Have you guys noticed the amount of bridesmaid drama on the blogs? It’s an ever-popular topic for the Ask Your Blogger to Solve Your Dilemma type of advice columns (you know, those contrived melodrama columns that make me yawn so). East Side Bride receives so many emails about bridesmaid crap that she started a second blog devoted to simply posting the emails. She quaintly calls it My Maid of Honor is a Cunt.
I think what is going on is that, like so many others things, the role of the bridesmaid has become regarded as ceremonial necessity. It’s not a proper wedding without at least one, and the role of the bridesmaid has become weirdly formalised. Take for example the list of tasks the bridesmaid is supposed to perform – The Knot (who else?), gives 24 duties. Now granted, some of these are not actually jobs, there’s plenty of fluff in there like “Keep the bride laughing” (memo to my bridesmaids: if you don’t extract at least one laugh from me per every 5 minutes of wedding reception, I’m cutting you from my friends list), but there is some legit actual work in there too. Let us take a sampling:
- Make sure everyone gets their bridesmaid dresses, go to dress fittings, and find the right jewelry
- Host or cohost a bridal shower for the bride.
- Keep a record of all the gifts received at various parties and showers (Wha..?)
- Plan the bachelorette party with the bridesmaids
- Collect any gift envelopes brought to the reception and keep them in a safe place
- Dance with the best man during the formal first-dance sequence and possibly be announced with him at the beginning of the party. Also dance with other groomsmen, the groom, and others.
What is the dance sequence stuff? That sounds like it belongs, if anywhere, in a world where young ladies also have such a thing as a debut into society, followed by attending balls as a means of finding a husband, and men ask for permission from their love’s father before proposing, and the wedding is paid for by the bride’s family, and that all sounds a bit like Regency England, or maybe a wealthy old money subset of southern US. I always get those two mixed up. I think it’s the carriages. Except even Emma and Mr Knightley did not hold a private ball as a wedding reception, so, burn. This formalised dance sequence oddness does not belong in our world, ok? What is it with this urge to build elaborate
etiquette ceremonial behaviour into things that don’t need it?
And the same applies to the other alleged official duties of the bridesmaids. Act as official collecter of gifts? A shower and a bachelorette? (Quick aside: Words that are feminised by adding ‘ette’ or ‘ess’ on the end irritate my feminist sensibilties. Manageress? I don’t think so. My people don’t use the term bachelorette, we have Hen’s nights).
Anyway, I really like how Miss Manners describes the duty of bridesmaids. There’s only one: be a friend. Just, be a friend. Also note, there is nothing about matching clothing.
Things get so much simpler once you start ascribing to this view. No longer is the success/legitimacy of your wedding dependent on your bridesmaids’ ability to look equally ravishing in dresses of the same cut and shade of Tangerine Tango. Who cares if they suck at putting together a celebration of penises I mean Hen’s night. And hence, all angst surrounding bridesmaid antics or lack thereof, are instantly dissolved.
By extension, the angst of deciding who your bridesmaids should be also dissolves. In my opinion, you should only have attendants that are obvious choices. In fact, since their job is to be a friend, they choose themselves…by being your friend. The person who spontaneously decides to arrange a shower for you (if this happens, you should look into your daily hygiene habits. Hah! I kill myself), is performing the standard role of attendant, so then it becomes obvious to go ahead and call them an attendant. After we got engaged, my dear friend Z, who resides in Perth, didn’t waste time going “We get to throw you a Hen’s night!” while dear friend R, who is living the Parisian dream, went “Oooh, can I please make you a garter? Or a ring pillow?” These chicks also happen to be close confidantes, so, done.
So easy. So simple. So melodrama-free.