Discover more from The Things We Don't Talk About
Let’s talk about being a bridesmaid
Are the brides ok?
In my opinion, wedding culture has become unhinged. This is, of course, especially true when you’re asked to be a bridesmaid.
So far, I have been asked to be a bridesmaid twice—first for my sister a few years ago and then for one of my best friends this coming December. Both these brides, to be clear, are incredibly chilled and I’m honored to be their bridesmaid. As another Diemer put it, “I found being a bridesmaid to be a lovely experience BUT that's because I would never be friends with someone who would suddenly thrust all kinds of insane expectations and expenses on me simply because they're getting married.”
Unfortunately, it seems, my experiences are somewhat of an anomaly in the ever-opulent performances of weddings. Many of my friends have gotten married recently, and over the past 15 months, I have spent upwards of $15,000 on friends’ weddings (!!!). These weddings have taken place in far-flung places around the world, and trust me, the hotels, bachelorette parties, outfits, gifts, and everything in between seriously add up. Don’t get me wrong—when I’m actually at the wedding—I really do love celebrating my friends and their partners (please still invite me to your wedding!), but also, I would prefer that $15,000 to be in my savings account.
While I can’t personally speak to any harrowing experiences on the bridesmaid front, almost every woman I know can. Don’t get me started on the number of petty dramas I’ve heard unfurl amongst bridal parties battling it out to prove they’re the bestest best friend. I know so many women who have been expected to attend multiple 3-4 day trips, and many thousands of dollars, on bachelorette parties in Vegas or Mexico, followed by a three-day wedding weekend in an alternate destination. Serious question—are the brides OK?
“We’re long overdue for a societal come-to-Jesus moment as far as wedding obligations go, and young women need to start applying the financial-empowerment advice that permeates the internet, not just to our day jobs but to the job of being a bridesmaid too. We need to learn to say no or at least say yes with conditions.” — Perrie Samotin, Glamour
The absurdity of marriage in the Instagram-era is exactly why I’ve found so much joy from Glamour’s new series, “Bridesmaid Burnout.” I’m particularly fascinated by the (often unspoken) financial burden that comes with committing to being a bridesmaid.
“It can be uncomfortable to ask a friend to estimate what your participation will cost—talking about money and generally saying no to things is difficult for many women, and the tradition of being a bridesmaid has veered toward us just nodding and swiping as the requests come in. But it’s vital to get ahead of the situation before you find yourself overspending and performing copious amounts of unpaid (and resentment-building) labor.” — Glamour
Was being a bridesmaid always this taxing? It turns out…yes. But not for the reasons that are problematic today.
In the early days of bridesmaids, the role was intended to protect the bride from evil—whether that meant spirits or bandits. In ancient Rome, it was believed that bad spirits would descend upon weddings, so bridesmaids wore similar outfits to the bride to confound the evildoers. In many cultures throughout history, brides presented grooms with a dowry of money and other riches, which made them targets for robbers. Bridesmaids often served as “decoys”, so that said bandits wouldn’t know who the actual bride was.
Bridesmaid culture, particularly in America today, is fascinating to me because it operates at the intersection of a few colliding realities: the tight bonds of female friendship, women (often) struggling to talk about money, and women’s innate desire to people please. In the era of internet feminism, we’re bombarded with messages telling us to ‘know our worth’ and be financially savvy. So why then, when we’re asked to be a bridesmaid, do we hand over our credit cards out of fear of not being agreeable, or worse, being branded as a bad friend?
While we’re no longer expected to sacrifice our lives for the bride, we are almost always expected to sacrifice our finances. This is often justified with wonky reasoning—your friends will return the favour when it’s your turn to be a bride. But what if your wedding or bachelorette isn’t as expensive as your friends’? What if you don’t want to get married? I found this particular quote from Samotin amusing: “The financial expectations that come with being a present-day bridesmaid are, to be blunt, psychotic...My friendship and kind heart does not mean I’m required to subsidize bringing your mood board to life.”
When mulling on all of this, of course, I kept wondering why there isn’t the same level of pressure or expectation when it comes to being a groomsman. I really, really want to know—how much have you spent on friends’ weddings or bridesmaid dresses? What’s your most absurd bridesmaid story? I absolutely loved reading some of the stories shared in response to this question in Diem. Have a read and share your stories, too. It’s kind of like group therapy, I promise.
FYI! We launched the Diem app—Diem is designed to embrace the whims, questions, and hushed conversations that women have been having “behind closed doors” for centuries. Our community talks about topics just like this newsletter every day. Join us via web, iOS or Android.
If you want to try Diem before downloading, text your personal, funny, important, and thought-provoking questions to +1 (518)-855-3436 — (🇺🇸 #s only atm!)
This Week’s Diem Commentary
👀 How do you cope with friendships changing? Share your advice.
👀 How do I know if I'm nonbinary or if I simply don't conform to gender roles? Help a Diemer out.
👀 I just found out I’m unexpectedly pregnant. I’m terrified and I’m not sure what is best for my husband and I and our current lifestyle. Advice? Drop your thoughts.
👀 How do you feel about ‘girl—’ trends (girl dinner, girl math, etc)? Let’s discuss this.
👀 I’ve been dating this guy and really like him but I find him to be a selfish lover. How do I change this? Share sex tips.
👀 I went off the pill a year or so ago and have been trying to figure out a good skincare routine ever since to manage my pimples. Does anyone have suggestions?
👀 How have you been influenced by porn? Add your experience.
Enjoyed this essay? Share it with your friends.