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It might be an ugly bridesmaid dress. It might be a too-sexy bridesmaid dress with a slit up to your waist, or one with too much cleavage. It might be a wildly expensive bridesmaid dress. Whatever the issue, when the bride, maid of honor or bridesmaid group submits a dress photo for consideration, and it’s definitely not going to work for you, you can say NO.
Don’t worry about being the problem bridesmaid. Every bridesmaid has the right to say No to a dress possibility, and there may be three other bridesmaids who are glad you had the courage to stand up and say No.
Here’s your Master Class lesson: don’t just say No to a dress and ask for other contenders, submit other contenders. Send an email with URLs to four or five dresses that are more affordable, more wear-again-able, more stylish, classier. It’s your message with it that’s really important, too: “(Maid of Honor,) I know you spent a lot of time looking for bridesmaid dresses, and while these are way above my budget range, I hope everyone will take a look at these dresses I found and consider them for our style. Thanks!” No need to go into how the dress she chose is too sexy…criticism could get your picks rejected out of spite.
It’s a good idea to write the bride and maid of honor with your new picks first, to see if they’re open to your submissions. If you copy all of the bridesmaids, the bride and maid of honor could take that as mutiny…overstepping your bounds, and inviting chaos when all the other bridesmaids (who were afraid to say no to Sexy Dress) chime in on dresses you picked out before they get the bride’s seal of approval.
You’ve gotta be diplomatic about it.
Brides know it’s a trend for bridesmaids to wear style variations suited to their body shapes and best assets, so if that hasn’t been brought to the table, bring it to the table… The ones who like Sexy Dress can wear it, and you and the other objecting bridesmaids can wear a similar style in the same color. If the bride allows it.
If the bride is set on Sexy Dress for all of you, and if there’s no chance of a new dress being picked, you’ll likely get a ‘thanks for sharing, but…’ email. At least you tried. And then you can go buy lots of fabric tape to keep that sexy dress from showing tons of skin.
Get more tips from my book, Bridesmaid on a Budget
Some bridesmaids are lucky enough to be close friends with all the others in the circle, to have grown up together, been best friend all through school, or sisters…and some bridesmaids find themselves facing a high school-like clique situation. Three out of five bridesmaids are the city-chic ones with high-powered jobs in fashion or advertising, and the others are…not. When you wind up with is an Us vs. Them situation…that may or may not be real.
Here’s what I mean: If the three longtime best friends in their Jimmy Choos go dress-shopping together and don’t invite you, you might feel like they’re the In Group, the Popular Girls, and you and your Payless shoes are persona non grata. Being left out could trigger long-ago insecurities about not fitting in with the popular girls. You might feel judged, or just really, really hurt that the fashionistas didn’t text you to join them. It could be that you’re tagging this situation with an insecurity. I was reading Psychology Today yesterday, and there was an article about low-grade paranoia. I know, we all hate the P-word, but they used it in a sense of just reading into things negatively.
Which, according to the article, can happen to anyone who is under a lot of stress and has some low self esteem going on. So you’re normal. We all are. Especially in these tough financial times when you might not have been able to get a trendy handbag or wear fabulous shoes, even get a mani/pedi. Your funds are going into your bridesmaid dress and the bridal shower. Bridesmaids take a wallop in the wallet.
I spoke with some fashionista bridesmaids who had just this situation happen, going shopping together and not inviting another bridesmaid, and it was just a spontaneous thing…they were on a lunch hour, work near each other, and decided to go to a bridal shop. It wasn’t an Us. vs. Her, and they were kind of shocked that the other bridesmaid took offense, and told the bride about it. “She had the problem, not us,” came their response. And they were right.
So long story short, don’t let yourself get clouded with any kind of envy of those other bridesmaids, or you could convince yourself they’re the Mean Girls targeting you. Let that go. Always shrug off the little things, and keep the focus on being a great bridesmaid for the bride’s best experience. You’ll be happier, too.
Now…what if that clique is really a Mean Girls clique who plans a bachelorette party in Vegas and doesn’t invite you? Well, then, my dear, you’ve got a clique of bitc*y bridesmaids who think they’re the center of the universe, and the ‘other ones’ don’t count. I wish I could say, ‘just ignore it,’ but you’re in a bad spot. It’s going to be tough working with them on the bridal shower, choosing the dress, and planning the bachelorette party, because they are being rude. I’ve seen city girls shun the country girl. The friends shun the sisters. The bride’s sisters shun the groom’s sisters. The rich ones shun the less rich ones. Unfortunately, it happens.
And the bride hates it…
So keep that bride in mind when you have to work with these women. Do all you can to cooperate with them, say No to anything they want that you can’t afford, and I’m all for speaking up to the Maid of Honor (if that’s not you) pointing out, “Look, I know we’re all not going to be best friends, but leaving me out of the gown selection process is unacceptable. I’m not going to just be quiet and let that circle run everything. So let’s figure out what we can do to get them to knock off the clique stuff, because we’re adults. Would you please remind them that we’re all equals, and that they need to copy me before they decide on, or order, anything for (bride’s) wedding, or for the dresses? Thanks.”
Direct is always best, even if they’re truly horrible people and keep treating you like an outsider. After a few tries of asking the leader to create some harmony, you may have to speak to the bride about how tough it’s been on you to have the group give you such a hard time. I know, you don’t want to upset her or cause drama, but if you were the bride, wouldn’t you want to know if your friend or sister is having to spend a LOT of money to get things the others ordered behind her back? Sometimes, it’s going to take a ‘knock it off’ text or email from the bride to get these Mean Girls to…well, knock it off.
If it’s just the annoyance of comments the group makes, that you can let slide. If they’re just rude, and not costing you a fortune, leave them to their karma, count down the days til you’re done with them, and be happy you’re not immature and clique-y like them. There’s a great quote by Maya Angelou that I love: “Only equals can be friends.” Keep that in mind when you’re thrown together with people who aren’t your equals, nor your friends. Go forward as the best bridesmaid you can be, and down the road, you and the bride will still have a fantastic relationship. That’s all that really matters.
Some take-home tips:
* Don’t dwell on the rudeness. If a Mean Girl makes a snide remark and then you simmer on it for days, that’s you hurting you.
* Kill ’em with kindness. Don’t fall all over yourself baking them cookies and trying to get them to like you, but compliment their taste and ideas, a bracelet, their perfume…just as you might do for a stranger on the train.
* Don’t apologize about yourself. Ugh, it kills me to see bridesmaids slip into intense insecurity, apologizing to the popular girls about her short hair style or her weight.
* Don’t hurt your relationship with constant whining about why the other bridesmaids don’t like you. Your boyfriend or partner will likely hate seeing this side of you, and hearing about it nonstop, to the point where you could end up single.
* Don’t say Yes to things you can’t afford. Instead, say No and suggest something else that fits everyone’s budget better. Not ‘my budget.’ ‘Everyone’s budget.’
Share your bridesmaid clique questions or stories here, and we’ll help you out!
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