So you've spent the bulk of the past five years committing every weekend you have to attending the engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette getaways and weddings of your best friends, and if you're like me, you probably could have paid for your own wedding twice by now if you weren't hemorraging cash every month to be a bridesmaid. But now it's your turn. Your big day. After years of patiently sitting in the bridal salon waiting to be told your fate (the not-so-awful pink bridesmaid dress, or the coral mermaid gown that made your butt look like two pigs fighting under a blanket), it's finally your turn to be the bride. But what happens when the girls who have so enthusiastically spent your money for their wedding events suddenly don't want to spend the same money for you?
This happens all the time to women who aren't the first ones in their clique to get married. For the first bride, everybody goes all out -- it's our first chance to do it up right for our friends when we aren't the younger relatives or siblings participating. My friends certainly did it up right for me. And when it came time for each of them to get married, I was prepared to pay up. But apparently, not every bridesmaid or groomsmen feels the same way. And I have been hearing a lot about this from my clients lately.
So what should you do if your bridesmaids or groomsmen don't want to spend any money for your wedding plans?
Traditionally, the obligation of the wedding party was to help the bride and groom with the planning in whatever way they needed it. It didn't always mean breaking out the checkbook. Then again, a bachelorette night used to be going out to a club to get outrageously drunk, or bringing in a bad stripper in a pizza delivery uniform -- not four days in Las Vegas or Cabo at an all-inclusive resort with the wedding party picking up the tab for everybody including the bride. Although Vegas has been a good bachelor party spot for years, the ladies swooping in there for a wild weekend is relatively new because, unlike the men who are responsible pretty much only for their wedding attire, ladies have the obligation of purchasing not only gown, shoes, evening bag, hair, makeup and nails, but the Maid of Honor and certainly some of the other girls will throw in together to pay for the bridal showers and possibly the engagement party in addition to the hen night. When you add it all up, it's not an insignificant amount of money.
As I've written before, a lot of brides and grooms are keeping their wedding parties small these days because they don't want to put a huge financial burden on their best friends. Especially with more and more destination weddings, my clients sometimes feel that the travel obligation alone is more than enough to expect from any friends or family members.
But as a bride, you have a right to expect certain things from your wedding party if you do decide to have one. And it's not going to be easy to keep your temper if your MoH tells you that she can't afford to go to Cancun for your bachelorette while she's rocking brand-new Prada shoes. Especially if you blew part of your student loan money to cover that Vera Wang bridesmaid dress that she couldn't live without for her wedding, and you ate Ramen noodles for six months afterward to pay for it.
It might be unfair to expect a trip (even though they've been very en vogue for a few years now) because that is a lot more money for everybody involved and if most of the wedding party is already married, it's unlikely they'll all want to go. The last one I skipped was for six days in the Dominican Republic. I skipped it because, at the time, I only had a limited number of vacation days per year, and as much as I love my friends, I did not want to burn up six of my precious days off in an exotic locale without my spouse. But the other stuff is expected, and every bridesmaid should be prepared to help out.
And FYI, it's not just the girls who get cheap -- one of my grooms told me the other night that his boys had seriously let him down with his stag night. He cited the amazing plans he'd made for his friends for their bachelor parties, and how bummed he was that they hadn't pre-planned anything. It wasn't about the money for this guy -- he was mad nobody spent the time planning that he had for them. Same problem, different resource. But we'll tackle disorganized friends another day, today we're talking about the stingy ones.
What can you do to make sure you're not disappointed for your own wedding events? First off, try not to pick a MoH or Best Man who is on a first-name basis with Mastercard. And if you know that your group of friends would work as a team, perhaps a larger wedding party is called for in your case. When you figure out who you want to ask, sit down with them one at a time and invite them to participate, but outline the obligations up front. Destination travel, accommodations, gown, shoes, or whatever, each member of the wedding party deserves the right to make an informed decision about his or her participation. While it's hard not to be devastated if a friend tells you she can't be in your wedding party, it's far better to deal with it on the front end than when you're in tears a few weeks before your wedding because she hasn't thrown you the bridal shower that you'd been counting on. With the way times and financial responsibilities are changing in the wedding world, you can't afford to assume anything unless you discuss your plans in details with each bridesmaid in advance.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!