long of an answer? :-)

MeLaNiE said...

geez I wish I had the nerves to say no. especially the one that i was in last May. I am about to be in my 7th wedding next June, but it is one of my best friends, and I wouldn't ever think about saying no. I actually love being in them, as long as they don't turn into bridezillas (love the show)!

Lauren Elizabeth said...

I will be in my third wedding this summer. I'm actually maid of honor. And tot ell you the truth, being in weddings is really unpleasant. Buying a stupid dress you will never wear, making sure the bride isn't freaking out, and then not really getting to see your friend at all at the reception? It sucks! I'm with you, after this one I think I am done.

Ashley D said...

I wouldn't be upset if one of my friend's decline my invitation to be a bridesmaid.... as long as they were involved in the wedding somehow. Just make sure your friend knows it's not that you don't want to be part of her day, but that you don't feel you are cut out for the job. Like you said, tending to the guestbook would be fine. I think it's all just ways for friends to be involved in the wedding and there are other ways to do that besides being a bridesmaid.

Stephanie said...

Seeing the :( made me feel horrible just now. I really hope she understands where you're coming from. Good luck.

The Alleged Ringleader said...

Gahhhhh!!! I totally know how you feel! It is SO MUCH WORK! You totally want to be there and be in the wedding supporting her but it's just all the other work and weekends spent doing wedding related/get to know you/get to know both families, etc activities!


Ray said...

If I could go back and do it again..I wouldn't of had had any bridesmaids. It just sucks the fun out of watching your friend get married, in my opinion!

Trina G. said...

you did the right thing. I AM cracking up at the fact that you googled etiquette for a "no". Hilarious, but very good idea!

If she is a true friend, it will work out. Jilli had a great idea, offer to do something else?

Mandy said...

RebeccaC--5! Ugh, I dont think I could do it! I think a lot of brides think that someone's feeling will be hurt. Your 8 person entourage will be awesome--I cant wait to see pictures. I agree about the silly parts of being a womena. LOL.

LBluca77--I dont know that I would have a bridal party either, its just not me.

Jill Marie -- 9! Holy $hit! Thats what I am afraid of being in peoples weddings and then never talking to them again. I did talk to her. Things are all good. Long answers are always welcome. LOL.

Melanie--Once you do it once, it gets easier. 7 weddings, holy cow. You all have a lot more on me. Great show right?

Coconut--Calling it quits is the best decision I have made so far. Good luck on your Maid of Honor duties!

AshleyD--Great advice, thank you! I took it and used it, and friend is not upset in the least.

Stephanie--Thanks, she did understand and all is well. She is out of town, as are her other bridesmaids, shes getting married here where I am, so there is plenty for me to help with here.

Alleged Ringleader--It is a lot of work, I dont mind work, but I do like the option of not haivng to do so much work. I dont have that option as a bridesmaid. Its why I prefer to just be a friend.

Ray--I am sure. I know that in the wedding I bailed on, I was becoming just as much a stress for the bride, as she was for me. Which did suck the fun out of it.

Mandy said...

Sissy -- I know I made the right decision and friend respected that decision. All is well and I will be helping any way that I can. :-)

Rachel said...

you are not the only person to say no. My future sister-in-law told me no. But that was because I was feuding with her mother at the time. Later I got to be in her wedding.

Bayjb said...

I've only been a bridesmaid once and I know when my friend gets married I'll be in her wedding too. My first bridesmaid experience wasn't awful but being out of town from where the wedding was is difficult. All you can do is your best and be honest with the bride when she's too out of control.

Beya said...

Have I told you what a great writer you are and that I love reading your blog? I loved your: Sometimes I.......... You really are brave to say no, and even tho it was the right way thing to do, I am a chicken and would have said yes, but complain the rest of my life!!!!!!!! I will try to say no once in a while, thanks to your example!!!!!!!!!!!

Jamie Lovely said...

I've never been a bridesmaid. I'd like to maybe but I don't want to deal with a psycho bride!

When I get married it will be a very small wedding party. VERY small!

jefalk84 said...

what a jerk! what the hell is wrong with you! how could you do that to a friend?

haha...totally joking.

i would only accept if it was a very close friend of mine. if we were just friends i'd reconsider but thankfully i've only been asked twice and one was by my sister-in-law and the other was by my bff.

i understand. it's expensive being a bridesmaid!

Frank said...

The only job I've ever had in a wedding was an usher, and that's about all the responsibility I'd ever want in a wedding.

Mandy said...

Rachel -- your own sister in law to be told you no? Wow, now I dont feel so bad. LOL.

Babyjb--This isnt a particularly close friend and I sort of felt like I was a "filler."

Beya--Thanks! Saying no takes so practice but I am fluent now. :-)

Jamie--ugh, psycho brides are the worst. I agree with the small bridal party if I would have one at all.

jefalt84--expensive and time consuming

frank -- I think guys get off easy in the wedding department. LOL.

Auburn Kat said...

Being a bridesmaid really can be a pain in the butt!!! I've been in two weddings so far and they weren't that bad. Next up is my sister's wedding and we had one fight already, which I really think will be our only fight...fortunately!