#1008: Sample bridesmaid resignation letter

Dear Captain Awkward,

I have a friend, who is a wonderful person and who I love hanging out with, but she stresses me the hell out. My issue with her is she constantly changes her mind and changes plans, which drives me crazy – which I realize is partly a personal issue, and I’m working on being more flexible, but she goes above and beyond what I think I’ll ever be able to deal with. Right now there are two main issues with her I’m grappling with:

1. I’m a planner by nature, and am the type of person who, when I make plans with someone, put them in my calendar and schedules other things around those plans. This friend CONSTANTLY changes plans, which irks me because then I’ve planned my day /week around our plans that then get changed or cancelled. I know this about her, and have basically told her twice now, “It stresses me out when you change our plans. Please don’t.” Each time she apologizes and says she’s going to be less flaky, but it never sticks. I’m to the point now where I avoid making plans with her unless it’s something I intended to do anyway – i.e., I’ll invite her to an event I’m planning to go to solo anyway, or invite her to group things where I know other people are going, so if she bails it’s not a big deal. But I feel like it’s affected our relationship, as I’m turning down invites from her to go do stuff because it may or may not actually happen, and thus don’t see her as often.

2. In a more recent development, this friend got engaged. I was asked to be a bridesmaid. Reluctantly, I said yes, after deciding saying no and probably damaging our relationship wouldn’t be an outcome I am okay with. But with wedding planning comes, well, planning, and again she is constantly going back on decisions that I think are set decisions, and it drives me nuts. For instance, when I said I would be a bridesmaid, she said she was buying our dresses. Then she said her dad said she couldn’t buy our dresses, and we had to buy our own. Fine, whatever. Then she texted all the bridesmaids that she had decided on an outfit and told us to order it, and to coordinate with each other if we wanted to go a group order (they do discounts on group orders so it would be financially advantageous for us to do so.) But she didn’t help coordinate a group order other than suggesting it. Then the next day she said she was still looking at other dress options. Then a few days later she sent us a text saying she made up her mind, order the first outfit she sent, do it in the next week, and if need be she’d pay for the group order and we could pay her back. THAT SAME DAY, like literally three hours later, she said no rush on ordering dresses, she was still looking. This entire exchange and the fact that I can’t take her at her word stresses me out to no end, and I know this is just the start – there are still many wedding logistics to work out that I will be involved in, such as the bachelorette, and the rehearsal dinner, and the day of the ceremony itself, and I don’t know if I can handle a year of this. Also she’s told us she’d pay for other things, like our hair and makeup, but I don’t know if I can take her at her word or if she’ll change her mind and I’ll be responsible for paying for those things too.

So my questions are this: What are some scripts I can use to reiterate, once again, that changing plans stresses me out? And how can I explain to her that I feel like I can’t take her at her word with the wedding decisions, and she needs to put a stop to that too if she wants me to be a part of her big day?

Please Help!
Reluctant Bridesmaid

Dear Reluctant Bridesmaid,

You are handling your question #1 perfectly. You have figured out that she is who she is, you have made the inviting easy on yourself, and the result is sometimes you spend less time together, which, okay? There is a deep incompatibility between you, and yet your love for her moves you to cross that chasm the best you can and enjoy the time with her that you have.

Let’s talk about question #2: Bridesmaidery

What if you got a beautiful card and wrote this note in it and sent it?

Dear Friend, I’m so happy for you and so excited to celebrate at your wedding, and so honored that you asked me to stand up with you, but I’m realizing that I can’t serve as your bridesmaid. I want you to have exactly the wedding you want, and I’m so sorry that I can’t be there for you for the ups and downs of planning it, but I wanted to let you know now so you can make other plans. Congratulations and love to you.

Will peace-ing out hurt her feelings and damage your friendship? Yes. Probably.

Is she hurting your feelings and damaging your relationship by constantly changing her mind? YES.

Will there be a friendship left if you have to read the words “rush order your dress/no wait, don’t” one more fucking time this month?


If she asks you why you quit her wedding, can you tell her the truth? “Well, it’s not a secret that we have very different planning styles, and this whole thing over the dress already has me so stressed out that I know this is the right decision for me. I’d love to be at your wedding as a guest and a friend if you’ll have me, but I can’t be a bridesmaid, I’m sorry.

Will it be easy? No. She’ll try to reassure you that it won’t happen again but you 100% know it will happen again with literally every decision. You asked for how you can make it clear that she can’t keep changing plans if she wants you to be a part of her big day, but even if you make an agreement like that you’ll still end up where you are (stressed out, broke) down the road. She can’t make or keep commitments to you! You already have all the evidence you’ll ever need for how this will go.

Be nice to yourself. Get out of this wedding party.

And, for everyone reading this, one possible answer to “Will you be in my wedding?” is “Oh, I’m so happy for you, but I can’t commit to that.” Or, “Let me think about it – I’m so happy for you and I’d love to be a part of it, but I want to be sure I really can do it before I say yes.” Some people will take that very badly and it might affect the friendship, but the Venn diagram of “people who take ‘No, I’m sorry’ as ‘I hate you forever!'” and “people who will make the wedding planning process a death by 1,000 cuts” has some overlap.

260 thoughts on “#1008: Sample bridesmaid resignation letter

  1. Agh…. Cut myself off… A friend who can’t accept a loving “No” for an answer is a child, not a friend. One can only carry so many of those.

    1. And not every child either! My kids can and do frequently hear “I love you, but no” from me and they handle it just fine (indeed, we have a running joke wherein before some [often absurd] request, they will preface with “You love me right?” and I will counter with “Only if this doesn’t cost me money” or some other “Not $100 worth, nope” variant and…my kids still know I absolutely adore them and just because I have declined their request for [large sum of money] [do their chores for them] [take them to a Big Event I am not up for] doesn’t actually mean I don’t care for them. (And uhhhh I’ve gotten my fair share of “Nope mom, I’m already in bed, you’re gonna have to get your own fresh cup of water” too lol.)) …I’m a big believer in expecting at least as much maturity from my friends and lovers as I can reasonably expect from my 11yo and 14yo, because SERIOUSLY NOW.

      1. You are teaching them well. Not only do they accept boundaries from others, but they also know how to set their own. Good job!

        As a fellow member of society, who may possibly interact with them someday, I thank you.

      2. Preach it! My kids are almost the same ages as yours, 11 and 13. They’ve had drilled into their heads for nearly their whole lives that “a yes/no question for which either answer isn’t genuinely acceptable is not a question, it’s an order!” While I give orders when necessary, I don’t frame them as pretend-questions… and so they know that if I ask, “Hey, can you please clean the guinea pig cage this afternoon?” they’re free to say, “Sorry, Mama; I’ve got plans for this afternoon. Maybe tomorrow?” (If it really needs to be done that day, I say, “Hey, I need you to clean the guinea pig cage by dinnertime tonight. It can’t wait anymore.”)

        They also know that although I try to default to “yes” whenever I have no actual reason to say “no” (we’ve met too many parents who do it the other way around), reasons happen, so they’ll all hear No from me pretty often. Their usual response is a grin and a cheerful, “Can’t blame me for trying!”

        To which I usually equally cheerfully answer, “Nope! Can’t blame me for refusing!” and everyone giggles.

      3. Ha! We do this with our kids and it works fine. My love is unconditional but my bank account isn’t.

    2. I had one of those. When she asked me to be a bridesmaid I had just found out I was pregnant. On the date of her wedding at the other end of the country, I would be on maternity leave and unable to afford the trip. Even had I been able to afford it, wrangling a still fairly new baby on such a trip as a first-time mom would have been A LOT. Now-ex (AKA Evil Starter Husband) wouldn’t have been much help, either.

      So when I told her I couldn’t do it, I was in for a lengthy argument. She was one of those people who refuses to take no for an answer. By the time I finally got it through her head that this was just not gonna happen, I felt about ready to throw her out the nearest window. Today I would shut that down pronto, but at 23 I was still too much of a doormat.

      Ironically, if SHE said no to something, it was set in stone and she would brook no arguments. But heaven help anyone who said no to her as they would get quite an earful!

        1. We’re FB friends, but yeah, I don’t regard her as a real friend. She pulled a few other stunts that made me realize that everything was All About Her, All The Time. Like when I married Evil Ex, she was my MOH. She promised me a bachelorette outing the night before my wedding. I didn’t ask her to, this was her idea. But I was really looking forward to it. At the last minute, she bailed on me because another college friend was in town and she just HAD to go see him instead. (He wasn’t even an ex-boyfriend of hers, just a friend.) She Did. Not. Get. that this was a rotten thing to do.

          1. I had a friend who bailed on being a bridesmaid at my wedding ***five days*** before the ceremony (after I’d paid for a dress and shoes in her size, bought her a personalized gift and printed her name in the program!) because her husband had just gotten a new job, there was a quarterly office party that same day, and she felt she should be there with him.

            When I asked whether he couldn’t make her excuses for this one party and just say that she’d already committed to being a bridesmaid for someone and would look forward to the next office party, she snapped at me that her allegiance was ALWAYS going to be to her husband, even if what he “needed” was minor compared to any other commitment, and that if I didn’t understand that, I shouldn’t get married, because I was going to be a crappy wife and my marriage was sure to fail.

            That was the end of that friendship, and I told her so. Afterward, I realized how very often she had treated me badly, and I was glad to have her out of my life. (And 23 years later, my marriage is going fine, thank you very much.)

  2. I was in a wedding with a friend who originally was going to pay for the dresses/hair/makeup and then things between her and her dad went sideways so she couldn’t. It involved a lot of scrambling to pay for things (we were not doing well financially) and some hurt feelings when I said “No, I can’t do X”. The dress she chose was lovely, and had the bonus of being very simple and elegant so I could wear it for a military formal event the next month – I couldn’t afford two dresses. It rained on the wedding day and she made the comment, “Why worry about the dress, you’ll only wear it once!” even though I’d explained everything.

    My point is – if you know your friend is a flake, handling events where you need her to NOT be a flake is going to wear on the relationship anyway. It’s quite possibly going to shred it. Getting out now might be the best thing for both of you – or at least being up front and honest and telling her she needs someone to help plan who will force her to stick to a PLAN.

    1. I am actually mostly amazed that the bride admitted you would only wear the dress once! SO many brides pull the opposite “and you can wear it again!!” line to convince you that your purchase isn’t worthless.

      1. Reminds me of all the brides in 27 Dresses who said “and the best part is you can shorten it and wear it again” and the main character always said “soooo truuuue” even though it wasn’t really true, which is the joke.

        I am curious, having never been a bridesmaid, how many women actually do re-wear bridesmaid dresses?

        1. I’ve only been a bridesmaid once, for my only sister, and it’s highly unlikely I’d wear that dress for anything that wasn’t “being in a wedding”, so probably never for me.

          However, dress rentals ARE becoming more and more of a thing, at least in my area, and have been around for a long time in some cultures. Maybe someday, we’ll reach formal wear equality with the “just rent a suit when you need it” dudes.

          1. I picked a rental dress for my bridesmaids when I got married.

            Two of them said they wished they could keep it.

            (Can’t win.)

          2. Raptor – I think that is a win.

            You chose something they loved and felt fantastic in. If they really wanted to keep it, they could make arrangements with the rental shop. Sometimes they will sell their costumes/formals and sometimes they will let you know where you can buy it. Wanting to actually own the thing is a huge compliment to them, and they are likely to be very helpful about it, especially if you tell people “This dress? I got it at Billy’s Bridal.”

          3. Unless you’re lucky, rental suits may not fit well and can often have limited options available. They’re also relatively expensive for something you have to wear once and have to quickly return and you’re liable for extra $$$ if it gets damaged. Some places offer minor tailoring but that’s more money again. For not much more you can buy something at Nordstrom Rack, tailor it properly and own it forever.

            The real advantage guys have is we can wear the same one or two suits to every event, maybe style them differently, and people will still think we look put together. For whatever reason I don’t quite understand this doesn’t seem to be an option for women. I say embrace the suit – some of my female relatives have worn suits to recent weddings and they look great.

          4. Unless you’re lucky, rental suits may not fit well and can often have limited options available. They’re also relatively expensive for something you have to wear once and have to quickly return and you’re liable for extra $$$ if it gets damaged. Some places offer minor tailoring but that’s more money again. For not much more you can buy something at Nordstrom Rack, tailor it properly and own it forever.

            The real advantage guys have is we can wear the same one or two suits to every event, maybe style them differently, and people will still think we look put together. For whatever reason I don’t quite understand this doesn’t seem to be an option for women. I say embrace the suit – some of my female relatives have worn suits to recent weddings and they look great.

          5. It astounds me that people expect others to buy costumes to create a particular aesthetic, put in additional time/effort, and then also buy additional gifts, all for a party they’re throwing to celebrate themselves. Make your participation in and purchases for the wedding party your gift, and don’t feel bad about it.

          6. I have a black former bridesmaid dress I have worn dozens of times after – but it is seriously just a LBD. It cost under 50. I loved that bride.

        2. Only when the bride let us pick out whatever we wanted as long as it was an easy-to-find color and a certain length range. Anything I’ve had to special order just goes in the closet until I remember it’s there and find somewhere to donate it.

          1. Yep. We only had 1 person each stand up for us at our wedding & I told my MOH, “Buy a black dress you like.” And she did.

          2. I just want to say for donating your bridesmaids’ dresses, Cinderella Project is perfect! They provide prom dresses to high school girls who can’t afford them. My local high school did a drive every winter.

