October 19, 2009

How do you say no?

I'd like to get the opinion of some other girls on an issue that many mid-20s women face inevitably: being asked to be a part of a bridal party for a friend's wedding.

As a preface, I'd like to make it clear that I think weddings can be a hallucinogenic amount of fun, I believe in true love and I am happy to be generous when celebrating the milestones of my loved ones.

Now that that's out of the way... here is something that's been on my mind a lot. I have been asked by two friends to be a bridesmaid in their weddings. They are both in 2010. They are 2 weeks apart.

Aside from the obvious financial burden of dresses, shoes, accessories, hair, makeup, gifts and parties involved with being a bridesmaid (or worse, Maid of Honor), I had another small issue with this: to say that I see these two brides 5 times per calendar year would be a generous estimate. And they do not live abroad or even on the west coast; they are in New Jersey and Long Island, respectively. Admittedly, I haven't openly confronted either of them about how our once incredibly close friendships (in high school, parts of college) have diminished to friendship for longevity's sake, and why I only seem to see them around holidays.

Both girls have a few things in common: their wedding month, their lack of effort to maintain a solid friendship after my failed attempts, and their certainty that I would say yes. It's like it doesn't matter at all that I hardly see the girls. They knew I would say yes, thereby agreeing to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money on their special days.

Indeed, I said yes, and I'm not about to back out. But is it wrong to expect a little two-way street action when it comes to making plans and seeing each other? It's almost audacious that they asked so nonchalantly, as if just because we've been friends since 7th grade, that I would be all eager to put on an orange dress and drop change on showers, engagement parties, bachelorette parties...

Here is my question: Where were you before you got engaged?

You were watching your future fiance play softball on Sundays when I had called you to go shopping. You were cuddling with him on Saturday night when I invited you to see a show. You were "too busy" to go dancing, hit Boston for a weekend, or even watch some MNF.

But now... there is a ring. There is a date. And we must find girls who are willing to dress alike, drop a huge amount of money on this wedding and smile all the time, even though we blew them off repeatedly in the past.

But you can't say no. Saying no makes a statement, a much bigger statement than a small gift. Saying no is the official end of the friendship, in girl world. Forget the wedding invitation, forget ever seeing this girl again, you're done. Your choices are suck it up, shell out and put on a happy face, or cut ties with the girl forever. Nevermind what that would do to your mutual friendships.

And so I guess all I can do is hope that when the time comes for me, they will all eagerly do what I did for them, but even that is small comfort. I don't want a big wedding, or to be stressed out by table seating, species of lilly, or how to pay for a $5,000 dress. I will want the shower, the bachelorette party, the support and the celebration that my friends had, but I doubt I will ever be the self-absorbed bride, too involved with herself and her fiance to squeeze in a girls date once a month with my friends.

What do you say, girls? Can you ever say no? Have you ever wanted to?


Carolina Girl said...

I said no once. I had been in so many weddings at that point and so broke. But also because this girl was someone I was barely friends with. I felt terrible, but it had to be done. And you are right, we were not friends after that. But years later, we've reconnected. She understands now and all is well. I guess it depends on the situation and how much that person means to you in the long run.

Hopefully you are right, and someday they will return the favor!

CeCe said...

I said no once and I never regretted it. At the time I was in grad school (aka broke), but it was more than that. I didn't feel all that close to her anymore and I took a really hard and close look at the situation and decided that if me not being in her wedding meant that our friendship was over, than I was OK with that. I feel the same way you do, that I was not going to be in it just because one day I would need her to "pay back". I already assumed that when my time came she would be in babyville and she would not feel any obligation to be in mine. So there. Decision made.

Jackie Sanders said...
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Hayley said...

Cece - "Babyville" puts this in perspective (and is also very funny)... I give this girl a year after her wedding to get knocked up ;-)

~Mrs. Guru~ said...

Actually, you can say no. Sometimes you just have to. Plus, if they are true friends they will still be your friend.