We Hear Ya, Bridesmaids!
Hello neonbabes! Sorry for the week hiatus, stuff got a little hectic with bachelorette shindigs (Sugi's included!). Everything was super fun and everyone had a blast! But despite our enjoyment, these parties got us thinking like NeonBrides and just how extravagant and costly wedding festivities can actually be. According to Elite Daily, the average bridesmaid spends $1,500-$1,800 on each wedding? Which got us thinking… "How in the F did we get here??!!”
Originally, Sugi and I wanted to combine bachelorette parties because we didn't want to burden our friends with two big trips. However, we realized that being each other's MOHs would not allow for any sort of relaxation, so we split them up, but it worked out! Sugi decided to have her bach in San Diego (saving half the girls travel costs) and Nicole is going to have hers in Lake Tahoe (saving the other half on travel costs). While planning Sugi’s bachelorette party, the goal was to keep costs as low as possible. We did our best to find an awesome house in San Diego, that was in a prime location and could accommodate everyone (19 ladies!!!) without breaking the bank. Turns out, that doesn’t exist. We ended up spending a truckload on a beach house. So, in order to compensate the cost, we decided no big group dinners at fancy restaurants and no going out every day/night to bars or clubs. Instead, we did a Costco run and stocked the house with food and alcohol ($30 per girl! What! What!).
The only times we left the house were to watch the Warriors game at a sports bar, and to have an epic bar crawl one of the days (where we all got even more out of it by wearing old bridesmaid dresses...obvi). For the most part we were chillin' at the casa, drinking, mingling, and enjoying each other’s company. It was low key, and we kept money spending to a minimum. After all, we each spent a lot on the house - so we might as well use it, right?! Plus, we appreciated the ladies that made the trek to San Diego, and we wanted to respect that as well.
Now, we realize that not everyone thinks this way. In fact - it seems that everyone thinks the opposite! We don't want to dis our millennial generation, but we truly don't understand this constant need to celebrate every moment of our lives and fill every time slot with activities ($$$). We absolutely love our friends, and definitely want to be a part of everyone’s big days, and if we were rich we 100% would be! But then again, adulting, obligations, and life are bound to get in the way. We've had more weekend getaways than one can keep up with. First came the 21st birthday weekends, then each birthday following... now 30th birthday extravaganzas, along with weddings, bachelorette parties, showers, babies, things, things, things! Sugi is about 6 bachelorette parties deep THIS CALENDAR YEAR ALONE. The list never seems to end. We just keep one-upping ourselves. Where do we draw the line or make strides to try and shift perspective? Of course we want to celebrate our friend's special day, but how do we gauge or set boundaries?
Don’t get it twisted… we’re not saying not to plan epic parties! Being brides ourselves, we’re incredibly guilty of a lot of these things. But can we at least make a pact of some sort and agree to be mindful and apathetic... not only to our friends who are coming out to celebrate, but also (and especially) to our bridesmaidens - who it can get especially pricey for. It’s really hard for some maids to afford a dress, shoes, bridal shower planning, a bridal shower gift, bachelorette travel cost, bachelorette activities, bachelorette gifts or swag, bachelorette dinners, wedding makeup, wedding hair, a wedding gift, wedding travel cost… shall we go on? No person should have to spend so much money (or take so much time) celebrating one individual. Everyone loves their bride, but hot dayumn shit can get ridiculous.
As brides, we understand society's pressure to outdo the last bride. We found ourselves asking monotonous questions like “How will I ask my friends to be a bridesmaid? Do I need to get them a box with a custom bottle of champagne, a monogram wine glass, some nail polish, some fancy ass gummy bears, and a card with a pun on it? Am I the worst if I don't?” We mentioned before that it's so easy to get sucked in and so hard to drown out all of the noise. But remember that we've only been told that we need all of these things... when in actuality, it's about staying true to yourself and being reasonable. (See we’re tying things together here!)
So here's what we're asking, fellow NeonBrides, let's not put so much pressure on ourselves and let's be mindful of what we're asking our friends to do for us!
You’re probably wondering, “How is that possible?”. Well, we came up with some ways that can help our NeonBrides be a tad more reasonable when it comes to their bridesmaids duties and financials. Chew on these ideas, see if you like the taste, and feel free to spit it out if you don’t. This is just what worked for us, but we know it might not work for everyone. Our goal is to get both bridesmaids and brides thinking of alternative solutions, and not ones the industry has put in your mind...
