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Why Won't My Bridesmaids Help Me?

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Dear Cheryl,

Help! I am getting married in 3 months and so far my bridesmaids haven't helped me with anything! I'm starting to think that they think being a bridesmaid just means they get to wear a pretty dress and walk down the isle. The only time we have all been together was to pick out said dress.

I've mentioned things I would like to do and no one offers to help me at all. I need some help but they are always too busy or seem annoyed that I mention wedding things. I'm at the point where I'm ready to tell them I don't want them part of the wedding.

My mother had to plan the shower and the one bridesmaid already said she has to work that day. I didn't want to have her in the wedding but felt obligated because she is my fiances sister. She's self centered and everytime she isn't the center of attention she sits in the corner and pouts. This is a 23 year old woman! I dont want to deal with her drama now let alone on the wedding day.

I feel like I shouldn't need to tell them how to be a bridesmaid and what is expected of them. I'm getting frustrated and I don't want to turn into a bridezilla but I need help!

-Pissed in Pittsburgh

Dear PO'd in Pittsburgh,

Planning a wedding can be stressful and it's clear you are disappointed in your bridesmaids' participation. That disappointment stems from your expectations not being met. So you have to ask yourself, what are my expectations for my bridesmaids and are they reasonable? It seems as if many brides have been led to believe that bridesmaids have "duties" to perform. That really isn't true. I blame 27 Dresses.

In all honesty, bridesmaids aren't responsible for much and there are no set rules. As your friends, one would hope they would be willing to help you, but technically they are not required to do very much. They are certainly not required to give you a bridal shower. Bridesmaids often want to host a shower, but they are under no obligation to do so.

Here are the duties of a bridal attendant:
  1. purchase the bridesmaid's dress,
  2. attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner,
  3. attend other pre-wedding events (when possible),
  4. arrive on time for wedding-related events and follow instructions (this means the rehearsal and ceremony),
  5. help with any children in the wedding party, if asked,
  6. smile for pictures,
  7. stand in the receiving line, if there is one, and
  8. mingle at the reception and act as ambassadors of the bride and groom.
It is nice if they:
  1. help you with wedding planning,
  2. help host a bridal shower, and/or
  3. throw you a bachelorette party.

To address the problem, I recommend starting with your closest friend or Maid of Honor. Schedule a time to meet with her for lunch, dinner or a drink. Without being confrontational, ask her how she is feeling about the wedding and if there is anything that is bothering her or the other bridesmaids. Although this may not apply to you, I have noticed that if bridesmaids are feeling overtaxed with costs, they seem less excited about pre-wedding activities. Tell her where you need help and ask her how you might go about getting the others involved. If there is a problem, be willing to listen and to change, or adjust your expectations. Remember, although your friends care about you, they are never going to be as excited or as concerned about the details of your wedding as you are.

Don't have any expectations for your future sister-in-law. She may not be your friend, but she will soon be part of your family. You asked her to be a bridesmaid to be inclusive and that's great. I'm sure she accepted out of obligation as well. I wouldn't worry if she can't attend your shower. From how you described her, you might be happier without her there.

Also, I really do feel the need to address the bridal shower issue. It seems to be a misconception that one must have a bridal or wedding shower. This is simply not true. Additionally, it is usually considered bad form for an immediate family member of the bride, such as a mother or sister to host a shower. Since a bridal shower's theme is gift centered, an immediate family member, in most cases, should not host this event. A bride should wait until someone outside her immediate family offers. I have noticed it happening more often, so you are not alone.

I realize these may not be the answers you expected, but I hope they were helpful. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness with your future spouse.

Most sincerely,
Cheryl Seidel
askcheryl@registryfinder.com

Ask Cheryl is a regular etiquette column on the RegistryFinder.com blog. Readers can submit their questions and we personally answer them as well as include them on our blog. The above is a recent question and my answer.2014-06-16-AskCheryl_V1_largertag.jpg
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