I have a semi-close friend (who was once a very close friend) who recently got engaged. Before her boyfriend even proposed she asked me to be her maid of honor. I agreed and knew at the time they didn't want a long engagement. Since she's become engaged she is adamant about having an early January wedding ... like, January 2, 2010. She will be finalizing the date this weekend after visiting a few wedding venues.
When she originally told me about her choice of dates, I gently suggested that she reconsider because of difficulties with finding vendors, the inconvenience for guests, the cost of travel and lodging during the holiday season, etc. She responded to that suggestion by basically saying that she thinks most of her family can make it and that nothing else mattered. The issues for me:
1. she lives several hours away in a city with limited lodging which is likely full now because it's also a college town.
2. I don't know that I can afford to be a maid of honor that soon after the holidays, nor do I think I will have the time to perform my maid of honor duties between now and then.
3. I think she expects that I'll spend my New Year's Eve with her before the wedding, and there's nothing I'd rather do less.
I don't know if I should tell her now that I cannot be her maid of honor if she finalizes that date, or wait until she tells me that date is set in stone before I make my case. Am I being unreasonable?
For what it's worth, our friendship has been strained ever since she started dating this guy and she was a less than gracious host when I visited her (upon her request) a couple of months ago. I know that if I back out it will be the final nail in the coffin of our friendship and I am prepared for that.
What should I do?
Maid of Inconvenience
p.s. - I am a huge fan of your Prudie letter responses...you are so clever!
Flattery will get you EVERYWHERE, lady! I mean that!
Okay, look, I hate calling women bridezilla. I think it's degrading, sexist and gets knuckleheaded men who aren't helping plan a very stressful and elaborate life event off the hook. But then I have to get a letter like yours and I think, "Jesus Christ our Lord and Shepherd, be a credit to your pre-married woman state will ya?"
I also have to laugh at her. She "recently" became engaged and immediately fixated on a January date, which is coming up in two months. Ha ha ha! You aren't joking when you talk about accommodations, vendors and everything else! LOL to the moon and back! She is totally hosed! The Saturday, nay, the day after a holiday? Which is a holiday wherein a lot of people get married? Which is also coming up in less than four months? Within, I am sure, a budget?ROTFLMAO!
So, you see, your spending New Year's with them at all may not even be in the cards. She may fall flat on her face getting the big three (venues, catering and services) to come together, forcing her to push back the date.
The advice to glean from that last paragraph: Don't remind her how hard it's going to be or say "I told you so." Just see if she can meet the challenge of getting the basics down. And if she's a picky little lemonface, who wants Barbie's Dream Wedding with ice swan sculptures and flight harnesses so she can swoop down the aisle like Peter Pan, or just has a particular band in mind, she may back down in the face of finding Her Amazing Day impossible to get right within her limited time.
Okay, so let's assume she DOES, somehow, pull off the major players for the wedding and she's NOT picky. She still has to get her guests on board.
Of course, she's saying as long as her family can make it, nothing else matters. Uh-doy! What about HIS family? Are these guests nearby? (Update: Maid of Inconvenience says, actually, yes, the whole family is within a day's drive.)
Well, it looks like if she's not going to be too picky about the wedding and only cares if family can make it, that you may in fact be screwed into going to this wedding and hanging out with them on New Years.
See, here's the thing: You agreed to do this duty. And if she's truly going to have a very short deadline for her wedding, she will likely not have time to find someone else.
But there's an up side to all of this. Although she is taking on some ridiculous planning challenges, and although right after the holidays is kind of a sucky time to put more eating and celebrating and money spending on anyone's agenda, she seems kind of flexible in terms of what she expects out of the experience itself (like, maybe she won't expect you to spend as much as you think you'll have to). And, if you think about the New Year's holiday, it is one where people could drive out on Friday, see the wedding on Saturday and head home on Sunday without needing to take time off.
If you look at it in this light, she's actually ... kind of okay.
But what it comes down to is this: There are her problems, which are all about, "is this the wedding she wants to do?" and there are your problems, which start off sounding like, "this is a crazy idea, I'll be broke at that point" but end up sounding like, "I just don't really like her enough to do this for her."
I think your real problem is you just don't like her enough to have made a commitment that would inconvenience you. You don't even have your arms completely around the level of inconvenience it's going to be and you're already tripping balls. I mean, you are going fetal thinking about hanging out with her for New Years instead of your real friends, right? How crappy does it make you feel that there's someone relying on you for her special day, and you're upset you can't hang out with people you'd rather hang out with the day before? A lot, I bet.
So here's my advice: Figure out what the damage is likely to be before you react. How much money does it look like you're going to have to spend? How much travelling are you going to have to do? Any time off work? Because you need to know her expectations before you lay out your parameters.
See, you do have an out. And that is the incredibly short time period in which you have to prepare. You get to tell her, as soon as she has an idea where her wedding is going, and if it becomes apparent that it is too rich for your blood, that you are happy to be there for her special day, and are grateful for the special role she wants you to play (grit your teeth if you must) but you made something of a mistake when you agreed to be the maid of honor, because you thought you'd have more time to save up and plan than the two busiest and spendiest months of the year, and you're worried you can't meet her expectations. Is she willing to lower them in consideration of your circumstances?
(i.e. maybe you won't have to throw an elaborate party for her, maybe the NY bash will suffice and be kind of cheap for you because it'll be you, her, two cousins and a sister and no male stripper because they're all booked/out on break, i.e. maybe you can wear whatever dress you want or she'll have cheap ones for you, i.e. no shower possibly.)
If she's reasonable, and I really hope she is, she'll recognize this and her expectations for you will be lower than the other poor MOHs out there. If she isn't overcome with materialism and tradition (and she seems kinda free and loose there), she may be able to have her family help take on some of the roles the MOH usually fills, mostly I'm thinking of the bridal shower here.
But the most important thing to do when you talk to her is admit that you are concerned about your own limits getting in the way of her having the wedding experience she wants, and surely she's aware that her timeline is pretty much determining your limits at the moment, and surely she can work with those limits as much as she's working with a shortened timeline.
This way, (if I've been giving her too much credit and her ungracious hosting turn is her new identity and not a one-off) if she's pissed off and angry and the friendship falls apart, it's because she's being a bitch, not you. Don't you be the unreasonable one by criticizing her choices as unilaterally unreasonable and ridiculous, even if you think they are.
The idea is that she gets to make choices, and you get to make choices, about what you're willing to do for each other in your friendship, in the name of history if nothing else. Besides, breaking up a friendship because of a wedding? For either of you, that's not a good way to go. If nothing else, it's a cheesy cliche.
I'm sorry this friendship seems to be petering out, but your best bet is to let it die a natural death and not let the wedding turn into drama that stomps it flat. I know that there can be a kind of temptation to utilize the wedding as a kind of weapon that way — you sound kind of at the end of a rope here in putting up with your old pal ("I am prepared to do that" is pretty ominous backing-out talk) — but don't leave in a swirl of anger. If you are forced to back out, make sure it's a mutual thing, where both of you agree that you shouldn't be MOH. Sure, that may kill the friendship, too, but in a totally, totally different way.
Also, I hope for her sake if she does decide to hold this thing in two months that everyone who wants to book a room can book a room.
I think the takeaway advice for you, and all the other readers here too, is that in the future, "Don't agree to be the maid of honor to someone who you'd rather not spend New Years Eve with."
Sorry this was so long, but I wanted to make sure I covered what I wanted to say. You have choices and limitations, she has choices and limitations, and either you're going to be able to work around them as friends or you won't. My way, friendship gets one more shot, and stability gets a chance.