Discuss: It’s a Wedding, Not a Carnival Ride

Apr 19, 2013

Over the years, I’ve heard brides express a number of theories about how to choose bridesmaids.  Some believe in keeping the bridal party small, others (like most of the ladies in my hometown) believe the more the merrier, and choose 16 of their closest friends to stand up for them.  I’ve known brides who felt that the bridal party should be kept to family only.  And I’ve met a few women who didn’t want attendants, preferring to walk down the aisle alone.  But how does one choose who will make the cut?

Yesterday, I read a Jezebel article about a woman who found out that she was not going to be included in a friend’s wedding because she was too overweight and too pale to fit in with the bride’s beach wedding vision.  Suddenly, I came down with a case of the stabbies.

To exclude the woman and then explain that she was rejected because she exceeded the maximum weight requirement is tactless, insensitive, self-centered and a few other words that I can’t type here.  Leaving her out because of her weight makes you a bad friend and a person of questionable character, but sharing your darkest, innermost thoughts with her via e-mail just to rub salt takes it to a while ‘nother level.  Talk about vile.

Given this shocking exercise in perspective-less narcissism, I shouldn’t be surprised that the bride turned around and invited her “friend” to the wedding like it was some sort of game show consolation prize.  Because once you’ve been gravely insulted by someone you consider a loved one, you should be ecstatic to celebrate her marriage by purchasing a set of monogrammed towels from her registry and dancing The Funky Chicken at her reception.

I’m sorry, that was wrong of me, this bride is clearly too classy for The Funky Chicken.

Seriously though, bad bride behavior is something that we are far too tolerant of in this country and this example just takes the cake.  How did pledging your life to another person in front of family and friends become a license to behave like a Regina George-Kim Kardashian hybrid?

It’s no surprise that America’s divorce rate is so high when, instead of focusing on the marriage, we allow brides (and grooms) to turn the celebration of a life-long commitment into an audition for the adult-version of My Super Sweet 16.

So what do you think ladies:  Am I naive to think that you should choose your bridesmaids based on how you feel about them, not how they look?  Would you even entertain the notion of attending this woman’s wedding?  Could you still consider her a friend?


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  1. BBB says:

    That bride sounds just horrific. I can’t even imagine.

    I was a MOH for my (former) best friend in 2011. I have been in several weddings, and this was the first where I was quite literally treated as a maid. My husband (fiance at the time) was blown away by what he witnessed, but I made it through the day with a smile on my face. Needless to say, she was not even invited to my wedding 1.5 years later.

    Personally, I had a beach wedding and went the no-attendant route. It was perfect. My best girlfriends were still all there, and they still came by to laugh & drink champagne & take pics before the ceremony. A friend of mine also went this route and was glad she did.

    Brides of the world – if you’re having a hard time narrowing down your attendant list, and you’re actually considering cutting people based on their appearance, remember: there is NO LAW that states you MUST have a bridal party!

    • r says:

      This is a bit random, but we’ve decided to have just a MOH and best man in our bridal party for a bunch of different reasons. We’re finding it awkward to tell some people about our plans. How’d you do it? Are we overthinking it? 🙂

      • BBB says:

        I never told anybody anything. I just never asked anyone to be in it 🙂 It helped that my good friend had previously & recently done the same thing – it wasn’t a totally foreign concept to our group.

        Often, I think that when brides think they have to explain WHY they’re not asking their friends to be in the wedding it becomes a bigger deal than just not explaining at all. See the bride above for a perfect example. Just my 2 cents. Personally, I think you’re making the right move keeping it small – less stress for you!

        • r says:

          Thanks so much! I think you’re spot on, so I’ll take your advice! And yes, we’re really happy with our decision to keep it small.

        • Belle says:

          This is good advice. Sometimes explaining is worse than just respectfully saying, this is what we’re going to do, but we can’t wait for all of you to attend our wedding and share our day with us.

    • Giggling Gourmand says:

      We also skipped attendants. Getting married at 32 would have resulted in a huge gaggle of people once high school, college, law school, life right now friends were included. Instead my 2 oldest and closest did readings and a group of close friends came to help me get ready. We had a blast and nobody had to buy dresses they didn’t want (although I did buy the readers saris to wear for the ceremony). One of my favorite pics is of my fil holding my huge hot pink bouquet during the vows because I had to hand it to somebody!

