Ask the Wedding Maven: Always a Bridesmaid AND a Bride

By Azure Nelson, Published Sep 10, 2009

Dear Wedding Maven, A few months ago I agreed to be a bridesmaid for a friend of mine from college. I like her, but I don’t think of her as one of my best friends. I think she asked me because she hasn’t made a lot of new friends since college. I recently got engaged myself, and she’s been making it clear that she’s expecting to be a bridesmaid for me as well. She also keeps making comments about how lucky I am that she’s doing all the legwork for my wedding, as if I’ll just copy her wedding. I have two questions. One, how do I tell her that she isn’t going to be a bridesmaid for me and two, how do I get her to stop trying to plan my wedding along with hers? Thanks Bridesmaid and Bride Dear B&B, Practice saying this statement “Wow, that’s a great idea, I’ll have to think about it.” Trust me, it will come in handy with this woman, and all sorts of other people when planning a wedding. Another helpful phrase “I LOVE this for you, but it wouldn’t work for me, unfortunately, I don’t have your flair.” Still another helpful phrase, “Yep, I’m lucky. So, where do you want to go to lunch?” My guess is that on some level this woman is aware that your relationship is a little uneven. She knows that you feel like you’re doing her a favor by being her bridesmaid, and she’s trying to make herself feel better about it. That’s why she keeps bringing up how helpful it is for you to be her bridesmaid. She may even be right. Even if you aren’t doing things the way she is, the more examples you see of what you don’t want, the easier it is to figure out what you do want. As to how to break the news about her being a bridesmaid, it depends on who you ARE having as bridesmaids. For example, if you’re having your two sisters and your best friend from childhood, it’s very easy to say “You know Sheila, I’m so glad to be in your wedding, but because I have two sisters, and Hazel and I have been friends since childhood, I’m only going to ask the three of them to be bridesmaids. I really want you to participate in the wedding though, George and I haven’t figured out all the other roles yet.” If, however, you’re having other friends from college, or a lot of bridesmaids, the situation gets trickier. There’s no way to have ten bridesmaids and not include her without her figuring out that she ranks pretty low in your list of friends. If that’s the case, I say treat it like a band-aid, and rip it off. Take her out for coffee and say “Sheila, I’m so honored to be in your wedding, but I need to let you know that I’m not going to ask you to be a bridesmaid.” If possible, it would be great to add the “I really want you to participate” line, but only if it’s true. Good luck in both your roles. Do you have a question about wedding related etiquette, roles, relationships or traditions? Ask the Wedding Maven at

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