Broke-Ass Tag: wedding planning advice


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It’s a fact of wedding planning that people are the second-most unpredictable variable (weather is the first!). There will always be someone who doesn’t do or say what you’re expecting or hoping, and it can be extremely frustrating when it’s someone close to you. 

Every now and then it’s a bridesmaid that seems to go rogue, not following The Plans as you have so carefully laid them out. So how do you get said bridesmaid back on Team Bride? Or do you just give her the boot? Here’s today’s reader question: 

Hi BAB goddesses,

I have a concern that one of my bridesmaids may not actually want to be in the wedding. In the time since I asked her to be a bridesmaid, she got engaged and married (I was not asked to be in her wedding, nor was that addressed at all, leaving me a bit hurt and quite bewildered). She seems to be in good spirits about my wedding, but isn’t really involved: I got a discount code for the gals’ dresses on a partner site if they bought within a two-week window, which she missed; she shows up late or not at all for my shower or a bridal party get-together. I have about 5 1/2 months till my wedding and don’t know how to approach this topic with her, but it’s starting to make me anxious. She’s one of my long-time friends, but I’m getting such mixed signals; is there a smooth way to say “would you rather be a guest?”

Thank you!


Nervous Nellie


Dear Nellie,

Yikes, that’s a toughie! The way I see it, you have at least four options — I’ll get to those in a minute, but first, a few things to consider:

Are you still feeling upset about not being in your friend’s wedding? 

Is your friend struggling with new married expenses and responsibilities? (Or is post-wedding money just really tight?) 

Is there anything else going on in your friend’s life that might require her attention (house, kids, health issues, family concerns … )?

Is your concern about her actions, or about how those actions make you feel (i.e. like she’s not excited about your wedding)?

What is her role in the wedding? Does she need to do more than just show up on the wedding day?

Do you want your friend to be in your wedding, or are you having second thoughts about asking her?

The context of your friend’s actions (or lack thereof) — and your reactions — will help you to determine the best course. Take a deep breath and figure out what it is you need in order to feel better about the situation, and then make your decision.

So here are your four main options: 

1. Rip Off The Bandage. If you’ve already decided that this bridesmaid has to go (despite being a bestie), then it’s best to do it sooner than later. Let your friend know that you understand she has a lot going on, but it’s stressing you out that she’s not on the ball with the stuff you know she knows she needs to do (after all, she just did all of it recently herself). Be gentle in your delivery and make sure she understands that you’re not mad at her or ending the friendship — and you’d still love for her to attend as your guest — you just need a ship-shape Team Bride so you can focus on All The (Other) Wedding Things. 

2. Let Her Decide. Have a sit-down with your bridesmaid and ask her what’s new. She’s your friend, so it should be easy to show genuine interest and concern in the things going on in her life. Don’t even mention the wedding at first. Let her tell you in her own words what’s on her mind. Listen carefully to what she’s saying and put yourself in her shoes (where you will be in a few months). If you hear anything that might explain what’s going on, ask her if any of that makes it difficult for her to be a bridesmaid right now, and if she’d feel better about it if she stepped down from the role and attended as a guest. You could offer her a different way to be involved (usher, programs, reader, honorary bridesmaid without any responsibilities, etc.), and/or invite her to still participate in the wedding festivities (bachelorette party, shower, etc.) so she doesn’t feel left out. (But then make it clear that it’s on her to respond, pay, show up and whatever other responsibilities come with those events.) It’s up to you whether or not you want to offer any of those options, but it can help to soften the blow — and it’s a way to keep your close friend involved. If she says she does still want to participate as a bridesmaid, don’t feel guilty about asking her for better communication and timely action to ease your anxious mind.

3. Assign A Handler. I’m assuming you have more than one bridesmaid, and if so, you can assign the Maid of Honor or another bridesmaid to the task of wrangling your flighty friend. Ideally no one should have to micromanage other friends/bridesmaids, but if it has to be done, why not ask a responsible friend (pretty please?!?) to help with that?

4. Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? So your friend missed a discount — it’s her money, right? And if she doesn’t show up for an event (apart from the wedding day, of course!), will it really affect you? Yes, you’ll miss her, but you’re the guest of honor, the wedding will go on and unless she has a job to do during the event, the only loss is her presence. (Hint: Don’t give important wedding jobs to flighty friends or family!) If you’re able to find a way to let go of your anxiety over what this bridesmaid does or doesn’t do, you could let her remain in the wedding party and just hakuna matata-it.

Regardless of which you decide, you may still want to have a heart-to-heart with your absentee bridesmaid. She probably has no idea how her behavior is affecting you. Tell her that you care about her and whatever is going on in her life, and then appeal to the part of her that you know can sympathize with your experience, as a recent newlywed herself. Tell her how anxious it makes you feel to not be able to count on her as a bridesmaid, and how her lack of enthusiasm makes you feel. You’ll get the information you need in her replies to determine whether to keep her on as a bridesmaid, to cut her loose, or to let it go and go with the flow.

Party on!

How have you dealt with a flighty wedding party member? Do you have any tips for Nervous Nellie?

Planning a wedding in Northeast Ohio? Here’s where you can find me for wedding planning assistance.

  • 2/10

    Right after I got engaged, my mom called me from her local bookstore. “I’m looking through all these wedding guides — is there one that sounds good to you? Here’s one called The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide — haha!” We chuckled over the great name, and she ended up mailing me a couple of bridal magazines to start with. Little did I know then what a role The Broke-Ass Bride would have in my life over the next year and a half!