      • BBB says:

        yes! my dad took my bouquet and one of my fave pics is of him holding it, smiling, as he sat & watched our vows. sounds like you had a great wedding 🙂

  2. heather says:

    I think Jezebel covered it pretty well. And the assumption that the poster doesn’t care about her appearance is downright rude. So I say let bridezilla have it with her sticks (skinny tan girls) in the sand.

  3. Leigh says:

    Would not attend the wedding, would not (still) consider her a friend.

    Weddings have gotten insane in our country. I hate being involved in them, or even attending. It’s supposed to be a vow between two people who love each other, not a day when you, the bride, are Cinderella and get a pass to act like a witch. If that diva attitude continues into marriage…then there’s an explanation for the divorce.

  4. Monica says:

    I’d like to think that at 31 I know who my friends are, and they certainly aren’t my friends because I’m perfect, or look great in every photo! If this young lady believed this woman was her “friend” then I’m sure she is heartbroken, but I find it hard to believe this level of narcissism has been hidden very far under the surface, maybe it had just been pointed at the ‘them’ faction instead of what she perceived as the ‘us’ faction. Or she was just giving an old high school friend the benefit of the doubt.

    No to going to the wedding, no to considering her a friend, and definitely NO to thinking I would look like the jerk for doing so.

    • Belle says:

      I think you’re right, this may be more of a problem for women in their 20s.

      • Callie says:

        I am also 31 and couldn’t agree more that the friends I have now — and the friend that I am to them now — are far and away better than those I had in my 20s. But I don’t think Bridezillas are exclusively in their 20s. I have had some friends (early to mid 30s) get married in the past year and most have been beautiful ceremonies reflecting the wonderful relationships they are in, but man oh man, some of them are just as bitchy as the “friend” in the Jezebel article. The woman who wrote in shouldn’t think twice about skipping the wedding and being happy that she is the better person.

  5. Christina says:

    My MOH was my sister and my bridesmaids were my two first cousins and two very close friends. My wedding party came in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and colors. I had very tall bridesmaids escorted by very short groomsmen. I allowed everyone to choose dresses (in a pre-selected material and color) that fit them best. And I LOVED my day! I was surrounded by the people that I love and loved me most – regardless of appearances.

    I feel badly for anyone that thinks a wedding is some type of Hollywood performance where everyone needs to fit a certain type. What kind of wedding is that? And if any “friend” did that to me I wouldn’t call them friend.

  6. Anna says:

    Instead of a bridal party, my cousin and her husband each walked to the altar accompanied by their families (parents, siblings, and siblings’ kids) and then each had one friend say something about them during the ceremony. It was beautiful and really symbolic of the two families coming together. Plus that way, you don’t have to worry about people feeling left out or participating in wedding activities when they’re not in the bridal shower.

  7. GA says:

    Ugh. I knew this happened, in the abstract sense, but I’d never actually HEARD of it happening.

    I’m getting married this year. The only thing that worries me about my bridal party is that there are five of them, against my fiance’s 3 attendants… My bridesmaids are of every shape and size (really; they range from tall to incredibly short, from overweight to sometimes worryingly thin.) I chose them because I love them, because they are my closest friends and families, and because I couldn’t imagine getting married without having them up there with me.

    It’s a well-canvassed issue, but weddings these days are ridiculous. Trying to plan one that’s meaningful rather than photo worthy is shockingly difficult when almost all of your available resources focus so heavily on the latter. Gross.

    Moreover, badly behaved brides are not merely tolerated, they’re REWARDED. With TV shows and notoriety. There’s no such thing as bad publicity! Ugh.

  8. Lady Lawyer says:

    No. No. No. This makes me so, so sad.

    I was MOH in my best friend’s wedding four years ago. She is strikingly beautiful at 5’1. At 5’7 plus heels, I did look mighty tall standing next to her. The rest of the bridal party ranged from 4’10 to 5’10. But guess what…no one cared. And it is a moment I really treasure. We still print out new pictures from that day for framing in our respective houses and offices (seriously, we got a new one framed this past weekend). And if/when I ever get married, my 5’1 best friend will stand right next to me, too.

