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Ask Team Practical: Judgmental Bridesmaid


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Judgmental Bridesmaid | A Practical Wedding

I just got engaged (wahoo!) and am trying to figure out my bridesmaids. I have a lot of friends who have been with me in different seasons of my life so it was hard enough narrowing them down. I’ve seen the Bridal Brigade post and it was great, but my dilemma is a tad different. I have a friend who was good friends with me in high school. We have remained friends but we have both changed quite a bit since then (I’m three years graduated from college now). I feel like even though she considers herself one of my best friends, she is quite judgmental of my humor and the fact that I drink. (One huge thing I’m looking forward to on the morning of my wedding? Mimosas.) I know she expects to be a bridesmaid and I (stupidly… why can’t I ever keep my mouth shut?) have hinted that she might be one because she’s been a great friend to me. So I don’t want to leave her in the dust, but I’m afraid that she’ll just judge me during the entire wedding process and especially on my wedding day when I just want to relax and have fun and not feel like I have to perform perfectly for her the entire day.

So my question to this long post is… Is there a way to make her feel like she’s not on the JV Bridesmaid team without actually making her a bridesmaid so that I don’t have to remain in close contact with her the entire process and especially the day? I want to make her feel just as special as the other girls but without the stress of wondering how bad she’s judging me (and sharing that judgment with others).

–Anonymous

Dear Anon,

Ask her to be a bridesmaid, but let her know what’s up. “Hey, I know you have a thing about drinking, so I just wanna give you a heads up that I’m planning on throwing a few back on my wedding day.” Treat her like an adult, let her know what’s happening, and give her room to either pass on being a bridesmaid (and the champagne cocktails), or join in the fun without dragging you down with snide comments. Expect her to do what you’ll be doing: accepting her as she is without changing the parts you don’t like.

I understand why you’d want to limit possible points of contention on what could already be a hectic day. But, weddings aren’t all sunshine and glitter, just like our loved ones aren’t. In fact, weddings aren’t all sunshine and glitter because our loved ones aren’t. We talk every once in awhile about how weddings don’t change people or make them suddenly, magically perfect. This is that kind of situation. You bring the people you love together and honor them, taking the good with the bad (even if the bad harshes your mimosa mellow).

Realize now that even if you can orchestrate the perfect color palette and organize a seamless timeline, you won’t be able to control how your loved ones act on your wedding day. And by that I mean, even if you don’t ask Judgmental Friend to be your bridesmaid, there’s a pretty good chance that someone else will do something else to create tension and strife. But you still love them, and you still honor them. You just have to roll your eyes and grit your teeth through the irritating parts.

Weddings double and triple the reality that you’ll be surrounded by people that just don’t get along with you in every way. You’re not just bringing together the folks you click with now, but also friends and family from other times and places of your life. People you’ve outgrown in this way or that. People who maybe just don’t have the same ideals as you any more. Excluding any people you love who don’t entirely and completely agree with who you are right now would leave many of us with really, really small weddings. Painfully small (shoot, I’d have to skip on inviting my mom).

Besides all of that stuff, honestly, most bridesmaids aren’t around for every special moment. Having someone as a bridesmaid in fantasy ideal-land means that they’re there through the entire planning process, bonding over special memories as you and six gorgeous friends all hold hands and softly weep. But, speaking practically, it really just means you’re honoring them with a special title, and they have to wear what you ask. That’s it. The rest is icing on the cake. Maybe not all of your bridesmaids will be there for the getting ready mimosas. And if your bachelorette party is going to be one weekend-long bar hop, and your friend really takes issue with drinking, you can offer her an out. Just be clear about what’s going to happen at each event, so she doesn’t feel pressured to come, or if she does come, she knows her snarky jabs are unwelcome.

Of course, there’s always the option to not ask her to be your bridesmaid. But, if you choose to go that route, make sure it’s because you don’t want her to be your bridesmaid. Not just because she doesn’t agree with you on everything and you think she might say something annoying.

But my best advice? You love her, she’s special, so honor her. Sometimes our loved ones really surprise us and come through on the wedding day. And… alright, sometimes they don’t, and they’re tough to handle in all the ways we anticipate. But that’s what the mimosas are for, yeah?

*****

Team Practical, how did you decide who to keep close to you on your wedding day?