          3. I doubt I’ll ever get married, but if I did and I had attendants, I’d ask then just to wear whatever knee-length black cocktail dress they already owned and be done with it. Fortunately the one time I was a bridesmaid the bride very generously bought our dresses. Also, for all those brides insisting you can rewear the dress – all bridesmaids’ dresses scream I WAS A BRIDESMAIDS DRESS.

          4. CommanderBanana:


            Seriously, my sister-in-law had us wearing something appropriate for church on Sunday. I got a LOT of wear out of my new Sunday dress.

            The problem with most bridesmaid dresses is that they are too formal. Even if they are gorgeous, most of us simply don’t attend that many formal events.

            If you want people to be able to wear the clothes again, make them semi-formal, at most. Yes, that means a semi-formal wedding. Believe me, it’s a lot more enjoyable for practically everyone.

          5. I’ve been a bridesmaid twice. The first time the dress was chosen & paid for by the bride, and I HATED it at first sight and F’LOVED it once I got it on; it’s just a slightly fancy summer frock and has had many re-wears. The second time the bride went “Here are my three wedding colours, knock yourself out.” so I was able to purposefully buy something I liked and could wear again.

        3. I was something similar to a bridesmaid (we don’t actually have those in my culture) to my oldest friend, but I was the only one and the dress could be anything as long as it wasn’t white. The wedding was pretty traditional and formal, so I got a full-length gown. I wore it again to the (equally traditional and formal) wedding of my favorite cousin (who had no sisters, so I was her closest youngish female relative) a few months later. I would wear it again, if only someone would invite me to an embassy reception or something; it’s really too formal an outfit to wear as an ordinary guest.

        4. My best friend told us to get a dress in any length or style in “plum, wine, or burnt orange” and my dress is somewhere between plum and wine in color and knee length. I’m wearing it to two weddings before I wear it in hers! I’m so pleased. And my friend is too–she wants us to actually be able to rewear the dress.

          1. are you me? except I was in the wedding 6 months ago. It was lovely! I will likely re-wear the dress!

          2. I told my sisters they could wear anything so long as it was more or less pastel. It was an afternoon wedding so I didn’t want anybody to think they had to get too cocktail dress-y.

            And I went to one wedding where the bride provided pretty cotton skirts and the bridesmaids could wear any white blouse they wanted to with it. It was lovely.

          3. Michelle: Wine is redder than Plum.

            Source: have worn both colors as a bridesmaid. 😉

            Think magenta vs maroon (but not quite).

        5. My older sister and I have both worn our dresses for our younger sister’s wedding again. They’re a bright blue cocktail dress and we loved them. We used to coordinate at other family weddings to make sure we both weren’t wearing them.

          I wanted to be different and have wonderful clothes at my own wedding but my SIL was a bridesmaid and insisted on matching colors with my MOH. I only had 2 attendants, plus 6 flower girls. My older sister warned me that her girls were desperate to be in my wedding, as were my other nieces. My spouse only had 1 niece and if you’ve got 5 flower girls, one more is not a big deal. LOL. The girls were adorable and kept their dresses for playing dressup with. Now my daughter uses them for dressup so it’s a nice circle.

        6. I’ve never been able to rewear any of my bridesmaid dresses, but one was paid for by the bride, and another was actually a super fun dress that I might be able to wear again to a party or something. So I don’t feel like I paid a lot of money for something I hated, which is good. I did have a pair of shoes I bought to wear as a bridesmaid(we all had to have the same ones) that I swear were fashioned by the devil himself, and I chucked those into a Goodwill box on my way home from the wedding.

          I only had one bridesmaid, and I told her to get whatever dress she wanted, as long as it was a solid color (and not white, lol). She wore a lovely deep purple dress that she was able to wear again a couple weeks later for an event, and I know she’s worn it other times, too. We bought our best man his suit (he didn’t have one and wanted one) as his thank you gift, and I know he wore that for work interviews/work a bunch of times.

          1. My sister made me buy awful (but mercifully cheap) shoes for her wedding. I have big feet, and donate them to a drag queen almost before the wedding was over.

        7. I re-wore mine a few times, but that’s because it was a) the most formal thing I had owned to that point or have owned since, b) sewn with me in mind, and c) from a butterick pattern that wasn’t specifically “bridesmaid”.

        8. My first wedding, my bridesmaids were in casual green sundresses from, I think, Banana Republic. So they could be worn again, but I don’t know if any of them actually were. I’ve personally never had a bridesmaid’s dress I could wear again, although the one I wore to my best friend’s wedding I gave to my sister who has used it for photoshoots.

        9. The only wedding I have been part of was a summer wedding in a park. The bride’s instructions were “I will be 7 months pregnant and barefoot, it will be a hundred degrees, wear something comfortable, pretty, and purple, because that is my favorite color” and lo, the bridal party did.

          (I did not, in part because I was the cake person not a bridesmaid, and in other part because I didn’t get the message until day before the wedding! This was fine.)

        10. I wound up re-wearing my bridesmaid dress literally the night after the wedding–I had a ticket for one of the Mardi Gras balls.

          I will also admit that my friend picked a nice dress that looks like a regular formal dress and if the tailor had done a better job with it, that I almost definitely would find an excuse to wear it again. (Unfortunately, the tailor was…very pushy, and told me to just try it on with the bra I already had on and with some sample shoes instead of letting me run out to the car to get mine. The result is a strapless dress that required stuffing, fashion tape, and a big ol’ safety pin to stay up (and still felt like it was falling), and a hem that I kept tripping over. And $100 for the tailoring :/

          Most of the rest of my friends just gave us a color scheme to stick with instead of a specific dress to buy, so I bought something nice but re-wearable in those colors.

          And one of my friends had a steampunk wedding and only stipulated the awesome corset. I likely won’t wear it again anywhere but a renfaire, but it’s still a cool thing to have.

          1. Your tailor experience reminds me of the one time I was a bridesmaid. One of the bride’s friends made all the bridesmaid dresses. I suspect I had a great deal more sewing experience than she did, because she made the dress to my EXACT measurements with woven fabric, no spandex content, not cut on the bias – apparently the concept of allowing at least a couple of inches of ease to allow the wearer to move was a brand-new idea to her. I couldn’t even breathe in it on the first iteration. (And oh yeah, I was also thrilled to death to be wearing puffed sleeves in my thirties… yecccch.)

          2. Yes, didn’t mean to imply she was anythng even close to a tailor! Just similar bad experience with fitting.

        11. re: 27 dresses comment – this is EXACTLY what went through my mind as i wrote my comment 🙂

        12. I’ve been a bridesmaid 7 times, and I have never re-worn any of the dresses. (The worst was a lavender formal gown with a massive column of fabric exploding from the under-bust that made everyone look pregnant – and, yes, the bride was 7 months pregnant at the wedding.) I’m getting married soon, and because I am merciful, I’m telling my bridesmaids (many of whom I have bridesmaided for) to wear a black dress they like. My fiance suggested that I tell them all to wear their favorite bridesmaid dress they already have from previous weddings, just to mess with them a little.

        13. I have reworn 3 of I think 5 bridesmaid dresses. One was just a nice formal dress I already owned because I was the only bridesmaid. Two were matchy chiffony long gowns which I later shortened to tea-length, and I wore them each one more time… at two other weddings. (In one of the later weddings, I was again the only bridesmaid, and in the second we were given a palette to choose from and one color matched my existing dress.)
          It makes your point. Those satin-and-chiffon numbers may look nice at a wedding but they do not transition well to other occasions.

        14. I was sixteen when my sister got married, and I re-wore the bridesmaid dress to Junior Prom. But, as an adult, I never have. (Whereas my Senior Prom dress, designed by a friend of mine, is my favorite for formal events! It has pockets and no sequins! It’s short and I can wear it over tuxedo pants!)

          I think just by virtue of the fact that it’s a dress someone else picked, a bridesmaid dress is less likely to be worn later.

          1. I mentally categorize bridesmaid dresses as costumes. They’re not really intended to join the rotation of my regular clothing, any more than Jedi robes or that purple tutu and fairy wings, and if another use can be found, then great*, but that’s not really the point.

            *The wings and tutu got incorporated into a bet after Halloween and some quite amusing pictures resulted!

          2. I did something similar, except the wedding was my mother’s (and the school event was Year 10 Formal because I’m Australian). I also had Mum take the sleeves off, so it looked less bridesmaidy, though in hindsight it still looked very homemade.

        15. I’ve been a bridesmaid twice. Once with a high/low red dress with spaghetti straps from a wedding line (Alfred Angelo). I did rewear to someone else’s wedding the same year.

          Once with a designer, $200 dress which was gorgeous and probably could have doubled for a cocktail dress if I ever went somewhere else, but I immediately gained too much weight to wear it again. It’s currently in a consignment store though because it’s not from a wedding line so it does in fact have value.

        16. Me! I was bridesmaid for my sister, we chose a gorgeous full length dress for the wedding which got slightly ruined on the dance floor. I got it chopped into a knee length dress which I have worn a few times.

        17. I’ve been a bridesmaid like 5 times and I still wear one of the dresses. It is a cotton plain navy blue knee length sundress, and I love the woman who suggested it as a bridesmaid dress forever.

        18. I’ve reworn 2 of my three bridesmaid dresses (and I will rewear the third at some point), buuuut. I live in New Orleans, and I dress up for Mardi Gras, and every so often even a Mardi Gras ball. I repurpose the dresses for this, by adding fancy wigs and assorted frippery (boas, etc.) I don’t know that I’d rewear them otherwise.

        19. I have been in bridesmaid 3 times, I still wear my outfits from both nearly 20 years later. One was for a Ren-Faire themed wedding while I was a participant on a regular basis. I still use it for costume events. The other was a nice but not overly formal skirt suit. I wear it to church and sometimes wear the jacket to work. The formal I wore a couple of times to attend other weddings. The fabric was flimsy and it didn’t hold up over time.

          1. I forgot to add I was a flower girl when I was a kid in 2 weddings. I wore both dresses to church and school photos until I outgrew them. I still have a few things I still wear that I got in high school, nearly 30 years ago.

        20. I re-wore my bridesmaid dress, since I was able to basically choose it for myself, and I went with a business-appropriate outfit. I wore it approximately once a week for about a year.

          Also, I am all for dress rentals, if it’s going to be formal. It’s basically a costume, after all, and I have rented and enjoyed some very fancy costumes that I would never wear anywhere else.

          If you’re going to choose something that they can’t wear in everyday life (or at least to other formal events IF they go to other formal events, at all), then you might as well just stick them in an actual costume.

          To tell the truth, some bridesmaid dresses do look like actual costumes.

        21. I rewore a bridesmaid dress once, I think. When I was in high school, my older brother got married. A year or so later, the girls in my youth group had a fun girly evening where we wore formal dresses, and that was the only formal I owned at the time, so I got a second use out of it. But my other bridesmaid dresses? Yeah, there’s never going to be an event where they will look appropriate and not like, well, a bridesmaid dress.

        22. When my brother got married, his bride to be, (a planner extraordinaire; my sister in law is seriously the most organized person I’ve ever known, and is also funny and kind), had a seamstress make all of her bridesmaid dresses. My sister and I were in the wedding, so we got those dresses. They were a simple but elegant navy, very plain but in a gorgeous way. I wasn’t at a place in my life at the time where I had occasion to wear formal dresses, but my sister wore hers again to at least one other event. I always planned on wearing that dress again, but never have as of yet. (It’s still in its plastic bag in my closet, 20+ years later, and there’s nothing about it that screams “Nineties Bridesmaid Dress!!!”, so I still could and still might!)

          I was *almost* in a wedding wherein my friend had told me just to go pick out a pretty dress I liked in whatever shade of violet or purple suited me. I was looking forward to it, but at the last minute, she and her guy decided to get married in Bermuda, and incorporate their honeymoon. I hadn’t chosen a dress yet, so it was all good. The marriage…not so much. It is no more.

        23. I’ve reworn the regular dress that I bought as a bridesmaid dress. It’s quite nice, actually, and is a good dress for office Christmas parties and stuff. My life doesn’t have enough fancy occasions to wear anything floor-length or a made-to-be-a-bridesmaids-dress or anything like that.

        24. I haven’t been a bridesmaid, but I’ve actually used my wedding dress twice. It wasn’t white, but a dull silver colour. Pretty simple, elegant design, although it did have a train that my maids helped me to handle.
          When I finished my PhD years later, I was going to the celebration in city hall. In Stockholm, where I live, there’s this annual celebration for all new PhD:s. Coat of tails for men and evening gown for women. I took the dress to a taylor and had the train taken off, and wore it again.
          Guess I’ll wear it a third time, if I ever go to another evening gown party.

        25. My sister’s friend gave her bridesmaids a list of requirements (color, approximate sleeve length, approximate hem length) and let them go find their own dresses so they *could* wear them again. But I can safely say that I never wore the dress I wore for my sister’s wedding ever again, because…bridesmaid’s dress.

        26. My bridesmaids in my unlamented first wedding got (paid by me) dresses made for them by a local tailor — dark green velvet for one, burgundy velvet for the other.

          They were very different people coloring- and size-wise, and I wanted them to wear something they felt good in and would get additional wear out of.

          My one attendant at my second wedding made her suit and mine from 1940s patterns (she’s a clothing designer), and got plenty of later wear out of her classic black suit with red trim 🙂

        27. I’ve re-worn one because it’s a Renaissance themed dress/wedding. Wore it to the Renaissance Faire.

        28. how many women actually do re-wear bridesmaid dresses?

