The Case of the Broke Bridesmaid, Vol. 4, Issue 40

Dear Etiquetteer:My very dear friend moved to the other side of the country a couple months ago and is now having a shotgun wedding - albeit to a man she's very much in love with. Blessed Bride invited me to the wedding, asked me to be a bridesmaid and all those lovely things. Of course I accepted and am thrilled to be there for her special day.However, due to the time constraints, in a very short timespan I'm spending a great deal of money ($850 so far) on airfare, rental car, hotel, bridesmaid's dress & accessories (appropriate undergarments are not cheap!), wedding gift, shower gift, hairstyling, manicure, and pedicure on the wedding day, etc. I need some advice from you on some of the weekend's activities.One of her family members is hosting a bridal shower that is the night before the rehearsal dinner. She sent us the following information regarding the shower: Aunt Eccentric is hosting a dinner at a Mexican restaurant (everyone will have a choice of two dinners) the cake, drinks and the invites. Crazy Cousin is hosting the centerpieces.According to Crazy Cousin, "There is a ‘no-host bar’ meaning if you want booze, it is on you. If you gals (bridesmaids) wanted to host that part you could, but it could get costly at $20 a pitcher for margaritas. Also, dear bridesmaids, [Insert Name of Online Party Provider Here] has some cute inexpensive fiesta party favors if you gals wanted to do favors for the shower." Crazy Cousin also suggested that "one of you gals who is into scrapbooking puts together a pre-made small scrapbook that ladies can add their words of wisdom to Blessed Bride to in the captions at the shower then the shower photos can just be added once they are developed." A fellow bridesmaid said that she will host the bride's thank-you notes.Etiquetteer, please help! I’m already going broke just being there for her special day (not to mention that the Blessed Bride still owes me $500!) Can you advise me as to how much participation I should have in these events? As bridesmaids, we are going in together on a rather nice shower gift. I've picked out a perfectly proper wedding gift and even made by hand a lovely wedding card.As far as shower, rehearsal dinner, bachelorette party go, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing. What is expected of bridesmaids when it comes to bridal showers? I'm sober, so I have no intention on chipping in on alcoholic beverages. Are we expected to pay for tacky maraca keychains as favors? Should someone be planning a "bachelorette party?" What is the role of the maid of honor vs. other bridesmaids? As a bridesmaid, should I offer to help out in some way for the shower by paying for some element of the shower? Would it be all right if I bought a lovely book in which we record who gave which gifts at the shower? Or, purchased/made a scrapbook as suggested?Never mind that I feel the shower is not appropriate as it is two nights before the wedding and feels like it's just an excuse for gifts. And, the baby shower will be just around the corner, right in time for the holidays. And, I did all the legwork related to bridesmaid dresses since we're scattered throughout the country. I'm trying to put all my resentful feelings aside but as a singleton I'm finding this really hard to swallow. I am so happy for the bride & groom and want to be Perfectly Proper, as you say, but I can't afford to go broke on this.Dear Broke Bridesmaid:As the ladies at Smart and Sassy say, Etiquetteer’s head exploded reading your letter. What a tangle! Let’s try to sort this out, shall we?Etiquetteer suspects this whole bridesmaid thing was a lot easier "once upon a time" when everyone concerned with a wedding lived in the same town, or at least the same county. Then it was relatively easy to arrange for gown fittings, bridal showers, and other gatherings. These days we have sacrified Proximity to Personal Choice, but the true cost of that sacrifice is felt at weddings and other such gatherings the most.Believe it or not, it’s not the best of taste for family members to host the bridal shower. That’s usually done by the bridesmaids, or even by friends of the mother of the bride. Whichever members of the wedding party live closest to the bride (maid of honor or not) ought to take the lead here, but as maid of honor you should be involved in the arrangements. But not now; keep reading.In this case, let’s be thankful that Aunt Eccentric is easing the burden. But with her parceling out donor opportunities the way she is, it doesn’t really sound like she wants to, does it? Etiquetteer really doesn’t care for this sort of thing. If you’re going to throw the party, throw the party and don’t assign people (especially total strangers) to spend money on your own ideas. So Etiquetteer thinks you should treat Auntie’s suggestions as just that: suggestions. If she really wants other people to foot the bill for a party she’s hosting, then all of you should have been involved in the decisions about where and what the party would be.Under the circumstances, a bachelorette party sounds Most Improper, so please quash that at once if someone springs that idea. Etiquetteer just can’t take the idea of a pregnant bride in some nightclub outfit riding around in a stretch limo with her girlfriends, rolling down the window at intersections to say "Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?" And Etiquetteer shivers in fear to think what "hosting the bride’s thank-you notes" might mean.With the heavy commitment you’ve made merely to attend the wedding in the appropriate uniform, and all your work handling the fittings for the rest of the wedding party, Etiquetteer believes you to have fulfilled your duty apart from actually attending the wedding. What a pity, Etiquetteer notes acidly, that it seems no one offered you a room in one of their homes, knowing that you’d have to travel a distance to be there. And Etiquetteer is disappointed to see no reference to the bridesmaid’s luncheon, which the bride hosts for her bridesmaids and when she give them her gifts. Let’s hope this will be a lovely surprise for you when you arrive.

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