Photo by APW sponsor Gabriel Harber

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • Zoe

    I’m curious about the ways in which she shows her “judgement” of you. Is she actually saying snarky/rude things to your face? Or is it more that your projecting the judgement (i.e. you know she doesn’t like alcohol so when you have a drink around her you feel judged)? Because to me, there’s a huge difference between the two. If she is ACTIVELY shooting you down about the way you live your life and your sense of humor whenever you hang out, then honestly, she doesn’t actually sound like a great friend and I would have a boundary setting conversation (‘I love you and you’ve always been there for me, but I’m hurt by comment x.’) regardless of ‘bridesmaid duties.’ If, on the other hand, it’s more that you’re just starting to notice that your lives have taken divergent paths, then I think the advice here is good.

  • Amanda L.

    The line where you said that ‘she considers herself one of my best friends’ really stood out to me. If YOU don’t consider HER one of your best friends, then it is ok not to have her as a bridesmaid. Her expectations of you are not what you need to live up to. I’m strongly on Team ‘Ask Her to be a Reader’.

    I had this same struggle. I have a friend whom I love dearly. We have a ridiculously good time any time we are together, and we’ve both seen each other through some tough stuff. However, there have been a couple times she has flaked on me, in a big way. That nagged at me. It was still important that she be a part of my day, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to ask her to be a bridesmaid. She did a beautiful reading at the wedding and, as far as I know, was honored to be part of the day.

    • Emma

      It’s definitely worth noting that there are other ways to honour her if you choose not to ask her to be a bridesmaid. I’m making the cake for a friend’s wedding next year and I’m thrilled – I’m still involved in the planning and I get to give her something that means a lot to me – I don’t feel upset at all. She also has 7 bridesmaids already, which is absolutely massive for the UK. And this means I get to wear a hat. Massive win.

      • http://thisgreatbigadventure.blogspot.com Courtney

        Yes! My husband and I are blessed with so many close friends (and siblings!) that we couldn’t possibly fit them all up front in the tiny church where we got married. Some of them didn’t want to stand up in front of everyone anyway.

        They showed their support in countless other ways, though. One spent all morning troubleshooting our borrowed sound system that wasn’t quite working. Others provided music for the ceremony, helped set up our reception venue, or provided entertainment during our cocktail hour (belly dancers!). One even coordinated roommates for the single people who were looking to share a hotel room.

        It’s not exactly the same as being “honored” as a bridesmaid, but I know from when my friends got married that sometimes, what you really want is to be Involved. I’ve been a bridesmaid for a friend who only wanted us to show up on the day-of wearing matching dresses, and I’ve had no title at all with a friend who asked if I would help them organize their plans. I can tell you which couple I felt more honored by. (Hint – I got to pick out my own dress!)

    • MOE

      Yes!!!

      There’s been a few times when I’ve squirmed uncomfortably when someone proclaims me as their best friend and I do not feel the same way about them. Awkward!

    • Anon

      I actually have a friend I asked to be a reader because we’d had a clash of personalities, and I felt it would add more drama than I wanted to the day of. I figured this way, she was still in a loved and honored position, but she didn’t have to be around the whole day while I was distracted and prone to doing things that would upset her. So far, it’s all going smoothly.

  • Laura C

    Ok, first, wedding morning mimosas? How had I not included that in my vision of my wedding day? Clearly a failure of imagination here, given how much I love mimosas.

    Second, I did ask someone to be a bridesmaid who I was probably closer with a few years ago and who, while I don’t know that she judges drinking, definitely doesn’t do it or particularly enjoy being around it. Not at the level of me worrying about her as I add mimosas to my vision of my wedding day, but I’ve thought a lot about it in planning a bachelorette-type event. And basically, my solution was that yes, there will definitely be a drinking component with a whole bunch of friends, but first me and whichever of my bridesmaids want to go will get pedicures together or something like that, so there’ll be a part that she and any other non-drinking bridesmaids can be fully a part of.

    But I do agree with the other commenters in wanting to know more about how she judges. Because if she’s going to be mean to you, then probably no.

    • Amanda L.

      Wedding mimosas are the bomb. I can attest. :)

      • Laura K

        For my sister’s wedding, the priest told her that he absolutely would NOT marry them if he smelled alcohol on anyone’s breath at the ceremony. She and us bridesmaids had some champagne in the limo on the way to the church anyway ;) A little wedding morning mimosa is great for calming the nerves, and a fun story since it was “forbidden.”