          I found a lavender (a color that looks awful on me) bridesmaid dress at a thrift shop. I wore it to a Halloween party and told people it was a bridesmaid dress. “And you’re wearing it again!” they all laughed.

        29. I’ve been a bridesmaid 4 times and have reworn all of my dresses, so it does happen. I do attend more formal events than most people though bcs my favorite sport is ballroom dancing, so YMMV.

        30. I rewore the dress from my cousin’s wedding when I was a teenager – wore it to a high school banquet. The one I got for my best friend’s wedding is definitely re-wearable, I just haven’t yet. It would still need to be for a fairly formal event, but it’s made from normal enough material to work for something else. I was very thankful for that!

        31. I was a MOH twice and I loved both dresses: the brides gave me the colour and let me choose whatever I wanted. Of course I payed for the dresses and wore them again.
          I did the same for my MOH when I got married (none of us had bridesmaids).
          That is not the done / usual thing in the cultures we are from but worrying about controlling someone else’s clothing comes really low on my priority/ tolerance list.

        32. I haven’t reworn the dress I wore as a friend’s bridesmaid, but I’ve borrowed and worn a dress I bought my sister as MY bridesmaid twice. 🙂 Although the main barrier, in my experience, is that most adults who aren’t debs don’t go to many formal events requiring full-length gowns.

          I paid for my bridesmaids’ dresses and picked a gown that wasn’t from a bridal range so they’d have at least a shot of rewearing, but I think most people recognise it probably just ain’t happening.

        33. I had a renaissance themed wedding, did not get married in a white dress, and my bridesmaid and I have re-worn our dresses from the wedding as garb.

      2. For my wedding I just had matching vests for everyone – $30 vests I think. And I asked them to wear a white shirt and black pants.
        … not sure if they ever wore them again. Groom’s side rented tuxes

      3. I had the best bridesmaid experience because she said “Just get a blue dress.” I showed her pictures of what was in my closet, she picked one, and there you go. We all three managed to have dresses in the same color, which was total coincidence.

      4. I think I’m the only bride I ever knew who did this, but I flatly refused to tell my wedding party what to wear. I didn’t care if everybody matched; I just wanted the people I loved around me. So I told them, “You are grownups. I don’t tell grownups how to dress. Wear what you think is appropriate to a semi-formal occasion.”

        The result was a lovely patchwork of different dresses, each of which suited the lady it was on, and each of which they already owned… no buying anything! My witness gave me an amusing wedding story, though… he got a fiendish gleam in his eye and asked, “Does it have to be modern?”

        “Jay” was into Renaissance dance and recreation, so he had a lot of period garb. I just laughed and refused to take the bait. “I said I won’t tell my friends how to dress,” I told him. “It’s up to you.”

        So Jay showed up in a brilliant red Italian Renaissance surcoat and hose. It actually looked quite good. But we were having a relatively traditional Jewish wedding (hence the witness who was a separate role from my attendants, since all of my other attendants happened to be female and a traditional Jewish wedding requires witnesses who are male and Jewish), and so the ceremony was unfamiliar to some of the gentle guests. I later heard that one of them asked somebody from my family, “Is that red costume the guy who walked before the bridesmaids was wearing some kind of tradition? What does it mean?”

        “Noooo… that’s just Jay being Jay,” they were told. 🙂

        1. I love this so much.

          (Ok & I was a MOH – though i called it Best Woman – in a simple iris-blue silk sheath dress that I later wore the hell out of. All I had to match was the bouquet.)

          1. I love this. We also called each other Best Woman rather than MOH. We also had similar responsibilities to a Best Man and none of the traditional “getting the bride ready” traditions.

  3. “the Venn diagram of “people who take ‘No, I’m sorry’ as ‘I hate you forever!’” and “people who will make the wedding planning process a death by 1,000 cuts” has some overlap.” I love the restraint of this!

    OP, I think the Captain is right, it would be better for you to withdraw now, rather than subject yourself to a year of this.

  4. If she gets all upset about it, I have two scripts in my head, neither of which is perfect, but both are truthful.

    1) “Let’s face it, you know and I know that I don’t handle changes to plans well, and you’ve already changed plans around the dresses several times. I am not a ‘go with the flow’ kind of person, and so I’m not the best person to be in your wedding party”

    2) “So, you’re the only one who is ever allowed to change her mind about something?”

    The second script could be used if you are ready to end the friendship.

    1. These two scripts are pretty much what I would end up saying.

      It’s weird, I’m highly diplomatic at work dealing with customers – it’s not personal. With friends and family? With some of them I end up being blunt. With some people blunt is necessary, especially when I’ve tried being assertive but nothing changes. Then I get angry and end up using aggressive language.

      1. Though I actually think Script 1 is totally diplomatic. It makes it clear what the issue as but also has the speaker owning the fact that her personality is part of the reason why it’s an issue. (I am so much like the LW in this sense. That situation would drive me up the wall!)

    2. LOVE number two. I wouldn’t recommend it first, but it’s so true for people who expect you to take what they would never accept.

    3. The only problem with no. 2 is “YES BECAUSE I’M THE BRIDE” is a plausible answer that fits into a lot of wedding narratives.

    4. I quite like the first script – it’s essentially “I’m stepping back because it’s best for you and your wedding,” and it keeps what’s currently the most important thing – the friend and her wedding – in the foreground.

  5. If backing out now might damage your friendship, it’s a good bet that a year of this would kill it. A bridesmaid’s thoughts at a wedding should not be “only a few more hours and this is over and I never have to see her again.”
    Get out now and spare your sanity and the friendship.

    1. “If backing out now might damage your friendship, it’s a good bet that a year of this would kill it.”

      Exactly this. I completely understand that you don’t want to damage the friendship, LW, and your original question to the Captain was to ask for scripts along those lines. But it’s the bride who is putting your friendship on thin ice here. Best to bow out now while there’s still a chance of preserving a cordial relationship on all sides, rather than wait until her indecisiveness rather decidedly triggers the Nuclear Option.

      1. Especially when you consider the odds of the Nuclear Option happening right before the wedding.

        That thousandth cut at the rehearsal dinner? BOOOOM! Yeah, find yourself a new bridesmaid to keep the photos symmetrical NOW, missy!

        Nope. Much better to nip it in the bud, and give the indecisive bride plenty of time to make a new choice.

  6. LW, consider the Captain’s script this way: it would not be a lie to say you are noping out of being part of the wedding party to protect your health.

    Mental health is still health, and she doesn’t need any further explanation than offered by the Captain.

    Both “No” and “I can’t do this” are complete sentences.

  7. oh lord, LW, I just about crawled beneath my desk when I saw that you were going to be staring down another *year* of this. I agree with the Captain. Being a bridesmaid for this wedding is coming with costs (not just financial) that you don’t want someone else writing a check for and then expecting you to pay it. You’ve already told her that this style of planning isn’t for you. It sounds like she has other bridesmaids, which is awesome. This isn’t something that will fall apart if you don’t help prop it up; she will get married (or not get married) whether you are there or not. Don’t set yourself on fire just so she has some light to read her constant text-messages by.

    1. And if you’re not a bridesmaid, and are free from that stress, you’ll be better able to help out with a shoulder-to-cry-on when other stuff goes wrong, and the bride can’t lean on the bridesmaids any more.

      You being an interested third party can be extremely helpful to the bridal party, and it still won’t be as stressful as being a bridesmaid.

  8. Today’s post landed squarely in my lap. Just a few years ago I ended a friendship of many decades because of this. Not a wedding, but a complete inability to stick to social plans. If a new shiny thing crossed her path our weekend together was postponed. Once she told everyone she was holding a party in my honor and it never happened. I realized that words falling from her lips had absolutely no meaning for her, they were not lodged in her brain. And she was indifferent, sometimes actually irritated, when I reminded her of the plans we had made, that SHE had initiated. The final break was just one more minor thing, and she is probably mystified to this day. However, it was the 1000th cut.

    1. Someone who’s bailed on me like this several times has now proposed we do a long-term creative project together. I am so wary of being The One Who Makes This Happen that I’ve been intentionally slacking off on our prep to see if she’ll do any of the legwork on her own. It’s a shame because she’s so so cool but I’m really used to dragging others through creative projects and I just can’t handle that right now.

    2. My favorite aside about the ex-friend that constantly bailed on made plans was when she was going to be on the West Coast visiting her son the same time I flew through there on my way to a remote job. “Oh stop by for a few days! It will be fun”! so I scheduled a layover for a few days then right before the meet-up she whined,”I’m sorry but this just really isn’t a good time”. Astonished, I said, “I’ve already made plane reservations!”
      … “Sorry”… “Well, I guess I’ll go stay in a Hotel!” … “Sorry, It’s just nor a good time”. Um. It cost me several days I’ll never get back basically stranded with no one to hang out with, and a hole in my trip budget.

      IMO people undependable to that degree are really psychopathic; at the least narcissistic. You, your well being, doesn’t matter to them. Perhaps you should re-consider this friendship altogether.

    3. I had a friend exactly like this. When we were in high school it wasn’t such a big deal because we still saw each other all the time, but once we were attending different colleges and it started to really matter that she would either show up (literally) three hours late to something we were supposed to do, or not show up at all because something she thought was better came along, I couldn’t take it anymore. We’re cordial Facebook friends now because she’s not a bad person and we live in different states, but I still wouldn’t want to make actual plans with her.

      1. I was a person like that once, regularly showing up hours late. I think it was some kind of brain wrinkle. I had every intention of showing up but I just couldn’t do the counting-backwards math of “to get there at 9pm, I have to take a train that arrives 8:40 or earlier, and there’s one leaving from my station 7:25, so I have to start walking there 7:10, so my dinner should be done by 7, so…”

        There’s good news: It got better. Something changed in my mid 20s. I am now a punctual person. There’s hope for your friend 🙂

        1. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the something that changed was that YOU got badly burned by someone else not being punctual, and decided you didn’t like how it felt, and that you didn’t want to do that to people you loved. And that’s what prompted you to seek help in learning how to be punctual?

          People rarely make such a drastic change, that requires real effort on their part, without a solid reason.

          Also, MAJOR kudos to you for making that difficult change. I know it took a whole lot of hard work to change your paradigm.

          1. I used to be chronically late. I was never cavalier about it–running late really stressed me out. That was what finally helped me overcome it–I got sick of always being so frazled from running late and figured out how to manage my time in a way that helps me not be late. Now I’m the 15 minutes early person.

      2. IDK, “didn’t show because something better came along” actually sounds like this was a bad person, or at least a bad friend.

      3. This was one of my high school friends – we used to call “[Friend’sName] Time” the hour we’d all agree give her for when an event started, when everyone else got the actual start time an hour or so later. “When does your birthday party start again?” “7pm, but 5pm [Friend] Time.”

        Later I was venting about another friend who kept bailing on plans when my dad told me something very wise: “There are people who schedule things in pen, and people who schedule them in pencil. You are a pen person – she’s a pencil.” I liked that it wasn’t a value judgement, just a statement on different approaches.

        1. “There are people who schedule things in pen, and people who schedule them in pencil. You are a pen person – she’s a pencil.”

          Very wise, indeed! I was raised with a lot of choir practices and other important performances, so I tend to be very rigid about punctuality – better two hours early than two hours late. I’ll keep your dad’s philosophy in my back pocket for the days when I need to reinvigorate my empathy and remind myself that not everyone has the same conditioning.

        2. Naw, it deserves a value judgement: committing to something and then knowingly bailing on it (as opposed to being bad at figuring out timing) is lying. If you can’t commit to a time for whatever reason, don’t commit to a time. I suppose it’s possible that some people lack sufficient self awareness to realize they are consistently hours (?!?!) late, but, really, if you know you can’t be depended uppon to show up at [time], just don’t agree to do so. Make the kinds of plans that don’t require a specific time (“I’ll be home all afternoon, stop by whenever”) or are immediate (“Let’s go get dinner right now”).

  9. I agree that you are taking the right approach with the general hanging out — yeah, maybe you see this person a bit less, but also the time you spend together is better because you’re not stressed/annoyed/resentful all the time! I have friends like this who I just cannot count on to keep plans or be on time — sometimes because of legitimate life stuff, or sometimes that seems to simply be their personality. Once I adjusted my expectations and style of hanging out with them (yes “I’m meeting up with some people for drinks Friday, feel free to drop by if you want, no “Let’s go to an expensive concert and you’ll buy the tickets so I have to wait for you to show up at a specific time/place to get in”), our relationships have gotten SO much better.

    I kind of disagree with the bridesmaid advice, though. A wedding is a (hopefully!) once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing where I think it’s reasonable for the bride to have her “style” somewhat more catered to than would be usual. You’re not required to do this, of course, but if you value the friendship, I think it might be worth taking a big emotional step back from the decision-making but still remaining involved. Set a budget for how much you can afford to spend on the wedding, and communicate that with your friend so that she is aware. For example, if professional hair and make-up are not in your budget, you can let your friend know that and how she deals with it is up to her (i.e. she can pay, her parents can pay, or you can do your own hair/makeup or have a friend do it).

    For context, I’m a very Type A person while my sister is very laid-back, younger sibling style — we are sort of hilarious in our adherence to older/younger sibling type! For my wedding, she was willing to be in posed photos with a professional photographer (even though this was pretty much her least favorite thing EVER), and helped organize a lovely bachelorette that wasn’t really her style. For her wedding, I put up with the complete lack of any schedule/planning etc. even though it made my little planning heart VERY STRESSED OUT — and you know what, her wedding was lovely and amazing! Sure there were some random hiccoughs that my planner brain says were totally unavoidable, but at the end of the day the wedding was very much a wonderful reflection of the love between her and and her husband, and no one was focused on the few small issues that arose.

