As a twenty-something, it feels like once college is over there is a wedding period in your life where you are invited to a billion weddings in a very short span of time.
Here’s a news flash!
You’re allowed to decline invites—especially ones from people you barely know or don’t like or weddings that are far away (whether it be Pittsburg or Jamaica). You’re allowed to decline because you don’t feel like spending money on a gift and a hotel room!
After wedding season, inevitably comes BABY SEASON!
Everyone is having babies and nowadays, it seems like the common SINGLE baby shower before your first kid is now inferior. You have to announce your pregnancy, then host another event that lets people know the sex of your baby, then have a baby shower and then another one for “work people” and then, some people even have a couples shower!
I’ve had someone ask if it was cool to ask for cash at one of their FOUR baby showers because they’d already gotten everything they needed at the first three.
You’re allowed to NOT go.
If you care about the person, but really hate showers, feel free to send a card and maybe a gift in the mail! Otherwise, RSVP on time (be polite!) and say, “I regretfully will not be able to attend. Please enjoy your special day.” THE END. The same goes for christenings and baby birthday parties. If you don’t want to go, don’t.
(This is not to say there won’t be times in your life when you’ve weighed your options and decided that the couple of hours or discomfort or boredom far outweigh the consequences of NOT GOING to some big thing…whatever it is. Sometimes, you have to grit your teeth and grin and bear it. But don’t let that become the norm. It’s stupid and not worth your time. Life is too short to do things you absolutely hate.)
I know a lot of people going through wedding season right now, so I’ll talk about that.
I LOVE WEDDINGS. They are beautiful and fun and emotional and happy! I loved my wedding. I love going to weddings. I love planning weddings!!!
What I do not love is the narcissistic wedding trend that has been steadily creeping in and taking over. Weddings are special, and brides deserve to get treated like a special person on their special day!
However, it seems that the wedding culture is transforming into something ugly with a strong sense of demand and entitlement and selfishness. Too many brides believe that they have a right to demand the sun and the stars from everyone around them for the ENTIRE YEAR leading up to their ONE big day. These brides get indignant, and can become intimidating forces to deal with.
Side note: I am a feminist. It may seem like I’m talking negatively only about women (brides) here, and that’s because I am. I’m sure there have been uppity grooms, but I haven’t dealt with any yet. Frankly, I believe my husband is part of the majority of husbands who could care less about the details and planning of their weddings. Men are USUALLY much less likely to have a serious diva moment during a wedding or the planning and events leading up to it. However, if I met a dude acting like a crazy wedding dictator, I’d tell him the same things I’m writing here. Equal treatment for all sexes. #HEFORSHE
Now—I’m talking to you bridesmaids. You don’t have to spend $300 on a bridesmaid dress. You don’t have to pay to get your face airbrushed on the wedding day. You don’t need to spend an entire paycheck on an extravagant bachelorette weekend. You don’t need to go into debt over the hosting of the bridal shower.
You don’t need to worry about buying an expensive gift or contributing to a honeymoon fund if you don’t want to.
Here’s a revelation: you don’t HAVE to be a bridesmaid.
So many people I know complain about being in weddings. They hate the dress, they’re going broke, and they can’t stand the bride. When you are asked to be a bridesmaid in someone’s wedding, usually it is a sign that they value your friendship and want you to be a part of their special day. Some brides see it as bestowing an honor on their maids and some view it as making sure the most supportive people she knows are standing by her on her big day. When you’re asked to be in a wedding party, I urge you to take some time to consider it ALONE.
Let’s be real. Weddings DO cost money. If you are broke, you should feel comfortable enough to have a conversation with the bride about the anticipated costs of the wedding. If you can’t afford it, feel free to politely decline. Say you’ll be happy to attend the wedding and support her, but you just don’t have the funds right now. If you barely know the bride, or she was your college roommate 6 years ago, and you’ve been pseudo-facebook friends ever since—you don’t need to be her bridesmaid! If she has already asked 13 people to be a bridesmaid—you don’t need to be a bridesmaid! You can if you want to, but you’re allowed to say no!
