Engaged? Congratulations! Now, try not to be an asshole. Everyone was born with one of their own. No one wants to handle the maintenance and mess of two. And I’m not even shitting with you. Nowadays, many brides adopt the mantra of “It’s MY big day and I can do whatever I want [insert foot stomp]”. Um, no you can’t. This is not a princess themed birthday party; you are not a tiara wearing 5-year old with bedwetting issues. And besides, it’s not YOUR big day. It’s you and your groom’s wedding day. No matter how hard you try, you can’t marry yourself. Trust me. If you want to still have friends, by the time you’re married, you may want to abdicate that velvet lined throne you’re sitting on.
Thirteen months ago, my now-fiancé got down on both knees (I told him one was enough, two was begging) and handed me a diamond ring placed in a dog poop bag (sans poop). I laughed, I cried, I said “heck yeah!” as snot streams of happiness ran down my chin. The dog offered her tongue services to lick it off and here I am today, eating wedding cake samples for breakfast and planning our wedding.
Everyone talks about wedding guest etiquette. How much to spend on a gift. When to RSVP by. Don’t wear white. Don’t sleep with the bride. Or groom. But considering how many brides’ shoes have been thrown at wedding dress fittings, I thought it time to introduce a guide to bridal etiquette.
1) Reality check: You are not the first person in history to become engaged. But if you act like as if you are, then this probably won’t be the only wedding you’ll be attending, as a bride, in your future. You’re planning a wedding, not heading the Higgs boson research at CERN. Your friends really don’t want to spend their dinner hours hearing you vent about the average American wedding cost.
But people sure do love a good love story. I knew I was in love when my fiancé was able to correctly spell “Segway” and “segue”. And then use them both in a sentence. It was love at first spellcheck. When we announced our engagement, there was a huge outpouring of love and support. The best compliment was, “I hope to someday have what you guys have”. Yes, your friends and family love to support the newly engaged but they really don’t want to hear about the grueling task of linen selection. If they inquire about your planning process, by all means, fill them in on the difference between resin and non-resin chairs. But my advice? Spare your friends; start a blog.
2) Sorry, but your bridesmaids are not your personal servants. In 2010, the average cost to be a bridesmaid was $1,695. That was in 2010. I’d give you an updated number but am unable to do so due to a temporary case of the lazies. It’s an ailment that comes about when I have to research things. But $1,695 could potentially finance 1.4 MacBook Airs or two cows, depending on what sort of priorities your friends have. Or perhaps a cow and two-fifths of a MacBook Air. Either way, your friends are giving up the opportunity to have a bovine companion and part of a laptop to stand around your wedding, holding a bouquet that’s quickly wilting. That, is love. Thank your friends and when you’re finished, thank them again. They are doing you a huge favor. If you have a daughter, you should probably tell them that they need one part-time job to pay for college and another to pay for bridesmaid costs.
There’s one bridesmaid experience in particular that I’ve used as a model for “How Not To Treat Your Bridesmaids”. Four years ago, I was involuntarily drafted to be a bridesmaid at my cousin’s third wedding. We communicated, on average, once every three years and strictly through text or email. Keep in mind that I was also a bridesmaid at her first wedding. I think it safe to assume that I would have been asked to be a bridesmaid at her second wedding if not for their decision to do a standard wedding-number-two-Disneyworld-elopement. No bridesmaids but plenty of mouse ears.
After the wrap-up for her third wedding, my precious cousin decided to send her bank account depleted bridesmaids an adorable email outlining all of their perceived shortcomings. Lots of grammatically incorrect sentences involving shouting words like “It’s MY wedding!” “I don’t care if I sound like a bitch”, “even if you helped with some stuff, you didn’t do enough”, “you stopped dancing at 10:30 when you knew the invitation said ‘dancing until midnight!’”. Apparently, we got princess’ coffee order wrong (she wanted iced, we insulted her by ordering one hot) and this caused her panties to become twisted in an irreversible bunch. It’s fine. I just won’t agree to be a bridesmaid at her fourth wedding.
The key takeaways from that wedding debacle? Don’t ask people you’re not close to, to be your bridesmaid. They’re not going to know how you like your coffee and will surely order the wrong one, resulting in a massive temper tantrum. The other thing I learned was: these are your friends, not wedding day elves. The only thing you should expect your bridesmaids to do is to wear a dress and a smile. Anything extra that they volunteer to do should be graciously accepted. You may want to consider moving to a Third World Country, with a lack of laws banning indentured servitude, if all you want is someone to boss around for free, on your wedding day.
