Almost all bachelorette party emails begin with the above salutation. (Maybe a "hey, ladies!" if the maid of honor is a grammar enthusiast.) Where the thread goes from there, however, is anyone's guess, but authors Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss put their heads together to imagine how those email chains might read in their new book, Hey Ladies!: The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails.
This modern-day epistolary novel (think emails and texts as opposed to letters) follows the aforementioned girl gang through all-hands-on-keyboard planning of a bridal shower, bachelorette party, and New Year's Eve wedding—with all the drama, hilarity, and passive-aggressive "Ks" you'd expect.
"As the senders and recipients of our own 'hey ladies!' emails, there was something really cathartic about writing a slightly heightened version of those that could make people laugh," Markowitz says. "Because it seems like, no matter what, you're probably going to be on these emails for most of your 20s and 30s."
What exactly is a "hey ladies!" email? Well, it's basically the type of signature message that goes around in preparation for a significant event in the life of a female friend. It's usually part exclamation of excitement, part request for pertinent information and/or money, and a full-on crash course in the nuanced communication methods of women.
As Markowitz notes, if you haven't sent or received one yet, you will. If you have, you likely have some complaints about it, right? Since these messages aren't going anywhere, we implored the authors to help us figure out the best approach to keeping our sanity (and bank balances) intact.
Below, Markowitz and Moss chat how to perfectly draft—and reply to—a bridesmaid email. The one other thing they wish they'd included in the book are all of their feelings about exclamation points!!!
Brides: Hey, ladies!!! (Sorry. Had to.) Where did this book concept come from, and specifically the idea to include a wedding?
Markowitz: In 2013, I had a weekend trip with friends and was on a "hey ladies!"-esque email chain. It was, like, six emails deep and driving me nuts, so in a cranky moment, I fired off a tweet that said, "The worst part of any bachelorette party are all the emails that start with 'hey ladies!' " Caroline and I were only Twitter friends at that point, but she saw it and messaged, "Oh my God. I'm on a million emails like this, too." We went back and forth about these endless emails until Caroline had the idea, "We should do something fun and write a parody of this." So, we'd email each other heightened versions of these real emails and turned them into a column for [the now-defunct website] The Toast. To our delighted surprise, right away, people responded, "Oh my God, I'm on a million like this."
When I've introduced this book to friends with no context, many had a moment of, "Wait, is this real?" Have you also found that people forget it's fiction?
Moss: It's been so relatable, though I like to think people know it's exaggerated. But at the same time, we've been doing this for five years, so a lot of people have forwarded us real emails that are 20 times more horrifying than anything we'd come up with. Today, someone sent us an email they'd received that said: "Hey, ladies. It's 2:00 in the morning and no one's responded to my email, so I went ahead and bought this, this, and this and it came out to about $400, so everyone owes me..." Imagine waking up at 7 a.m. to that in your inbox. More often than not, it's been less of, "Oh my God. Does this really happen?" and more, "Oh my God. I thought I was the only one!"
Maybe this book will keep people in check. If they recognize themselves as culprits, it will be an "I can't believe I wrote something like that" moment, and they'll change their ways.
Markowitz: It's one of those things where there's no way to avoid sending a "hey, ladies" email. Caroline and I have both had bridal events since we started writing, and I tried. One time, I did a bcc list and left out all the frills and "yay, so excited!" You know what? It was a really unpleasant email. I realized, "Why am I conducting this business-style email when everyone keeps writing back cutesy and so nice? You kinda just have to lean into the "hey ladies!" emails.
Then, what's the trick to making your "hey ladies!" email the best it can be?
Markowitz: Be human, and mirror others' tones. If you're being all business and everyone else is being sweet and friendly, then it stands out.
Moss: The most important thing is: Before sending a big "hey ladies!" email, try to talk one-on-one with as many people in the wedding party as possible about what they're willing to spend, and what they're open to doing. You also won't get anywhere if you put everyone on the spot in a bachelorette party email about what they're willing to spend when 24 other people are going to be listening to the "reply all." The person planning needs to manage everyone's expectations before the first email, then there's no early reply-all of "Well, Megan said she can't afford more than $200, so I guess we're not going to Miami..."
Markowitz: I'm a fan of jumping on the phone '80s-style, or send a one-on-one text or G-chat. Unfortunately, it's a heavy lift on the maid of honor or person organizing, and it's thankless, unpaid work. But, streamline getting everyone on the same page prior, so when you send these group emails, you're not trying to brainstorm or looking for information. Another personal pet peeve is when there's a lot of back-and-forths, but not a lot of information is conveyed. It's everybody replying-all with "yay!"
Moss: The more "yes" or "no" or "please confirm" questions, the better. Put all questions in one message, give deadlines, and then make sure everyone responds on time; it's just like work. That way, when you follow up, it's clear that you're not trying to be annoying, you just need the previously identified information by x time and you're coming for it.
Markowitz: Even though planning these events is about having fun, there's so much actual work that leads up to it. It helps to use methods that you'd use in your work life for efficiency and organization.
How do we feel about exclamation marks?
Markowitz: You gotta.
Moss: This is the way it is now; if you use a period, it's war. You better sound excited.
Markowitz: If you've ever received an email from a guy that says, "Congratulations." you know it just makes you feel empty afterward. It's actually a nice thing sometimes, the way we're socialized to lean into our enthusiasm. That means, honestly, you've also got to lean into the exclamation marks.
Speaking of characters in the book, what tendencies of theirs should you avoid? Anything that should definitely not be in a "hey ladies!" email?
Markowitz: I learned this the hard way: It's really difficult to make a joke on a bridal shower email that 30 women from different parts of the bride's life are all going to understand. There's a chance your joke is going to bomb and clog people's inboxes, so I'd save inside jokes for in-person.
Moss: I would add: Respond as if someone in the group is going to screenshot what you said and send it to someone else and talk sh*t about you. People might say things you are really not feeling, but communicate in a professional way because, otherwise, it's just going to be fodder for hours of gossip.
Moss: Just remember that the wedding/bachelorette/shower/whatever is eventually going to be over, and these people are still going to be your friends, so treat them that way. Keeping perspective is important: It's asking a lot of your time, energy, and money, but you're doing it because they're your friends! You can call on the favor when it's your turn, and you love these people.
Markowitz: That's the reason you're on these emails in the first place. No matter the planning situation, the night's probably going to end up really fun—especially the bachelorette or wedding. You guys are going to be sweaty dancing and all the emails leading up to it are going to end in making memories, and maybe some pictures you'd rather weren't on the internet.