Dear Annie: Two of my friends recently got married out in the countryside. Although the three-day weekend was sold as a "vacation in a cabin by the river," the bride and groom expected everyone to come to the venue and work nonstop for the entire weekend.
There were friends who drove across half the country with their families, only to spend hours upon hours decorating. Some worked themselves into complete exhaustion. The day before the wedding was spent in nonstop preparations the entire day. There was no food provided for the free "workers" or anything else of the sort.
The couple's disgruntled friends made plenty of comments about not having everything they needed to perform their assigned tasks and having to make due, and there was a general attitude of being overwhelmed and working too much.
I not only was annoyed with the amount of work and lack of thankfulness but also barely got to spend any quality time with my boyfriend, who hardly even knows the couple. He was asked to help with manual labor and would disappear with the father of the bride for hours on end.
Before we even parked our car the day of the wedding, my boyfriend was asked to help with parking all the other wedding guests and disappeared for another four hours. The day was rushed and panicked. I was in the bridal party and had less than 30 minutes to get ready because of all the tasks. I didn't think my hair was more important than setting up a beverage station so the 120 guests had something to drink during the 81-degree outdoor wedding.
After the ceremony, while people were dancing, her father needed to take the borrowed tables and chairs back to the church. We were loading 120 chairs, heavy tables, etc., onto a truck. The bride was dancing 10 feet away and acted as if she couldn't see people working. We went with him to the church and were gone for nearly two hours. Upon our return, the bride asked me where I had been. I told her, and she said, "Well, you didn't have to do that!" But someone did have to do it, and I wasn't OK making my boyfriend do all of that work without helping.
After we returned, the bride kept asking us to dance and have fun. We went to bed and left early in the morning before we could be asked to do anything else. I am ready to sever the friendship.
Since when does having a country-style wedding make it OK to work your friends to death? How should we have handled this situation differently to save ourselves? This friend has started to contact me as if nothing happened. How do I respond without tainting the memory of her "special day"? — Bride's Maid
Dear Maid: Forced unpaid labor doesn't count as "something borrowed," and the fact that it's a couple's special day doesn't give them a free pass to act especially inconsiderately. One small chore would have been appropriate, but this situation crossed the line somewhere around the 40th car your boyfriend helped to park. The bride and groom weren't thoughtful, plain and simple.
That said, weddings can trigger acute bouts of myopia in otherwise well-adjusted people. If this was the first time these friends behaved this way, forgive — but don't forget. Next time, set boundaries early on, lest you be assembling a crib at the baby shower.
Dear Annie: This is in response to "Wonder Woman," who is in her 50s and self-conscious about her young workout class. You were so right to tell her to stop the cycle of negativity. I was astounded by her complete rudeness when she remarked about others her age desperately trying to get back in shape even though, in Wonder Woman's opinion, that's "never going to happen." She is the reason people avoid going to gyms. The fact that these people are there should be applauded, not ridiculed.
Wonder Woman needs to take a deep look at herself and determine why it makes her feel better to ridicule others while tooting her own horn. She should then apologize for her rude remarks — although it's clear that that's never going to happen, either.
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Photo credit: Mike Gifford