Sunday, December 28, 2014 Tevet 6, 5775
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Spilling the Bachelorette Party Beans

Thursday, May 29, 2014
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Dear Miriam,

A friend of mine is getting married in a couple of weeks. I'm one of the bridesmaids, which means I have to help plan the bachelorette weekend. I'm the newest friend among the bridesmaids, but I'm also the only one who lives in the same city as the bride, so I actually see her more than anyone else. The other women have planned a weekend full of typical tourist activities when I know the bride would prefer something much more low-key. The other bridesmaids have also decided that everything should be a secret, so the bride doesn't even know what to prepare for. Would it be out of line for me to tell her the plan? In part, I want her to be able to speak up if she wants her other friends to adjust the weekend plans, and in part, I want to make sure she knows I'm not responsible for this weekend that clearly isn't taking her desires into account.

Signed,
Spilling the Bachelorette Party Beans


Dear Beans,

As someone who usually prefers to know plans down to the minute rather than wait for any element of surprise, I understand the conflict here. However, I don't think this surprise is yours to spoil.

Presumably, the bride knows that something is being planned in secret and presumably, she trusts her longstanding friends to create a good experience for her. Presumably, you're also right that these friends are actually off-base in what they're planning, but that's for her to work out with them. With the wedding still a few weeks away, you're better off staying on everyone's good side and keeping them on each other's good sides, too. 

Rather than completely disempower you, though, there are some steps you can take to try to maximize the fun and minimize the damage.

Use your proximity to the bride to your advantage. Email the other bridesmaids with a note like, "I just saw Charlotte last night and she mentioned again how she really hopes the bachelorette weekend is a low-key chance for everyone to hang out. Maybe we could cut X and Y out of the itinerary and replace them with Z." 

If you feel like you have a rapport with any of the bridesmaids who has sway with the others, you could call her and say, "I know you've all known each other for a lot longer than I have and I don't want to get in the way of long-standing dynamics, but I'm not sure how to communicate with the others about what I think Charlotte would really prefer."

If neither of these tactics lead anywhere, then it's time to leave it alone and try to have fun when the weekend arrives. Avoid making passive aggressive comments or rolling your eyes at the other women and do everything you can to ensure the bride has fun even if it's not her ideal set of activities. That means if she comes to you and says, "I can't believe my friends would plan something so outside of my taste," you don't respond with, "I know! I told them you would hate it." Rather, try to say, "They wanted to do something really special. Even if it's not exactly what you envisioned, they wanted so much to plan a fun getaway with you in mind." 

After the wedding has come and gone, if Charlotte brings up the less than ideal bachelorette weekend you can gently say something like, "Yeah, I wasn't sure how you'd react to their plans, but they were really set on a particular vision. I hope you had a good time anyway." Don't throw anyone under the bus and don't provide additional details of how hard it was to work with her other friends. This way, you've let her know what the dynamics were and if she has more venting to do, she'll know she can come to you.

This is all in the future, though. In the short term, I would recommend trying to be the best bridesmaid you can be for your friend's sake and let the other bridesmaids try to do the same.

Be well,
Miriam

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