I have gotten myself into a mildly uncomfortable and extremely sticky situation. I’m getting married in under a month, something that came about quite quickly due to finding out I’m getting a job in another country. Since everything is moving fast, I’ve quickly been getting my venue, food, and bridesmaids in order. The last one is where I’m having the problem—not with the three girls I chose, but with the one I didn’t.
Last October, I was in a wedding from a girl I knew in college. She asked me to be her maid of honor, which I should have said no to at the time as I knew this wouldn’t end well, but I agreed to because I’m a wimp who doesn’t know how to say no. Well, her wedding mostly went off without a hitch, but this put me in a weird spot. I’m not particularly close with this girl and we live very different lifestyles…but she said in a note she wrote me that she expected to be in my bridal party. I also think she sees us as closer than I do since a majority of her friend base is a bit flaky.
Fast forward to today. I, perhaps unwisely, ignored the advice of my fiance and mother and decided to contact her with the offering of being a hostess at the wedding. She took this well until she found out there were other bridesmaids. She used the word “shocked” to describe how she felt, since I had been her maid of honor. I explained that she would still be included in everything she wants to be and get a shout-out on the wedding day, but she is clearly upset.
I feel bad about the situation because I don’t want to tarnish her memories of her wedding or regret using me as a maid of honor. On the other hand, I truly don’t want her in my wedding and honestly did not plan on talking to her much, if ever again, once I left the country. I wish now that I had not contacted her but it’s too late to pull back those messages. Should I continue to pursue including her in the wedding? With so little time, I’m already stressed and have now created drama for myself. Is it worth trying to make a slot for her in the bridal party? I’ve already left out other friends and my fiance really only wants three people on his side. I’m torn and I feel sick when I think about it. Any advice would be well appreciated!
Let’s start with the bad news, Sparkler: there’s nothing I can do about your wedding. By now, presumably, you are married (or about to be) and in the process of moving overseas, and everything that was going to happen will have happened, for better or for worse. (Congratulations, by the way!)
The good news is, it’s going to be okay—because some version of this drama and the resulting rift was always going to happen, whether you invited this girl to be a part of the wedding or not. You said it yourself: you are thoroughly uninterested in her as a friend, despite her fondness for you. You never even intended to keep in touch with her after you moved! And there was always going to come a point when she figured that out, and when she did, she was always going to be hurt and disappointed by it. You’re just dealing with the inevitable on a sped-up schedule… and, uh, in the most conflict-creating way possible.
Which, as you almost certainly realize by now, is the one part of this scenario in which you pretty definitively messed up. Offering this girl a second-tier, non-bridesmaid place in your ceremony probably seemed like a good idea in theory, but in practice, all you did was thoroughly destroy any illusions she might have had that you cared about her at all—and then gave the knife a big ol’ twist by pointing out to her that she’d still be included in “everything she wants” (emphasis mine), just in case she hadn’t fully understood that the hostess role was a Pity Prize for Not-So-Dearly-Beloved Friends.
Which is why, just for the record, the answer to your question about making a place for her in your bridal party is that yeah, you probably should’ve—but from the get-go, not as an afterthought. Not that it’s especially useful to you now, and I know it’s hard to have this kind of perspective when you’re right in the thick of wedding planning, but it’s just not that difficult to “make room” for one more person to stand up there in a bridesmaid’s dress while you say your vows (and it just doesn’t matter, at all, if you have more bridesmaids on your side than your husband has groomsmen on his.) And look: of course, in a perfect world, she would’ve had the perspective herself to recognize that bridal party politics are weird, that people get left out for all kinds of reasons, and that one should endeavor to be gracious about these things even when they’re upsetting. But under the circumstances (i.e. you’d just been the maid of honor in this girl’s wedding), she had every reason to anticipate being included—and excluding her was a serious slap in the face.
Unfortunately, it’s a slap in the face that you already delivered and can’t take back, which means that all of the above is meant mostly as a PSA to anyone else who might be dealing with a similar issue. For you, Sparkler, the advice is this: accept that you made a series of missteps here, and then decide how you feel about it. Are you relieved to have begun the process of distancing yourself from this girl, even if the way it played out was less than ideal? Or have you discovered, in the aftermath, that her friendship was more important to you than you appreciated at the time?
If it’s the former, then you can move on (perhaps with a promise to yourself that you’ll be more thoughtful about the implications of including vs. excluding people from your celebrations in the future. Couldn’t hurt, y’know?) But if it’s the latter… well, it might be too late to change your wedding plans, but it’s never too late to apologize.
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