Should I ask my two close friends to be bridesmaids?
July 19, 2011 6:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm having a hard time asking two close friends to be bridesmaids because I feel like I'm imposing. Advice/anecdotes requested.

I knew right away the six people I wanted to stand up with me at my wedding next fall. Asking the four that lived far away was easy: "Show up, wear a dress/suit, get your nails done, be my bridesmaid/man!"

The two that live nearby are harder, and I am struggling with asking them. I can't shake the feeling that I am imposing, and it feels terrible.

One is currently unemployed, and one is vastly overworked though she says she is trying to cut down her work responsibilities. Both are actively trying to become pregnant, and if successful soon, will be either extremely pregnant or with a newborn around the date of the wedding. I'm especially worried about overworked-friend; she tends to say yes to everything and takes on a lot. I don't want to be the impetus for a meltdown.

I've got my own issues with feeling like I am a burden/imposition. I'm an only child of a single parent. It's always been difficult for me to delegate. I was the kid who hated group work because it meant I did all the work.

Fiance says that I should just ask them, and they will immediately accept, because they are my close friends and they love me, and if they can't, they will say no because they are adults. But I can't shake the feeling like this is asking too much, and I know that weddings bring out weird emotions and behaviors in people.

Did you face a situation like this? Should I ask them? How should I ask them? Do I bring up the circumstances when I ask them? I feel like saying "I know you're really busy and also trying to get pregnant, but I'd like you to be my bridesmaid, too" is just a terrible way to go about this but that's how it keeps repeating in my head.
posted by juniperesque to Human Relations (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ask them as an honor; just don't give them lots of tasks to do.
posted by matildaben at 6:17 AM on July 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

2nding matildaben, and be sure that all six of them know that they can back out at any time with no hard feelings at all. In fact, it'd be the opposite of hard feelings: it'd be a true testament of how close your friendship is that they knew you'd understand immediately.

(And if you weren't going with the "wear a dress/suit" approach, I'd suggest that you buy their bridesmaid dresses for them, especially the unemployed one. But it looks like you headed that one off already, nicely done.)
posted by mauvest at 6:27 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is there a specific reason you can't ask them the same way you asked the out-of-towners? "Show up, wear a dress, get your nails done, be my bridesmaid!" Love it.

If that's literally all they'll have to do, that doesn't seem like much of a burden or impetus for a meltdown, and I imagine they would love to support you. Be clear that they won't be responsible for a bridal shower or bachelorette party or anything else, and let them pick their own clothes, especially if the pregnancies materialize.
posted by heyheylanagirl at 6:29 AM on July 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

When I was crazy busy finishing law school and taking the bar, I was honored to spend time preparing to be a bridesmaid for my friend *and* for my sister. It sounds like you're already very considerate which is the antidote to Bridezillism, so I'm sure they'll be honored, too.
posted by motsque at 6:30 AM on July 19, 2011

You arent imposing, you arent telling them to be your bridesmaids, you are asking them. Its an honor, but make it clear if they have too much on their plate you wont be offended if they decline.
posted by BobbyDigital at 6:36 AM on July 19, 2011

Best answer: You know, putting myself in their places for a second, I'd be very hurt if you didn't ask me - however busy/crazy my life was. It's not an imposition, it's an honor, and you can be damned sure I'd honor your request in turn.
posted by likeso at 6:36 AM on July 19, 2011 [9 favorites]

Seconding that it's an honour, not an imposition, and I'd be hurt and insulted if you /didn't/ ask me just because you thought I'd be too busy.
posted by Tamanna at 6:59 AM on July 19, 2011

Best answer: To the chorus of "you're not asking much and they'll say no if they want" I'll add that you should be very explicit what you are asking. It's good that there are certain annoying yet traditional aspects of bridemaidery that you'll be skipping (like buying a $200 useless dress) but you are asking them to do something, yes? Is there a shower? Is there a bachelorette night, even if it's just a vague plan to go get a beer the evening before? Will you need them to come to a rehearsal and dinner? Are you all getting your manicures together?

