Post # 46
Because she’s going to be your sister-in-law, I would recommend just saying yes. While it’s 100 per cent true that no one is ever obligated to be a bridesmaid (if you really think about it, it’s rare that anyone is ever utterly and completely obligated to do anything haha), it’s nice to accept the honour if it’s offered–especially if it comes from someone who is going to be part of your family going forward.
While it’s fair enough to say that your future sister-in-law should be mature enough to accept your refusal graciously and not hold it against you, other posters are right to say that her feelings will likely be hurt (especially if she knows you’re refusing because you “don’t feel like it”) and that it could harm your relationship with her. If you invited someone to something that you planned and worked hard on and he or she just said, “sorry, I don’t feel like coming,” your feelings might be hurt, no?
I went through a phase where I became “tired” of being in weddings (and I’d only been in two!) and started openly grumbling about the drudgery of having to go to dress fittings, help with showers, help with bachelorette parties, go to rehearsal dinners, etc. I regret the grumbling now because when I look back at all of those weddings, I’m glad I was able to stand up with friends and support them during an exciting time in their lives.
Later on, when I got engaged and married, those same friends were there to stand with and celebrate with me and I really cherish those memories and the extra time we got to spend together before and during the wedding.
If you do not have the time or money to plan or host a shower or attend an expensive bachelorette party, just say so! While you’ll probably be invited to these events whether or not you’re in the wedding party (I’ve attended many showers and bachelorette parties for weddings I was not involved in), make it clear that you don’t have the means or availability to host a party or travel out of town for several nights (in the event that happens for the bachelorette). You can also refuse to attend any events that you don’t feel safe attending due to COVID, of course (which might also extend to the wedding if the event will be soon and you live in an area with a high case count and a slow vaccine rollout).
Unless you expect your future sister-in-law to be difficult and make ridiculous demands of your time and finances, it might be best to accept the honour and just stand up with her on her wedding day in your bridesmaid dress. It really is just one day and it’ll likely mean a lot to her.
Post # 47
I feel like I need a little more info on your individual situation in order to advise: Your SIL’s temperament, your past experience with weddings and the role of bridesmaids, the general scope of this wedding, what has been explicitly said to you about the responsibilities that come along with the role of bridesmaid in this situation, how close you are, etc. The way you are approaching this situation implies that you fully expect your SIL will be somewhat hurt, that bridesmaids in this wedding are expected to take on a considerable amount of responsibility, and that this wedding will be indistinguishable from the past weddings you’ve been part of. Is this really the case?
In general, I’m a big fan of everyone feeling completely free to decline social obligations, whether it’s because they’re burnt out (as it sounds like you are) or simply because they don’t wanna. In reality, in order to do this, you have to live with disappointing or pissing a few people off every once in a while. How they react to you setting a limit is not under your control. You simply have to decide what matters more to you in this instance, your comfort or your SIL’s feelings. I’m not going to judge you for choosing either one, as long as you do it in good faith (if you do decline the role, do it politely and gracefully, assuming NOTHING about how she’ll react, and if you accept, harbor no resentment and carry out your duties with respect). This will go a surprisingly long way toward preserving your relationship with your SIL. She will be just as hurt (if not more so) if you do participate but do so reluctantly.
On a somewhat related note, it would be great if brides would exercise some serious discretion when including every woman they’re related to in the wedding party. Not every woman adores the idea of being a bridesmaid, and some are simply not cut out for it. Think of all the posts on this site by pissed off brides about reluctant and useless bridesmaids, who probably only agreed to stand up for them out of a sense of obligation. Maybe we should stop thinking about being in the wedding party as a divine honor and start thinking about it more like a job that needs doing? Or maybe I’m crazy. I dunno. Probably why I’m not having bridesmaids.
Post # 48
I would argue that it’s brides who ought to stop thinking of it as a job that needs to be done, and more like the honor it is meant to be. That won’t happen unless people start having the courage to say no to tasks they never volunteered to do and to expenses they never agreed to assume.
Post # 49
I’d be happy either way, honestly! If you’re going to put your bridesmaids to work (not what I would do or what I think should be done, but it does seem to be expected in some circles), be more selective and up-front about what is expected, and if you’re going to “honor” them, do just that and don’t expect them to run around like your own little band of personal assistants. A little more consideration and a little less me-me-me all the time would work wonders.