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When to Say I Do and When to Say I Don’t: What to Do When You’re Asked to Be a Bridesmaid

Before you commit to the new wifey-to-be, make sure you can handle the responsibilities of a worthy bridesmaid.

Being a Bestie’s Bridesmaid

Before you commit to the new wifey-to-be, make sure you can handle the responsibilities of a worthy bridesmaid.

By Molly Flynn, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

This December, my best friend is getting married.

Naturally, when she got engaged a few months ago, she asked me to be a bridesmaid, and naturally, I said yes. Since we are so close, I didn’t mind having to buy an expensive dress or preemptively ask off of work so many days for bridal events. But, while I understood and accepted the responsibilities of being in the bridal party, not everyone did. Like with most bridal parties, there’s one girl in her line-up who really shouldn’t have said, “I do,” to being a bridesmaid.

If you’ve freshly turned 18, having to respond to a matrimonial call to serve might not be a concern of yours. Most of your friends will be focused on their freshman year of college and maybe some of your friends will still be focused on high school. However, as you become an upperclassman, your Facebook newsfeed morphs from puppies and passed exams to engagement rings and wedding bells. Ever so often, it will be from a close friend’s Facebook post, and she will ask you to be in the bridal party. But, what does that really entail? And when should you say no?

When to Say I Do and When to Say I Don’t: What to Do When You’re Asked to Be a Bridesmaid
Image via Live Picture Studios

It is important that you brace yourself for this decision. When you think of popping the question, you typically think of the groom asking his wife-to-be to marry him. While this is a very important question, there is another inquiry that holds almost as much weight: “Will you be my bridesmaid?” Today, a lot of brides even get super creative with their question-asking method of operation. They may surprise you with a cute monogrammed tank top and a box full of sparkling goodies—hopefully, some of them alcoholic. But, don’t let the sparkles blind you. Before you rush into a commitment to the bride, make sure you understand what being a bridesmaid really means. I can assure you, it means much more than accepting that goodie bag, drinking the champagne and showing up the day of the wedding.

Before we jump into the responsibilities of being a bridesmaid, let’s talk about the three main types of bridesmaids who should’ve said, “I don’t” rather than, “I do.”

  • Controlling Bridesmaid: This is the girl in the bridal party who appoints herself as the leader of the team—even though she’s not the Maid of Honor. Helen from “Bridesmaids” is the perfect example of someone who likes to commandeer the bridal party.
  • Party Bridesmaid: While the Controlling Bridesmaid may be intolerable, the Party Bridesmaid is intoxicated. She comes to the events, but she’s always equipped with her flask in case of emergency.
  • Apathetic Bridesmaid: The Apathetic Bridesmaid is arguably the worst. You may get your toes stepped on by the CB and you might get your shoes thrown up on by the PB, but you will barely even see the AB.

My poor bride best friend is cursed with an AB in her bridal party. This weekend, when we all went to the mountains for a bachelorette party, her Apathetic Bridesmaid proved the extent of her indifference. While I did have to make some sacrifices to attend, like using three of my PTO days and missing my husband’s days off, it was totally worth it and attending was also part of what I had promised the bride when I said, “I do.” Not everyone, apparently, valued their vow to the bride-to-be.

After RSVPing and agreeing to drive half of the bridal party up to the mountain house, Miss AB decided to back out the day of the trip. “Not feeling well. Won’t be there.” Typical Apathetic Bridesmaid move. Not only did she abandon us this weekend, but she has also been absent in all of the group texts, only shown up to one of seven bridal events and hasn’t even bought her bridesmaid dress yet. Keep in mind, the wedding is in five weeks.

AB should not have agreed to be in the wedding.

Like AB, a lot of girls don’t realize what it means to be a bridesmaid. They think that because they know the soon-to-be wifey they are obligated to agree to serve them during the engagement. But, being a bridesmaid doesn’t mean just looking cute in the line-up in the chapel; the term literally means being a maid to the bride.

When you say, “I do,” whether to your fiancée or your bride friend, you are making a promise and a commitment. You are agreeing to selflessly serve the bride as she embarks on the journey of marriage. While you’re committing to your fiancée for a lifetime with your response, you are committing to the bride for the engagement and the wedding. It’s important to recognize that just like you wouldn’t neglect the person you agreed to marry, you shouldn’t neglect the bride you agreed to serve.

When to Say I Do and When to Say I Don’t: What to Do When You’re Asked to Be a Bridesmaid
Image via The Knot

While some brides are more demanding than others, the major responsibilities are still the same. The obvious responsibility is to be present during the ceremony and the rehearsal dinner. Being present means more than just being there physically. Some of the lesser-known responsibilities include attending every bridal event, buying your own bridesmaid dress and being willing to change your personal plans to accommodate for the bride. Not every bride will host 60 bridal showers during her engagement, but if you’ve agreed to be a bridesmaid to a bride who does, it is your responsibility to attend. Not every bride will expect her maids to buy $500 bridesmaid dresses, but if you’ve agreed to be a bridesmaid to a bride who does, it is your responsibility to buy it.  Not every bride will ask you to go out of your way to prioritize your maid duties, but some will, and it is your responsibility to know the bride you agreed to and plan accordingly.

If you have recently been asked the question and agreed, please, don’t be an Apathetic Bridesmaid—for the sake of the bride and for your own sake. Not every AB gets away with it. My AB didn’t make it to the wedding because of the discourse she caused along the way. I’m not even sure if my friend’s AB will make it to the end of December. And what’s more awkward than being the one bridesmaid who stands in the corner of the parties on her phone is being the one bridesmaid asked to no longer be in the wedding.

But don’t be dismayed! Being in your friend’s wedding can be a lot of fun, but you have to recognize that it can also be a lot of work. If you’ve just been given your glittery goodie box request, look at your calendar and make sure you can really commit to being a maid to the bride. If you can, by all means, reply to your excited friend with a contemplated and committed “I do.”

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