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You Can (and Should!) Stick up for Yourself as a Bridesmaid—Here’s How

If your bestie is becoming a bridezilla nightmare, read on.

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Be upfront about finances

It’s not just putting on a very specific-colored dress and smiling pretty for photos—being a bridesmaid (and knowing bridesmaid etiquette) means you’re shelling out several hundreds of dollars throughout wedding planning. In fact, it’s estimated to cost around $1,500 to be in the wedding party, which for many is a lot to spend. That’s why life coach Kali Rogers says to be upfront and candid about your financial situation from day one. “Do not blow all of your savings on an expensive dress and bachelorette party simply because you want to avoid having an uncomfortable conversation. You will end up resenting your friend and possibly permanently damage what was otherwise a wonderful friendship,” she says. Instead, you can suggest cost-effective ways to minimize expenses tied to the wedding, a move that other bridesmaids will likely appreciate, too. “You could rent the dress, implement a payment plan, shorten your stay at the bachelorette trip, pick a different location for it, resell your dress after wearing it to the wedding,” she suggests. “Discuss options and don’t hold back when it comes to finances. Yes, it’s her wedding, but it’s not worth draining your savings account over it. You’ll have to fork out some money, that’s the way it goes, but find a balance.” (Here are 11 little bridesmaid etiquette rules every bridesmaid should follow.)

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Call her out if she forgets friendship is a two-sided relationship

Your friend is more than likely oblivious to the fact that for the first 30-minutes of brunch, she only talked about the fringe on her wedding dress. Because this grand gala is (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime event, she may become hyperfocused on every last detail, but forget the fact that friendship is a two-way street. Though you should cut her some slack, if she’s constantly only talking about herself, you should gently nudge her. “Introduce your own life dilemmas and ongoings into the conversation without her prompting,” Rogers says. “Chances are, she just forgot to ask but she’s certainly very invested in your life. Most brides will actually feel ashamed over their self-centeredness and feel relieved you nudged them in the right direction. However, if you are met with shame or dismissal whenever you do bring up your own life, talk to her about it. Your life cannot and will not stop just because her wedding day is approaching. While she gets the limelight this time around, she still has a duty of being your friend.” If you have a fight while out in public, make sure you don’t make these etiquette mistakes. 

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Ask far in advance for anything requiring travel

Though it might not feel like you’re defending yourself, asking for exact dates for every event leading up to the wedding is a way to protect your finances and manage your time, which ultimately, is less stress for you. Licensed marriage and family therapist, Courtney Geter says once you have all of the save-the-dates, you can do a budget analysis of what makes sense for you to pay for, and what your pal might be okay with you skipping. “If travel is involved for events such as showers or parties, ask your friend the importance of you being at any or all of them. Ask your friend to be completely honest with you and also be completely honest with her. If she really needs you to commit to costs or events that are going to cause you extra stress, I encourage you think through if being her bridesmaid is best for you,” she suggests. “Also think about what is more important; your current friendship or being in an event that will be over after a year or so.”

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Speak up if something feels off

Every bride has a different taste—while your college bestie might have let you pick the shade of green that looks best on you, your friend you met at work might have mandated everything from your toes to your eyebrows. But Rogers says if she makes something mandatory—say your hair and makeup the day of—she should pay for it. And for a request that’s a smidge rude and out of line such as, say, asking you to lose weight, you should feel empowered to refuse. “If she wants to make a more permanent change in your appearance, like weight loss, hair color change, that’s a definite ‘no.’ This does not require an in-depth conversation about feelings or intentions, this is time to set a clear and defined boundary. It can go a little something like this: ‘While I am happy for you and am very excited to celebrate on your wedding day, I do not feel comfortable changing my body for this occasion,'” she suggests.

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Know you deserve a “thank you”

It’s not selfish to ask for a “thank you” for all the work you’re putting into your friend’s celebration. In fact, if it’s not second-nature for your friend to hug you harder because you’re stepping up to the plate, you might want to drop some hints to her selfishness, without being mean. “Give her the opportunity of letting you know how appreciated you are but softly approaching the subject. You can say things such as, ‘I’m not feeling very appreciated, can we talk about ways to increase our communication?’ or ‘Are you enjoying the bridesmaids’ efforts?'” Rogers suggests. “Starting a dialogue about this might seem uncomfortable, but after you two discuss the dynamic, you will both feel much better.”

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Be direct if she’s being passive-aggressive

So your bestie is dropping so-not-subtle messages that the bridesmaids are dropping the ball, or that she’s not happy with the bachelorette party planning. Whatever she’s complaining about, if she’s being passive-aggressive with her communication, Geter suggests nipping it before it becomes an argument. “Ask about any stress and how you can help or support her. You can also share how the messages made you feel as her friend,” she explains. “Remember that being a bride and planning a wedding on top of daily life routines is very stressful. Finding empathy for your friend will help you better connect with what she is experiencing and let you decide the best course of action.”

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Don’t respond to rude emails

What’s said digitally lasts forever and though she might have sent that email in a fit of anxiety and stress, your best way to avoid a messy confrontation is to delete—and pick up the phone. “Always talk in person or at least on the phone about touchy subjects. You two are friends, so you ideally have each other’s best interest at heart. There’s no reason to get mad about miscommunication, and there’s no reason to avoid talking to your friend. Have a conversation to clear the air and move forward,” Rogers says. (Are you the maid of honor? Read up on these bridesmaid etiquette tips specifically for the maid of honor to make sure the bride’s big day goes smoothly.)