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14th Sep 2023

Bridesmaid burnout: a dividing term but one we all need to be aware of

“‘Will you be my bridesmaid?’ is often a no-win proposition”

Whether it’s down to oppressed opinions of the past during a time as a bridesmaid or the fact we are currently in a cost of living crisis, people are coming out of the woodwork to point out the not-so-fun or cheap sides of the role.

The thing is, we want to be there. But with hen parties, dress fittings (and alterations), travel, accommodation, makeup, hair, and all of the in-betweens, the price tag for standing alongside the bride in a pastel bridesmaid gown can be pretty hefty one.

One that many are starting to be pretty honest about not actually fully enjoying or being able to afford anymore.

Glamour Magazine recently launched a special issue dedicated to having an honest and frank discussion about the emotional, mental, and financial stress of duties that are tied to being in a loved one’s wedding party, with some interesting, shocking, and downright saddening tales coming to the fore.

It is here that ‘Bridesmaid Burnout’ was coined, after it seems, years of going unnamed.

The series, written by Glamour’s Special Projects Editor, Ruhama Wolle, has sparked a long-overdue conversation around how far you should have to bend or how much you should have to pay as a bridesmaid to prove your standing as a ‘good friend’.

Prompted by attending three back-to-back weddings over the space of a year and a half, she declared she was hanging up her bridesmaid shoes ‘at the peak of my bridesmaid career because, really, who needs 27 dresses to figure out their limit?’

She said it. She said what everyone was thinking.

Now, firstly, Wolle made it clear that the love she has for her friends is unrivalled, but she no longer covets the supposedly honoured role going forward.

“Spare me from future bridal-party pleas. I adore you all, and I mean it when I say I’d do almost anything for you. But one more stint in a satin dress? That’s where I draw the line.”

After forking out an eye-watering sum of money to link arms with a groomsman up the aisle on three occasions, she figured she couldn’t be the only one who felt this way and has issued a halt on our collective behalf.

“‘Will you be my bridesmaid?’ is often a no-win proposition,” she writes.

“We feel our love and loyalty are being monitored and measured by how amenable we are to buying sage-green gowns that don’t fit right and metallic shoes we’ll never wear again, and shelling out thousands for far-flung bachelorette weekends that almost always include picking up an excessive amount of dinners and bar tabs in addition to lodging, airfare, gifts, merch, and doing whatever else is asked of us when we sign up to be a bridesmaid—even sometimes splitting the bride’s bill.”

She’s got a pretty valid point.

Now, she’s not alone in this, as many former bridesmaids, or spectators to the spectacle, have weighed in on the alleged burnout of bridesmaids on the publication’s Instagram.

This has long been true for many of us and seems to have only gotten worse as people now invite their friends to be there for the be there for the “surprise” engagement, showers, bachelorettes, rehearsal dinners, etc.

“and when this happens in your 20s and you can barely pay your rent, it’s quite a burden and time suck. People who really want bridesmaids should consider fronting the bulk of the cost,” one user wrote.

Another user says the ever-increasing costs associated with this role has also been a point of concern for them.

“I was just talking to a friend about how our of control the costs have gotten. I remember when people first started having bachelorette parties and the were local and one night.

“Expecting your friends to travel for a bachelorette party, have a shower, show up for an engagement party, and then also have all of the wedding expenses for the dress etc is too much!”

While another commenter expressed gratitude for escaping ‘the craziness of what current weddings look like’ by marrying before it bankrupted your wedding parties while offering some sage advice.

“The expectations are just too much. Make it about yourself and your partner! You have a whole lifetime to celebrate and make memories with your besties, and I promise it feels so much better when it’s girls trips that are organic and not out of obligation.”

Bridesmaids past, present, and to-be may all owe Wolle a special thank you for bringing this topic into the light.

Be it to finally release the resentment of the past or to change the path forward for future bridesmaids, it kind of looks like we were all waiting for someone to say it.

And of course, it goes without saying that watching a friend or family member tie the knot is both a proud and special moment, but where do you draw the line?

If you do one thing today, read the article that kicked off the conversation.