I recently reconnected with a good friend from college. We talk all the time, visit one another for weekends and she's given me some great wedding planning advice (since she's already had a wedding and can help with some of the pitfalls). Early on she brought up the topic of being a bridesmaid. She said she wasn't sure if I would ask or not but she wanted to put it out there that she wasn't able to handle the financial responsibility or the time commitment, especially since we are both going to be in a mutual friends wedding in a few months. She offered to help with the set-up of small things like centerpieces the morning of, as her in-laws live very close to the reception hall and she felt that would probably be more useful to me than a gift anyway. I thanked her for letting me know and said that I might take her up on her offer to help, as I feel bad asking anyone to do those things, but can't really be setting up vases and flowers in my wedding dress...I figured that it would be nice to include her in the rehearsal dinner, get her a gift like those I'm giving to the bridesmaids and including a note of "special thanks" for her in the program.
I've told her some things about the wedding and any time I talk about the wedding party, I've stressed how I don't want this to be a burden for them. FIs mom has graciously offered to pay for hotel rooms for our wedding party - I've expressed that if any showers or bachelorette parties I'd prefer them to be small, casual and as inexpensive as possible for the hosts - I've respected everyone's choices and budget in dress choices, giving them certain parameters but not telling them to buy a specific dress - I'm going to take the women from the bridal party (including this friend) out for manicures the day before and to get hair and make-up done the morning of. She also asked if I was getting bridesmaids gifts and I said that I planned on it.
I think she now feels like she's missing out on something by not being part of the bridal party and she has hinted that she might prefer to be a bridesmaid. Is it appropriate to ask her or should I just go along with our original arrangement. I kind of feel she might be asking just for the gifts and pampering - but I had planned on her including in all the fun stuff anyway. Should I just let her know that even though she isn't standing up as a bridesmaid, she will be recognized as being awesome and receive a gift?