The Cost of Being a Bridesmaid & Why Bridezillas Must Die

Most of the time I try to make my blog posts fairly positive.  Even in my posts that deal with very serious topics, I try to provide some beacon of hope for my readers.  However, I will warn you in advance that today’s post is not going to be like that.  Today’s post is probably going to be full of angry vitriol & general disgust at a phenomenon that I truly believe is doing irrefutable harm in our culture.

That phenomenon is lavish, over-the-top weddings.  I just read this article ( last week & I was horrified, although not that surprised, to read that the average bridesmaid spends $1500-$1800 on each wedding in which she participates!  Ladies, this is insane!!!nobridezilla

I have only been a bridesmaid once so far, & that was just this past Fall when I was a bridesmaid in my own maid of honor’s wedding.  Because the wedding was in New England I actually did spend probably close to a grand on the wedding between airplane tickets for myself & my husband & a hotel for the three nights we were there (thankfully the bride negotiated a great deal for wedding party members at a really nice B&B).  However, my husband & I also got somewhat of a mini vacation out of the trip because we had four days to explore Boston, a city neither of us had ever visited before.  Obviously some of our time was taken up with wedding festivities, but we also had quite a bit of free time to explore the city & just be tourists, which was awesome.  My friend had been a bridesmaid at least four times prior to her own wedding so she was well aware of how expensive these affairs can be for bridesmaids.  Knowing this, she deliberately chose (with our input) a very reusable & reasonably priced dress.  The earrings we wore were our bridesmaid gift from her, & we got to pick our own gold shoes in whatever style we wanted.  I didn’t have a pair of gold shoes, but I found a gorgeous & very reusable pair at Rack Room for less than $20.  The bride gave us the option of doing our own hair or going to the salon with her.  I chose to do my own hair & we all helped each other with make-up.  We did get pedicures together but this was also very reasonably priced (& was by far the best pedicure I’ve ever had in my life).  We threw her a very simple but enjoyable bachelorette party the Friday night before the wedding (which was on a Sunday).  All in all, being a bridesmaid for my friend was not a financial strain for me & I daresay it wasn’t for any of the other girls either.  And it was a lot of fun too.  I for one feel incredibly lucky to know that all of my remaining friends who might ask me to be bridesmaids in the future are just as practical & realistic, so I can trust that they too will take my finances into consideration when planning their weddings.

This is me as a bridesmaid in my college roommate's wedding this past Fall.  We got the dresses from Ann Taylor.  I got the headband at WalMart, the shoes at Rack Room, & the earrings were a gift from the bride.  She also loaned me the necklace.

This is me as a bridesmaid in my college roommate’s wedding this past Fall. We got the dresses from Ann Taylor. I got the headband at WalMart, the shoes at Rack Room, & the earrings were a gift from the bride. She also loaned me the necklace.   I did my own hair & make-up.

When I had my own wedding, two of my bridesmaids, like me, had just graduated from college & the third girl had one more year of college left.  Needless to say we were all on a tight budget at that point in our lives.  Knowing this, together we chose a very reusable & reasonably priced dress, & we agreed on silver shoes in any style they desired since these are easy to find & can definitely be used again for other occasions.  They could wear whatever jewelry they chose & only the maid of honor got her hair professionally done with me.  We both went to the same local salon & paid, I think, $40 each for our hair.  We all did our own make-up with assistance from a friend.  My bachelorette party was a trip to the natural hot springs in Bath County, Virginia the Saturday before the wedding, so needless to say that was a cheap but very fun trip.  One of my bridesmaids couldn’t come because she had to work.  We missed her but I didn’t throw a fit because that’s just real life.  I had only one wedding shower which my maid of honor couldn’t attend because she was in Boston that weekend.  No big deal.  I did not have an engagement party with my friends or family.  The idea never even occurred to me because I was too busy finishing up nursing school, studying for the NCLEX, & then learning to become a real nurse.

Our wedding rings with my bouquet, designed by the florist my husband worked for in high school .  Photo by Triskay Photography.