    I think all of my friends, and even acquaintances, are mature enough to understand if/when I get married, I’ll pick a few girls who are closest to my heart. Certainly not just those who are closest my size.

  9. K says:

    You aren’t naive, this other woman is just crazy. I’m getting married in September, and the size of my bridal party is based on the number of people I couldn’t picture sitting in the pews when I say my vows, not their dress size. My fiance will have less, by the way, and do I care? Nope. Yes, I want things to be nice, yes, I want our guests to have fun, but at the end of the day, I want to be married to my fiance. That’s kinda the point of the whole thing. None of that gives me the right to revert to spoiled 5 year old behavior. If I do, I have several people who will call me out on it. And that is why they’re my bridal party.

  10. M says:

    That article is truly appalling. It is sad and disgusting that a woman (woman, not lady) feels she can be that hurtful, self-centered, and a whole host of other things I shouldn’t say. Clearly that bride is only focused on the wedding, not the marriage and a lifelong partnership.

    Incidentally I am getting married in October, and as I have no sisters chose 5 of my closest friends to be my attendants. I love them for who they are and the impact they have had on my life and will continue to have going forward, and that in my opinion is the only criteria you need.

  11. Alison says:

    I feel totally awful for this girl and if I was her I would send a gift but not attend the wedding unless I really could come to grips with that kind of betrayal.

    I’m getting married in October and decided only to have my sister in my wedding party as MOH. I have no friends with hurt feelings because of who is and who isn’t included because there is only one attendant. Every wedding I’ve been to has had someone hurt that they weren’t a bridesmaid (based on their size or otherwise!).

    • coco says:

      I wouldn’t even give her a gift – not out of a vindictive spirit, but because I’d feel insincere, or even duplicitous, in doing so. Gifts are generally an outward expression of a minimally positive feeling, whether it be duty, love, appreciation, or maintaining social glue. Even when a gift is given for less positive reasons, i.e. to make the recipient feel obligated or because it’s socially “required”, I wouldn’t think those reasons apply here. Wedding gifts are always optional, and to give one to this woman because some nowadays think they’re not optional would reinforce the ridiculousness of wedding culture we’ve been discussing here.

    • I wouldn’t send a gift. And I would never talk to that bride “friend” again, either.

  12. E says:

    That is so horrendous but sadly not totally uncommon. Some brides choose a good number/look for pictures. Some of course have lots of really good friends/cousins that they want to stand with them at the altar. We couldn’t sort most of our friends into bridal party and not bridal party so we just each had a best friend (which was an easy choice as they were the oldest friends we had) and left it at that.

  13. KRR says:

    This bride’s behavior is disgusting and I truly for the woman who was betrayed by her close “friend”. I’ve been married almost a year and look back on our wedding photos with fond memories often. It doesn’t matter if our bridal party looked tan or slim. I chose my bridesmaids because they were the closest women to me that I wanted to stand up and support me not just that day, but throughout our marriage. Choosing someone based on how good they look in a dress is beyond ridiculous. This is clearly a case of Bridezilla. I hope the not chosen woman keeps her head high and moves on.

  14. Elle says:

    I am not surprised by the story. Quite frankly, I think weddings in general are out of hand. There’s the bach party, the shower or showers, the wedding – which may or may not include a) an overpriced brides made dress; b) air fare for you and/or your date – if you get one; c) cost of a hotel; d) cost of having your hair done…and a variety of other obligations chosen by the bride to be for both you and your money. Oh, and on top of that, you get to by a wedding gift, too. So, in my mind, excluding someone from the wedding party on such a superficial and insulting reason is just par for the course.

    Don’t get me wrong: I have loved attending some of my friends’ weddings and wouldn’t change that for the world. But…when does all the ridiculousness end? As someone said above – so much of what people do at weddings loses sight of the true meaning of the event.

