DEAR MISS MANNERS: I find that people make several assumptions about me due to the mere fact that I am a bride-to-be planning a wedding.
I chose my bridesmaids and told them they can choose any appropriate knee-length dresses in any shade of my wedding color they prefer. Originally, I was quite apathetic about even the color, but this proved to be too much freedom for most to comprehend, so I narrowed it down for them.
In any case, I thought different ladies in different dresses in different colors (or shades of a color, in this case) would look lovely and elegant -- and, most important, not like a cult, which is how I feel about matchy-matchy wedding people "props."
We have two flower girls as well, and when asked, I told their mothers that any appropriate dress in any purple would be lovely. Besides finding the mini-bride look a bit creepy, I thought a colored dress would be more practical, and not matching them would give them more options (and also look less cultish), as they both have very different stores available near their homes.
I thought this was all going wonderfully, but last night at a beautiful family engagement party my aunt and mom threw for us, I found that people were co-conspiring "for my own good" because I'm "too nice to make demands" and they're "concerned how my pictures would look."
My bridesmaids are conspiring to wear the same color in case three of them choose one color dress, and two of them choose one, and another chooses a different one, because then there will be no way to make everything symmetrical for my photos -- which is the entire point!
I don't want everything orchestrated and choreographed to the point that my loved ones are people-props!
Honestly, I just want them to choose a pretty dress (with my "approval," since they all seem to feel that is necessary) and show up on time!
Similarly, the flower girls' mothers were found comparing their local stores to see the availability of finding the same dress.
Miss Manners, I realize that they're doing this out of love because they think I'm making concessions for their convenience. How do I convince them that what they're planning is really the opposite of what I want, without feeling like I'm some drill sergeant making one demand after another?
The only one who seems to understand my views is my wonderful maid of honor. We went shopping for her dress already, and she happily picked out her favorite dress in her favorite color at her favorite price.
GENTLE READER: As you aptly noted, this is yet another case of the wrong thing being so prevalent and ingrained in people's heads that the hapless person who is trying to do the right thing is being thwarted.
However, if the higher goal is that you wish your friends to wear what they want without your dictatorship, then Miss Manners is afraid that in their own misguided way, your friends are doing just that.
You could try one more time to tell them that you just want them to look like themselves and to choose something that they love -- that your only concern for the pictures is to display just that. But if they won't listen, then it seems best to let it go. You and your maid of honor can have fun later using modern technology to re-color the dresses in the photos to your -- or what should have been their -- liking.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)