When it comes to wedding planning, there are many long-established rules on etiquette. While whole sections of the internet may be dedicated to how to word an invitation, you'll find that there's very little guidance out there about how to deal with lackluster members of your wedding party. Is there a right way to let a bridesmaid know that you're unhappy with her? What's more, is it ever okay to ask an attendant to step back from her wedding-related duties? To get the answers, we went straight to the big-day professionals.
Beth Helmstetter, a wedding planner and owner of Beth Helmstetter Events, says that there's a few steps you need to take before considering asking one of your bridesmaids to step back from her position or to relinquish some of her tasks. The first step is talking to her. "If she is not meeting your expectations, perhaps check on your friend as a friend, not as a bride. Make sure everything is going well in her life and see if there's anything happening for her personally that may be preventing her from performing her duties."
This is also a good time to talk with her about your expectations. If you're upset because she couldn't make it to your bachelorette party, or because she didn't pitch in when it came to your shower, mention it. Tiffany Hayden, a wedding planner and owner of Detailed, says to take a step back and make sure you're not reacting your own heightened emotions. "Often, brides expect a lot from their wedding party, but those friends may not always have the time or resources to commit in the way you want them to," she explains. Be honest about what you expect, and receptive to what she tells you she can do. Getting on the same page may ease some of the tensions you're feeling. You should also remind her why you asked her to be a part of your big day in the first place.
You'll need to give her some time to adjust after your talk, but if things still haven't improved, Helmstetter says then, and only then, can you consider removing her from your wedding party. Just be aware that by doing this you run the risk of losing a friend in addition to a bridesmaid. "Weddings are a once in a lifetime event and revoking someone's attendance in your bridal party can cause an irreparable rift between the two of you. That said, if you are feeling hurt and disappointed enough to risk your friendship never being the same, then simply explain to your friend that while you love her dearly and looked forward to having her by your side, it seems the task of being your bridesmaid isn't a large enough priority to her. Because of this, you'd like her to step down from being in the wedding party so you both can have relief from the situation."
That relief may come at a cost to you. Both Helmstetter and Hayden agree that the bride should offer to reimburse the bridesmaid for any investments she's already made in preparation for the wedding. Offering to reimburse her may help soften the blow and show her that you're not trying to hurt her.