        • http://whereyoucamefrom.blogspot.com Kathleen

          Having a mimosa is one thing, but I imagine that if the priest could actually smell alcohol on someone’s breath, he’d be quite justified in worrying that they were not at that time competent to enter into a legally binding contract!

    • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

      I’m having a mimosa bar in my room, and I cannot wait. Some bottles of bubbly, some oj & grapefruit (I know its not traditional, but have you had grapefruit juice and champagne?) & probably peach juice, and some fresh fruit. I’m irrationally excited about it.

      • KEA1

        I want a grapefruit mimosa NOW. And maybe one every morning. %)

      • Breck

        Yum. I am a huge proponent of champagne + fresh fruit, especially raspberries! I just decided: mimosa bar in my kitchen TONIGHT.

      • Abby Mae

        That sounds amazing. My wedding has come and gone but I think I want to throw a morning party just to have one of these!

      • http://herodesigns.etsy.com Marlee

        Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm…:-)

      • Angie

        i just had a grapefruit juice and champagne cocktail this weekend, delish! someone called it a “marilyn” – i don’t know if that’s the actual name for it but i think it’s super fun.

    • MOE

      I had “wedding” rum&coke, it got the job done.

    • meg

      You know, one of my ladies was, at the time, quite the judger of drinking—sometimes she was even mean about it. (Funnily enough, she drinks now, but that’s beside the point.) And at that point we were less close than we had been before, and would be after. But the bottom line was that I loved her, and I was also going to drink on my wedding day which meant she was probably going to make a snarky comment or two. I have to say, it didn’t matter to me at all. I could take a snarky common (or sixty) for the team, and not even give a shit on my wedding day. I loved her, I wanted to honor our past (and hopefully future) closeness, so she was one of my ladies, full stop.

      Was she snarky about stuff? For sure yes. Was she also an awesome bridesmaid who kept crazy people away from me, and sobbed during her reading, and I’m so glad is in all my pictures? For sure yes. She was maybe even my BEST bridesmaid, snarky comments included.

      SO! I don’t think it’s as simple as “If she’s going to be mean to you, no.” To be honest, she wasn’t even the only person in the wedding party that was occasionally mean to me (Helloz! We had family at our wedding! Family is great at the offhanded jab!) She protected me from a lot of that, and more to the point, she just was who she was. People are imperfect and flawed and sometimes mean, and we love them anyway.

      So that’s how I feel about it. And I we had a mimosa BAR, for the record ;)

      • Zoe

        It’s a matter of degrees, I guess. It’s great that your friend’s comments didn’t bother you. I’m not sure how I feel, because I can’t imagine my friends being intentionally and repeatedly rude/snarky to me. One offhand comment sure, but a bunch of them? not so much. So, great — if that’s just how your relationships are and it worked for you, awesome, but I’m not sure people should feel like rudeness is just par for the course from close friends. In my experience, it really isn’t.

        • Liz

          Haha, maybe I’m the judgey friend of my group because I think most of my friends are rude in some way or another!

          There’s the complainy friend (who, yep, complained even on the wedding day), and the inappropriate jokes friends (who luckily behaved herself) and the absentee friend who is really supportive, she just doesn’t show up for things and sometimes doesn’t contribute her share til the last minute. All of which is rude, rude. But they’re lovely and I love them. Our relationships are built on a solid foundation of love and care and irritated eye rolls.

          And I’m sure they have complaints about me (I’m telling you, it’s probably “judgey”).

          • Zoe

            Sure, everyone has less-than-awesome traits and in a friend group, those will all come into play. But… I feel like there’s a difference between noticing those traits in your friends and actively snarking in a judgmental way. That to me is where the ‘being mean’ comes in… I’m definitely the ‘flighty’ one in the group. And jokes have been made at my expense and I can laugh about it (and do) with my friends all the time. But if someone sat there rolling their eyes at me all the time, or saying things with that tone (hard to describe, but you know it when you hear it)… I’d absolutely feel hurt and like something else was going on in our friendship. If someone did that repeatedly, it would probably warrant a conversation. But again, I’m sensitive. If you’re less sensitive about that stuff, then do what works! What I’m concerned about here is the dynamic between the OP and her friend. If someone hurts your feelings on the regular, it’s OK to want to distance yourself a bit (wedding or no!).

