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Bachelorette Parties: Optional or Obligation?

Mar05

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Oh, Amalah! I feel terrible. You see, I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding this summer (thanks very much for the dyeable shoe advice for the navy dress, by the way…yuck, dyeables, I know! BUT! I found a great bargain on Zappos and they won’t be as hideous as previously imagined.). Going along with the stress of buying shoes is now the stress of the bachelorette party.
You see, the bride is having a co-ed bachelor/bachelorette weekend party in Texas. Sounds like a fun time, right? The thing is that I’ve got a friend’s wedding in Pittsburgh to attend that weekend. And, no, I’m not a bridesmaid in that wedding but this *is* a very good friend of mine. I’ve told the bride that I can’t attend the weekend party (with sincere apologies!!) but I still get the feeling that she’s more than a little peeved at me.
Am I being a bad bridesmaid by not going to the party? Seriously, should I ditch the Pittsburgh wedding and get a flight out to Texas instead? I feel horribly that I’m not able to celebrate with the bride and her fiancé, but I would feel horribly if I missed the wedding in Pittsburgh. Arg! The. Stress. Is. Overwhelming. Good thing my Girl Scout cookies arrived today…mmm….
So, if I do choose the Pittsburgh wedding over the Dallas party, my other question is what can I buy and send to her to make up for missing the party? Something fabulous and unexpected that says, “Yeah, I am not the best bridesmaid because I missed your party but I am the best bridesmaid in terms of gift giving.” It is a personal belief that gifts make great apologies.
Thanks for the advice and congratulations on the pregnancy!

Can I mention (probably again and probably not for the last time) that I am very, very, VERY tired of this notion that agreeing to be a bridesmaid also means agreeing to be at the bride’s beck-and-call any time she feels like demanding your presence, and ALSO that a bridesmaid is expected to put up with whatever bratty behavior the bride feels like exhibiting, to the point that the poor bridesmaid (who was also possibly just called a “FRIEND” in a past life) is wracked with guilt and stress over something that is. So. Not. A. Big. Deal.
You go to the wedding. I assume you RSVP’d to the wedding, and canceling that commitment would be the breach of etiquette here, NOT skipping out on a party that you already gave your excuses for. I’ve been to plenty of bachelorette parties where a bridesmaid or two were not in attendance, for whatever reason.
If it was really so important to the bride that you attend, she should have cleared the date with you ahead of time. Simple as that. I also assume the bridal party is the typical size — three or four attendants each — and it really wouldn’t have been that hard for the bride and groom to send out a couple date options to see what everyone’s availability was. Obviously, they don’t HAVE to do that, but since they didn’t I’m going to declare that they therefore forfeited any and all reasons to be peeved at people for not being able to attend.
(Also, unless they are footing the entire travel and accommodations bill, they also would have no reason to be peeved even if you DIDN’T have another wedding to attend — destination weddings and parties are definitely fun if everyone can afford to go, but after buying a dress and shoes and whatever else, I am also comfortable making the declaration that your financial obligations as a bridesmaid also end there.)
bachelorette.jpgBut okay. You clearly do wish you could go, and it’s a shame that something fun turned into a mess. And yes, I personally think the bride IS being a brat for being pissed off over something that 1) she could have easily prevented herself with a little planning, and 2) is NOT her wedding and is JUST the bachelorette party, and between the shower and the rehearsal and the wedding itself, HOW many special magical days do brides feel entitled to these days? But! Two wrongs don’t make a right and YOU getting all peeved at HER would not help the situation at all. So you want to send her a gift, and I think that would be a lovely thing.
I would go with a fabulous gift basket delivered to the hotel room, so your gift (if not your presence) can be enjoyed during the actual party weekend. If all the girls are staying together, send something the whole crowd can enjoy like champagne, mini-bar-like snacks, hangover remedies — maybe some shoe or handbag cookies. Or if the bride and groom are staying together and have a sense of humor, a basket full of your more typical trashy bachelor/bachelorette party items…plus a really nice bottle of champagne. I am firm believer that good champagne heals pretty much every wound known to woman.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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2 Responses to “Bachelorette Parties: Optional or Obligation?”

  1. judi Mar 05 at 10:24 am Reply Reply

    sending a lovely little gift basket seems like a perfect idea – but you shouldn’t feel guilty for having an actual WEDDING to attend.
    one of my bridesmaids was from michigan and couldn’t afford to fly out for my bachelorette party – NO big deal – but she sent me an adorable little package that arrived before we went out for the night. it included a super cheesy mix CD of girly party music and a “bride to be” kit which was like a book of yoga & a calming candle or something. :-P anyway, some other girls also got me silly stuff like a veil decorated w/ plastic penises, a big plastic ring shaped like a diamond that was hollow, and could therefore be used like a shot glass. i think a basket of that kind of silly stuff would be so perfect.

  2. BridehoodRevisited Mar 05 at 11:16 am Reply Reply

    Go to the wedding, don’t even give it a second though. The gift basket would be nice, but it is not necessary. If the bride is pissed, that’s her problem. Being a bridesmaid is not a competition to prove your friendship by bending to her will. Go to the wedding and enjoy!

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