Our wedding rings with my bouquet, designed by the florist my husband worked for in high school . Photo by Triskay Photography.

The point of all this is that I’m so tired of the idea that brides have a right to become some ridiculous bridezilla & demand that their friends treat them like princesses & spend thousands of dollars on elaborate bachelorette trips, multiple parties/showers, & gifts, not to mention the often ludicrous cost of the bridesmaid dress itself & the associated costs of hair, make-up, etc.  For the love of all that is holy, I felt guilty for asking two of my bridesmaids to drive about three hours to the wedding since we had it in our hometown!  And then I felt guilty for asking our guests to drive thirty minutes to the reception because the one thing I refused to do for our wedding was to have the reception in the church basement.  (My grandmother’s funeral luncheon was held there, so, if for no other reason, I felt like the church reception hall was just too incongruous a place to hold our wedding reception.)

Brides, please remember that money does NOT grow on trees for your bridesmaids.

Brides, please remember that money does NOT grow on trees for your bridesmaids.

There is no doubt in my mind that who you choose to marry is the most important decision of your life.  But this is equally true for both men & women.  And we don’t see (most) men spending thousands of dollars on their friends’ weddings!  Yes, weddings can & should be fun.  But they do NOT have to be elaborate & financially burdensome for everyone involved.  If you & your friends are all pulling in 6-figures a year, feel free to have a lavish bachelorette party & wedding.  Otherwise, show a little restraint, not to mention a little respect for your friends’ wallets, & tone things down a bit.  (If someone is a close enough friend to be your bridesmaid, you ought to have a pretty good idea of how her finances stand.)  Your marriage will not suffer if you don’t have a wedding that is so perfect it could be featured in a magazine.  When the day is over, the only thing, the ONLY THING, that matters is the man (or woman) to whom you say “I do.”  THAT IS IT.

If you want to get real down & dirty, consider that several research studies have actually shown that the more money a couple spends on their wedding, the greater their chances of divorce.  (The same is true for how much a man spends on an engagement ring, but that’s a whole other blog post right there.)  Honestly, I don’t find this surprising at all.  Like I said before, if you or your family truly has the money to pull off a $50,000 wedding, by all means, go ahead.  But if you’re a normal bloke like most of us, please do yourself & your friends a favor & remember that this is just ONE day in the course of your lifetime.  Is it an important day?  Absolutely.  But going into debt over it, or asking your friends to do the same in order to be part of it, is just ludicrous!bridemaid money

Many people have told me that I was the most relaxed bride they ever saw.  I think this is because I married the man I’d been dating since high school so there was truly no doubt in my mind that he was the right man for me.  Furthermore, we had been living together intermittently for several years, so I already knew we could stand living together in close quarters.  We were also familiar with each other’s families from years of shared holidays, so really there was nothing to worry about.  I’ll never forget going to Bed, Bath, & Beyond to sign up for our wedding registry & being absolutely overwhelmed by how I was expected to pick out potential gifts for us.  I felt like there were 100 different options for every conceivable household item.  I was still in nursing school at the time, so I couldn’t stop myself from thinking “Who cares?  I have more important things to worry about right now.”  I felt the same way when the florist asked me what kind of flowers I wanted.  I was able to come up with a few basic ideas & from there I just trusted her to work her magic.  And guess what: our flowers turned out beautifully!  When it came to wedding favors & decorating the church, I knew these were things hardly anyone was going to notice anyway, so I just let my mom pick out things she thought were nice.  And everything turned out just fine!  Instead of hiring professional musicians, we had a family friend play the piano & a cousin of mine play the violin.  And they were awesome!  We also just used my computer at the reception instead of hiring a professional DJ.

Every bride needs at least one silly wedding picture, rig ht?  I thought so.  :)  Photo by Triskay Photography.

Every bride needs at least one silly wedding picture, right? I thought so. 🙂 Photo by Triskay Photography.

The point of all this, ladies, is that if we want to be treated like the equals we know we are, we have to stop acting like getting married gives us the right to act like some spoiled princess.  It doesn’t.  Get over yourself.  End of story.

