This week's topic is one I have personal experience of, so it's a tough one. Something I see asked a lot in bridal groups on facebook is 'How can I demote my bridesmaid?'. Often the people asking want to know if people have done it and remained friends, how they did it, and if it was worth it. I'm a little unusual, because I've been on the other end of things. I was the bridesmaid who was demoted. I've written a little about it before here, but that was mostly about how you should treat your bridal party, than my demotion story. So... here goes!
So first off, you've probably excitedly asked your nearest and dearest to be your bridesmaid, having thought about your friends being a part of your day with your partner. I'm going to talk about my experience as a bridesmaid being demoted, but of course your bridal party does not have to contain only women! Gender is irrelevant when it comes to who your best friends are. People tend to come up with their own terms for men in the bridal party, or women who are part of the groom's party, so I'm going to stick to the term bridesmaid for my own ease.
Your wedding is more than likely at the fore front of your mind most of the time. There is a lot of planning to do, and a lot of expenses to keep in check, and hopefully, just hopefully, bridesmaids who will help you with some of that.
I was due to be a bridesmaid for my best friend from university. We lived across the country from each other, her in London, me in Grimsby, so distance was hard, but we chatted online a lot. When she got engaged I was thrilled, and I was so excited when she sent me a card in the post to ask me to be her bridesmaid. What an honour! I said yes right away. For a little while, I didn't have any responsibilities. I lived so far away I couldn't go venue hunting, or dress shopping, but I kept up to date with everything that was going on.
Then we booked a date for bridesmaid dress shopping, awesome! Off I went to London on the train, which isn't cheap. But worth it, I'm a bridesmaid! She was very specific and wanted a certain brand, who don't make plus sizes. Problem number one. I mentioned this to her right away, and said I could get someone to make the exact same thing, but to my sizes, as I know an amazing dress maker. Not good enough, she wanted us to wear that specific brand. So off we went. She picked the dresses, and very kindly bought them for us. It was 3 sizes too small for me easily, but the biggest they did. I bought some fabric from the store to get it made bigger. I thought problem solved. She did not. She wanted me to wear the dress as it, and fit into it.... so she expected me to lose weight. Not her body, not her choice, not cool.
And then the real problems started. I experienced what was initially thought to be a stroke. I was rushed to hospital and spent time on the stroke ward till it was confirmed I hadn't had a stroke, but instead all the symptoms of it. 3 days later it happened again. Another ambulance. Another stroke ward. In the first 2 weeks that this started happening, it happened 20 or more times. In the first month, I couldn't even begin to tell you how many. I was so ill. It was exhausting, I threw up and couldn't eat or stay hydrated, and the pain. The pain was excruciating. I already had a chronic pain condition, but this was something else. I was essentially housebound and needed supervision due to how confused I got during one of my 'episodes'. I'd later found out they were severe hemiplegic migraines that were exacerbated by medication I was taking.
Then the hen do announcement came. Disneyland Paris. There was no way I could go. I hadn't worked in a month, so I hadn't been getting paid. I was completely broke. I needed someone to keep an eye on me at all times, I couldn't drive, I was in constant pain and exhausted all the time. I would have been a liability travelling, and I would have been a burden on those who could go.
She wasn't impressed. One of the other bridesmaids couldn't go either. So she had another hen party, this time at her Mum's house which was around 2 hours from me by car. I got permission for my Mum to come so she could drive me as I wasn't allowed to drive at that point. The sudden numbness and violent stabbing pains made it unsafe for me to do so. So my Mum took me, and I had a lovely time. My illness wasn't really mentioned till the very end, when her Mum commented that she heard I'd been ill. My Mum explained the situation and she was shocked. How could someone so young be so ill suddenly? I got the feeling they didn't really believe us.
Over the next few weeks, things hotted up. I went back to work part time. And every day, the messages began. I had to find shoes, a bag, and a cover up. I have size 10 feet, so the shoes were an issue. I found some she liked and approved and ordered them. She didn't want me to have a bag, even if Stu looked after it for me all day. I needed a bag, because I was taking approximately 70 pills a day and had emergency medication I may have to take to prevent an episode at very short notice. She didn't agree that I needed a bag. I never found a cover up she felt was OK. I have no idea if anyone did. I got my earrings approved because I have stretched ears. Then she changed her mind and said they weren't OK after I'd ordered them. I was then told I was to wear no jewellery, save for one single ring. I thought that was pretty intense, and aimed at me, because my 'thing' is my rings. Whatever, I can do that. It's not my day.
And the final issue she had. My hair. I had pink hair. I had pink hair when she asked me to be bridesmaid, and had had pink hair for years, since she met me essentially. She wanted me to have my hair returned to a normal colour, so she could dye her previously blonde hair pink and not have me 'steal' her pink hair thunder. I was over it. It might have been her day, but it was my hair! I ignored those requests.
Then her Mum began emailing me. She'd ask me a question, then half an hour later when I hadn't replied email me again. And again. And facebook message me. I was still struggling with my health massively, and I was usually getting these messages during the few hours I tried to get back to my job, so couldn't respond. You can't expect people to be available 24/7 for your questions.
And then, the final messages. I got an email telling me that we needed to talk. That I needed to seriously think about my ability to dedicate myself 100% to her wedding, and being bridesmaid, and to stop using my health as an excuse. I was no longer to be her bridesmaid, but I was more than welcome to attend as a guest if I wanted to. I was to return the dress I had paid to be altered to her immediately so she could sell it to recover the money she had wasted on me being bridesmaid.
I, very politely, wrote a reply that in essence, told her to ram it. I wouldn't be returning the dress, and I wouldn't be attending her wedding. My health was my priority. At that point hospital trips were a regular thing for me, and I couldn't sleep through the night even because of the agony. Some awful things were ultimately said on both sides, and we've never spoken again.
The only time I think of her now is when people discuss demoting a bridesmaid for not being dedicated enough. Because it's not just a case of demoting a bridesmaid, but of potentially losing someone you love, forever, irreparably. Please think really long, and hard, before you demote a bridesmaid. Because you are taking the risk that you will never be able to speak to that person again. I don't know if that is what my former friend expected, but for me there was no going back because of the circumstances. She felt her wedding should have been more important to me than my own health. And it couldn't be.
You don't always know what is going on in your bridesmaid's lives. They could be going through any kind of trauma that is distracting them, so please try to be understanding. Your day might be the most important thing in your world, but it isn't in theirs. I totally get that every circumstance is different, who knows what awful thing your bridesmaid may have done, but I wanted to share my own experience of being demoted, to try to help show you the other side, and to show you what the outcome ultimately was.
A friendship over, because I couldn't dedicate myself due to circumstances beyond my control.
Do you have your own bridal demotion story? I'd be so interested to hear more from both sides.
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