02/06/2013 12:05 EST | Updated 04/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Sticky Situation: One Unmatching Bridesmaid

In this photo taken on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, Malaysian badminton player Lee Chong Wei, center left, and his bride Wong Mew Choo, center right, pose for a photo with best men and bridesmaids during their wedding dinner in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo) MALAYSIA OUT

Sticky situation:

In less than two months, I am getting married. My dear friend is to be a bridesmaid. Due to her financial issues, she now informs me that she didn't order her dress. The rest of the bridesmaids did so, last May. That dress model is no longer available.

I told her that any dress would do. It is more important to me that she be there than match exactly. She is very stressed and worried about not fitting in. How can I make her feel comfortable without changing the ceremony? My daughter is doing the only reading and the attendants are equal on each side.

Please help!


Thank you for your email and confidence.

As a blessed woman with dear girlfriends, I am very empathetic to your "sticky situation," and sincerely believe that whatever you and your girlfriend decide will be most appropriate for your wedding. After all, isn't a wedding all about love and sharing with those that matter most to us?

Given that it directly impacts her bridesmaid responsibility of purchasing her attire for your wedding, your friend did the right thing by being forthcoming about her current financial situation. Ideally, she would have told you at the time that you asked her, to be part of your wedding party.

Economic, health and family reasons are all acceptable for declining to be a wedding attendant. At that time, you would have had the choice of replacing her as a bridesmaid.

Understanding that you really want her to be in that role on your wedding day, you could have also discreetly offered to help her pay for the dress, in its entirety or in part, had you insisted on matching dresses for all bridesmaids.

Another possibility would have been to let each bridesmaid choose a dress, in her budget, according to your guidelines; style, colour, length, fabric and whatever other detail you felt important, to coordinate the dresses with your celebration.

From what I understand, you now still wish your dear friend to be in your wedding party, with whatever dress she chooses. In letting her know that it was "more important for her to be there than match exactly," you have already made her feel comfortable and showed her how much you value her as a friend.

She now seems to be stressing over the undue attention that may be upon her, as a result of her unmatching dress. This is indeed a sticky situation and one that may not be as private as what your friend would prefer. It is also one that will live on, in whatever way you have chosen to capture and immortalize your wedding. Although your guests may not be aware of her financial woes, they will certainly observe the discrepancy in her attire. That may create an awkward or even embarrassing situation for your friend and also for the other members of your party.

On such short notice, you must have a heart-to-heart talk with your friend about her participation as a bridesmaid. Speak openly and listen with your heart.

Keep in mind that your friend can still be present at your wedding, continue to support you along the way, closely celebrate with you, even if she is not an attendant, in a matching or unmatching dress.

Should you both decide that she will not be assuming a bridesmaid's role, as a modern day bride, you have options for the processional:

  1. The groomsmen can be at the front, seated or standing, with the groom. And, the bridesmaids enter, single file.
  2. All attendants go single file with the bridesmaids first and then the ushers.
  3. Lastly, one of your bridesmaids, or your daughter, can walk down the aisle with two ushers, one on each side.

In conclusion, as an etiquette expert my role is to give the answers, so that the rules may be respected and that all may be at their best without confusion or embarrassment. Foremost, there is nothing more important than respecting others and their feelings.

So in the end, after candidly speaking and mostly listening to your friend, go with your heart. Love rules. That is what a wedding celebration is all about, love.

May you, your loved one and bridesmaid-or-not friend, live happily ever after.

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