Why 30 Is Not the New 20

I originally wrote this post in May of last year but I was re-reading it last night & realized how relevant it still is, so I thought I’d share it here where it might garner a larger audience.  Additionally I’ve added in a few new thoughts here & there.

This morning I logged onto Facebook & saw that one of my friends had posted a link to a Ted talk by a psychologist named Meg Jay.  The topic of the talk was “Why 30 Is Not the New 20.”  Intrigued, I clicked the link, saw that it was a 14 minute video, & almost said “Nah, not worth my time.”  Thankfully I decided to give it a listen because it turned out to be one of the most motivational talks I have ever heard.  In fact I loved her message so much that I found myself taking notes so that I could summarize it & share it with my friends, some of whom might be more inclined to read a synopsis rather than watch the video.  Below I have listed Meg’s three main points & described them as best as I can, inserting my own thoughts here & there.  Anything in quotes is directly from Meg’s talk.

meg jay

1. “Forget about having an identity crisis & invest in identity capital.”  Kind of like good deeds beget good deeds, “identity capital begets identity capital.”  Identity capital is something that defines you & helps you accomplish the career, dream, or goal you want to achieve.    Identity capital can be volunteering in your community, taking on a challenging internship, going back to school, or a million other things.  The point is that if you want to achieve your goals in life (which by the way you SHOULD have actual goals), you HAVE to take specific steps to make them happen.  Nobody becomes a doctor or a rock star or an NFL player just by talent or luck.  Every dream takes hard work & intentional steps to make it a reality.  Small steps, no matter how inconsequential they may seem, are better than doing nothing at all & ending up in your 40’s or 50’s & wondering “what if?”

(Since writing this original post, I’ve taken the step of starting this blog so I can chase my dream of becoming a writer someday.)

2. Don’t limit your circle of friends to people just like you.  New jobs & opportunities & even significant others can be met through “weak ties.”  Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to your friends’ parents or your neighbors or to hang out with people of a different generation.  Quite often you can learn a lot from these people & you just never know where that crucial connection will be made.  If you only hang around people of your own age & social “class,” for lack of a better term, you will never challenge yourself & may very well end up stuck in the same old rut forever.

I know I met some of my best friends in college through other lesser friends or just by saying hi to someone who sat near me in class.  Additionally some of my best friends in Raleigh are 30 years older than me, but I feel as close to them as I do to many of my friends my own age.

3. Here’s the one that resonates the most with me.  “The time to start picking your family is now.”  It has often been said “You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends.”  As a child & teenager this is true.  But when you become an adult you DO choose your family.  In modern America anyway, we no longer have arranged marriages so, yes, we actually DO have the privilege & responsibility of choosing our own families.  How awesome is that?  Just remember, “grabbing whoever you’re living with or sleeping with at the time just because everyone on Facebook is walking down the aisle is NOT progress.”  “The best time to start working on your marriage is before you have one.  Be as intentional with love as you are with work.”  Don’t just “make it work or kill time” with whoever happens to be there at the time.  It has been said that “love in your 20’s is often like musical chairs, & when people hit 30 it seems like everyone is sitting down (read: settling down) so people just sit down with (read: marry) whatever ‘chair’ happens to be there at the moment.  WRONG!!”

I know I may have little room to talk since I have no idea what it is like to be 30 & single but common sense dictates that this is a bad idea.  So many girls (& guys) in their 20’s say “Well, no, I wouldn’t marry this person I’m dating right now but this relationship doesn’t count.  I’m only in my 20’s.  I’m nowhere near ready to settle down.”  On the surface this sounds ok but you have to realize that the patterns you are setting ARE patterns.  If you get in a habit of “just settling” for whoever happens to be around, how will you ever know when you really meet “the one?”  Consider that by cheapening your own standards, you may also cheapen yourself.  I hate to sound like an old fart, but it’s true.  This goes for both sexes, so don’t think I’m just talking to the ladies here.  Additionally, the behavior you put up with is the behavior you will get.  As I mentioned in my blog post last week, one of my favorite books, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, eloquently puts it like this: “We accept the love we think we deserve.”  If you accept bad behavior from yourself or others for long enough, it will become your norm & you won’t even realize you’re being mistreated.  If you truly want a serious relationship, have enough self-respect not to spend the most valuable thing you have, your time, on someone who doesn’t really care about you (or who you don’t even really care about).  After all none of us is promised tomorrow.  There is no guarantee any of us will make it to 30 or 40 or 80.  Thus, there is truly no such thing as “throwaway” years.