I know you're not asking very much, but if you phrase it as "Hey, would you be my bridesmaid, you really don't have to do anything but show up, please, it'll be easy, no reason not to, it'll be fun, please?" that's harder to say no to than "Hey would you be my bridesmaid, it'll be fun and I'd be honored. But I know you're busy/broke/pregnant, and though at least you don't have to (buy a special dress) I would be asking you to (X, Y, Z, probably about $N)." Just be sure you lay out exactly what you mean.

I say this not so much because they'd only agree if they didn't know what they were getting into, than because you say you hate to ask things of people, and if you do the whole list now, you won't feel so guilty every time you have to call them up and say "Hey bridemaid here is some information about that bridemaid thing you said you'd do and I hope you haven't changed your mind (OMG worry fuss fuss is this an imposition)".
posted by aimedwander at 7:06 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Being a bridesmaid shouldn't be more of an imposition than being a guest at a wedding will be. If you're concerned about their finances, either find a very, very reasonably priced dress or just buy it for them. Or just let them wear whatever they already own that's nice and appropriate, no one besides the silly wedding police really cares about matching.

Tell them flat out you don't expect any pre-wedding parties/pedicures/brunches, you'd just be incredibly honored to have them stand at your side for the ceremony.

Plan the wedding with your partner, only accept their help if they genuinely offer and look like they'd have fun doing it. If they look harried, decline and say you have it covered, thanks! Do not talk about your wedding 24/7, so you don't freak them out, and you'll be right as rain.
posted by lydhre at 7:22 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with aimed wander -- a friend of mine asked me to be her maid of honor; I told her that I was feeling overwhelmed, but since she told me that I wouldn't have to do anything but show up, I agreed. Maybe two days later, I got an email with plans for all of us to travel to New York for a bachelorette party. I felt totally blindsided -- I wish she had told me up front that a trip to New York was part of the "nothing" that I had agreed to.

So yes, let them know that they won't have to do much (or anything), but if there IS anything that you'll expect from them, even if it's something that doesn't seem like a big deal to you, be upfront about that.
posted by cider at 7:30 AM on July 19, 2011

"I know you're really busy and also trying to get pregnant, but I'd like you to be my bridesmaid, too"

Lets just reword that a little. "I would love for you to be my bridesmaid but I realise you're very busy and might be heavily pregnant/with child when the time comes so I totally understand and wont be offended if you don't want to do it."

I'd also add that its totally ok for them to say yes (or no I guess) now and change their mind later if their circumstances change (assuming that's true and you don't need to have a specific number of bridesmaids)

I completely disagree with everyone saying its an honour and not at all an imposition. The average cost of being a bridesmaid is over $1,000 and that isn't counting the 'time' costs. Its possible for it to be both and honor and an imposition. Its nice to be asked but the reality can be time consuming and costly.
If you really just want them to show up in their best party frock and don't expect them to throw a shower and a bachelorette party and have fittings for a specific (and probably hideous dress) and shell out for matching shoes and earrings etc - tell them all that up-front.
posted by missmagenta at 7:56 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Do you have someone else who is going to be either your maid/matron/man of honor or otherwise be your wedding wrangler? If so, make sure to tell these friends when you are extending the invitation. If not, look into finding that person first. Either way, they should know that the situation is covered and they don't need to worry about it.
posted by adamrice at 8:09 AM on July 19, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, here's my threadsit to answer questions:
  • I have a wedding planner hired for the logistics. All wedding attendants are off the hook for that.
  • I've never been a bridesmaid myself, so I don't 100% know what bridesmaids DO or what's expected of them. I don't want to make my friends crazy, but shoot, I do want some bridal stuff. I can't be the only person who has struggled with this conundrum.
  • I do want a wedding shower, but I'd be happy to do a co-ed one, and I'm not picky. We live far from our respective families, so friends are our family here.
  • I do want a bachelorette party, but I want it close to home, and karaoke and beers are great with me. I'm not a fancy lady.
  • I would need them to attend a rehearsal and a rehearsal dinner, but I think that's a "just show up" thing.
Manicures/pedicures/hair are optional! Dude, I'm not saddling my bridesmaids with debt. Same with matchy-matchy dresses.