  15. Addison says:

    The girl who was left out of the bridal party should count herself lucky to have found out her friend’s true nature when she did, what a horrible person! I was a bridesmaid for the first time last summer, in the wedding of my dearest friend who’s more like a sister to me. She wasn’t a bridezilla in the least, thank God, but the experience definitely made me realize that there are very few people in my life for whom I’d repeat this experience. It was more expensive than I’d imagined, very time consuming, both the groom’s and bride’s families created all sorts of drama and the bridal party changed 3 times due to bridesmaids flaking on my friend. Getting married will definitely teach you who your real friends are. And when I get married, the bridal party will be kept small.

  16. Jess says:

    I’ve been married for 12 years, and it’s too bad my now 32 year old self (seriously, married at 20!) knows is that we should have eloped and put the ceremony wedding into savings for a house. I agree with the person who pointed out that this sounds like a young woman- the size of your what should be best friends if they are standing up in your wedding, is one of the most superficial things I have ever heard. Run, lady, run.

  17. E. says:

    I certainly don’t support this terrible bride’s behavior, but I would like to say something for brides, as I’m currently planning my own wedding. Weddings are super stressful, expensive, and time consuming. One of the most stressful things for me has been trying 1.) not to hurt people’s feelings in choosing my bridal party and 2.) making the wedding experience a good one for my bridesmaids. Let’s try to remember that plenty of brides are doing the best they can as well.

    • Belle says:

      I think we all recognize that balancing a bunch of competing interests is tough, but sometimes, brides lose all perspective and use the fact that it’s their day as an excuse to for bad behavior. I know plenty of brides that get from Engagement to Wedding without making anyone feel like crap.

  18. CH says:

    What a shallow narcissist. I always wonder about the groom when I hear Bridezilla stories like this – does he know that the woman he’s about to marry is horrible and has just accepted it, or does she hide it really well and he’s oblivious?

    My fiance and I are getting married later this year and opted for no “attendants.” We’re getting married on the later side compared to the rest of our friends, everyone has already been a bridesmaid/groomsman a million times (including us, so we get that it’s a lot of $/time/effort), and the novelty has really worn off of that particular honor.

  19. I have to admit that I read through all of the comments to see if anyone thought you were being too harsh. I’m thrilled to find that no one does. That woman is a monster; her poor (ex)-friend should feel relieved, in some sense, to have learned this person’s true character. I wouldn’t attend the wedding, I wouldn’t send a gift or a card, & I wouldn’t say boo to her ever again unless some serious soul-searching & apologizing happened first. The not-bridesmaid is much better off without such a horribly shallow individual in her life.

  20. Ellen says:

    The bridesmaid issue can be one of the more stressful parts of the wedding. For me it was a hard task picking which friends to have participate while keeping numbers manageable. I actually had to exclude about 3 people I would have liked in the wedding because I didn’t want to have too many attendants (nor did my mother, but mothers of the bride are a totally different story!) and there were some people I HAD to have in there. I tried to find places for them in other parts of the wedding but they all handled it graciously! Phew!

    I hope this bride looks back and regrets what she did because no one looks at their wedding video or album often. So, having someone in the party that doesn’t fit the look you are going really doesn’t matter in the long run.

    On a side note, one of the best things I’ve seen at a wedding was when one of my college roommates got married right after college. There were 6 of us that lived together for years and she wanted to treat us special even though her bridal party was all family so she got us all corsages. It was really sweet!

  21. K says:

    Bridezillas are so out of control these days! When I got engaged, I specifically told my now-husband I needed a long time to plan our wedding so I wouldn’t turn into one of those crazy women we hear about – like the one in this article. Two of my bridesmaids who were in other weddings that year told me they very much appreciated my calm manner throughout the planning and process, and that I was considerate of their schedules and budgets when planning events.

    I’m totally of the mind that people have lost sight of the fact that your wedding is about a MARRIAGE! Don’t get me wrong – I had a large wedding and a great party – but I just don’t see where women (or men) get off thinking that a wedding is an excuse to steam-roll everyone around you.