My wedding bouquet & our rings Triskay Photography

My wedding bouquet & our rings
Triskay Photography

To further expound on this point, may I interject a few personal stories & say that walking down the aisle in a fancy dress & saying “I do” does NOT change anything.  If you have serious problems in your relationship before you’re married, surprise, surprise: they do NOT just disappear.  Now I know from experience that in the weeks leading up to our wedding, my husband & I fought a lot more than usual because we were both stressed & worried about the wedding, not so much the marriage itself but just the wedding day.  Neither of us likes being the center of attention & we just had no idea what to expect because neither of us had even been to a wedding for almost four years, much less been closely involved with planning a wedding.  The whole experience was new to us so of course it was stressful, & naturally there were times when we took it out on each other.  However, as soon as the wedding was over, those fights disappeared because that source of stress was gone.  But the little every-day things that we do that annoy each other didn’t suddenly go away.  Of course not.  People don’t change just because there are rings on their fingers.  Duh.  But we were very happy together & very committed to each other long before we were actually married so very little really changed after we got married. And that is how we wanted it.  (In my mind you should have a marriage-like relationship before getting married or else you probably shouldn’t be making that kind of serious commitment anyway.  Just my opinion, I know, but I think there’s some wisdom behind it.)

The only major changes in our relationship after marriage were due to life events that really had nothing to do with being married.  First we had to deal with my brand new nursing career which was certainly stressful; then when I finally felt like I was on top of my game with that, my husband finished his master’s degree & we decided to move to a new state & into an urban environment with a totally different culture than anything we’d ever experienced.  A week after we moved, I started my new job which was pretty challenging at times, & then my husband was unemployed for four months while he searched for a job. He finally got his dream job & very shortly afterward we decided to buy a house.  Now THAT was a stressful experience but one we’re very glad we endured.  Throughout this past year we have also lost quite a few loved ones including my husband’s two remaining grandparents & a special uncle of mine.

Overall, most of the changes in our lives in the past two years since we got married, especially in the past year, have been good things, but change is still stressful, no matter what it is.  I don’t know that being married has necessarily made these changes easier or more difficult but if we’d had serious relationship problems, whether married or not, we likely wouldn’t have made it through all these things.  The point of all this is, just because all your friends are getting married or you start thinking about having a family, don’t just settle when it comes to choosing a partner & potential father/mother of your future kids.  Whether you end up getting married or just deciding to be life partners without the formal marriage designation (which, by the way, I really don’t think is a bad thing), you are going to face a lot of challenges & changes in life, & you definitely need to be with the right person or it’s going to be hell.  I can’t imagine marrying someone who wasn’t my best friend.

Listening to Meg’s talk made me realize how proud I am of myself for making such good use of my 20’s, what she calls quite accurately “the defining decade.”  I know a lot of my success is rooted in having great parents who pushed me to do well in school, have a successful career, & always do my best at everything I attempt in life.  I also know that to a certain extent I got “lucky” in meeting my husband at such a young age & by getting a full scholarship to college.  But I didn’t get that scholarship without working really hard in high school to qualify for it, & I certainly didn’t graduate college with a 4.0 by just being smart.  I worked my butt off for that.  (Sometimes I wish I’d focused less on grades but that’s a post for another day.)  My husband and I also haven’t maintained our relationship over all these years without a lot of effort from both of us.  I love the fact that our relationship has always felt so natural, not at all forced, but at the same time life is hard & relationships are work at times.  You get out of life what you put into it & the same is true for relationships of course.  So, yes, I have a lot of people to thank for contributing to my success in life, but I also know that a lot of it is due to the decisions I have made.  Life IS what you make it & I’m very proud of myself for being a mid 20’s RN, wife, & homeowner.  I do NOT mean to imply that you aren’t successful if you don’t have a great career, aren’t married, or don’t own a house at this point in your life.  OF COURSE NOT.  Everyone’s timeline is different, as well it should be.  But I do encourage everyone who is in their 20’s to make good use of this time in your life.  Don’t wait till you’re 30 to be serious about chasing your dreams & start making good decisions.  