Let your bridesmaids choose their dresses - or at least choose cheap ones
Something we both did, was let our bridesmaids choose their own dresses. We did not want to make them pay an obscene amount of money on a dress they didn't even like. So, to save our ladies some moolah, we allowed them to choose their dress. At first, we didn't really give our ladies any guidelines, only told them a color. Nicole specified a little more with length and style (long, flowy) but Sugi allowed free range. We noticed this actually caused more confusion... so here's a helpful hint: if you allow your bridesmaids to choose their dress give as much direction as possible. Tell them the color (this includes approved shades as well as not approved shades), give them a length (long, short, middy), provide a style (what's the theme you're going for?), specify print or no print, etc.
Delegate apathetically & don't be an ass
Distribution of duties is great when you're feeling overwhelmed. Friends want to help you, but you should also pick and choose what is important when delegating. After all what matters most is the experience and having fun together, not how much money you spend. Try to evaluate before you ask... being a bride doesn't give you free reign to be a bridezilla.
Nothing is as important as it seems, and in the end, aren't you just glad you have a rad posse? If you're a down ass bach, your crew WILL come through for you. But don't expect them to read your mind or understand everything you're going through either. It's a tough gig to plan all festivities, but you'll feel more at ease if you're honest and mindful in your communication.
Don't be an asshole. Simply set your boundaries. Understand what you're asking people to do, and be okay with friends saying no. One of Sugi's bridesmaids lives in Chicago, and she apologized profusely when she couldn't make it her bridal shower. Sugi didn't want her to stress at all, because she knew she cared and really wanted to be there. Another bridesmaid told her she had an opportunity to go on a badass camping trip, and Sugi encouraged her to go. Why did she need to be at the shower? She's already a maid.. That's stressful enough!
A note to the bridesmaids: the moment you start doing things that make you feel uncomfortable or the moment you feel as though you're compromising your own life zen is when shit is not okay. Why drop an absurd amount of money, time, and energy when you could use that toward bills, rent, or your own weekend getaway that you actually can't go on because every weekend is booked with obligations. It is 100% okay to diplomatically set your boundaries, especially if you're helping break down those expectations.
Ask whoever is throwing your shower(s) to keep it chill
Suggest hosting your party at a public park or a place with big open space. Something that's first come first serve like a winery or brewery.
Have the host distribute duties. Stuff is way less expensive when you conquer and divide. Someone can do games, another can do decor... someone can do beverages while another takes care of food and another does favors. You get the picture.
Another helpful tip... It's not mandatory to serve a meal! Just set it at a time that's not around meals and specify that it's "bites" or apps.
For the MOH's: If planning a bachelorette, assess your bride
First ask her if she wants to contribute to planning or not. Then come up with some creative activities that are cost effective or low key. If you want to do it up, try picking one day of fun and one day of chill. Your broke ass bridesmaids will appreciate it and you'll have ample time to get to know one another. I don't know how you all turn up, but leaving breaks in the schedule slows the weekend down a lot. Also try doing free activities: county fairs, festivals, free yoga, parks, hikes, beaches, etc. Also try to DIY some of the decor!
A note to the bride: If you are helping in the planning process. You should totally offer to help pay. Apparently it's a thing for the bride to buy her own plane ticket - but if you're down to help pay for the house/hotel, food, alcohol, etc - at least offer! It's the nice thing to do since you're the reason everyone is out there. Most likely, your friends won't make you pay... but hey, it's a genuinely nice gesture, and they'll appreciate it.
Sum It Up Already!
Brides, in conclusion - don't set unrealistic or unfair expectations for your bridesmaids. They love you, they want to be there for you - but if they can't afford what's happening, or if they have prior obligations - be understanding. Everyone has their own shit going on. At the end of the day, the only thing that truly matters is that she's been there for you, and will be there for you on your wedding day.
Bridesmaids, in conclusion - don't beat yourself up if you have to say no. If you can't make the bachelorette because it's far away and/or too expensive, your bride should understand. Just stay true to yourself, and don't let society's norm dictate what you should and shouldn't do. Be there for her - ask her how planning is going, see if there's anything you can help with, take her out to drinks when you have the time, hug her and tell her she's doing a great job and that everything will be fantastic (seriously, we need to hear it sometimes). Just doing these things are way more important than any bridal shower, or party, or gift. And most importantly, show up on the big day and have fun celebrating a very important day in your friend's life.