Dear Ms. Meniscus,
I have RA and have been asked to be a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. I got in a fight with the wedding party when we shopped for dresses because I can’t wear stiff fabrics and I can’t do buttons because of my hands. They are all mad at me now and say one person can’t rule what everyone wears. What should I do?
Hannah needs Help
Isn’t it extraordinary how quickly plans for a celebration elicit some of the worst behaviors in people who are here to assist the bride (after all, you are called bride’s maids for a reason. A bridesmaid is there to assist the bride on her wedding day. The tradition of bridal attendants is believed to have originated in Roman times when the law required ten witnesses to dress just like the bride and groom in order to confuse the evil spirits who flew in to sabotage happy ceremonies. Nowadays, fighting over dresses seems to be de rigueur, with the bride needing protection from the disagreements among persons closest to her—her own wedding party. So what’s a maid such as yourself with limited mobility and physical discomfort issues to do?
It doesn’t sound as if this is an especially sensitive crew, and in theory they are right—while Madame understands your limitations with buttons and stiff fabrics—when it comes to a wedding, one person can’t rule what everyone wears, unless, of course, she is the bride. Some brides are flexible and choose dresses that look unified (they are the same color and fabric) but are available in a variety of styles so that each bridesmaid can choose the dress that suits her best. Perhaps your bride will be open to that possibility, and the only way to find out is to ask.
Speak to the bride and explain that you don’t want to create more problems for her. Do this in private and with assurances that you will try to be part of the bridal party even though there are issues with your RA and the type of dress you can comfortably wear.
Don’t forget, dear Hannah, that most dresses require some form of alterations, so if it is necessary, perhaps a zipper can be substituted for buttons and then the buttons can be sewn over the zipper for uniformity of style. But be prepared to be asked to absorb the cost of such changes.
Perhaps the simplest solution would be to ask one of the friendlier “maids” to help you zip or button your dress.
Remember what is important is that you support the bride, assist her as much as possible (within reason) and try not to focus on the problems with the bridal party. These are happy times and you are there to share the joy of two people who have found love.
Repeat this three times: it’s a wedding, and a party. It’s supposed to be fun.