 I am also proud to say that when I think about my close friends, they are all making good use of their 20’s also.  Some of them have accomplished amazing things that I can’t imagine ever doing.  Wow, I really know some awesome people who inspire me daily.  You guys know who you are & you rock!

 If this came off as preachy or condescending, forgive me.  That is not how I meant it at all.  I’ve just talked about my own experiences because that is all I have to go on.  I found this talk so inspiring & I wanted to share it with my friends so that you too may be inspired to make good use of your 20’s (or whatever decade you’re in).  It’s never too late to chase your dreams, but it’s a whole lot easier if you start young.

Here’s the link to Meg’s talk if you want to listen to it:

What’s Wrong With Modern Women

I just finished reading an exceedingly entertaining book (How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran) which also managed to be very thought-provoking.  I highly recommend it to everyone unless you are sensitive to what most people consider foul language or blunt conversation about female anatomy.  Actually if you are one of those people you probably would benefit the most from this book as it turns out, but I digress.  In any case, my favorite part of this book was when the author pointed out some serious flaws with modern feminine society, all of which are things I have often pondered myself.  I love it when I find that my own brilliant ideas aren’t so crazy after all!  Other people are writing books about these things!  I am not insane after all!  Hallelujah!


The first of those things that modern society has gotten totally wrong is weddings.  Don’t misunderstand me here: I love weddings!  I think marriage is wonderful though I also realize that it isn’t for everyone & I’m totally ok with that.  But common sense, which is obviously not so common or else I wouldn’t be writing this, dictates that spending an average of > $20,000 on one single day is INSANE.


Ever since I was a child I’ve also been offended by the idea that a woman’s wedding day is naturally the best day of her life.  I loved my wedding day & I’ll gladly admit it was a great day which I will always remember with a smile. However, the idea that it was the BEST day of my life is frankly depressing.  How I can possibly ignore the not-so-subtle implication that everything that follows will never measure up to that one glorious day?  I don’t think I’ll ever claim any one day as the best day of my life because that implies that everything else isn’t as good.  To me a good life is made up of lots of wonderful days filled with simple joys & quiet triumphs.

But back to the original subject of the over-priced outrageous weddings that have somehow become the norm in our society.  Again common sense dictates that the insane amount of money spent on weddings would be much better spent on something that actually LASTS, for example a house that you can live in for years after the wedding.  Considering that most people buy a house &/or start a family within a few years of getting married, does it make sense to spend what money you have one an event that lasts ONE day or worse yet to get into debt over it?  The answer of course is a resounding NO!

Now if you are “blessed” enough to come from a family who can afford to spend a small fortune on a wedding without making a dent in the family finances, then have at it.  I still find the idea fairly silly but that is just me.  But most of us cannot afford these lavish weddings & it’s ridiculous to continue to conform to societal pressure to have an expensive wedding just because it’s “what everyone else is doing.”  I’m not saying you should give up on all of your “dream wedding” ideas but please realize that no one cares half as much about all the details of this day as you do.  Do you think anyone is going to go home & scrutinize the centerpieces from your reception or the wedding favors?  Uh, no.  And if they do they have WAYYYY too much time on their hands.  Get real, folks.  I’m not saying you can’t have fun planning your wedding.  Sure you can!  But just remember that after the day is over, THAT IS IT!  Do you really want to start your marriage financially strapped because of an expensive wedding?  Marriage can be stressful enough, so why add financial worries to the pile?  And if your parents are paying for the wedding, consider that they have better things to spend their money on than your wedding day.  Sorry if that sounds harsh but it’s true.  Your parents deserve to spend their hard-earned money on something that lasts longer than a few hours.  The way I see it is if your wedding day is the most important day of your life, you need to reexamine your priorities in life.  Marriage is wonderful and is one of the most important things in life, but marriage isn’t made up of the wedding.  Marriage is made up of the relationship you built before the wedding & the relationship you maintain after it.


