Are my slacker bridesmaids dropping the ball or is it me?

Are my slacker bridesmaids dropping the ball?
Are they dropping the ball on getting the shit together?
Will You Be My Bridesmaid Card from Firefly Paper Studio

I am feeling overwhelmed, angry, sad, and just not looking forward to my wedding. It has been nothing but pulling teeth for me to get literally everyone to do their part. I have gotten our parents and my fiancé to understand that they need to do their part, but my bridesmaids have been twiddling their thumbs. I've had to fire two already (one ghosted me for a year, and the other was just being a straight-up bad friend).

It took MONTHS to get my bridesmaids to order their dresses because the original one I picked out was discontinued after only one of the bridesmaids ordered it, so I hunted down other dresses and it took them forever to order them. I am so angry and frustrated with my bridesmaids and maid of honor, but I wonder if I've not been communicating well overall.

Have I not been stressing the importance of these little things? For instance, I want them to make sure they do their hair a certain way and even sent them tutorials, but I don't think anyone has practiced. It took them forever to pick a wedding shower date, but I think that's as far as the planning has gone for that. How do I tell people I want them more active and to do their job without being a bridezilla? – M

Wedding planning can get so stressful, and it's clear you are feeling it! When friends don't seem to be doing their part, you can feel pretty alone. We don't really have any way to know how your bridesmaids are feeling, but I would bet there's a bit of frustration on their side, too.

This post of ours may be helpful when it comes to getting real about what to expect from your bride crew:

Some real talk from that post:

Many bridesmaid issues seem to stem from a disconnect between what the bride expects and what her attendants deliver. One way to deal with this is to have long talks with your bridesmaids before you ask them to be in your wedding party. Really long talks.

I'm not saying there are specific bridesmaids requests that are unreasonable — it's totally dependent on the 'maid and your relationship. Crafty friends will love helping with the invitations. Glamour girls will be totally into growing their hair out for matching up-dos. Friends who are finishing their PhDs while raising two children and moving cross-country are going to be willing to commit to showing up, and that's it. The moral of the story here is that ANY expectations you might have need to be addressed right up front — before anyone agrees to anything. If you don't know what you want want from your bridesmaids, then slow down and figure it out before you go asking people.

Unless you've had these very explicit conversations, don't expect that your bridesmaid will help in the ways you want. When you don't make any assumptions, you leave room to be surprised when someone helps in the way that only they can. For instance, one bridesmaid may hate crafts — but then the day of the wedding she shows up with pizza as y'all are getting your hair done, just as you were starving and about to eat your own arm.

Here's another bride's take on how she was able to de-stress her planning by eliminating most of her expectations for her wedding party:

It was simple, really: I removed expectations. It cost me approximately $2000 more than it would have of our $25k budget to cover at least some of the expenses for our wedding party. And it was worth every penny. I showered my bridesmaids with perks and gifts. Our wedding party was surprised, grateful, and excited to join. By offering to cover either attire or a room cost, we sent a clear message: we want you here with us so much, and we don't want your attendance to be a burden for you. You are valuable and important to us.

Ultimately, if you haven't been super explicit about what your expectations are, most folks don't have a clue what they're supposed to do in a wedding party, and may have no idea that you're as frustrated as you are.

If you want to keep including them in the planning (and you totally don't have to!), you'll need to either start very specifically asking for their help with very specific tasks (complete with deadline dates and MANY "thank yous"), or delegate someone to help you do that.

Try to remember that your wedding party members each have their own lives going on that may prevent them from being able to help as much as you might want, or even as much as they might want! If this is the case, try to rely on others in your friend and family pool who have the time and drive to help out. And don't forget to thank them a lot… like twice as much as you feel like you should, at least.

Really, it's all about over-communicating and making sure they feel appreciated for their efforts. You can't control people (bridesmaids or anyone else!)… you can only control yourself.

More slacker bridesmaids advice:

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  1. Not to sound unfeeling, but please remember that "elopement" is not a dirty word. It's a very practical, workable, and often overlooked alternative if the traditional "gown and grand entrance" just doesn't work for your situation.

    It's how I plan to do it. All of the romance at only a fraction of the stress, cost and unfulfilled expectations.

    True, you don't get an afternoon of being the center of attention for three million guests, and the prezzies will be lacking, but those were never reasons to get married.

    Whatever you ultimately choose to do, you might benefit from stepping back, having a mental donut, and calmly adjusting expectations. You know what they say about blood from stones.