          • meg

            I just find it so interesting/ crazy that you guys don’t have judgy and snarky friends. I mostly feel like, “How’d you get off so easy?”

            I’m not saying it never bothers me. I’m saying my love for them outweighs the amount that it bothers me. And if push comes to shove, I can give it back as needed.

          • meg

            Follow up thought:

            What I won’t tolerate is crazy. Period. Life is too short for that shit. I see crazy and manipulative, I cross the street.

            People judging me and hurting my feelings, well, to me that’s just what friendship IS. It’s complicated and hard and sometimes it really blows, but our people are our people. And once you’ve found them, that’s that. For me, that’s how it works.

          • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

            It sounds like the split in opinions is how authentic it is to be nice. I’m the inappropriate jokes/spotlight hogging friend, and my friends know this, but it doesn’t give me license to pull a Kanye when we’re celebrating someone else’s most recent success. It means I go out of my way to try to listen better and ask about their lives when we’re talking. It’s not inauthentic, it’s trying to be the best friend I can be for them.

            I don’t think Zoe is saying (though she can correct me) that we can only be friends with people we get along with perfectly. If a friend is constantly making us feel bad about ourselves, though, it’s time for some reflection: is this a one-time thing? Does our friend have a point? Do we need a conversation or a break from each other?

      • http://herodesigns.etsy.com Marlee

        The whole, “people are who they are, even on your wedding day” thing is probably the most helpful advice I’ve read on APW…or just about anywhere else for that matter. I don’t know how I would have gotten through our wedding week without it, because that was definitely not something I was close to figuring out on my own. I have a feeling it’s going to come in handy on many a Christmas (and Thanksgiving, and birthday, etc, etc…) as well. This feels like a great time to say Thank You Meg!!

      • Samantha

        I’m having a mimosa bar at my brunch wedding! But does that mean mimosas during the “getting ready” thing would be over kill? I’m trying to decide…

        • Ariel

          There can never be too many mimosas!

      • Laura C

        I draw a line between snarky and mean, or even judgy and mean. Snark? Lord, my friends better snark about the wedding I never thought I’d have, because I sure am. Judging? My mother judges me all the time, but like 90% of the time she succeeds at being not-mean about it. I would say judgy but not mean is where the feeling is “boy, I can’t like this specific thing and yeah, maybe I’m even a little surprised someone I love would do that specific thing, but they do,” while mean is actually intending to wound. The former person is all of us at some point, the latter I probably don’t want near me on my wedding day and actually think I’ve managed to weed out of my friendships in general.

        • Maddie

          MMMM THIS IS GOOD.

    • http://spaceysteph.blogspot.com Stephanie

      Wedding morning mimosas and wedding mid afternoon mimosas were both on my list. And they were both the bomb.

  • Chris C.

    Usually, I think APW’s advice is right on. But this time, I completely disagree. It doesn’t sound to me like you actually WANT this woman to be one of your bridesmaids. It sounds to me like you don’t want to hurt her feelings, and if that wasn’t an issue, you’d rather not include her. And while I know that the wedding is not all about you, I think that who you choose to have around you in this really stressful and wonderful time SHOULD be all about what you want and not what will make someone else happy.

    Anyway, I don’t think you should have her as a bridesmaid. Instead, as others have said, find another way for her to be involved — ask her to do a reading or play some other part in the ceremony, instead.

    • Anon

      I agree- if you’re worried about it now, then it’s better to ask her to be a reader, or ask for her advice and input on wedding planning through the process, but don’t ask her to be a bridesmaid.

      I asked a close friend of mine to be a bridesmaid in the wedding, and it turned out she was extremely judge-y and even rude, which I hadn’t expected. She was snarky about the decisions I made behind my back, and even refused to comply when it didn’t fit with her schedule. She was rude to other bridesmaids and deliberately did not invite some of them to help plan the shower because she “couldn’t work with them”, even though one of them was a professional event planner. Not only was I incredibly hurt by her behavior, but so were my other bridesmaids.

      I haven’t seen her since the wedding because I really haven’t been able to forgive her for making my wedding planning so stressful, and for hurting all of my other friends feelings. With some time, I’m sure I’ll be able to get over it, but it really has caused problems in our relationship.

      So- I agree with what APW says above that the wedding day is not all glitter and roses, and so if all you’re worried about is how she’ll treat you the day of, then maybe having her won’t be so bad. Hopefully she’ll be so excited for you that it won’t matter. But if you’re worried about her throughout the whole planning process in the months leading up to the wedding, then I wouldn’t recommend having her be a bridesmaid, especially if you want to stay friends with her after.

