Ask the Wedding Maven: A Hairy Bridesmaid Problem

By Azure Nelson, Published Dec 17, 2009

Dear Wedding Maven I have a bridesmaid problem. One of my bridesmaids doesn’t shave her legs or underarms. It’s not a political thing, she just can’t be bothered. I don’t really care, but my mother keeps bringing it up because the girls are wearing strapless dresses. She keeps telling me that I need to ask my friend to shave for the wedding. She says it will distract from the overall look of things, and look bad in photos. So, how do I tell my bridesmaid to shave? Signed Not Hairy Dear Not, You don’t have a bridesmaid problem, you have a mother of the bride problem. First, let’s discuss the non-problem, the bridesmaid. Unless your friend is Sasquatch, her body hair probably won’t show up in the wedding photos, and if it does, you can choose photos where it doesn’t. I have vivid memories of the first time I met a woman who did not shave her underarms. She was wearing a sundress. I was in shock. My best friend and I couldn’t talk about anything else for weeks. I was 12 years old, and this was way back in, well, let’s just say it was a while ago. Unless the majority of your guests are 12 year olds, or living in an earlier decade, I have a hard time imagining that your hirsute bridesmaid will distract from your wedding day. Your mother on the other hand is a bigger problem. My guess is that she’s less concerned about your friend’s armpit hair then she is about having some control over things. This is natural, and also annoying. The next time your mother brings up the armpit hair you have two options: 1) Tell a half-lie, “Mom, Mary doesn’t have any problem with shaving, I’m sure she’ll shave for the wedding.” Notice, you didn’t say you’d ask her to do so, just that you thought she would. Which, who knows, maybe she will. 2) Be upfront, but complimentary, “Mom, I know how much a nice appearance matters to you, but you did teach me to judge people by more than how they look. Mary is my friend, I’m not going to ask her to change her looks for my wedding. Please stop bringing this up, everything will be fine.” You may also want to explain the wonders of photoshop to your mother, letting her know that she can have the offending hair removed from any of the photos she wants to purchase. Of course, you do have a third option, which is to actually ask your bridesmaid to shave. If you two are close (which you should be if she's a bridesmaid) you can simply say, “Mary, for some reason my insane mother is fixated on your armpit hair. I don’t care what you do, but to get her off my back I have to tell her that I asked you to shave. I've now asked you. OK, let’s go get some ice cream.” Only you know if this is an issue of your mother hating body hair, or an issue of your mother wanting to have more control over your life and your friends. If it's the latter, you will need to address the issue at some point, but maybe not right now. Do you need wedding advice? Do you have a question about wedding etiquette, relationships or traditions? Write the Wedding Maven at About the Wedding Maven

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