    I first submitted to be a Real Bride after a vendor basically laughed at my budget, telling me to call them back when I found more money. I already was feeling like even the most basic wedding items were laughably expensive, so to hear that what I felt was a significant amount of money wasn’t enough really got me hot under the collar. In addition, I was having trouble finding online wedding resources for Southern California that weren’t a few years out of date, so I hoped that at the end of my process, I could have a list of great recommendations for SoCal couples with perfectly fine budgets.

    So in the midst of starting a Master’s degree program learning about statistics and theory, I also began researching weddings. And researching. And researching. While I planned to blog about the vendors and resources I was finding, I discovered a lot of feelings instead — from stressing about (and getting over) my self-image in my engagement photos, to waffling back and forth about changing my last name, to a surprise stint in the intensive care unit a month before the wedding that really made me re-evaluate my priorities, blogging about these things became a release valve for wedding stress. This was my much more environmentally-friendly version of putting a message in a balloon and releasing it into the wind.

    Professionally, I’m a college advisor. I help students, mostly freshmen, choose their classes and acclimate to life in college. Much of my job is often just to be a sounding board, and to ask questions like “have you thought about it this way instead?” I firmly believe that just by talking out an idea — putting it into the universe — you will come to your own solution. I spent probably two weeks agonizing over what I wanted my veil to look like, but after publishing one blog post and reading a few insightful comments, I knew I had to take a leap of faith on an idea and ended up loving what I chose. Now, when my recently engaged friends ask for advice, I tell them to just get all their wedding thoughts out of their heads. On paper, on a blog, into the air of a Korean restaurant or over a glass of wine and a whole container of hummus and chips (true stories).Real Bride Elissa:

    Credit: A Sight of Love

    So thanks, BABs. You gave me a place to throw my ideas and see what stuck, and thousands of friendly shoulders to lean on, so I didn’t drive my poor besties too crazy. Because of all my researching and all the networking I’ve been able to do, I was able to throw an incredibly fun, meaningful, reasonably-priced wedding and get my incredibly fun and meaningful marriage off to a great start, without going in debt! It turned out my budget was definitely enough to have all of the elements we dreamed about and then some. The things that didn’t work out and seemed like they were going to be disappointments ended up leading to even better situations. And our fabulous family and friends gave their time, energy and more to make us feel loved and part of the community. The other thing I tell my engaged friends is that all your current stress is WORTH IT. All of a sudden it will be over, you’ll have some awesome memories to laugh over, and you’ll be so proud of all the work you did.

    People often ask me if marriage feels any different; it doesn’t really day-to-day, but standing up there in front of your loved ones and vowing yourselves to each other really did feel like pulling tight an invisible knot. There were definitely times in the planning process that our ropes felt a little frayed, but together, we’re stronger. And that same sentiment goes for your relationships with your wedding party and your relatives. Always remember you’re not alone in this; that’s why I’m so grateful to The Broke-Ass Bride for welcoming me into the family. 

    Real Bride Elisa: Riding Off Into the Sunset

    Photo Credits: A Sight of Love Photography

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, Elissa!

    Are you interested in becoming a Real Bride with Team Broke-Ass? Apply today!

    Elissa Stooker
  • 11/13

    Welcome to another episode of Broke-Ass Advice! Today's question is about what to serve guests at a casual reception: I love your website. Not just this one, but all of your blogs. So helpful and inspirational. While I was reading your book, I continually would read passages out loud to my fiance and say, finally, someone who gets it! We are paying for our wedding…

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    I don't want this post to be about regrets. Our wedding day was beautiful and I wouldn't change a thing about it. However, I feel I should be completely blunt with you fabulous BABs about budgets and how they can easily veer way off course. Because I know I'm not the only bride whose budget took a path into "oh shit" territory, nor should there be any shame attached to…

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    Two weeks before Thanksgiving, I found out that the current number of Mrs. Coopersmiths would soon be increased by one  -- my husband’s little brother got engaged. Yay! But then I looked at the calendar again and frowned. Two weeks before Thanksgiving. Seven weeks before New Years. Here we go. The best part of the Holiday season is the number of chances you'll have to spend…

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    Seed bomb favors from Beau-Coup Dear Heather, Is it absolutely necessary to have favors aside from goodie bags you give to your traveling guests? Brittney Dear Brittney, No. I'm so incredibly tempted to just leave it at that ... you have no idea. However, I'm guessing some of you would appreciate a little elaboration. When it comes to a legally-binding wedding, the only things truly necessary…

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    Image courtesy of Photo Pink Dear Heather, I refuse to spend big bucks on flowers. What else could I use? Brittany Dear Brittany, The possibilities are endless, and I love non-floral decor. I even have a tag on my business blog dedicated to this very topic. Because I have faith in your ability to Google for images, I'm only going to include a handful of…

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    Image courtesy of Thecupcakelicious Dear Heather, How soon is too soon to have a bridal shower? A year? Six months? All of my bridesmaids will have to travel to the city where the shower is being held. Rebecca Dear Rebecca, In part, this depends on how long of an engagement you're having. Obviously, if your engagement is only five months long, that will somewhat limit…

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    Photo courtesy of Shannonsl Dear Heather, How reasonable is corkage if your venue is not supplying glasses or service? They've admitted it's essentially to cover "loss of revenue" which, considering we've paid for the venue itself, is surely only a loss of "potential revenue" and therefore not really my concern? Thoughts? Emma Quite frankly, I think charging a corkage fee when the venue is providing…

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