Wedding Party Etiquette
Wedding Party Etiquette
Q: One of my brides maids has shown no real interest or involvement in the four months since she agreed to be part of the wedding. My matron of honor won’t be in town until a week before. The wedding is in 8 weeks. Her dress will be made in about 2 weeks. Should I expect her to help out with plans, shopping, etc or am I expecting too much? I am starting to get hurt by this. What is the etiquette for replacing her with someone more enthusiastic, or do I need to “keep” her since we already agreed? I would like to know the proper way to handle this, what is proper wedding party etiquette?
A: Finding out that one of the attendants you chose to be in your wedding party lacks excitement often occurs later in the wedding planning process. Generally, this is because of a combination of reasons. The reasons can include the couple choosing an attendant for the wrong reason, the couple letting decisions wait until it’s nearly (or is) too late, etc. Of course, the attendant may be the problem as well, and there may be a slew of reasons that he/she is bored/un-interested or is hesitant to participate. As with all wedding etiquette, there is no set in stone policy for wedding party etiquette.
Occasionally, the couple will choose their attendants for the wrong reasons. Whether it’s because of family politics or because they feel an obligation to ask a friend (who they haven’t spoken with for a number of months/years), this can often result in a sticky situation later on in the planning process. Another common problem is putting off decisions. If you start to see a problem, (or if one is occurring) it’s best to take care of the problem before it gets worse. It’s easier in the short run to let things slide, and to think that things will get better but often they won’t.
The person you choose for solid reasons can also turn into a problem that needs to be taken care of. Sometimes, a friend will be jealous of your good luck. Sometimes, you’ll find that the little details that concern you don’t seem as important to someone else. Some attendants are thrilled to be asked to stand up for you, but may not realize the costs and responsibilities that go along with it. They may feel over-whelmed by all of the choices you put in front of them or may actually be bored by the wedding planning itself. They may not even realize that they aren’t showing the involvement and interest that you expected of them.
A bridesmaid is expected to support you (and your decisions) as long as you are being rational. Generally, the responsibility of choosing colors and shopping for wedding-related items falls to the maid/matron of honor rather than the bridesmaid/s. In cases such as yours…when the maid/matron of honor will be unavailable for much of the wedding planning process, it’s all right to expect more support from a bridesmaid… but ONLY if you have informed the bridesmaid from the beginning that this is what you expect. Often a bridesmaid who will be expected to take on these responsibilities is called an Honorary Maid/Matron of Honor.
My opinion of proper wedding party etiquette
My first piece of advice would be to immediately have a chat with your bridesmaid. Don’t get angry and don’t put the blame on her for the prior problems that have occurred. Be honest, but be tactful. Tell her that you’ve noticed that she hasn’t: been in touch/shown interest/doesn’t seem to want to be involved, etc. Ask her if she regrets taking on the responsibility of being in the wedding party… and then leave an open-ended question (if you decide at this point that you would no longer like her to be a bridesmaid) of whether she would prefer to step down from the position of bridesmaid. You may find that your worries were unwarranted and that your bridesmaid just wasn’t sure of her duties or any of the other million reasons that she didn’t show enthusiasm, and then decide that replacing her is the wrong choice. Or you may find that replacing her is the best option. I can’t make that decision for you…and only you know whether the situation warrants replacing your bridesmaid or not.
Whatever your ultimate choice, your bridesmaid (and you) deserve to get it out into the open before a decision is made. A nice touch may be to ask her to perform a different function in the wedding (usher, making sure guests sign the guest book, passing out favors/programs, etc).