    If hitting yourself in the head with a hammer gives you a headache, instead of hitting harder, try putting down the hammer…

    9 agree
  2. So I mentally threw on the breaks when I read "one ghosted me for a year… it took MONTHS…".

    How long have these bridesmaids been your bridesmaids? I could be misreading it, but I feel like maybe they've been on your team so long, they're in the mode of thinking that there's really no rush. IF there actually IS a rush, you need to lay it out: "okay, we're three months away and Things A, B and C haven't been taken care of, and I think that's a lot to tackle in three months. How do we get it done?"

    For your own peace of mind, if something matters to you, you need to take the initiative on it or delegate someone else to take it on. For instance, the hair tutorial: just hire a friend or family to learn how to do the hair and to do it for your bridesmaids. That's taken care of, and you don't have to worry any more. The wedding shower? Recruit a family member to get in touch with the bridesmaids to lead them to getting it done. Just because you think it's someone's responsibility doesn't mean they're going to know it's their responsibility or even want to do it.

    11 agree
  3. I have been a bridesmaid three times and a bride once. In all of those weddings the bride ordered the dresses (no matter who paid). Bridesmaids provided the bride either measurements or a dress size. Your bridesmaids may have been surprised that ordering was on them.

    Similarly, it would never occur to me that the bride was expecting me to practice doing my hair. Is your requested hairdo that difficult? If so, I agree with others, that your best bet is to pay for a stylist yourself. Maybe get a quote at a blow dry bar or a salon school for a better rate. The money is worth not feeling "so angry and frustrated". If that's really not possible in the budget, take a deep breath and realize you will have a beautiful and meaningful day without that level of control over the heads of the people standing next to you.

    As far as wedding shower planning is concerned, the question is the same. How much control over this event do you really want? Will you be angry if they choose something that does not need a lot of planning. Would dinner and dessert together at a nice place fulfill "their job"? If so, then you'll have fun. Don't worry, it's fine…just let them do whatever they can get done. Its a gift, so enjoy it. If not, and you have specific expectations, you have to let them know, because there's no reason to assume they would guess what your expectations are.

    8 agree
  4. TLDR: if you care about it, set clear expectations, get them to confirm that they are willing to do it & by what timeline, and make it as friction-less as possible for people to comply (if possible this includes financially as well as logistically)

    Fired two bridesmaids. The rest are not doing "their jobs". Are you their friend or their boss? Anyway…

    Do they actually know what you want?
    What are your expectations? (such as how many people are invited to these things, who is paying for them, how formal are they, etc)
    Are they on board with planning and running those things?
    Do your bridesmaids typically do their hair fancy, or are some of them the 'I ran a brush through it this week' crowd?

    How far away is this wedding? 3 months? 12 months?

    I took the approach of "if I care about it being a specific way, I will take charge of it". I wanted bridal party + female parents/siblings to wear navy or pink formal dresses, and for the gents to wear tuxes. Asked them to do this 6+ months in advance (with an 11 month engagement to wedding timeline), and let them know to contact me if they wanted help with renting a tux/dress.
    I cared that the same group of females got a french manicure. I arranged appointments and paid for it.
    I was having someone come do hair for me, and offered for anyone who wanted to also have her do their hair. I didn't really care about other people's hair or makeup, so let them do their thing.

    2 agree
    • "I was having someone come do hair for me, and offered for anyone who wanted to also have her do their hair."

      Key words: "WANTED TO"

      I've never been in a wedding party, so please enlighten me, BrideTribe. Is it standard procedure for brides to tell their bridesmaids how to wear their hair? I mean beyond "up" or "down". To the point where there is a specific style, and is sufficiently complex as to require a tutorial?

      Maybe the bridesmaids aren't slacking so much as BURNED OUT. They're friends and relatives…not free labor.

      The LW needs to remember that in the end, a wedding is just a party, fer cryin' out loud. It ain't the Superbowl Halftime Show, or Eurovision!

      6 agree
  5. Did you ask these people to be in your bridal party because you wanted them to share in your special day? Or just to get them to pitch in? I'm afraid that it sounds like the latter (does one 'fire' friends?). Some people, myself included, would not think that being asked to be bridesmaid meant taking on a side-job, but perhaps that's a cultural thing (I'm in Ireland). My now-husband and I organized everything ourselves. But if you do have these expectations then you need to not only communicate them, but set specific boundaries and timelines. If you haven't given a date by which you want something done, then it can't be said that expectations haven't been met, the job simply hasn't been done *yet*. Also, this wedding might be the most important thing to you in your life but it certainly won't be for any of your bridesmaids. It doesn't mean they don't care, just that they have their own stuff going on.

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