    Now, I wouldn’t stand for active mistreatment, but it doesn’t sound like your friend is being a capital-B Bridezilla. She’s just indecisive and unorganized, which you’ve known for your entire friendship. What if you let another bridesmaid take the lead on the bachelorette party and let her know you are able to chip in $X that you can afford? What if you decide you don’t really care how many times the rehearsal venue gets changed up, but you’ll simply show up at wherever it’s happening the day of and eat something (and if your friend doesn’t book a reservation in time, she can do pizza in a park or a cookout in the backyard, and those things will be fine too!). You could take a step back from active planning for the day of — and even tell your friend you need to do that because it’s stressing you out — but still participate in whatever it is that happens on that day (even if some of it ends up being poorly planned/semi-disastrous/etc.) If dresses don’t get ordered in time, everyone can wear mismatched dresses, which is sort of in style now anyway. I mean, I recently attended perhaps the most planned wedding I have ever been to (every guest was emailed a 5-page spreadsheet with timing down to 15-minute blocks!!!!) — and it still poured down rain and all the timing ended up off — and yet it was also still lovely and amazing and a wonderful wedding because ultimately everything going to plan isn’t the most important thing.

    1. The thing is, it’s tough to set a budget when the bride can’t even make up her mind on what expenses you should expect to have to cover yourself.
      And what happens if you put down a deposit on something, and then she decides she doesn’t want that thing after all? I’m getting stressed out just thinking about it, and I’m not even involved. Better to bow out now than wait around for the other shoe to drop when you can already hear the distant whistle of it falling from the sky.

      1. I mean, set a budget based on what you personally can afford (not on what the bride wants you to pay). Obviously this is going to vary by person, but most people have some idea of how much extra money they have in their budget that they can put toward things like weddings. Even if your friend were a 100% certain planner with no changing her mind, it would STILL be quite reasonable to say “Actually, I can’t afford to spend that much money on the bachelorette party, I’m sorry! Either we can do something less expensive or I will have to skip the party.” or “I’m sorry, $300 for professional hair and make-up just isn’t in my budget, I’m happy to do my own though!” etc. etc. If an agreement can’t be reached over budget (i.e. the bride insists on a $10K bridesmaid dress and nothing else will do), then it’s reasonable to withdraw from the wedding, but it seems like simply stating your constraints is a reasonable first step.

        1. Going by the letter, I think any hard limit LW places will go in one ear and out the other.
          Bride will just agree and then change her mind about agreeing to the limit.

          1. Sure, and then she can say “I’m sorry, I can’t afford X! Let’s come up with a different plan.” It’s not like this bride is going to be wedded to her plans anyway, since she changes her mind all the dang time! It’s not as if the bride can garnish her wages…

          2. @Sarah: I don’t think it’s the costs that are the issue here. It’s investing resources – be that time or money or energy – into one thing and then repeatedly being told “haha no, let’s do this instead.” Sure, OP could just write a check and show up day of, but she could do that as a guest and skip the rigamarole of having to restate her boundaries or manage the bride’s expectations in the first place. If I were her, I know what I’d choose.

          3. Nesting ran out, this is a reply for Sarah:

            Orrrr, instead of doing all this managing and sucking it up and stating and restating (and restating and restating) of boundaries, the LW could just…bow out of being a bridesmaid? And not deal with this at all? LW is already really stressed and there’s a whole year to go. A whole! Year! That’s not super long in the greater scheme of things, but since LW is this stressed by how often Bride changes her mind, it’s going to seem like literally forever. Plus, the LW probably won’t even be able to enjoy the wedding because they’ll be so exhausted. I think they should be able to just go and enjoy a lovely celebration of their friend’s marriage. Because that’s what it should be! It should be a nice party everyone involved looks forward to, rather than a finish line LW grimly slogs towards through the mud of I SAID I Can’t Afford That, Why Did You Not Hear The Last Five Times and the driving rain of I Reached Bitch Eating Crackers Status Six Months Ago And If She Changes Her Mind Again I Shall Scream and the gales of But I Already Put Down The Deposit, Dammit.

            Bride doesn’t have to be a terrible person for LW to be miserable with the way she runs her wedding party, and it is perfectly okay to say no to this.

          4. Y’all know I’m on this team. It’s already not working. It’s not going to work better, ever. Not ever.

        2. Sarah, as a former bride: no. Anyone treating bridespeople this way is not to be trusted. Rip cord situation.

          Yes, my bridespeople expected to be ruled by my style. They also knew that if I told them it was time to buy something, they could safely buy that thing.

          LW has given this person a chance. The bride’s behavior is beyond a red flag–it is actual bridal malfeasance.

          1. Yeah, a thing that people forget often because of the rhetoric around weddings is that your bridal party is doing you a MASSIVE FAVOR. I have been a bridesmaid a whole bunch of times, and I have mostly loved it because all of the brides in my life have remembered this, and behaved accordingly. OP, your friend seems not to be treating you with the proper respect due someone who is doing a massive favor.

    2. I don’t think LW’s letter has much of anything to do with a clash of planning styles like you’re describing. It sounds more like Friend has an utter lack of consideration for the effect her indecisiveness has on others in general and it’s heightened IRT wedding because many personality traits are heightened IRT weddings. LW isn’t, to my read, expecting Friend to plan her wedding LW’s way. LW is frustrated that Friend keeps issuing expensive, time and energy consuming, panic-flail demands that a whole group of people have to coordinate to act upon, and then backtracking. “When you tell me/us to order a dress, I/we need to know for sure if I/we should actually order it or not” isn’t an unreasonable expectation for members of the wedding party to have.

      Friend has already promised to pay for dresses, said she couldn’t pay, promised to pay again, said she couldn’t again, informed her bridal party to rush order specific dresses three separate times and then, presumably after at least some of the party followed her rush-order instructions, backtracked on that three more times, leaving them to clean up the mess of canceling rush orders. That’s not a clash of planning styles. That’s a total lack of consideration for other people’s time, budgets, energy, and ability to trust you when you speak. Dresses are expensive, they have to be ordered, paid for, shipped, tried on, and fitted at least once or twice, and that’s if the dresses magically turn out to work for everyone the first try, which is not, I understand, a common occurrence. It’s not a lot to ask for someone to not inform others to take expensive and time consuming action until the decision on that action is good and made.

      1. ” “When you tell me/us to order a dress, I/we need to know for sure if I/we should actually order it or not” isn’t an unreasonable expectation for members of the wedding party to have.””

        When you ask someone for a commitment, you make a commitment of your own.

        This friend isn’t doing it. She has broken the contract.

        Now it’s just a matter of how you say it.

        And yeah, it’s SO not about the money. It’s about the lack of commitment and the “being jerked around” (though I applaud our OP for not actually using those words).

      2. This. It’s one thing to try and be more flexible to accommodate someone else but what’s being described is more along the lines of making it impossible to plan at all. The level of flexibility required to keep up with this is a lot to ask of anyone, let alone someone who deals badly with changing plans.

  10. I’ve been a bridesmaid SO many times. One thing that came up when I was my sister’s bridesmaid was that she was afraid that by making decisions and communicating them clearly that she might be authoritarian and one of those horrible brides. I told her that by far and away the hardest brides are the ones who don’t make decisions and who don’t clearly communicate those decisions.

    (My favorite bride sent out a mass e-mail the week before the wedding with detailed times, instructions and information we might need about questions around hair/makeup/jewelry. Most of that was just “Whatever you want!” but it was SO nice to not have to ask her and I’m sure she enjoyed not having 5 of us ask her the same question.)

    This is absolutely the worst case of this I have ever heard. You are so right to nope out of this. Just like it is unreasonable when brides ask their bridesmaids to spend 5k on a bachelorette weekend in Turks and Caicos, it is unreasonable of her to expect you to have zero certainty about her decisions.

    I’m honestly FASCINATED by this behavior, in a “how do you fix this?” kind of way. It would drive me absolutely insane. So I applaud you for having a friend like this and being able to work around their idiosyncrasy. But a wedding is too much stress even with a relatively decisive bride. You’re doing the right thing.

    1. I had a flighty sibling getting married and I was the one who sent out the “this is where you should be when” emails and such. It was hectic but totally worth it.The thing is, I knew this GOING IN and was WILLING and ABLE to do this work. It sounds like LW knows it going in but is neither willing or able to do the bridesmaids work.

      I personally frame it as the “friendship bank” only has “x” amount of spoons that LW can spend on this friendship. Right now the bank’s balance is 100 spoons for the next year and being a bridesmaid to her friend would cost 600 spoons. So she can either let other areas of her life suffer or bow out.

    2. I’ve heard SO very many stories about brides who say, “just wear something blue,” and their bridesmaids find that way too stressful and DEMAND that the bride give more guidance.

      1. I remember a comment that was here a while ago where a bride was constantly being asked by guests, “Should I wear a hat?” The bride said something to the effect of, “Do whatever makes your heart sing,” and the response was, “BUT – HATS, YES OR NO?”

        1. I had a friend who was SO PISSED OFF that her wedding guests would ask her what to wear, how to get to the venue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, etc.

          “Like I don’t have enough to do? You’re a grownup, figure it out!”

          It has changed the kind of advice I give.

          1. Shouldn’t the guests be given directions on how to reach the venue? Not everyone has a sense of direction or a GPS. Out-of-towners especially need help here.

          2. I feel like there’s a balance to be struck. Twenty years ago, it would be a much more reasonable question; these days I get increasingly frustrated when my mother says, “Can you text me directions to the restaurant?” when she and I have equal access to Google. On the other hand, I’ve received wedding invitations that thoughtfully included a small map indicating the venue and I always appreciated it. (Death by glaring, on the other hand, to people who redirect any and all questions to their partner – particularly grooms who send everyone to the bride. YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS STUFF TOO.)

          3. “Shouldn’t the guests be given directions on how to reach the venue?”

            This was the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It’s just not that hard for people to figure out how to get to NYC–and Manhattan is THE MOST thoroughly mapped and documented part of the world. Plus, it’s numerical for fuck’s sake.

            They were saying, “Should I drive? Will parking be hard in that side of town? Or maybe a train–do you know if there’s a train from my town?”

            Plus, GOOGLE, for heaven’s sake.
            They all had Internet. They all had a printer.

        2. Wow. I’ve heard of the bride telling the bridal party what to do, but the GUESTS?!

          I think this is a problem with the guests just being indecisive and too dependent, in general, and the wedding just brought it into sharp relief.

          1. I can see asking the level of formality as a guide for guests choosing their own attire. You don’t want to show up wearing something super-formal if the bride is thinking “picnic in the park.”

      2. I did this at my wedding and one of my bridesmaids loved it and two were like O.O”” at the thought. I ended up sending out a “hey look this lovely navy dress with pockets is on sale for $24” email and those two bought it. Everyone won!

      3. That’s like cooking. I rarely put salt in any dish I cook, because it’s easy enough to add salt later.

        If the bridesmaids want more guidance, then it’s easy enough to say, “I need more guidance,” and for the bride to then give more guidance.

        You can’t un-salt food, and you can’t un-say guidelines, but it is very easy to add it.

        1. Actually, you can sort-of un-salt soup. That is, make it taste less salty. The trick is to add some potatoes, and let them soak up the salt, and then remove them. But the potato trick is pretty limited, because you may not always want potato-flavor in that dish.

    3. How do you fix this–Friend needs, at the very least, a dedicated individual* in MoH-type role to work as bride-to-wedding-party liaison who can say to her “I am not going to tell everyone to order dresses until I know you are 100% certain in your decision,” if not a full on paid professional wedding planner to do things like hear all her deepest wishes, choose three dresses which fill them, and give her a set time period by which to pick one. I’d recommend option #2 for this particular bride since planning is absolutely not her forte but budget constraints may not allow for such extravagance.

      *Who is not, I repeat NOT, LW

      1. Oh I didn’t even mean WRT wedding. I’m just interested in why a person would be pathologically incapable of not flaking out. It’s just so alien to my nature.

    4. S – I love that email with detailed instructions, including a clearly-worded and heartfelt “Whatever you want!” Specifying where you MAY do whatever you want, and where you need to follow the instructions makes it so much easier on everyone.

      I agree, it is not “bridezilla” to be decisive, to know what you want and to tell people what you want. It is “bridezilla” to be a complete jackass about it, my way or the highway, and by the way, you have to guess what I actually want, because I’m going to change my mind, and make unrealistic expectations, and be angry with you if you don’t meet them.

      Clarity can make even the most complicated plans seem simple and realistic. Also, clarity, in advance, allow people to assess it, and decide for themselves whether they, personally, are able to meet those expectations, of if it should be something for someone else to do. For example, ten years ago, I could have (and happily would have) danced at a wedding. Don’t ask me to do it now, unless you want to hear me singing “Ow! Ow! Ow!” in chorus with the music. But I’ll tell you in advance, so you can alter the plan, accordingly.

      A bride who says, “This is what I want. How can we make this work?” and is open to negotiation, because she cares more about involving he people she loves than she does in getting absolutely everything exactly as she dreamed it, is a great bride. Basically, it’s just setting boundaries, and enforcing them, but a whole lot more of them than everyday life.

