How to be an offbeat bridesmaid for a traditional bride

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Can you spot the Offbeat Bride editor in this photo?
Can you spot the Offbeat Bride editor in this photo?
I know this is a space for Offbeat Brides, and not so long ago I was one! But is there any advice to be had for those of us who are offbeat bridesmaids for more traditional brides?

When my recently engaged friend asked me to be a part of her day as a bridesmaid I was thrilled! But now… some things are making my uncomfortable.

I don't want to get mani/pedis, go tanning, get my vag waxed, shave my legs, destroy my hair for a ‘do, or wear make-up: these things go against my beliefs about beauty, and I have never done any of those things. My friend the bride wants us all to wear loads of make-up courtesy of a make-up artists, have super heavy duty sprayed, curled hair-do, and possibly get a brazilian. I feel uncomfortable doing all of these things.

I'm trying to meet half-way — I'm already taking a huge leap with the dress she picked, I'm helping with loads of DIY, and even going to the bachelorette party when I didn't even have one.

How do I explain to my bride that I want to be a part of her day, but don't want to compromise myself in the process? -BurningWillow

I may be able to be of some assistance here. I was asked to be bridesmaid in my best friend's fairly traditional wedding. The first speed bump was that I always thought I'd be a groomsman, seeing as how my best friend was the groom. Then I found myself, a total tomboy, surrounded by a group of the girliest girls that ever girled, being asked to pick out my own dress and shoes, get manicured and pedicured, and throw a bachelorette party.

I handled this situation in the most Offbeat Bride way possible:

Honesty is the best policy

I told the bride that I was beyond touched to be asked to be in the wedding party, but I felt I was ill-prepared to be a bridesmaid. Being so upfront and honest from the beginning totally set up her expectations of me, and mine from her. And everything went smoother than I thought it ever could! (Except for the manicure part — that was rough.)

Don't want to compromise yourself to fit in to your buddy's wedding schemes? Then let them know, and set your boundaries in the most loving way possible….

[Bride], I love you and I'm super-excited to be a part of your wedding day. But I really don't want to [wax my vag]. Would it be okay with you if I don't do that?
I totally understand if this is a deal-breaker, and we will still be awesome friends if you have to “fire” me, but I'm not comfortable [wearing make-up] on the day of your wedding. Can we work out a compromise?
[Groom], you'll always be my best friend, but I have to be honest and say I don't feel like I'm the best fit to be in your wedding party. I feel like [other friend] may be better suited for this duty. It's totally not because I don't love you, it's just that I'm super-uncomfortable with [throwing you a party].

Set expectations and discuss boundaries

I was totally willing to bridesmaid it up, as long as the bride was okay with both coaching me through all the girly activities, while understanding that I wanted to attend the bachelor party, and come wedding day, I wanted to spend most of that day with my best friend, the groom.

Sure enough, she not only found “the dress” for herself, she also found one for me as well (plus the shoes)! She also was fine with the fact that I ditched her bachelorette party to throw the bachelor party. She charged a fellow bridesmaid with the task of dragging me to get a manicure. And wasn't miffed when I hurriedly threw on my bridesmaid dress and spent the rest of the morning drinking whiskey with the boys. Because we had discussed all of it beforehand.

Be prepared to not be part of the wedding

Finally, be prepared for your buddy to ask you to step away from being in their bridal party. It's a sticky situation fraught with emotional land mines, but being “fired” from the bridal party doesn't always have to end in drama. If you think about it, sometimes the best way for you to be their best friend is to just show up as a guest and party with them, instead of making yourself uncomfortable by trying to contort yourself to fit into their wedding mold.

We think honesty + setting expectations + staying calm = the key to being an offbeat bridesmaid in a traditional wedding. What about you?

Comments on How to be an offbeat bridesmaid for a traditional bride

  1. Personally – mani/pedis gross me out….. I’d much rather take care of my own nails. I was a maid of honor for my best friend a few years back and I got the “ok” with explaining that I’m not a fan of them, but I catered to her image by doing those Sally Hansen strips so that my nails were perfect, not butchered.

    I also DIY my own hair (it was a pixie…. what are they going to do to it that I can’t?) and I did my own makeup… mostly because she understood that I was a starving grad student who was putting all my $$ into being self-employed that year. COMMUNICATION! I got gussied up for a dinner out with her before the wedding to “prove” that I could do it myself.

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