Sweet, patient, supportive… some of the qualities you’ll find on the potential bridesmaid checklist. A wedding is one of the biggest events in a woman’s life and she’ll want the best girlfriends to see her through it.
October and December appeared to be the favoured months for weddings in 2016, says Caroline Tan-Reed, wedding planner and co-owner of The Wedding Stylist. “A lot of auspicious dates fall within October. December has always been popular because it’s the festive season.”
Even though there are holidays to be excited about and parties to throw, most women would gladly sacrifice their plans for the bride’s if they’ve been bestowed the honour of being her bridesmaid.
Everyone, that is, except the batty bridesmaid – a breed of girlfriend bent on making the joyous occasion less joyous thanks to her bad etiquette. It’s not that she doesn’t care about the bride, she just … cares more about herself. She’s the one who can’t wear cap sleeves because of her “fat arms” and needs help with her makeup despite arriving late for the prep. She’s also the one who’s irresponsible enough to back out of the sisterhood just days before the wedding.
So what causes a usually sweet and caring friend to morph into a batty bridesmaid? “The bridesmaid may feel like she’s losing her best friend to someone else. Even though she’s happy for the bride-to-be, she could be subconsciously sabotaging the wedding to keep their friendship status quo. She could also be a know-it-all who thinks that her suggestion and actions are helpful, when they only irritate the bride-to-be,” says Violet Lim, CEO of dating app Lunchclick and co-founder of dating agency Lunch Actually.
According to Violet, some women also act out because they’re jealous of the attention the bride is receiving, or upset that they aren’t the ones tying the knot. “Getting married is a huge transition both psychologically and emotionally, and it can have a spin-off effect on friends and family in unexpected ways,” says Anoushka Beh, psychologist, relationship therapist and director of Abehpsych Counselling Services Singapore (www.abehpsych.com).
We spoke to three women who saw their bridesmaids go rogue. How would you have dealt with them?
“Hannah* was a real piece of work even though we’ve been close friends for a good 15 years. The first signs of bad behaviors emerged during my bachelorette party, when she started to bad-mouth my fiance, Peter*, over brunch,” says 29-year-old sales manager Tiffany*.
“She went on and on about how he was an ‘insecure soul’, a ‘party pooper’, and too ‘boring’ for me. To my horror, a few of the other bridesmaids chimed in and talked about how my ex-beau was more accomplished! I sat there lost for words, smiling feebly and shifting around awkwardly in my seat. The entire table went silent when Hannah shamelessly ended her rant with the words no bride-to-be should ever hear: ‘I think you deserve better.’
Things took a turn for the worse when we hit the clubs that evening. Hannah and a few of the other girls kept egging me on to approach drunk men outside the clubs to perform risque dares like ‘give him your soiled underwear’ and ‘jump into a cab with a stranger’. At certain points, it felt more like a circus act than a bachelorette party.
I assumed things would improve after the hen night, but Hannah only became more difficult. Two days before the wedding, she wanted to ‘un-bridesmaid’ herself because she’d had a tiff with her boyfriend and wanted to ‘be alone for a couple of days’. When Peter called her to persuade her otherwise, she lashed out at him, saying I was settling by marrying him. I was furious but didn’t want things to get any worse, so I kept mum.
To my surprise, Hannah turned up on the day itself and carried herself with poise… until dinner, when wine was served. Friends at her table vaguely recall her having one glass of wine with each course, which explains why she stumbled out of the banquet looking like she had just emerged from a club.
By the end of the night, Hannah had passed out on the couch… in my bridal suite. Thankfully, my bridesmaids had booked a room for the night and offered to move her over, so we didn’t have to spend our first night as husband and wife with Hannah in the same room.
I didn’t confront her over what happened because I didn’t want to deal with post-wedding drama. It’s been a year and we’re still friends, but I’m glad I’m only getting married once because I cannot imagine reliving that episode.”
Why would she do that?