    5. Much like boundaries, clear, explicit communication of what one wants is (in general) a kindness to others – they can always say no, even in situations where a yes is the contextual expectation. It’s taking on the administrative labor of making sure everyone is clear on goals and expectations as well as the executive labor of actually deciding something (see previous CA posts on decision-making imbalance). I realize there are gendered dynamics around who is socially expected to express opinions or defer to what others want, but even when total deference is expected, it’s often not actually kinder, just normative (and sexist). That said, for cases where it truly does not matter and there is no secret agenda, “Clothes,” as a response to, “What should I wear?” is perfectly fine. Just make sure you actually mean it, whatever degree of lattitude you state: if a steampunk outfit or fursuit or pijamas or Speedo isn’t acceptable, be a little more specific than “clothes” – not everyone has the same understanding of social norms as oneself. I’ll wear jeans and a t-shirt to present at an awards gala or meet the Queen if you tell me to wear whatever I want, because I could not give less of a flying duck about norms of appearance/self-presentation.

  11. I’m surprised Bride agreed to her future spouse to get married in the first place. Apologies for the snark, but what are the chances that she will change her mind about Spouse and Wedding Itself between now and then?

  12. Get out without regret. There are SO MANY non-refundable aspects of a wedding that you don’t need to be stuck paying for because your friend is so wishy-washy!

    And really, when/if it’s ever your time for a big event, like a wedding or something equally epic, would this friend devote the same level of stress and energy to YOUR big event? Probably not. Flakes never do. So there’s probably a huge imbalance in the give and take here. And with the time and cost of being in a wedding, it’s just not worth putting up with it. Save your sanity, bring/send a nice gift, and be the happiest-for-you friend you can be.

  13. Oh LW, I have lots of sympathy for you, but also a fair amount of sympathy for your friend. It sounds like she is also very stressed, which is kicking her indecisiveness up from “annoyingly flaky” to “headless chicken”. It sounds like her family aren’t helping much, and may be doing that thing families do around weddings where they suddenly have lots of Firm Opinions about stuff. (If the bride wants to put aside some budget to get specific bridesmaid dresses, is that really her Dad’s business?)

    Do you have enough goodwill left to call your Flake and let her vent about any stress / overwhelm she’s feeling? You don’t have to fix it for her, but perhaps she too is googling “can a person die of decision fatigue” and just needs a friendly ear.

    If the answer to this question is “hell no”, I think you should possibly reconsider not just pulling out as a bridesmaid, but also how committed you are to your friendship with her. Wedding planning is horribly stressful for the bride (as the good Captain so eloquently shared the other week) and bridesmaids kind of need to be ok with absorbing a certain amount of that stress for the sake of their friend. If your reserves are already dry a year out, then that may signal that you’ve kind of reached the end of the “good friend” road with this person.

    1. I don’t know about whether the LW is up to listening to the Flake vent about this is a referendum on the friendship. It sounds like they’re already somewhat limited doses just because of the planning difference in other areas, so possibly “friends” but not “good friends”. But even if they are good friends, sometimes there are things people just can’t do for each other. I can totally see even listening to all of this back and forth being really stressful to the LW, especially when it sounds like a lot of it isn’t external stuff that’s happening to the Flake, but things the Flake is causing by not making and sticking to decisions. I think what makes a good friendship is having a realistic understanding of what to expect from the other person and having some sort of reciprocity that makes you both feel valued and cared for; it doesn’t have to mean being able to help each other process everything that might need processed.

      1. Strongly agree with all of this. Even (especially!) good friends have boundaries about what they can do for each other.

      2. I love my sister, and I know she loves me. We are dearest friends. But I won’t ask her to change my pus-filled bandages or hold back my hair when I vomit, because she’s just not up for it. I can, however, ask her to other things, of which she is more than capable. I ask my other sister to change my pus-filled bandages, but not do certain other things, which are more the first sister’s area. I don’t expect either one of them to do it all.

        This is not about the quality or depth of the LW’s friendship, but about the LW’s actual ability to deal with her friend’s personal issues. Sometimes, you just can’t do it, even if you love someone. Sometimes, you just don’t have it in you, or you don’t have the skills (coping mechanisms are a *learned skill*), or the physical ability (health problems, including stress, can stop you in your tracks).

        I have sympathy for the disorganized bride. However, that sympathy does not alter the fact that LW simply is not physically/mentally/emotionally up for the task of being this particular bride’s bridesmaid. And being the bridesmaid is by no means the only way LW can be a good friend and be of service to the bride. She can be the slightly-less-stressed friend upon whom the bride leans when her bridesmaids can’t handle it, anymore. She can be the one who can give some clear advice, unsullied by clashing opinions from all the family members. She can be the “disinterested third party,” when all the interested parties are at logger-heads. She can do so much that IS within her ability, but not if she focuses all her strength on doing something that is NOT within her current ability, such as being a bridesmaid to this particular bride.

        Probably, under normal circumstances, the bride would totally understand this. However, stressed as she is at this time, it might be difficult for her to get it, and she might interpret “I can’t be your bridesmaid” as “I don’t love you, anymore.” Diplomacy is going to be very important.

    2. But… it sounds like LW is already doing a lot of emotional labour over this wedding (and the friendship!) already due to the flakiness. Why should she have to do more when she already knows her own boundaries and have had no issues with them so far? After all, she’s the one who wrote to the Captain for advice.

    3. There might be room for a great compromise here – tell your friend that you are not going to officially Bridesmaid, and exempt yourself from all dress/hair/party planning related duties, but (IF you want to do it, and only IF!) offer to be her “help, how do I do this aargh oh god this is so stressful” person. You might have more energy for the actual emotional management if you know it’s not going to have any impact on your own budget or outfit.

      But this is absolutely only if you WANT to be that person for her – you definitely shouldn’t offer unless you are sure you’re up for it!

  14. LW – what if you assume that your friend won’t mind you changing your plans? She doesn’t seem to think changing plans is offensive, so, perhaps if you come to the table with “this is a normal change” she’ll get it and be okay.

  15. I used to work for someone like this bride. Every day was filled with requests and changes and new thoughts. They took it to another level though and blamed me for not knowing which idea, thought, plan was “The ONE” and why couldn’t I just do every little thing they wanted cause it couldn’t possibly be hard to simultaneously order, for example, non refundable things in multiple colors and styles and just return what they eventually decided they didn’t want (spoiler alert: all of them).

    Bride isn’t blaming you (yet) but frankly I’d get out now. I feel like this kind of crap is a weird passive aggressive way to “prove” how important she is to you. Like a test of friendship. And if someone is setting tests for you all the time the friendship is already gone.

      1. Actual phrase said by my actual boss “You might think I change my mind a lot. I’m not. My thinking is just evolving.”

    1. I’m reminded of a term I heard recently, and I’m amazed at how applicable it is to many situations – “play stupid games, win stupid prizes”. Anyone who continually sets you tests is playing a stupid game indeed and probably won’t enjoy their stupid prize.

  16. Get out of this wedding while you can. There is no way this situation will get better over time. It can only spiral downward from here, and then you’ll have sunk a ton of time, energy, and money into the event. Use the Captain’s script and run.

  17. If letter writer wants to opt out of the wedding, that’s totally her call and I respect that. She knows this situation best. However, if she wants to maintain the friendship and be involved in the wedding (which I think she may, since she didn’t ask for a script to get out of the wedding) I think this is a great time to practice some good old detachment. For example, you could set a 7-day rule. Whatever she tells you to do or buy, you wait a full week to do it. Most of the time (scratch that, all the times) a one week delay will not ruin the wedding. Also, you can decide that you will not be the main planner bridesmaid.

    This also seems like a great time to take a three day break from checking any emails or texts from her. A lot of these decisions will work their own way out.

    Finally, money: I strongly encourage you to decide how much you can spend now. Email her the amount one time (less any travel expenses) and stick to it. If she decides on an expense that would take up all or a lot of that budget, email her to let her know if you can/cannot do it and what the consequences are (for example: “hey friend, just so you know, this dress costs 3/4 of my wedding budget so if we go with this option, I will have to wear shoes I already own.” Or “hey friend, this is outside my budget so I will not be able to pay for this. Can we do a less expensive option/you pay for this?”

    Basically, I submit that planning a large event is a skill not everyone has. She hasn’t got it, and so she can’t make a decision properly (I.e. Before contacting all of you about it). So preserve your own sanity by distancing yourself, keeping firmly to your budget, and having some compassion for a woman who is clearly way out of her wheelhouse.

    1. I was reading the comments, and, as is usually the case here, they all struck me as sensible cool advice from multiple points of view.

      Then I read yours and realized you summed up exactly my feelings.

      Thank you

    2. This is what I would do. I know opting out may still be the *best* option, and I hope LW considers it, but depending on LW’s temperament this might actually be less stressful.

      I am a planner and flakiness is excruciating to me in a way that I can’t describe, but some people I love are real flakes. I make decisions about what I can and can’t do vis-a-vis them, decide if they’re reasonable, inform them if necessary, and then proceed. It’s like a version of your “I tell her my plans and hope she can come, but I go no matter what.”

    3. I would opt out of being a bridesmaid, but then offer to do something lower-stakes in support of the wedding, like volunteer to be the Agony Ear she calls when she just needs to vent, or Reception Buffer for Difficult Relatives.

      1. Or volunteer to be the day-of troubleshooter.

        And I think if the OP checks in now and then about wedding plans as an audience (which is different from being an ear to vent to), that might soothe hurt feelings.

        1. I think a day-of-troubleshooter is best left to someone that was involved in planning and knows what sets off the bride’s analysis paralysis and can make that decision in her absence. LW is emphatically not that person.

    4. I like this in theory, but I suspect any request for a new option is going to explode the flip-flops about 5x (but now the theme will be, “I DID choose, but YOU said you couldn’t do it!”)

    5. I’d worry that when LW has to say “out of budget” Bride will punt her out of the wedding party, and then LW has spent a good deal of time and money for nothing, and the friendship is toast.

    6. I like this, in theory. It may work for LW. It also may cause LW more stress, depending almost entirely on LW’s personality.

      Some people who are very good at planning and being responsible are the type to do things right away (like, pay the bill the day it arrives), and thus taking the 3 days break from reading emails/taking phone calls, or waiting a week on every decision, might actually cause more stress, because it goes so much against the “Get ‘Er Done” grain. Add in the anxiety that comes with ownership of an issue (MY dress, as opposed to Decorating the venue.), and that forced waiting can be extremely painful. Dithering about the caterer, with a deadline? I’d be all over that like butter on bread, because food is important to a party, especially if I am going to be eating it. Dithering about flower arrangements? I could not care less. Dithering about how I am supposed to appear in public? Yeah, I’d want to know as soon as possible about that bridesmaid dress, and the hair/make-up plans. If I have to do my own hair and make-up, because I can’t afford to pay, and the bride promised to pay, but then flaked out, I need lots and lots of time to practice.

      LW, there are a lot of good options in these comments, and this might be a great one for you. Only you can tell which works best for YOU. Do you have the fortitude to follow the one-week rule? Consistently? Then more power to you. It can be quite effective.

      In truth, I have seen this work, in real life, at several different companies. A dithering boss who keeps changing the plan leads to a team of people who twiddle their thumbs for a week, rather than get to work right away, knowing full well that week’s work will be completely wasted. I once had a boss say we had to number every single draft of every document, even if we were changing a single typo. I’ll never forget that document that went through nearly a dozen drafts, and when he was finally satisfied with it, I showed him that it was literally WORD-FOR-WORD identical to the first draft. I wanted to slap him. Meanwhile, the more experienced office manager just took notes of what he wanted, and waited for him to change his mind again a few times, before he finally settled on what he really wanted, and then she whipped it out in record time. She was very laid back, while I was tied in knots. But then again, she’d been with him for decades and he did not check each of HER drafts, so she could tell him she had prepared a draft, and he’d believe it, and then make changes without actually seeing it, just based on the draft in his head. I had to show him each new draft I wrote, because I was new. I left that job as soon as I could. However, I worked for a while (as a temp) in another office where the whole team was able to wait out the changes, and it was just so relaxed and congenial. I really enjoyed working there. The boss was always in a frenzy, but the workers were all cool as cucumbers, and I felt right at home.

      1. I had a boss like that, who would see something new and shiny in a paper and immediately come up with a way that the lab could pursue it, or use the technique. A lot of the time they were genuinely interesting ideas, and he would be quite happy to hear about the results, but it happened all. the. time. And if we’d kept dropping what we were doing to chase after every hare he started, then ultimately there would’ve been nothing for the pot. General lab policy was never to do anything new until he’d asked about it for the second or third time.

      2. I see we worked for the same boss!

        Mine was basically sinking the company, whilst projecting an air of supreme confidence and assuredness, during a period of reshuffling. So, each day for a week, we would all be called into the conference room to be introduced to the new reporting structure. And, a new goal. And pretty much a whole new mission! We were never sure, day to day, who was supposed to be doing what, and the white board was really no help since what was true yesterday wasn’t necessarily the way we were doing things today. I’m amazed any work got done that summer, before Big Boss got canned.

        1. Probably the work that got done was the sort of work that is always present in an office, and doesn’t need a boss to tell you about it. Make sure the files are up to date, the customers are being served, and all legal requirements are met. There’s always something, even if the boss dithers all day long.

  18. The petty side of me wants to advise you to tell here that you’re withdrawing as bridesmaid, then three hours later, tell her you’ve changed your mind and are back in, the repeat that every day until the wedding. Give her a taste of her own medicine. But that’s bad advise, since:

    A) She wouldn’t get it. And

    B) I suspect that would drive you crazier than she does.

