Wedding etiquette is a divisive topic. I learned this when the comment section blew up after I wrote about gift-giving protocol. The ensuing conversation—about what is expected and what is courtesy—was really fascinating. I loved reading everyone’s opinions. (You can still chime in!)
I’ve got nuptials on the mind right now because a friend and coworker is getting married this summer. Today she showed me a five-page bachelorette party proposal that her bridesmaids put together for her. It was a collection of options at different price points and each listing had where to stay, what to do, and where to eat ideas. It was unbelievably thoughtful, and it clearly made my friend so happy that her BFFs would surprise her with such a project.
I’ve spoken before about the tradition of bridesmaids. It’s a fascinating ritual, as it’s the only time in adult life when a woman publicly names her best friends. If friendship bracelets were the BFF labels of childhood, inviting someone into your bridal party is the adult equivalent.
One would think—or at least, I always thought—the whole will-you-be-my-bridesmaid thing would be great for a friendship. Asking someone to be in your wedding is a way of telling them how important they are in your life.
And yet I’ve heard so many stories—in real life and on this blog—of bridesmaid drama ending relationships. In one case the bridesmaid hated the husband and bowed out of the wedding, in another a bridesmaid called a few days pre-ceremony to say she “couldn’t go through with it.”
On the flip side, some wedding attendants get fed up with their bride-to-be when she starts behaving like a high-maintenance bridezilla. See? It’s dicey.
Why do weddings get people so riled up? I think it’s partly that everyone has strong—and differing—opinions about what the celebration should entail. On top of that, if there are pre-existing issues in a friendship it certainly seems like the pressure of the “job”—especially the extra emphasis on how close and meaningful this relationship must be—forces them to the surface.
And yet I feel like being in someone’s wedding shouldn’t feel like “work.” Girls aren’t asked to be bridesmaids because they’re the most qualified applicant, they are asked because the bride wants to celebrate with them. She wants to stand next to these friends on her special day. Sure you may have to plan a bachelorette party or arrive extra early on the big day, but you’re happy to because she’s your BFF, right?
I’ve only been a bridesmaid once. I only had two bridesmaids of my own. I’m lucky in that both days went off without a hitch, so I’m just speculating here about the root of the bridesmaid drama. But man, it can get serious.
Have you ever seen a wedding end a friendship? What happened? Is this just a case of girls being crazy or are weddings the occasion where all underlying tensions come to a head?