Nobody teaches you how to be a bridesmaid, though somebody really should. There’s no bridesmaid class in college you can take, though it may be more useful than taking a class on earth sciences. There’s not a bridesmaid manual you can read, though there are books, but they are outdated, often unrealistic and sometimes enough to make you break out in stress-induced hives.
The first couple of times I was a bridesmaid, I made more mistakes than I can count on both of my hands. I brought lingerie to the bridal shower and watched in red-cheeked horror when the bride opened it up in front of her 93-year-old grandmother. I forgot to order my bridesmaid dress until a month before the wedding and almost had to make it myself out of fabric from a craft store down the street. I even once told a guy I was casually dating to come to a wedding as my plus one, even though the couple didn’t tell me I could bring a date.
But one of the biggest mistakes I found myself making as a rookie bridesmaid also, slowly, became what I realized was the number one thing that nobody ever tells you about being a bridesmaid: You can say no.
Let’s say no together, now: NO, NO, NO.
It’s easy to say, to scream, to write when there are no strings attached. When you’re a bridesmaid, there are a lot of strings attached. You’re scared saying no will ruin your friendship with the bride and you’re probably even more scared that saying no will unleash the inner bridezilla side of her.
But not saying no and finding yourself saying yes to everything can be equally, if not even more, damaging.
Here’s a list of people you can actually say no to:
- The bride
- The maid of honor
- The bride’s family members
Here’s a short list of things you can say no to:
- Spending hundreds of dollars on a bridesmaid dress.
- Paying for things at a bachelorette party that’s starting to look like a night out with the Kardashians.
- Ludicrous wedding requests, like buying a certain brand of shoes to wear under your bridesmaid dress or flying to Mexico for a 5-day bachelorette party extravaganza.
- Spending money on things because other bridesmaids tell you it’s part of your duties as a bridesmaid. That’s untrue. Nowhere in the bridesmaid rulebook does it say you have to spend over $1,000 on being there for the bride. P.S. This rulebook doesn’t physically exist. It’s just common sense.
I once had a bride ask me to grow my hair out three inches. That’s when I realized I was passively saying yes to things I never would say yes to in “real life.”
If a friend asked me to paint my nails a pale pink color on a random Friday night, I would say: Girl, you’re crazy! If she asked me to buy a silver pair of shoes with a flower on them for $250, I would say: Girl, you really are crazy!
So why are weddings any different? Why do we think we need to pull the yes card? Was I scared of a bridezilla attacking me? Maybe. Was I scared of ruining a friendship that maybe was already ruined beforehand? Definitely.
It was only after I took a step back and realized that these brides were my good friends and I had to learn how to be comfortable telling them how I felt about things I didn’t feel so good about. If I had to say no to going to my eighth strip club or buying a blue polyester dress that looked similar to 15 others I already owned, I had to muster up the courage and say the big no.
The only yes you should ever throw out there confidently is when you agree to take on the bridesmaid role. Everything after that should be a-la-carte. It should be because you want to and can afford to, not because you feel like you have to.