    Withdrawing may well damage the friendship, but it isn’t *you* that’s doing the damage, and that damage has been ongoing for some time.

  19. LW, would it make you feel better to offer to take over some of the planning yourself? This is of course if you even want to be in this wedding party at all at this point, regardless of how organized it ends up being.

    Speaking from personal experience, wherein I am a Planner surrounded by a lot of freewheelers, I’ve learned that in the end what makes me feel better is just taking control of the event or at the very least jumping into project management mode and keeping everyone on track and moving forward. While it means a heavier lift on my end, it actually ends up making me less stressed in the long run because then I know things are getting done (since I’m the one doing them, or at least offering suggestions that people can say yes/no to).

    IF you still want to find a way to be involved, an option could be to say something to her like, “It seems like this is really stressful to you–I know we’ve talked about your flakiness before but it’s really coming out hard right now. Can I plan [things you are willing to plan] so you can focus on the dresses and hair and makeup? If it keeps going this way I think I’m going to have to step down from my bridesmaid duties, because I cannot financially or mentally afford to go back and forth on these things. If you’re good with it I’m going to move forward on [things you’re willing to plan]”

    The key here being that you are very firm in the things you’re willing to take on, that way she doesn’t turn this into a, “can you do this thing? wait but also this? wait not A or B but C, wait not A or C but B?” situation.

    1. I was coming here to say something similar. My sister is not what I call a planner, but she has a huge problem just sitting there, not being involved. She was constantly asking me “what can I do to help?” At first it drove me batty, but then I decided to start giving her stuff to do which made her feel happy and helped make me less frazzled. She booked the rehearsal dinner restaurant, made sure that the dress alterations were being done, booked transportation, scheduled hair appointments, helped with centerpieces, she even went with my husband to some of the venues we were interested in and took photos for him to show me later since I had to work and couldn’t go.

  20. My 2c for what it’s worth as someone currently planning a wedding and having been a bridesmaid: geography allowing, I would not do this with a card. If you value the friendship and want to make it 100% super clear you are bowing out of being her bridesmaid, not resigning from her life, a face to face conversation will probably help make that more clear and soften the blow. Possibly something like, “I know this might be hard to hear, and I’m sorry to do this, but this bridesmaid thing is not for me right now. I would love to help you celebrate at the wedding if you still want me.”

    YMMV of course.

  21. When I was getting married to my now-ex, I had a flaky flake of a bridesmaid like the OP’s friend. She would commit to a thing and then cancel day-of. For the first few months of the engagement, it was fine. A couple of bridal shows, salon scouting trips. Nothing actually critical to the upcoming day. Then, as the wedding approached and it was time for her to make decisions I realized that these cancellations were becoming a burden and she was stressing me out.

    I sent her a text, “I love you and I want you to be a part of the wedding, but you’ve passed on all things wedding since April (it was August). I can’t help but feel like you don’t actually want to be a bridesmaid. If you need to bow out, you have to let me know now. No harm, no foul.”

    She apologized profusely, Un-cancelled the plans she had just bailed on aaaaaaannnnnndddd… proceeded to do the absolute bare minimum. But at least it was something and she started showing up when she said she would.

    (Unrelated to her pastry-like existence, but yet still kind of: her fiancé no-showed for the wedding after RSVPing yes and then she bailed early. I don’t talk to her anymore for reasons relating to her behaviour at her own wedding and also because I’m pretty (like 99%) sure she slept with my now-ex and the reason that her fiancé no-showed was because she confessed in a moment of guilt.)

  22. Another thought along the lines of Ashrea’s comment, above – if noping out is not a thing you want to do, possibly enlist the other bridesmaids for support? Even if you don’t know them, the dress runaround already seems like the kind of thing that would be driving most people up the wall. Perhaps if the group of you could approach the bride with something like: “Hey, we love you, but nobody can order and not order a dress this many times, and this is only going to get more complicated from here.” Then if one of the bridesmaids (maid/tron of honor? DEF NOT LW) is more comfortable handling/corraling this aspect of the bride’s personality, she could serve as a point person for all the bridesmaids, and that could be suggested to bride? Because it -is- a loving and wonderful thing to do (if it is a thing you -can- do, and are comfortable doing) to be the person who says to someone like Bride, “No, hey, you already made up your mind about the dresses, and it was an awesome choice, and we’re all super-pleased with it, and now we MOVE ON to other things!” (even if you have to say it in five different ways before she actually moves on.)
    All this offered with the grain of salt that I am myself crap at planning, though in a different way than this particular bride, and would find a volunteer bridesmaid point-person very helpful (if I were the sort of person to get married, which I am not, or to have multiple bridesmaids, which I EXTRA am not.)

    1. This is a really nice suggestion. I was in a wedding party for a friend who is normally somewhat indecisive, but at the time of her wedding had just lost a parent and it was paralyzing her when it came to decision-making. Her ramped-up indecision was totally and completely understandable, but all of the bridesmaids were living in different cities and the logistics were difficult to navigate.

      We ended up scheduling 2-3 bridesmaids-only conference calls in which we tried amongst ourselves to figure out what she’d like for dresses, bachelorette party, bridal shower, etc. and then we suggested options to the bride in case she didn’t already have a firm idea. With this particular woman in this particular situation, it worked out really well. The unforeseen upside was that, by the time of the wedding, all the bridesmaids were already super comfortable and familiar with one another, and everyone had a lovely weekend. My friend also said that it took some of the stress of planning off of her shoulders, so win=win.

      1. Guava, your Bridesmaids Getting It Done crowd sounds like really excellent friends to have. 😀

    2. I made a different-but-somewhat-related suggestion below, but this is a really good idea! If someone with a strong personality can wrangle this bride and her bridesmaid-related planning, and shield the other bridesmaids from her flakiness, things could work out. It will just depend on whether there is someone in the group who’s up for it.

    3. I had to be this person for an old boss – it is a lot of work, but sometimes flaky people respond really well to firm “No you cannot do that.”
      Conversations with my old boss: “Ooh, what if the group has dinner at Place?” “Place is a mile from Hotel. I sent you 3 options within walking distance of Hotel we should choose from.” “What about if we do This?” “If we do This, that costs the same as That + That + That. Is This worth not doing 3 Thats?”
      There’s a high chance that if there was someone in Bride’s retinue to say “No, you cannot change your mind on dresses.” “But-” “Nope, too late. Focus on shoes” that she would be grateful. But LW can’t be that person, and can’t force anyone else to take up that job. Since no one has yet, she can’t plan with the hopes that someone will be the No corraler for Bride.

      1. Wow, that’s really great that you had that kind of relationship with your boss! I so could not be that person. I’m reasonably good at defending my own boundaries, but it would be so intimidating to me to be the one in charge of naysaying the boss.

        1. And yet, it can be so important. I once had to have an extremely firm discussion with a stage manager of mine because I had the creative stuff handled, thank you, I knew how I wanted the play to look and move and so on. I needed him to be the one to say either “Sure, I can get you a wetsuit, it’ll cost X amount” or “No, we’re not putting Actor in a frog costume, we can’t afford it.” Instead I found myself being the one to manage that stuff *and* keep the actors from killing him when he piped up with unsolicited criticisms.

          1. Anna, from “The King and I” was an expert.

            A wise leader dismisses the “yes” people and seeks out “no, because” people, instead. Then that leader listens to the “because” statements, and evaluates them fairly and gratefully. He may end up agreeing, or he may be more firmly convinced of his original course. If he can defend his decisions, then they are stronger and more likely to be correct. It’s like applying Nietzsche’s “What doesn’t destroy me makes me stronger” to choices, instead of people.

            Ever watch “Pinky and the Brain”? I have long been convinced that Pinky was the genius, and Brain was the “insane” one.

    4. Having a real wedding planner, whether it be a paid planner or Aunt Mabel the Organized One, is a real sanity-saver for indecisive people and all their loved ones. That person is the point-person for all decisions, and says, “This thing has been checked off the list. NEXT!” and keeps everything on track and moving forward.

      They don’t *make* the decisions. They *enforce* them. Their tastes are completely irrelevant. Only their ability to keep things moving matters.

      Indecisive people with a planner can make a planned-down-to-every-tiny-detail event that they will thoroughly enjoy, if they just have someone on point, to keep the decisions in place, and stop them from doubting themselves. That’s what the indecision is: self-doubt.

      If LW can find someone (else!) to run point for the bride, she may even be able to handle staying on as a bridesmaid. She might even enjoy the experience.

  23. I must admit that I’m a bit like the friend. I wonder if, like me, she has ADHD? Impulsiveness, trouble making detailed plans, and a constant search for novelty is a big part of it.

    1. As CommanderBanana says, it doesn’t matter, because Friend isn’t the one who wrote in. If the letter was from the bride-to-be, the Captain would be giving different advice.

      The bride you’re imagining might have written something like “Dear Captain Awkward, I have trouble making decisions. I tend to second-guess myself and cancel things after I’ve told other people what the plan is, and my friends have been calling me flaky and don’t want to get together anymore. My best friend has started snapping at me and I think she might drop out of my wedding party. What should I do?”

      That person might get advice about how to handle or work around her own flakiness, including apps, paid help, or specific shapes of support she could ask for from Team Her.

      Maybe the LW’s friend is thinking those things, but she hasn’t said them to LW, and the Captain doesn’t want us diagnosing strangers on the Internet. Maybe the LW’s friend can’t help it, or maybe she doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong. Either way, the LW needs to figure out how to deal with the situation.

      1. My advice to the bride would be to find a person, either a paid professional or just an organized friend/relative, and recruit them to be the point person on all decisions.

        Bride/groom make a decision, and inform point person. Point person doesn’t care what the decision is, has no opinions on the proper way things should be, what colors/styles go well together, or anything like that. Point person simply says, “This decision has been made. Check! NEXT!” and keeps things moving, and keeps the bride and groom from doubting their own decisions. Point person doesn’t make the decisions, but does enforce them. Point person also reassures the bride and groom with “You made that decision for a reason. Trust yourself and your choices.”

        In fact, I’d say the point person should be the one to actually confirm with the vendors/bridal party, etc. The bride and groom can dither all they want about every single detail, but once they tell Point Person, “This is what we want,” the point person finalizes it with the appropriate people, and ONLY the point person can authorize a change.

        The advantages of this are multiple. Stress will be alleviated for ALL the bridal party. All the vendors will have an organized person to deal with, and not have any confusion with canceled/replaced orders. Overbearing people who think they have a right to decide how the wedding should be done, and try to make an end-run around the bridal couple, contacting the vendors directly to say, “The Bride changed her mind, and now we need to cancel” will not be able to do it. (Yeah, I’ve seen stories of in-laws literally cancelling a venue, because they didn’t like the match, and the venue BELIEVED THEM!)

        Get a disinterested third party with no opinion on how the wedding should be run, but a vested interest in having it actually come to completion, and let them take point. Your lives will be much less stressful, and your wedding will be organized according to your desires.

        After you get your point person lined up, get at least one person to ask questions. “What is the budget? How will this fit in the budget? Does anyone on the guest list have special needs? Did you consider X, Y, and Z in your decision making process?” This person should also be a disinterested third party, with no actual opinions on the final decisions, and preferably older and more experienced. Having two or three would be good. Their job is simply to make sure you consider all the angles BEFORE you inform Point Person of your decision, and to say, “No, you can’t do that because… You forgot about A, B, and C, and how they affect X, Y, and Z,” as necessary. Basically, they act as data managers – making sure you have all the data, and that you look at all the data, before you make a decision based upon that data. They’ll be the ones telling you stuff you didn’t know, and reminding you about stuff you forgot you knew, but letting you figure out what to do with that information.

        But the bride didn’t write in.

  24. Maybe let her think you are doing her a favor?

    “Friend, I have thought about it and my gift to you is to let you have the wedding you want in the fashion that you want…I am too much of an over planner and had almost ordered that dress…it will be better if you have attendants that can go with your vibe so you can have the freedom to leave those choices open. I think that will be a win win and I can’t wait to attend your wedding! I love the ideas you have so far!

    1. Oh this is a lovely way to state this. Even if she sees through it, what great language to use.

  25. The one thing I can think of to salvage LW’s being a bridesmaid is if LW offers to take over the planning around bridesmaidery (or if another bridesmaid miraculously steps up to claim that role). That means seizing control over all decisions that directly affect the bridesmaids and their wallets. Dresses, accessories, flower colors, hair/makeup, your day-of grooming and transportation schedule, etc. This would probably mean coordinating with the bride’s dad yourself about what he is comfortable paying for, and delegating things to the other bridesmaids in a way that makes sense to you. Basically you’d be volunteering to be maid of honor, but only for the management of bridesmaid-related stuff, not other elements of the wedding.

    If your friend will allow you to take some decisions off her hands, AND if you actually want to do that work (you say you’re a natural planner or I’d never dream of suggesting this), and if you both understand that it’s for JUST THIS WEDDING and not your entire friendship … then this arrangement could allow you to stay involved in the wedding in a way that doesn’t push your buttons.

    If this doesn’t sound workable to you, then I agree that you’ll be happier backing out gracefully.

    1. But the friend will just say, “Actually I want you to wear teal, not peacock” three months after the peacock dresses are purchased.

      1. If you have an MOH who’s comfortable saying “Tough, it’s too late” than it’s still effective. Obviously doesn’t mean LW needs to be that person, but it sounds like having someone to be that person would help a lot here.

