So what's up with wedding party attrition lately folks? Bet I'm coining a new phrase here. But you know me, I call it like it is. Since when do girlfriends (or bestest buds, for that matter) accept the honor of being bridesmaids and then bail out on the bride at the last minute? And by the way, anything within four months of the wedding is last minute, and six months is the bare minimum of appropriate if you really must renege on your promise after you've already accepted the honor.
This bridesmaid dropout problem is something new to me in the last year or so -- this ridiculousness whereby every time I talk to the happy couple, she's a little less happy and is down another bridesmaid. And frankly, the trend seems to be getting worse. I don't like it one little bit.
Bridesmaids dropping out at the last minute freak out my brides. It really, truly causes a void for them that I can't fix -- and I hate that. I like to make unhappy brides super happy -- that's my job. But if her BFFs keep bailing on her and all the girls she ponied up a zillion bucks to play bridesmaid for over the past 10 years all start bailing out on her with bad excuses, there's nothing I can do to fix that. Other than to listen to her, be a shoulder to cry on, and commiserate that one of my own wedding party did, in fact, have a baby a week before my wedding and had to drop out of my bridal party. But that's not a lot of comfort to a girl who has lost four bridesmaids for a variety of suspect reasons.
If I honestly believed that the wedding party was dropping out because of the economy, I would say so. I call budget stuff like it is. And I'd be advising clients not to ask folks to stand up for them lest they scare them away with the additional expense. But the sad, sad truth of the matter is that it isn't the gentlemen dropping out. It's the ladies. Bridesmaid bailout across the board. I've had more of my clients go from a large to small number of bridesmaids lately than ever before. I asked myself whether I've had a more demanding group of clients than usual -- looking for any reason to explain why somebody would dishonor their friends and break a commitment for something that important -- and I don't think that's the case here. I just think that the brides who waited a little longer than the rest of us to get married are getting screwed over. Most of us have been in too many weddings in the past few years and we all tend to forget that we OWE our girlfriends who aren't the first in our crew to get married the same respect, attention and financial investment that they sacrificed for us not so long ago. A little bit of thoughtlessness goes a long way, and I have had more than one bride who was not a little devastated by the missing link in her wedding party. I think -- alright I know for a fact -- that most of those rifts do not heal themselves down the road.
The most common excuse for bailing out of a wedding party at an inopportune time seems to be pregnancy. Never mind you're barely four months preggers and the doctor hasn't labeled you high risk or said you cannot travel, there are a certain number of women out there who think they're the first to give birth, and that no hospital in Puerto Rico could possibly know what to do with a pregnant woman or baby. No seriously -- I run into the most bizarre wedding guests through this topic. Women who email me wanting freaky quantities of detail about our medical system and their birthing options. Honey, if you're that close to delivery, stay the hell home. But if you're only a few months pregnant... get a life. If you need a reminder with some humor in it, check out the Garfunkel & Oates parody "Pregnant Women Are Smug." And then afterwards, remember that unless you've been specifically instructed not to travel, put your bloated ass on an airplane and get down here to support your girlfriend.
Stepping down off the soapbox now, but I think my point has been made. Now let me back up and say that you NEVER have to be anybody's bridesmaid. You don't have be a maid of honor. Just to be asked is a tremendous honor. But, if you don't think you can do it, you should say from the very first moment you're asked that you can't take on the obligation (financial reasons, work reasons, trying to get knocked up, etc.) as much as you wish you could help. You can make up for it by hosting a bridal shower or some other event -- because you really, really should do something to acknowledge the honor even if you don't actually accept it. But what you do not, should not and cannot do is agree to be in your girlfriend's wedding and then leave her hanging in the wind just a few months before the wedding. It's cruel and unusual punishment.