  22. Allison says:

    I love your blog Belle but I feel like this column is a bit of fake outrage or just sort of weak sauce. Jezebel might have been able to find one crazy bride who did this to write a *shocking* story on but do you really think any of your readers are really going to read this and go, “Yes Belle, you’re naive, what this bride did is totally normal”? I feel like the community on here is generally composed of bright, modern women and this entry by you just sort of feels like wasted outrage. I’m not trying to be a jerk when I say this but you’re obviously a smart, worldly cookie–so were you really surprised to read the Jezebel piece? We all know you could post a different article every day here about women (and men) behaving like total douches to strangers and their loved ones, and then say, “Can you believe these people?” But what would be the point? A-holes exist in drives. So no, you’re not naive (as I’m sure you already knew) to think that choosing your bridesmaids should not be based on BS like their weight, but you are probably naive if the Jezebel article honestly surprised you. Women being mean to other women is the sharpest kind of cruelty that exists, no doubt about it.

    On a side note, I agree with at least a couple others on here who have been brides or are currently engaged and planning their wedding–I’m in that latter boat, and I don’t recommend it to others. Elope, as fast as you can. Everybody has advice for you, all of it conflicting, and no matter how deeply you care about your guests and try to keep their experience in mind in every decision you make, the reality is that each guest has their own set of preferences. Therefore, you will necessarily make choices that at least some guests will not be happy with. Try to do this while constantly hearing people tell you, “It’s your wedding! Do what you want! It’s about you as a couple!” That’s their attitude until you inform cousin Mike that you’re having an adults-only wedding and all of a sudden, he’s pissed that you’re not inviting his kid. You might have ten other guests who are thrilled to have an adults-only night out, but you’ll have ten others who are mad that their kid isn’t coming. Every wedding I’ve ever attended was filled with women chattering on in hushed voices during or afterwards about every little detail–too fancy, not nice enough, bad food, cash bar(!), terrible DJ, on and on and on. I know that sometimes being a wedding guest can have its downsides (expensive, travel, many gift-giving occasions, waiting around after ceremony) but I also know that, now that I’ve been/will be on the hosting side of it, I’ll be a lot more appreciative and nicer as a wedding guest because I know the time, work, and money that goes into orchestrating one of these things. When I started planning my wedding I couldn’t imagine “wasting” money on a wedding planner–to me, that was bourgeois nonsense for people with a bottomless budget–but now many months into it, I’m starting to wonder if a planner wouldn’t have been the best-spent money of all.

    • Belle says:

      We’ve had people defend bad bride behavior before in other posts. It’s not fake outrage, it’s mostly just shock that someone would be so brazen in their cruelty. I was also just reality curious as to how widespread this is.

      • Addison says:

        I’m with Belle on this one. Brides acting like spoiled brats is annoying but nothing new. But a
        bride blatantly telling a friend (that she’s known for 15 years!!) that she clearly doesn’t care
        about her appearance and is too fat and pale to be in her wedding pictures and clearly doesn’t care
        is just outrageous

      • Lyellian says:

        I highly recommend Rebecca Mead’s “One Perfect Day” for a quick read about wedding insanity in recent years. It’s not a flawless book, but I found it thought-provoking. (There are excerpts and articles adapted from the book online, as well.)

  23. Got married last year and my best friend was 8 months pregnant, which was PERFECT and allowed me to just let the 2 MOH wear dresses they liked w/o having to ‘match.’ I bought both their dresses and their prewedding hair, plus didn’t have a bachelorette party. We askd for donations to charity instead of gifts. Second weddings are so much easier for everyone.

  24. kjb says:

    My best friends from college and I promised each other that we would not ask each other to be bridesmaids. We knew that none of us would marry young and we think it is ridiculous to ask your 30-something friends to dress in identical dresses and march down an aisle ahead of you.
    When I get married,I plan to ask my friends to read at the ceremony and I will invite them over to help me get ready. I will have two attendants: a MOH (my sister) and a flower girl (my daughter).

  25. Mary says:

    When I first started planning our wedding, there were so many things in flux (like if my family was going to actually make the trek across the country for the event) I ruled the idea of bridesmaids out. But now that portions of the celebration are falling into place I’ve decided to go with a small bridal party of three. My sister and my two closest friends from college. I realized how much it means to have my closest friends and one of my few supportive family members by my side on this hugely significant day. Thanks for the post Belle!

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