You said it yourself: you love to help other people; you have a talent for organizing and arranging things, and you enjoy using it. Re-read that a couple of times. It is about you; about you doing the things that you like doing.
Does that say anything about you being generous and self-sacrificing? or does that say that you do the kind of things that give you pleasure, and your friends are just lucky to happen to be there serving your need to have someone to help?
No, I am not denying that you are a wonderful, generous, giving person. You absolutely are. Perhaps the world would be a better place if everyone were like you, but that is not the way it is. Different people have different gifts; feel rewarded in different ways. Some people, quite frankly, love having things be happy, convenient and fun for themselves. And others who might love to be helpful, don’t have the talent for organizing that you have. You do things that you love doing and that you have a talent for — and what makes those things “generous” and “giving” is that you do them without expecting pay-back. So spend some time each morning giving yourself a pep-talk about the fact that because you are generous, and give freely the help you give, you are not entitled to payback. It doesn’t matter that your expectations are reasonable or unselfish: they are not making you happy! You cannot change your friends, so if you want to be happy, you will have to change your expectations. Carrying on doing the same things, and expecting a different outcome, would be crazy.
Now, as for what etiquette says, prepare for it to say things you do not expect and may not like:
Traditional etiquette recognizes that your wedding is indeed an important day of your life, specifically because it is life-changing. From that day on you are married, and your married family responsibilities take precedence over all other responsibilities. For that reason, traditional etiquette held that wedding attendants had to be chosen from your unmarried friends. Modern etiquette of course allows you to choose married attendants, but when you make that choice you must make accomodations for the fact that they do have other priorities than your wedding.
Etiquette does not consider discussions of how much your friendships have cost you monetarily, to be quite “nice”. We never really know what other people’s finances are unless we are their bookkeeper: people often have hidden costs or diminished income that they keep private, and how they spend their money is their own business. So while it is very nice of you to pay for their dresses and hotel rooms, you must not weigh that against your $1200 outlay or their presumptive financial situations. Offer what you can afford to be gracious about. If you cannot afford these things graciously, don’t offer then. Certainly do not wish for your friends to offer to pay for things that you have already offered to provide: that kind of behaviour would be considered ungrateful in the extreme! As for things like hair, make-up and accessories: traditional etiquette says that ladies should be trusted to be able to do their own hair and makeup, and choose their own accessories; meddling in other adults’ grooming being considered offensive. Modern etiquette allows you to dictate that these should all be the same, but if so requires that you pay for them — so that’s your choice, not something to expect gratitude for (especially if they are adherents of more traditional etiquette).Yes, they should say “Thank -you”. But that one word, a simple “thank-you”, should suffice. And if you don’t get that one word, it says something about their culture and upbringing, but it is a very small thing that you should not allow to destroy your happiness.
Etiquette says that your Bridal Shower is not your business to plan. It is not an essential pre-wedding event. It is entirely up to your friends if they want to plan one for you or not. You should scratch it off your list of concerns. Your other events except the wedding itself and its subsequent reception or wedding dinner-dance are entirely optional. You are the hostess, so you get to organize them, pay for them, choose the guest list, and take care of your guests’ needs and comforts at each of these parties. That is what a hostess does. You never plan a party to focus on yourself: you plan it to accomodate your guests. If your guests find your parties burdensome, perhaps you need to adjust either your plans, or your guestlist. If, on the other hand, you are making the plans but expecting your attendants to do the work of throwing them, you are doomed to disappointment. Take the reins, hire a caterer if you need to, and reconsider your plans in such a way that they do accomodate your guests.
Now that may seem upside-down to you: this is the most important event-suite of your life, and I am telling you to plan around other people. But etiquette is all about exalting the double-standard: a high and inflexible standard to which you hold yourself, and a tolerant flexible standard to accomodate everybody else. The payback is; that as a wonderful, generous hostess who puts her guests in the various spotlights, every single spotlight spills over onto you and you DO end up being the centre of attention. The more you chase the spotlight, the more you are begrudged the attention you seek. The more you accomodate others, the happier and more special your day will be.
But keep this in mind — and read it through a couple of times to be sure you understand what I am saying: no matter how happy your wedding day is, I wish for you that it may be the unhappiest day of your entire married life.