        1. Exactly, that would be the whole point of the enterprise I’m envisioning–for someone other than the bride to take over the power to decide when a certain detail is now set in stone and can’t be changed.

  26. This sounds like a nightmare to me. The idea of spending money on a dress then being told I need another and not knowing if I can return it or get my money back in any way is just — holy wow, I cannot. I guess if you want to be extra nice you can stress how you just don’t have the time/energy/whatever to be her bridesmaid, which seems to me like something any friend would accept? You’re happy for her, you want her to have the best wedding, you want to be there, but you just can’t put that much time and effort in it.

    If you want to stay a bridesmaid, def set boundaries/a budget. ashrea’s comment above is good.

  27. Was I the only one who read this and thought “where is the maid of honor?”? I have some pretty bad indecision anxiety and me-of-5-years-ago got that with a big side helping of needing to people please and avoid conflict. And if you heap all that on top of a culturally ordained most important day of your life ever which all of your family members will have Very Important Opinions about and which you need to plan every insignificant detail of you end up with a shitstorm of, as another commenter put it, running around like a chicken with their head cut off.

    I think if LW would prefer to be in the wedding but without this much fuss, she should have a sit down with the maid of honor and see if they would agree to take many of the bridesmaids tasks off of the bride’s plate entirely. Bride can talk herself out about all the sources of indecision and anxiety and MOH can take the crushing decision work off her plate and the bridesmaids can be shielded from all of that and just be told to buy this one dress (that’s elegant and matches the flowers and doesn’t clash with the cutlery and won’t scandalize Aunt Hedwig and won’t break the bridesmaids budgets because Dad said he’d help pay for everything but he didn’t mean everything everything and do the dresses have to match the cake? will the wedding be ruined if the dresses don’t match the fondant flowers on the cake?).

  28. Ugh – the constantly cancelling plans friend, I am familiar. I personally could not deal and would nope out of that friendship, or demote that friend to someone that you see in groups instead of one-on-one when them cancelling doesn’t wreck the entire plan, but this sounds like a nightmare.

    LW, I just want to warn you, while I think the Captain’s advice is great and realistic, there’s a good chance that bowing out of being a bridesmaid may seriously damage this relationship or even end it…but also that going through with being a bridesmaid also means that at some point you may have a relationship-ending blowout in the year before her marriage if stuff is this bad this early. It sucks, and I’m sorry.

    It already sounds like you are kind of a mismatch when it comes to planning stuff, and your relationship is already being affected, and sometimes that just happens in the normal course of friendship. It also REALLY sucks that she has promised to pay for stuff and is changing her mind.

    I’m trying not to make any value judgments about this friend here but honestly, I don’t think I could stay friends and retain my sanity with someone like this either, so please don’t feel too badly.

    If, however, you do decide to go through with this, the only advice I can offer is to try (and I know it’s hard!) to dial wayyy back on the involvement re: wedding decisions. For example, if she’s offered to pay for hair and makeup but you don’t know if she will (spoiler alert: she probably won’t), I would just emotionally/mentally remove myself from the process, decide I was either going to find my own affordable service or do it myself, and go forward with that. Same with the dresses – once you’ve bought a dress, you’ve bought a dress, and if she changes her mind, too bad. She can figure out ordering and paying for a dress for you, or you wear the one you have. You can nope out of the bachelorette party too.

    Having been in similar situations with people with the same tendencies, just kind of deciding I was no longer that involved with what was going on really helped.

  29. I can’t speak to the bridesmaid specifics, I do have this friend and experience the first part from start to finish. I love her, and when we do have plans that go, well, “as planned”, they are usually awesome and we have a great time. but then there is the rest of the time.

    She might make plans with me and then not end up in town at all, or push back being in town a week (which just happened last night). or tell me she’ll be in town, but won’t make specific plans with me until the last minute, so I am no longer available (or i try keeping a whole weekend open and miss her entirely). or she’ll be in town but want me to come to a wierd or far-off place. or to tell me to meet her at a time and then it turns out i have to wait there while she finishes work. or make plans, then text me throughout the day with changes to the time and place, and then still show up an hour (or 3 late). she might totally cancel at the last minute. or invite other people who I may or may not know, and not tell me in advance- to dinner, to drinks, to her house, whatever we were doing; or invite other people i don’t know to *my* house when we are hanging out there, and not tell me in advance. stay very late and/or invite herself to spend the night on my couch regardless of my plans for the next day. decide halfway through something that she wants to go somewhere else.

    So i end up doing the same thing. I’ve had to set some boundaries and turn down plans in ways that mean i don’t see her as much as I wish I could. Most of the time I won’t agree to anything in her home or mine, and I’ll only meet somewhere where I can get home relatively easily if she bails or i can make an exit if random people (or people i don’t care for) show up.

    I kind of rail about this to my husband a lot because it makes me feel bad and defensive and I wish i didn’t have to choose, so I guess look to him to tell me i’m not crazy to hold her at arms length these days. Last time she and I actually met for drinks, I said I only had a certain amount of time because I had an 8-month old at home. She was still 45 minutes late, and brought a friend who I didn’t know. On the plus side, at least this stranger turned out to be nice. on the minus side though, you can’t talk about anything deep or intimate with people you dont’ know that well at the table, so she and I barely caught up.

    1. This comment perfectly summarised a friendship I have, and all the feelings of frustration it brings up. I am also moving to arms-length. Thank you.

  30. Love the solutions to situation #1. And flaky sister suggestions.
    I’d add be prepared to dump her if another offer comes up that you know you will think damn I wishes I’d accepted if she then flakes leaving you high and dry. This doesn’t mean you stop doing the you’re committed to no 1s so when no 2 issues invite for same time you suggest another time but more if it’s something that can’t be rescheduled

  31. If you want to stay in the wedding party:
    – Hypothetically plan where and when you would get your hair/makeup/etc done if she drops the ball. Find out the price. Assume you will be absorbing this cost.
    – Check the price on the bridesmaid dress in question (the full price, not the group price). Assume you will be absorbing this cost. Throw in an extra 20% or whatever if you think she’s going to jump to something more expensive.
    (If you end up paying less, great, there’s some fun money to go unwind with after this is all over.)

    Look at the above two entries. How much financial outlay is involved? Can you afford this? Do you *want* to spend this kind of money in order to playact a role you’re not feeling with a friend who doesn’t sound like she puts a lot of effort into respecting you?

    If the answer’s still yes, go back to your very sensible strategy of assuming she’s going to be irresponsible and work from there. ‘Hey Bride – I *cannot* make or plan a group order. Once the dresses are paid for and on the way, let me know how much my share was (note that I cannot afford more than $$) and I’ll pay you back. Or I can give you [cost of planned dress] in advance and you can work with that however you decide.’

    If she waits too long to purchase the Perfect Dresses, and you (/other maids) instead wear a nice dress of your own choosing, that’s on her. If she subsequently throws a fit at you, that’s…pretty valuable information about the ‘friendship’.

    To whatever degree is possible, bow out of planning parties, dinners, etc. You’re a bridesmaid, not the MoH. (Speaking of whom – do you know her? Can she be your ally? ‘You know how Bride is about changing plans, and it’s stressing me out. Once a plan is Set In Stone, and there’s a chore or task I can take on with clearly defined parameters, I’d be happy to help, but I can’t with the back-and-forth.’) Bow out of *attending* parties/dinners if you don’t have the wherewithal or they’re too ambiguously defined. If Bride throws a fit about every single bridesmaid not doing every single activity, again: information.

  32. I can’t believe how much easier I breathe, and sleep at night, since I started reading your columns regularly (and the archives–OMG!!!) You have restored sanity and validation in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    1. Seconded! At least three times I’ve had some situation in my life, thought about writing a letter to the point of writing it in my head, and then wound up answering it for myself “What Would Captain Awkward Do?” style 🙂 (At the moment, it’s how to get the one man in this women’s [career field] group I recently joined to stop talking more than any other individual in the group).

        1. Haven’t done it yet since our next meeting is in September, but my plan is to post to the group late this month something along the lines of “I know in a big discussion group like this, it can be really easy for a few people to do most of the talking and for others to not get a chance to share their ideas. I know I struggle with self-restraint in that area! What would people think of using [give a few options of methods] to help us all be accountable for sharing the floor?”

          I’m going to look for ideas closer to time, but I’m thinking of something active and visible, like every time someone talks, they take a bead/stone/popsicle stick/whatever and the stack stays in front of them so everyone can see how much difference there is among amount of talking. Also, this way doesn’t involve me as a fairly member calling out this guy who’s been with the group longer than I have.

          1. I’ve had some training in facilitating group discussion, and one that’s great is a method called serial testimony. Basically, you’ve got a set time to speak, there are no questions or back-and-forth with the rest of the group, and you go in a set order.

            It felt very unnatural and weird the first few times I tried it, but after that it was like a switch clicked – it makes you realize how much of the time we think we’re “listening” we’re actually forming our response, forming questions or rebuttals, etc., instead of just listening to the other person and actually absorbing what they were saying. Knowing that you couldn’t ask them questions and that you would have your time to speak forces you to pay attention in a new way, without that “when can I talk? What’s my response? I have a question!” anxiety.

            Usually what we would do is open and close with serial testimony, then use the middle time for more traditional back-and-forth dialogue.

            You can also designate one person to moderate the group, with authority to shut down lines of discussion or call on people who aren’t contributing as much or stop someone from talking over everyone else.

            I personally don’t think it’s a coincidence that the one guy is doing most of the talking, either – in my experience this is a hugely gendered issue (and yet somehow women got the reputation as the chattier gender? The fuck is up with that.).

          2. I like that idea! But what will you do if someone actively does not WANT to talk, and doesn’t want others to force them, based on the idea that they don’t have enough popsicle sticks? Maybe some alternate symbol to show that they had the opportunity, and chose not to? Maybe a different colored popsicle stick?

  33. “If she asks you why you quit her wedding, can you tell her the truth? “Well, it’s not a secret that we have very different planning styles, and this whole thing over the dress already has me so stressed out that I know this is the right decision for me. I’d love to be at your wedding as a guest and a friend if you’ll have me, but I can’t be a bridesmaid, I’m sorry.”

    That’s good IF she’s the sort of person who will not freak out if you tell her a painful truth.

    May I suggest something more along the lines of “I’m afraid I’ve been dealing with some extra stress in my life, lately, and it is having a really negative effect on me. For my own peace of mind, I have decided to cut out as much stress as I can control, so that I can manage the stressors that I can’t control. I still want to be there to celebrate your wedding, as a guest, of course. Perhaps I could take a smaller role, such as doing a reading, or helping to greet guests at the door?”

    This is both truthful and kind and does not put any of the onus on her.

  34. LW if you want to quit the wedding but feel guilty, consider this: with the level of Bridezilla behavior your friend is displaying, you probably won’t be the only attendant who quits. Playing fast and loose like this with one of the biggest expenditures a bridesmaid has, is WAY out of bounds.

    1. I don’t actually see any Bridezilla behavior here, it just seems like the logical extension of this particular friend’s planning (lack of planning?) style and personality – like if she were handling a birthday party or something, she’d be just as indecisive/last minute planning-y as she is for her wedding. It doesn’t seem like she understands how stressed this is making her friend, either.

      I really wish we could retire the term Bridezilla. Yes, big, life-changing and stressful events sometimes bring out the worst in people! Trying to balance the needs/wants of two families, keep everyone on speaking terms, and still have things kind of the way you want them (on a day that is ostensibly about your marriage) is often really stressful!

      If someone’s already entitled, they’re going to be entitled about their wedding, it’s not like getting engaged turns them into some monster overnight. Personally, I’d known a few brides who were Bridezilla-shamed for just, you know, wanting certain things and not other things in their wedding, which I think is totally reasonable. I’m not married, and I don’t know if I’d even want a wedding, but if I did, I know I would for sure want certain types of music or food or whatever and I think that’s okay.

      I think this is more about this particular friend having a planning style that is really not compatible with the LW. I feel like the LW could have had the same experience if she was trying to plan a vacation with this person, or do anything that required decisions and coordination.

      1. I’m happy to use a different term, but I do think that this this level of flakiness/indecisiveness has crossed over into jerking people around. This isn’t just failure to make a decision this is, “spend [potentially a few hundred dollars], no, wait, spend it on this, no wait, spend it on that.” Another commenter called it bridal malfeasance, and I agree. This is completely different from someone having a strong preference or having the stress of planning make them snippy.

        1. To me, it just sounds like this is the friend’s natural flakiness/indecisiveness (which, yes, is something that inconveniences and annoys other people) taken to another level because she’s trying to plan a big event. Which, is kind of not a surprise?

          I have a friend who is very similar and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when she said she wasn’t going to have attendants at her wedding (it actually never happened because they broke up), because I was dreading her asking me to be a bridesmaid. She’s not a Bridezilla, she’s just a person who is naturally not good at planning stuff and has also imbued the idea of The Wedding with a lot of emotional significance, where everything is really a symbol of something else, and while that’s slightly annoying when you’re planning a holiday or party or whatever, it’s +10,000 when it’s a big expensive event. I could totally see her changing her mind a million times about the dresses, and just really not getting that it’s causing a lot of stress for other people (because she’s probably just as if not more stressed).

          I really don’t see this as the LW’s friend maliciously plotting about how to be the worst bride ever or rubbing her hands together and cackling about bankrupting her bridesmaids. It’s just who she is ramped up to a new level because Giant Stressful Event.