Anoushka says, “Hannah could be an overly protective girlfriend who experienced difficulty in bonding with Tiffany’s hubby-to-be due to a personality clash or other reasons. She might have witnessed Tiffany get hurt in the past and may have felt concerned for her friend in her present relationship. Ultimately, it’s up to Tiffany to decide where and when to draw the line. If she feels Hannah indeed crossed the line, but didn’t want to confront the issue on her big day, that’s fine.
Now that the excitement from the wedding has died down, Tiffany can invite Hannah out for coffee and have a heart-to-heart chat about her unruly behavious. Tiffany should start the conversation by pinpointing how Hannah’s actions affected during the wedding and the reaosns behind her behaviour. From there, the two can clear up misunderstandings Hannah might have about Peter or her friendship with Tiffany.
In other similar situations
27-year-old marketing communications manager Sonia* shares her own story. “Sally* has always been self-centred, but I didn’t expect her to be that self-absorbed during my wedding. It’s like it never occurred to her that it was my big day.
First, she whined about the bridesmaid’s dress I had picked out for the gatecrashing ceremony, saying the lilac colour and heart-shaped bustier cutting were unflattering for her – it didn’t matter that everyone else in the group loved it. Another bridesmaid had to step in to tell her to compromise. (Also read: Do I pay for the dress? 7 FAQs your bridesmaids will ask)
Then, she asked if I would be okay with her wearing a white lace maxi dress to my church service. Correction: She didn’t ask, she just showed me her outfit. Let’s see… white… lace… long dress… how she would think that was okay still eludes me. Thankfully, another one of the sisters pointed out that she would look like the bride and told her to go with something else.
I later found out that she had bought a royal-purple gown for my wedding banquet, which was held a month later. Guess what? It was the exact same shade as my evening gown, despite my earlier request for them not to be in purple! I was seething and on the verge of exploding but held my rage in because I didn’t want to put the other bridesmaids on the spot.
I also figured you trap more flies with honey, so I reassured her that given her cut and colour… and got the rest to back me up. The compliments worked and she chose another dress.”
30-year-old private tutor Nancy* went through a similar predicament. “Jane* is one of my best friends, so I arranged for her to do her hair and makeup at my place on the morning of the wedding, along with another bridesmaid who stayed over. Knowing that punctuality is something she struggles with, I sent her a reminder via text the night before and gave her a morning call on D-Day.
Regardless, she turned up 45 minutes late and sat in my room getting her hair and makeup done. After makeup, she stormed out of the room complaining to the other girls that she ‘looked like crap’. To be honest, her hairdo made her look more like a tai tai than a 20-something bridesmaid, but there was no time to fix it, so I didn’t want to harp on it. In a bid to make her feel better, the bridesmaids repeatedly reassured her that she looked fine, but her mood for the day was set.
Jane remained sulky and sullen throughout the morning’s activities, and shocked us when she yanked out her falsies in frustration right before my march in, saying that she hated her makeup, which looked fine to me. My hunch is that she wanted attention and for everyone to reassure her about her looks. Usually, I’d tell her off for acting like a spoilt brat, but this was the biggest day of my life and I didn’t want any drama. As I walked down the aisle, I worried about whether Jane would do anything more dramatic. Would she kick off her heels? Would she leave the room in a huff? Who would go after her? I’ve witnessed many of my friends go through their wedding stressed out about how the entire event would unfold, but none that had to worry about their bridesmaid going nuts!
I ended up having to placate Jane by telling her she could leave to redo her hair and makeup for the dinner banquet. Thankfully, she turned up on time and in a much better mood, but the episode really stressed me out.”
Why would they do that?
“Girlfriends who have trouble prioritising their bride-to-be friends are obviously in a place in their lives where they don’t feel that secure or valued themselves. Brides who are big-hearted usually won’t get too bogged down by this, especially if they are aware of the circumstances stressing out their bridesmaids – and know that this behaviour is temporary. In this situation, it’s better for the bride to focus on her big day and not on the less-than-exemplary (but somewhat harmless) behaviour of her friend.”
*Names have been changed.
This story was originally published in the October 2016 issue of Her World.