The second thing women are getting totally wrong these days is shoes.  Ladies, please explain to me why we continue to torture ourselves with those awful devices

called high heels?  Now if some of you honestly find these shoes comfortable, then go right ahead.  But for the rest of you I really don’t want to hear your complaints about how much your feet/back/knees hurt after wearing these ridiculous shoes!  No one is forcing you to wear stilettos.

stilettosThank God the days of women being expected to wear such shoes are over.  Besides that, ask any reasonable man & most of them will tell you that heels are not that sexy!  I hate to break it to you but shoes cannot drastically change your appearance.  If your legs look fat in regular shoes, they are still going to look fat in heels.  Odds are your legs don’t even look fat in the first place, but you just think they do because we’ve been conditioned to think anything that isn’t a bird leg is fat, but that is a whole different discussion right there.

So really, girls, why is that is almost every woman these days owns > 20 pairs of shoes (I’m just guessing here but that has to be about right), many of which are never actually worn or if they are worn are so uncomfortable as to make you wonder what the heck you were thinking when you put bought them?  Why are we spending hundreds of dollars on expensive heels for weddings & other events when we often cast them aside at the first possible chance because our feet are screaming “Let me out!!!”?  Please, someone tell me what the logic is here because I am not getting it.  Now maybe I am just bitter because my size 9-10 feet often do not fit in the cute shoes because those shoes aren’t even made in my size.  But frankly I find most of today’s shoes ugly anyway & besides that I have never seen the logic in sacrificing comfort for fashion.  I’m not saying I am going to wear yoga pants to a wedding, but I refuse to ever wear anything that literally HURTS me just to look good.  The way I see it is if a man only finds me attractive because of my shoes, then he has some serious issues & I don’t need him anyway.  As my dear husband so often points out, the last thing a man is interested in is your FEET.  Feet just aren’t that sexy on anyone.


coach bag

On to the third subject: handbags!  Now I understand that some women find purses legitimately interesting but I have just never seen the logic in spending hundreds of dollars on something to put my money in!  Acck, that is just so contradictory that it hurts my brain.  I really hate to offend anyone, but honestly can you blame men for disrespecting the female gender when we willingly spend HUNDREDS of dollars on ONE purse just because it’s Coach or Kate Spade or whatever?  I know I am hopelessly lost in the fashion world, but I have looked at these purses.  Really I have.  I have honestly tried to see if there is something special about them that justifies the insane prices women pay for these things.  And what I have found is that these purses are just normal purses!  They might be made of slightly better material than the handbags found at Wal-Mart.  But not that much better!  I’ve grown up a lot over the past few years & I can honestly say that I am now willing to spend $30-$40 on Gap Jeans because they legitimately are better made & are much more flattering on me than the $20 jeans at Wal-Mart.  But the price difference there is manageable.  $400 on a purse is just insane, ladies!  It’s a PURSE!  If you can’t see the problem here, I think you need to reevaluate what’s important in your life.  I personally refuse to be manipulated by marketing into thinking that I must have some expensive Coach bag to complete me as a woman.  I don’t need any such accessory.  Trust me, no man is going to care what kind of purse you’re carrying unless it’s made of cat fur or something creepy like that.  And if you’re worried that other women will not respect you or find you “cool” if you refuse to buy these overpriced handbags, then you need to find some new friends.

Now please understand this diatribe is filled with a lot of sarcasm & is intended to be humerous but also thought-provoking.  With that in mind, feel free to share your opinions on these matters.  🙂