And it’s always a good idea to ask your bridesmaids and groomsmen to be part of your wedding, in a thoughtful manner. My fiancé and I sent our friends these boxes. The first is a chicken wire box for my bridesmaids filled with moss, branches and rocks that I’ve foraged for. The “Be My Bridesmaid?” card was made by sewing on lace to a plain card. Sugar cookies were baked and iced in the shapes of the state in which they live in. The groomsmen received tequila as well as a “card” made of wooden blocks sawed off of an antique cargo box. Their names, event date and location were burnt in using a wood burning tool.
3) You’re not marrying a wedding planner (and if you are, then consider yourself lucky) so stop harassing your fiancé about his opinion on every tiny wedding day detail. If a guy uses his shirtsleeve to wipe off the barbeque sauce on his chin, he won’t care if you decide on “Rustic Elegance” linens or “Hamptons Classic”. I asked my fiancé what he “just has to have” for the wedding. His answer was “Just you and the dog”. The main things we discuss are budget, timeline, Dr. Who themed vegan cakes and guest list. He trusts me with handling everything else. Which is great, because my OCD wouldn’t want it any other way.
4) Although a groom may not care about wedding day planning, this is not a free pass for the bride to host an “All me, all the time” occasion. Remember, a wedding is a celebration of two people. Nothing is sadder than seeing photos from a wedding with a bride, front and center, and her groom standing awkwardly nearby as an ocean of hot pink satin decoration separates them both.
5) No, those fake flowers do not look real. Especially not the ones with the faux water droplets on them. By all means, if the thought of polyester plants give you happiness, use them. Just remember, no one is fooled. This one doesn’t qualify as an asshole move but come one now. Those flowers don’t even look real enough to fool a dog to lift a leg on it.
6) Invite people who will support you, without judging, on your wedding day. Don’t feel obligated to invite people just because they invited you to their wedding. And don’t be personally insulted if a good friend cannot make it but sends a thoughtful gift instead. Oftentimes, people simply can’t afford it. You can’t hold it against your friends for not having an unlimited disposable income. And if you do, then it’s your fault for not fostering more rich-friend relationships this far in your life.
7) No, you’re not fat. Stop asking everyone around you that. And even if you are, your groom obviously doesn’t care. He asked you to marry him fat, average, skinny, square, round. If you do lose some weight? Good job! But if you don’t, stop beating yourself and everyone around you about it. Black and blue are not ideal colors to wear to your own wedding.
When you keep saying things like, “Do I look fat? I sooo need to lose 20 pounds by my wedding date, in two weeks”, that poor wedding dress attendant doesn’t know what to say. Sadly, this actually happened. I had a dress appointment in the room next to another bride. We couldn’t see one another, but her voice carried over to my area. It was 1.5 hours of awkward sadness. I almost wanted to go over to her and offer a hug, some self-esteem and a Skinnygirl Margarita.
8) My fiancé and I are paying for our wedding. We’re even paying for our parents’ plane tickets and hotel stay, because it’s something we both want to do. I mean, have you seen the dark circles under the eyes of a new parent? An exhausted mom trying to soothe a sick baby on a plane? According to CNN, the average cost of raising a child is $241,080. That means your parents chose you and eye wrinkles over a room filled with a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of coins. Enough for them to take the occasional coin dive in, a la Scrooge McDuck. At this point in our lives, we consider it a blessing to be able to afford to pay for our parents’ way to attend our wedding.
If your parents are paying for your wedding, you don’t have much room to complain about them inviting their friends or insisting that you get the chicken dinner versus the steak. Thank your parents, you lucky S.O.B. I mean, really. Put on some pants, unlock the door to your den “apartment” in their house and walk your pampered butt to the kitchen where your parents are paying the bills. Tell them “thank you”. Then throw in a hug and kiss for an instant wedding cake upgrade from four-tier to five. If you want complete control over your wedding, you’ll just have to pay for it yourself.
9) If you’ve never seen the inside of a craft store before, your wedding is not the time to test out your DIY skills. Putting stress on oneself like that will only unleash your inner asshole. And please, no one wants to see that. Hire a wedding planner. Then sit back with your case of liquor and relax. If you can’t afford a planner and have no clue on how a glue gun operates, then I would consider selling plasma for extra income.
Weddings shouldn’t be stressful, but they oftentimes are. If you can’t handle it, then you can’t. It’s not the end of the world. Do yourself a favor and book a trip for two to the south of France, or wherever you consider to be relaxing and romantic. Have a small ceremony, for just the two of you. There’s no rule that says you have to have 150 guests at a five-star hotel, to qualify as a wedding. It’s a special day commemorating the love between two people who promise not to wake up next to anyone else, for the rest of their lives. Just try not to drive everyone in your life insane, in the meantime.