Ask Mom Mom: The Older Bridesmaid

Dear Mom Mom, 

I’ve been asked to be in my cousin’s wedding.  She’s getting married for the first time at 45 and is very excited to have the big shebang wedding she always wanted.  I’m happy for her, I hope it’s everything she dreams…but I’m 44 and I do not want to wear a matchy taffeta gown.  I do not want to pony up lord-knows-what for an unattractive, silly dress I’ll never wear again.  Part of me thinks “it’s her dream, help her live it, stop whining” and part of me thinks “pay your bills, decline gracefully, wear a dress you already own.”  What do you think?  Can I get out of it?  If so, how?
Too Old For This

Dear Too Old,

I absolutely understand the pain and shame of those sherbert colored monstrosities called bridesmaid’s gowns, as I have quite a collection of them myself. Most people over the age of 30 look ridiculous in them, even though the bride will tell you otherwise. Don’t believe her. Ugly bridesmaids = Beautiful bride.

But here’s the thing. Assuming this cousin is a special person in your life, you will have to suck it up (and suck it in) and deal. This day is not about you, my dear. Life only gives us a handful of very special days and very special memories that will last until our nursing home stint, and weddings are one of those days. To be a part of someone’s very special day is a great honor and not one we should brush off for the virtue of fiscal responsibility or the sin of vanity.

If money is really, truly an issue, do not hesitate to share this concern with the bride. Tell her you would be honored to be part of her day but can only spend $X on a dress. I know I would not have wanted any of my bridesmaids to suffer a financial hardship in the name of attending my wedding, and the bride will likely tweak her wedding budget a bit to help you purchase the dress. Of course, this is very different than you just not wanting to waste your money, and I would only have such a conversation if a true hardship existed.

On the bright side, think of the amusing pictures and great stories you can share with your friends. And perhaps Mom Mom is old fashioned, but taking part in a day which celebrates love and commitment really is one of life’s great pleasures. You are a special enough person to be included in such an important ceremony, and I hope you can take time to enjoy it.

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