Ask a Professional Bridesmaid: Am I Obligated to Ask a Friend to Be a Bridesmaid If I Was One In Her Wedding?

Bridesmaids, Etiquette
Should Asking To Be Bridesmaid Be Reciprocated

Photo: Caili Helsper

Jen Glantz is a "Professional Bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of All My Friends Are Engaged and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates. In her monthly column for Jen answers a fellow bridesmaid's burning question.

A friend of mine who I'm not that close with anymore asked me to be her bridesmaid. I'm torn. Part of me wants to say yes because it would be fun and I'm close with some of the other girls she also asked. But the other part of me thinks I should say no because when (if) I get married, I don't think I'd make her one of my bridesmaids. I want to have a smaller wedding and very few bridesmaids. I just don't want to say yes to her now and feel obligated to make her one of mine in the future. Is that a strong enough reason to say no? Or do I just say yes now and worry about returning the "bridesmaid" favor later?

Growing up, I went to a Jewish day school and when I turned 13, that meant every weekend my social calendar was filled with a Bar or Bat Mitzvah to attend. In the course of one school year, I went to over 60. Some Saturdays, there were as many as two or three going on. I remember during that time, that people would keep notes. When it was your Bar or Bat Mitzvah, you wrote down exactly who attended your party and what kind of gift they gave you. That way, when it was your turn to attend their party, you'd give them the same exact kind of gift.

Everything was equal.

If they showed up to your party, it meant no matter what, you had to show up to theirs. Even if another one of your friends had her Bat Mitzvah that weekend. That never sounded right to me and thankfully, my parents didn't make me operate that way. But a lot of people did. It was safe. It made sense. It kept you away from any kind of drama or emotional baggage that would haunt you if you did something differently than they did to you.

See more: The 5 Worst Things You Can Do to Your Bridesmaids

But here's the thing that you don't realize when you're 13 and you think that you have to follow these kinds of rules in order to keep the peace with the people surrounding you at this time in your life. Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah is your special day — no one elses. If you don't want to attend someone's party because they are rude to you and at lunch last month, they threw a slice of cucumber at your head and you know they only invited you because their parents made them, you shouldn't attend.

The same thing applies to us "grown ups." Brides ask all different kinds of friends and family members to stand by their side and be their bridesmaids for all different personal reasons. Those reasons should not be copied or reciprocated — if they are, by the time you get married, you may end up with 15 bridesmaids!

So, If you like this bride and at this moment in your life, consider her a friend, then say yes. When your big day arrives, you can decide your own bridesmaid situation and selection based on what you want and only what you want. No matter what, you should never feel obligated to do something on your big day just because someone did it on theirs.

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