Ask Una is a satire column in which we ask those burning wedding questions we know you’re all thinking about but are too afraid to put in writing. So we did it for you. Seriously (we’re not serious).
I’m having a rustic-themed wedding, so naturally I asked all my bridesmaids to wear reclaimed-wood headpieces from Etsy and no shoes for the entire ceremony and reception (which will be outside in a forest). All of them are complaining that the crowns weigh 15 pounds and that their feet will get cut up by sticks and pine needles, but it’s MY DAY and I feel I shouldn’t need to compromise my aesthetic for the sake of some whiny girly girls! What should I do?
—Pining for Pinecones
You can’t swing a hand-whittled bolo tie these days without hitting some quaint farmstead decked out with hay bales and string lights, but I commend you for really leaning into the true meaning of rustic here. Most brides just lazily assume that “rustic” means “country,” slap some candles inside a few mason-jar centerpieces, pose in the back of an artfully dilapidated pickup truck, and call it a day. It sounds like your bridesmaids may have fallen victim to the common misconception that “rustic chic” is not an obvious oxymoron, and so, while it pains me more than a 15-pound headpiece to tell you this, it’s probably up to you to set them straight.
I would begin by sending them a link to an online thesaurus, where they will find that synonyms for rustic include homely, artless, and unsophisticated. Remind them that you’re saving them money on pedicures and that they should feel lucky you’re not sending them down the aisle wearing burlap sacks—which would be totally on-theme! You can also refer them to some Pilates exercises if they worry their necks aren’t up to the challenge of literally supporting your hopes and dreams on this, the most important day of your life.
Share a vision board with some inspirational details from movies like The Blair Witch Project, Deliverance, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (This will go over best if you avoid anything too upsetting and focus instead on the ambiance.) If you haven’t planned your bachelorette weekend yet, why not take the girls to a remote cabin without plumbing (very affordable on AirBnB, especially during tick season) and let them hunt their own squirrel meat—in between raucous Never-Have-I-Ever games and crafting sessions to make passable toilet paper out of non-poisonous plants. You, of course, will be staying in the nearest four-star hotel, but I guarantee that as soon as the Stockholm syndrome sets in, the experience will bring you all much closer than a Vegas suite with bottle service and a stripper named Apollo ever could.
Finally, for a thoughtful bridesmaid's gift, consider some blister block sticks and Little House books, with meaningful passages underlined to remind them of what true sacrifice looks like. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t get to walk through the woods in Vera Wang slingbacks or complain about the weight of her headwear, now did she?! All she and her siblings got (pretty much) was deer jerky, dolls made of sticks, and scarlet fever, and they lived! (Fine, except for that one.) Anyway, those girls would have begged for something, anything, from Etsy if it had existed back then. Instead of enjoying a boutique online shopping experience, they had to do things like harvest sap and fend off wild animal attacks—neither of which, you should remind your ungrateful wedding party, is a planned part of the ceremony. (Incidentally, if a bear were to charge them, those headdresses would really come in handy as defense weapons! You are welcome, ladies!)
I don’t think I can put it better than the hardy Ms. Ingalls Wilder once did when she said, “Suffering passes, while love is eternal.” You might even want to carve that quote onto whatever woodland tree you’re exchanging vows under. It’s as good a mantra for marriage as any.
Una LaMarche has written four young-adult novels, Five Summers, Like No Other, Don't Fail Me Now, and You in Five Acts, as well as a comic essay collection, Unabrow. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Observer, Allure, and Parents, and online at the Huffington Post. The New York Times has called her writing “surprisingly seductive,” which she plans to use on her tombstone.