          I think the LW just needs to bow out. Yeah, it might torpedo the friendship, but her being a bridesmaid will likely do that anyway.

          1. I don’t think this bride is malicious. She’s just incredibly careless with other people’s time, energy, and money.

          2. Tho I do love the term “bridal malfeasance” – reminds me of that couple who were just ordered to pay $1 mil to a wedding photographer they had trashed online.

  35. Never a bridesmaid. Also, mercifully, never a bride. So, a win-win!!!! (LOL)

    I have a lot of the same issues as the LW – in particular, the constant DRAMA around the constant changing of plans makes me literally run mad. It is such an incredible waste of – and disrespectful of!!!! – my time (and energy, incidentally) and I just simply can NOT do it in friendships.

    I kept wondering, as I read this LW’s story, “What do you get out of this friendship?” And I absolutely agree with the Captain – getting out of the bridesmaid gig is likely your best bet.

  36. Also, can I just note that the idea that the bride gets to not only choose the dress her bridesmaid(s) will wear, but also force the bridesmaid(s) to pay for it is, in my opinion, heinous. Either pay for the dress you choose, or let them choose their own. Do NOT, EVER force someone to wear a dress they will hate and then make them pay for the “privilege” of looking ugly in public, so that you can feel prettier. Same with hair and make-up. If you are going to choose how they look, you had better pay for it, yourself. And if they want to come with a bare face and hippie hair to their waist, just be glad they are there for you, because a wedding is about people, not appearances.

    The one time I was a bridesmaid was for my sister-in-law, who was great about it. She chose some cloth and a basic pattern, and sent it to each of her bridesmaids. She said, “I like the neckline and sleeves on this, and the bodice is a princess-style that will work well for all of you. Do whatever you want with the rest of it.” Yes, we all either sewed, ourselves, or had family members who did, so making it was no hardship, and not only did we not have to pay the price of the cloth and pattern, but we each got an outfit we would gladly wear again and again, because we made what we, personally, liked. We all looked different, yet matched in cloth and neckline/sleeves/bodice shape, and looked great! I made a top and got a coordinating skirt, and wore the heck out of that outfit, for over a year. It was a favorite of mine.

    And you know what? In the pictures, everyone in the wedding party smiled and looked happy and beaming, because we were genuinely happy and beaming, not putting on a brave face for the sake of a bridezilla.

    I do not know where the idea that the bride chooses and the bridesmaids pay ever came from. It certainly is not Emily Post. It probably shares origins with the idea that anyone who gets a wedding invitation is obliged to give a present, whether they accept the invitation, or not, and that they are supposed to somehow magically know how much the hosts are paying “per plate,” and cover that cost with their gift.

    I don’t go to a lot of weddings. The ones I do attend are for the sort of people who say, “Thank you so much for the mop and bucket! It’s exactly what we needed!” and MEAN IT. I really don’t go to a lot of weddings.

    1. “Do NOT, EVER force someone to wear a dress they will hate and then make them pay for the “privilege” of looking ugly in public, so that you can feel prettier.”

      Yes! I remember one wedding I went to – thankfully, was not in it – where the bride had worked out for months and wore the typical “princess” look of big poufy skirt with a very fitted bodice. She made her bridesmaids wear this godawful extremely boxy top over their dresses so every last one of them resembled the Pillsbury Doughboy in a dress. Yikes.

      1. Oh my, that reminds me of a story I heard from someone, not a wedding to which I was invited. The bride was close to 40 and apparently very proud of her young figure. She was married in a bathing suit and insisted ALL guests come in bathing suits. I think we can guess the reason for that.

        1. This would only be acceptable if the wedding were held at a water-slide park, which I am guessing it was not.

          1. I would attend the hell out of that wedding. “I now pronounce you married. You may smooch now.” SMOOCH SHOVE “Wheeeeeeee…!”

        2. Insist all guests come in bathing suits?! Wow, what an obnoxious thing to do!

          Guess it would have saved a lot of money, though, given how many probably decided not to attend…

    2. FWIW this is not the case everywhere – on my (eastern) side of the Atlantic it is assumed the bridesmaids’ dresses are paid for by the bride: one reason why we tend to have fewer (i.e.: 2-3) bridesmaids 🙂

    3. And on the other hand, could we maybe not shame people who want to have all of their bridesmaids dresses look the same like following this tradition automatically makes you a Bridezilla? (Also agree with the comment upthread about retiring the word Bridezilla, because…ugh.) I think it’s fine when people say that the bridesmaids can pick their dress, although I personally would find that much more stressful than being told what to wear since I hate buying clothes. But it’s one day of wearing a dress that will make your friend happy and that doesn’t seem like such a huge sacrifice to me. And if someone isn’t okay with it or it is a big sacrifice for them (which I get, I have other issues around clothing where I wouldn’t be willing to compromise) then it’s totally cool to bow out and not be a bridesmaid for that person, but not to call her a Bridezilla. In all of the weddings I was a bridesmaid we had the same dress all of us, and we were generally happy and beaming in pictures too because we loved the couple. Having to wear matching outfits did not negate that for us. And we had an awesome time!

  37. Can we *pleeeeeeeeeeeease* make it a thing that bridesmaids can say to brides, “I won’t be wearing that specific weird prom dress, tell me your color scheme and I’ll find something appropriately formal”?

    At my wedding my bridesmaids wore dresses that matched the best dress the poorest bridesmaid already owned. At said bridesmaid’s wedding I wore red and her other bridesmaid wore brown and the other bride wore yellow and it was Autumnal. And if anyone had said, “I won’t be wearing that,” we would have changed plans.

    We seriously need to get out of this wedding as performance mindset it’s destroying relationships. How awesome would it be if you could be part of a wedding party and say, “This is what I’m comfortable doing, but not this” and it was just…accepted?

    1. OMG you are an amazing friend.

      At the only wedding I’ve been part of (as opposed to a guest at), the bride bought bolts of fabric in the color she wanted (because her bridesmaids were, literally, spread out across the country) and sent all of us more than we would need, with a note saying “this is the general pattern I would like you to follow, nothing shorter than tea-length please, also send me receipts for any additional notions/tailoring costs, I don’t care about shoes” and all four of us wound up with similar dresses but not the SAME dress, and we still looked unified and were able to be comfortable.

      And, yes, as I mentioned upthread. Wear the dresses again if we chose.

      1. The one wedding I was in, we did something similar. The bride was very tall and very thin, and we bridesmaids were… not. A lifetime of dressing a tall, thin body did not give her the tools to know what would look good on larger bodies. She found gorgeous fabric, and a pattern that she could have worn with no problem but would have looked terrible on all of us. (Seriously, high-necked, backless gowns are not kind to the large-breasted. As a woman who didn’t really need a bra at all, the… structural support issues never occurred to her.) We explained the problem and pointed to a different pattern that would look great on us and work with the gorgeous fabric. She was happy, we were happy, everybody looked and felt great. Everybody wins!

  38. Speaking from experience, I would suggest that you speak with your friend as soon as possible so that she can make accommodations. I was a bridesmaid for a close friend and I’m sad to say that we are no longer in touch, at least partly because of it. I think she asked me in the spur of the moment and changed her mind pretty quickly but didn’t ask me to drop out. It was quite clear she didn’t want me to be her bridesmaid when she started inviting all of her other bridesmaids to events (trying on dresses and such) and leaving me out. Friends encouraged me to speak to her but I was too scared of the implications that it would have for our friendship. The final straw came on the day before the wedding when she asked me and the other bridesmaids to help her set up. In the afternoon, we were planning to go the salon but when the time came, she went with all of her other bridesmaids and left me to carry on setting up with her fiancé. I was devastated and cried the whole night before the wedding. I went through with it because I’d said I would but it was so hard and I was so sad for weeks afterwards. We didn’t really speak again after that and then I moved away.

    It’s been two years and I still miss my friend. I know I did the right thing for my mental health by cutting contact but I desperately wish that I’d spoken to her before it got that far, maybe we could have salvaged some sort of relationship. LW, I hope that your conversation with your friend goes well and that you can find a way to be involved in the day without all of this stress.

    1. I am very sorry indeed to read this. That was cruel and mean spirited of her, and it must have been devastating. You acted with a lot of grace in a horrible, untenable situation.

  39. I wish I had said…
    “It is such an honour to have you ask me to be part of your special day. I am thrilled for you & spouse, I hope you continue to grow together for the rest of your lives. I want to be part of your special day. I don’t believe I can contribute as a bridesmaid in a manner in which I will do our friendship or your vision for your day justice. I’m so sorry, but I want the best for both of us & I know you have other friends better suited to this role at this time. I still want to be able to come & support you, please, let me do that.”

    I really dislike formal gatherings.

  40. I have no idea how old LW is, or what stage of life she and her friends are in, but I can say that I was in SO MANY weddings in my twenties – dear friends, friends I loved a lot, friends I was happy for. And twenty years later, I am still in contact with exactly zero of them. There wasn’t any big blowups or defriendings, just life. People moved, people had babies and their lives changed, people got divorced, interests diverged, graduate degrees, time-and-energy consuming new jobs – life happened. One of my current best friends was looking at her wedding album from fifteen years ago and realized she didn’t even remember the names of a couple of the people who were so important to her at the time. It’s a strange thing. And those who I wasn’t a member of the wedding party? I’m still friends with most of them. Weird, but true.

    Bow out of the wedding, LW. It will probably save the friendship, because what’s happening now is untenable.

    1. If you don’t want to bow out, I like the advice above about a seven-day waiting period before purchasing. Also, the MOH should be handling a LOT of this – that’s the point of that position, to help with the planning! I’d call that person – maybe the MOH doesn’t know that bride-corralling is part of the job. 😀

  41. “We seriously need to get out of this wedding as performance mindset”

    I completely agree. Mounting what amounts to a mini-Broadway show when someone has never done it before is stressful to the max. It takes many talented people, lots of money, and at least some practice for professionals to pull it off.

    1. I remember reading a forum where someone posited that a lot of the etiquette and interpersonal problems that arise during weddings are because the people hosting are trying to throw a party that is far more formal than what they’re used to. Instead of aiming for a nicer version of the sort of gathering they normally have, they aim for what they’ve seen on TV or in films, and end up doing things like treating guests as props or expecting people to give them presents equal in value to the per-person cost of the meal. And that’s to say nothing of the wedding industry that encourages a mentality of, “It’s the most special day of your life, you should have it exactly as you want, no matter the cost!”

      1. That mindset seems to have taken over everything: even birthday parties for toddlers are major events which are incomplete without a bounce-house and a face painter.

        It wasn’t that long ago that the wedding reception was cake and punch in the church hall. And now there’s an entire industry devoted to separating engaged couples from their money, selling traditions that aren’t traditions, with the threat of social failure and the lure of princessness (thanks, Disney).

    2. A friend of mine who’s in theatre got married recently, and her remark was that the worst part of the wedding was dealing with all these amateurs without even a stage manager to help.

  42. Definitely bow out of being a bridesmaid.

    For the future when Friend does the bail-on-plans thing, stop putting it in terms of its being your personal issue that you need to be more flexible. This is not something you need to take the blame for. This is not even something where 2 equally valid styles, the planning type and the change-mind type, are coming into conflict. This is a situation where the flaky person is being mean to the non-flaky person, and the non-flaky one is lying down and taking the ill treatment. That’s not to say that Friend intends to mis-treat or that she sees herself that way, but that is what’s going on nonetheless. Her apologies don’t mean anything unless there’s a change in her behavior. No wonder her flakiness is escalating.It’s not just the wedding. It’s the way she’s been getting what she wants. Look at the way you’re already tiptoeing around her making plans that don’t depend on her, accommodating her.

    Whenever this friend or anyone bails on plans, make sure you state the problem at the moment.

    If she says at the last minute that she can’t make it to an event:
    Not: Oh, I could go solo.
    Not: That stresses me out.
    Not: I was looking forward to seeing you!
    Instead: I bought tickets. This is a huge inconvenience.
    If she says that you can resell the tickets:
    You: Yes, I could resell them, but I shouldn’t have to. What a pain in the neck. If anything, reselling should be your responsibility.
    You: It’s not that easy for me to rearrange my life according to your whims.

    If she says she can’t make it to lunch even when others have been invited:
    Not: Oh well, maybe next time.
    Instead: I went to some amount of trouble cooking. This can’t just be rescheduled.

    Let her know she’s putting you out!

    There’s a drawback to that. It’s entirely possible, though I don’t know her well enough to be sure, that her constant mind changes are indicative of more insecurity than just not being sure what dress she likes. She could be squeezing you for extra validation. It’s awfully nice to think that someone is willing to make lunch for you or to go dress shopping with you or to be bridesmaid at your wedding. There are people who don’t just like that, they get off on it to the point where they want more. Why have a friend clear a lunch date with you once when she can clear it for you 3 times? Why be satisfied that your friend will go to the trouble to order one dress for you when she can do it 4x, plus phone calls, arguments, and refunds? It’s the same with people who run late. They really are sorry, but underneath all that sorriness is the satisfaction that someone is proving that they’re worth waiting for.

    Whenever you’ve had enough, withdraw quietly from the relationship. However much fun she might be when the stars align and you do see her, it’s probably not worth it.

  43. I didn’t have bridesmaids in my wedding. I also had the bar open before the ceremony so people had cocktails during the ceremony. Ten years later people still tell me it was the best wedding ever. tl;dr – chiffon = no, cocktails = yes.

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