“We had hoped that it hit its saturation point,” Jacobina says of the ever-increasing wedding fervor. “Then I heard about a friend going to a destination bachelorette party.”
The friend was asked to be a bridesmaid even though she wasn’t particularly close with the bride. Eventually the showers and obligations got to be too much. After seeking Jacobina’s guidance, she bowed out of the wedding.
“And the bride just found a replacement. She was completely unfazed and said, ‘Your dress is about the same size as this other girl, so I’ll just give it to her,’ ” Jacobina says. “It goes with our theory that it’s becoming show business, with people cast in parts. It’s everyone’s Oscar night.”
It’s not just lady-folk who get sucked up into the wedding hurricane, says Mike Arnot, founder of GroomGroove, a Web site for grooms and their entourages. Best man obligations, he says, amount to more than any guy ever anticipates. “There’s a whole grocery list of duties,” he says. “Not the least of which is making a wedding speech in front of 150 people who are staring at you.” The best man also has to organize the bachelor party, coordinate the schedules of a dozen friends, be the groom’s errand boy and stay sober — at least through the toast.
But it could be worse. “Know when a guy will grumble?” Arnot says. “When it’s his girlfriend who’s a bridesmaid and he gets dragged along to everything. We’re happy to do a favor for one of our buddies. Are we happy to do a favor for our girlfriend’s friend? Ehhhh.”
Not everyone is grumbling. Traci Melshenker, the 26-year-old author of the blog Confessions of a Professional Bridesmaid, says she sees wedding-party duty as a rite of passage for people in their 20s and early 30s. She hasn’t been able to save any money for the future, but she doesn’t regret being in her friends’ weddings. And now that it’s her turn to get married, she’s trying to learn from her experiences as a bridesmaid: She won’t pick a dress her attendants don’t like or dictate what shoes they should wear. And after getting engaged two months ago, she threw a shower for her future bridesmaids — all 20 of them.
To maintain some semblance of sanity, Jacobina Martin recommends that people pick and choose which wedding-related events to attend and be honest with engaged friends about their limitations.
But in the end, she says, responsibility rests with the couple. “Some people think, ‘Oh well, work people want to give me a shower, and my family wants to give me a shower. So, it’s not my fault, people want to do this for me.’
“I know it’s hard to resist, but resist,” Martin says. “You don’t have to have a million things.”
Sure, you might not walk away with a $500 espresso machine or six matching sets of Egyptian cotton sheets, but you know what? You might be able to keep your friends.
Sometimes Martin hears about “small, charming weddings that didn’t create enemies,” she says. “I’m hoping that will be the new trend.”
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