Let me also explain what is expected of you, according to basic etiquette and common sense:
Buy a dress—usually one of the brides choosing—hopefully one you like.
Be emotionally supportive to your bride friend.
Show up to the wedding.
Get along with the other bridesmaids.
Help (or at least offer) to host an intimate bridal shower (close friends and family is reasonable!)
Show up to the rehearsal dinner (if there is one).
Make yourself look presentable on the big day.
Find shoes and jewelry that will complement the dress you need to wear.
Offer planning and prep assistance to the bride if she asks.
Things that are NOT required of you:
Spending money on a lavish bachelorette party in Vegas or NYC or anywhere.
Hosting a bridal shower at a fancy restaurant for 50+ people and paying for it.
Paying to get your hair, nails, and make up professionally done.
Buying a specific shoe, piece of jewelry, hair piece out of your own pocket.
Slaving away for hours in a DIY decoration assembly line.
Taking any kind of mental, physical, or verbal abuse (sounds crazy—but it’s happened!)
Buying separate gifts for the engagement party, bridal shower, and wedding reception.
The lists could go on, but you get my point. If you are a bride and you are requiring your bridesmaids to get up-does and French manicures so they can look identical and glamorous on your special day, you should be footing the bill. If you can’t afford it, then you should trust that your bridesmaids know how to make themselves look their best.
If you are a bridesmaid who has agreed to be in the wedding party…but 4 months in are starting to experience rudeness and selfish, expensive demands at the hands of your bride—you CAN back out. It’s not fun or pretty, but it’s better than going into debt or losing your damn mind over a wedding that’s not even your own. If things are going in that direction, you probably won’t be too good of friends after the wedding anyway.
And brides, assuming you are behaving like a normal human, you are also allowed to not do things. It IS your special day, and you are allowed to take the reins.
Everyone will have a moment of stress or panic—you might lose your cool during the planning process or on the morning of your wedding when your soon-to-be-husband forgets the ONE THING he was supposed to bring to the ceremony (**true story**)—but please remember that you want to still have friends and a husband (or wife!) and money and sanity when your ONE special day is over.
As a bride, you are allowed to NOT feel guilty when you have 6 different family members complaining about the color scheme or seating chart or menu. Are they helping to pay for it? If so, they get a little say. If not, they don’t.
There is a fine line between being respectful and allowing your family (usually just your parents) have some input or allowing yourself to be nagged and pulled into a million directions. Just as you shouldn’t be a bossy, guilt tripper—you shouldn’t allow yourself to be guilt tripped.
A good way to avoid complaints about the dresses is to let your bridesmaids have some input.
After all, they will be wearing it and paying for it, so it seems fair to make sure they are comfortable in it! (See the difference between what you HAVE to do and what would be a thoughtful thing to consider?)
SIDE NOTE: I’m going to back track here, and say there is one thing you HAVE to do when you’re planning a wedding—try not to be a tacky, greedy grubber. Let me take this moment to tell you all that it is ALWAYS TACKY to ask for cash. ALWAYS. I don’t care if it’s 2015 and some people think it’s OK, because everyone’s living together these days and no one needs a toaster anymore. I don’t care. This is applicable for baby showers, but also and especially for weddings. The same goes for honeymoon or home deposit funds. TACKY. You’re throwing a party—don’t try to tally your guest list and figure out how much you’re going to “make” off of it. Definitely don’t plan your wedding reception budget off of your projected gifts to determine whether or not you can afford the affair. You will almost never recoup all of your costs anyway. You’re hosting a party. Others are coming to celebrate. You expect them to come and have a good time—they’re not there to help fund their day or pay for their plate.
I hope that this trend of over spending and over celebrating cools down a bit. There’s no need to go into debt over a wedding reception and there’s no reason to lose friends or sanity over it either. You can have a classy event and thoroughly enjoy yourself by just adhering to common sense etiquette and having honest conversations.