Maureen's bachelorette party was classic: mani-pedis and massages followed by a fancy dinner, bar-hopping, and many, many, many drinks. It was fun, silly, lighthearted, and not at all embarrassing—something she really appreciated.
What she didn't appreciate was that she paid her own way, the whole darn night. That was weird, she thought. But she didn't want to be ungrateful for what she did receive that night: happiness, friendship, and shared excitement about her wedding. Her bridesmaids took time out of their lives and spent lots of money. Still, she couldn't quite shake her feelings of disappointment and hurt.
When we delved into her conflicted feelings about her bachelorette, Maureen realized a number of things about her bridesmaids. For example, she shouldn't have been surprised that something as important as who pays slipped entirely through the cracks. Her bachelorette was organized, after all, by her flighty maid of honor and best childhood girlfriend—a scatterbrain whom she dearly loved. After a lifetime of experiences with her, it really shouldn't have come out of left field that figuring out finances in a large group of disparate women constantly on the move was not her MOH's strength. It was simply overlooked—period. End of story. It didn't mean her friends didn't love her or care about her wedding. Maureen's work, then, was to understand that she paid her way because her MOH's leadership skills were stressed to the max.
Maureen was also hurt because another bridesmaid didn't have any cocktails or get into the spirit of the event. She kept herself apart. This annoyed Maureen, but mostly she was sad that her dear friend was at her bachelorette in body only. When I asked her what she thought might have contributed to her friend's withdrawn behavior, Maureen said, "Oh, I totally forgot she's going through IVF." When Rachel remembered that piece of the story, her feelings of hurt dissolved, and she felt compassion for her friend who was stressed, hormonal, and understandably preoccupied.
If you feel hurt or disappointed by your bridesmaids, consider what's happening in their lives. Boyfriend troubles? (Her guy won't propose. You're getting married—expect a little tension.) Job stress? (Unemployed or over-worked, she doesn't have much bandwidth left over for niceties of life, for herself or for you.) A seriously ill family member? (Overwhelmed.)
Taking into account your bridesmaids' basic personality traits and life circumstances—and cutting them all some major slack—will help you get over your hurt. These are your besties, after all, the friends you treasure most in the world. An unpaid-for mani-pedi's not worth hurting important friendships over.
Allison Moir-Smith is a bridal counselor, cold feet expert, author, and creator of the Happy Bride's Secret Video Toolkit.