Q: I’m the maid of honor in my best friend Ashley’s wedding this summer and four of her other friends are bridesmaids. I’m not close with any of them, but I’ve been trying to get them to help me with planning the shower. The all originally agreed to chip in, but now they hardly ever respond to my emails and when they do it’s usually to say that they’re too busy to help out. I know I can’t force these girls to be involved, but I just don’t understand why they won’t contribute at all!
A: First of all, I feel your pain. It’s difficult to be paired up with girls who you don’t know very well and who don’t seem to want to contribute beyond showing up on the wedding day. It can be especially hard when you aren’t close friends with the other bridesmaids, because you have no frame of reference on why they would act this way. You can’t help but think, are they always like this? It’s hard to know what’s causing this, but it could be that they just aren’t as interested in the details of the shower as you. If they’ve never been a bridesmaid before, they may be unfamiliar with what the duties involve outside of the wedding day. And there’s always the sticker shock of a first-time bridesmaid—cost is a tricky subject when budgets are tight and everyone is already paying big money for a dress or travel to the wedding.
That said, if the girls signed on to help and are now backing out, something is up. If you’ve had some negative interactions with them and feel like there’s tension between you and the other girls, then it could be helpful to try and start fresh. When you’re writing emails to them, try to always make it positive and about Ashley—that’s your connection. Be careful not to “blame” them or say anything that seems like an attack. Read your emails over before you send them and delete anything that sounds like criticism. They’ll never help you out if they think you’re against them or have turned into a “MOH-zilla.” You could send them an email that says something like this:
“Ashley’s shower is coming up and I’m really excited to share this special day with her and all her best girl friends! There are still a few things that need to get done before the party. I’m hoping that we can split these up and would really appreciate your help. I know Ashley is going to be so surprised and touched with everything we’re planning and I think she’d love for everyone to be involved. I can’t wait to see her face when she sees [detail from the shower]. Here’s a list of what we need to get done. Can you all let me know what you’d be able to help with? I can’t believe there are only a few weeks until the wedding! Email or text back soon so we can get everything set. Thanks!”
If you only go to the other bridesmaids for the necessities there may also be less drama. Try to send only a few emails and keep them polite, but short and to the point: what you need from them and when you need to know.
If it seems like you’re way past this point or you’ve tried something like that in the past with no luck, another option is to move forward with limited interaction with the other girls. It isn’t required for all the bridesmaids to contribute to the shower and the person who throws a shower varies in every scenario. While some groups will have the bridesmaids band together, other times just the maid of honor throws the shower or it could be thrown by a relative or family friend. It’s tough to take on the burden of planning everything, but you may have to just accept that you’re going to do the bulk of the work.
Next, ask yourself if there’s a person you’ve overlooked who could be an asset. Do you and Ashley have a mutual friend who is not a bridesmaid but will be coming to the shower and wedding? If so, see if you can recruit her to help you with the plans. It wouldn’t be appropriate to ask her to help pay for the shower, but she could be a big help with making decisions, putting things together, decorating…whatever needs to get done to make this shower happen! You could also find an ally in the bride’s mom. If you need help, reach out to her to see if she’d be willing to cohost the shower with you or give her input on the details.
Lastly and I think most importantly, no matter what try to maintain a civil relationship with the other bridesmaids. I know that’s hard when you’re tearing your hair out, but it’s the best thing you can do for your friend. I always try to tell myself that whatever stress I’m feeling about the wedding, the bride’s has got to be 10 times worse. The last thing I’d want to do is add to her stress by creating a bridesmaid infight. When you want to explode at the other girls, just remember that the bride must like them for some reason! Concentrate on Ashley and try to just let the other stuff go. In the end, the day’s about her—but you already know that.
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