I'm just struggling with not having the language to both ask them to be bridesmaids and also acknowledge their individual circumstances. It's a lot easier for the 'maids coming from afar because they're not going to be participating in person in the pre-wedding stuff.
posted by juniperesque at 8:54 AM on July 19, 2011

Juniperesque, there's no reason why you can't have all of that. You should just plan it and pay for it yourself. That way, you won't be imposing on anyone, and your bridesmaids can come along and enjoy it with you.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:25 AM on July 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

I would agree with spelling out what your expectations are upfront EXCEPT that that's not always (and shouldn't be) under your control. You can't throw a shower for yourself (at least without getting a lot of side eye) and you really can't ask someone to throw you one.

That kind of thing. So you have to be able to pick at least one person that is VERY close to you and that you feel like you can actually ask to initiate and plan stuff like a shower and a bachelorette party.

Do all the women already kind of know each other? That makes it easier.
posted by Pax at 10:40 AM on July 19, 2011

Can you afford to pay for the broker bridesmaid (say, buy the wardrobe)? That might help reassure her. Most bridesmaids are required to buy the entire bridal outfit + wedding gift + shower gift, so helping her however you could there would be nice.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:45 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's what I did as a bridesmaid: I went with the bride (and the other bridesmaids) with the bride to look for her wedding gown. She went on multiple trips but not all of us could go to each one; we just went to the ones we could. We all went together to try on bridesmaid's dresses (this was easier since we all lived in the same town) that the bride picked for us to try. We attended the bridal shower and the bachelorette dinner, and the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. We each bought our dresses and shoes and accessories, and paid for our nails and hair to be done on the wedding day. We helped pack the car with the gifts (this was in the Days Before The Internet and there really weren't all that many anyway since it's considered better manners to send the gifts to the bride's parent's house) after the wedding. We also helped the bride get ready.

When I was a maid-of-honor, I did all of those things PLUS: organized the bridal shower and the bachelorette party, packed an emergency bag for the wedding day (nail polish, hair spray, bandaids, etc) for the bride, kept the bride calm, kept track of the wedding rings, corralled the flower girls, kept the bride hydrated, and all the other little things that helped the day go smoothly.

Since you have a wedding planner, some or most of those wedding day details may already be taken care of. I assume you'll talk with him/her about that. Also, all of those things I did are certainly not necessary, just customary (in the midwestern US). There is no reason that your bridesmaids have to do all of those things. Do you have a maid-of-honor? Typically, she is the one who will be planning the parties, if you want them. My friend told me upfront what kind of celebrations she wanted (drinks with the girls the night before the wedding and an informal bridal brunch the day of for the relatives and friends), so I certainly think that's okay for you to do.

Are your bridesmaids going to be paying for their dresses/shoes/accessories/hair/nails? They traditionally do, but again, it's up to you. They should all know that upfront. Phrase it as "I love you and I want you to be a part of this day with me and if you can't, I understand and I still love you and I hope you'll be able to be a guest! Here's what this will require of you..." and then outline what it will require. They'll be able to make their own decisions that way.

posted by cooker girl at 12:34 PM on July 19, 2011

I just got married a month ago and had some similar concerns about honouring some of my favourite people while not imposing on them. I asked five people who mean a lot to me and stressed that it wouldn't be to demanding a role and they just needed to be prepared to show up in dresses of a certain colour and get the dancefloor started for me!

Every one of them was honoured and emotional when I asked and although I didn't ask them for anything more they all volunteered for tasks that were within their capabilities at the time. One came to fittings and kept me calm, another arranged the hen do, another flew in last minute from abroad but DIYed stuff on the day.

Just ask them and make it clear you don't expect anything. People will volunteer at the level they're comfortable with and are generally delighted to hear that you value them so highly. It's a nice thing!
posted by Dorothia at 10:36 AM on July 20, 2011

Response by poster: Just to follow up, in case anyone is still watching this thread:

They both said yes! On with the planning. Thanks, all.
posted by juniperesque at 7:33 AM on July 25, 2011

« Older 30 days in the middle of nowhere   |   So many droids, which to choose? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.