    • ISLA

      I agree with Chris C. too. As another commenter noted, I was very much struck by the part where you said that she considers you one of her best friends. My situation is very different in a lot of ways, but when I was picking my bridal party, I also had to decide whether or not to include such a “friend.” This woman was CONSTANTLY telling me that we were absolutely best friends, and I really thought we were too, but when something truly terrible happened in my life about a year before I got engaged, she hadn’t been there for me at all. She had been selfish and hurtful and petty, all while telling me what perfect friends we were. So when it came time to pick my bridal party, and I thought about who I wanted to stand next to me to support me and help me transition into the next, super-important stage of my life, I knew she wasn’t one of those people. I knew I wanted to pick people who HAD been there for me when I needed them, who had already proven themselves to be amazing friends, even if they never once told me they were. And I knew that if I didn’t pick this woman, my “best friend,” to be one of my bridesmaids (heck, she was POSITIVE she was going to be maid of honor), then it was pretty much over for us. It would be a big declaration of the fact that we were not, in fact, what she said we were. So I didn’t ask her to be a bridesmaid, even though it was hard, and I knew she’d be hurt. And it went just about as badly as you can imagine. I will probably never speak to that woman again.

      But you know what? I’m really, really glad I did what I did. I’m really proud of myself for standing up for what I know to be the real friendships that I have, and not letting someone else define my relationships. It was insanely hard, and I made someone really upset, which was beyond sucky, but in the end all I did was tell the truth. And that was the right thing for me to do. I know it’s not the case for everyone, but for me, picking a bridal party turned out to be more about defining which relationships were healthy for me, and which ones weren’t.

      I wish you lots of luck with your decision. It’s not an easy one, but I think it’s very important. (And in the end, *that* part of your wedding can definitely be about you.)

    • http://www.katemuehe.com/blog Kate

      I agree with Chris C. as well– if it doesn’t feel right to have this woman as a bridesmaid, then you shouldn’t. I hemmed and hawed for many weeks about who would be in my bridal party and I was a ball of sad/confused over hurting feelings. I finally sat down and said to myself, “Self, you have 20 minutes to pick the five women who will be in your wedding.” And when I made myself pick in sort of a ‘hurry’ I picked with my heart and not my brain. And the choices felt very right. I asked a few other ladies to read or be greeters and invited the rest to festivities like bridal showers.

  • honeypie

    Don’t do it. That judgement may extend to the choice of dress, shoes, ceremony and on and on. Ask her to be a reader. It sounds like she thinks she’s a best friend but you may not agree. Life is short and why put yourself in a situation where you know there may be discomfort, especially with something that is already stressful like wedding planning. Let her be judge-y from the pews.

  • Kristen

    I feel like Liz gave great advice here – but I think there is a step missing. Changing your responses to her judginess. No one in our lives is perfect as Liz pointed out and if we love or care about someone, overlooking minor flaws is kind of our job as humans. But it seems like you’re concerned about this specific girl and this specific problem because you’re kind of fed up with it. I’m gonna go ahead and take some leeway and guess at what might be happening.

    You’re getting married. You’re thinking about your future, what kind of life you want and the kind of people you want in it. You’re thinking about this special, emotional day, and you’re thinking about how to protect yourself from this friend. Maybe that’s a warning bell, so maybe pay attention. I don’t know what the answer is, how much you want to ask her based on love and history and how much is based on guilt and feelings of obligation.

    It seems like its more the latter which would make me say not to ask her. But if its the former, why not give her the chance to act right as Liz suggested. And if she doesn’t, tell her. Because no one can sustain a life long relationship where they are being hurt over and over by a friend, and not have it take its toll. If you ask her and your fears come to pass and she is judgey and annoys you, now’s the time to ask her to stop and give her the chance to adjust her behavior around you. Because loving someone means you’re allowed to ask them to not hurt you. You’re allowed to say to her if she lives up to her reputation, “Hey friend? When you say stuff like (insert example) it honestly really hurts my feelings. Would you do me a favor and maybe if you don’t like or agree with something, just say it to yourself inside your head.” or something like that. It can be incredibly scary (it honestly terrifies me) to stick up for yourself sometimes and to tell someone to knock it off. But once you’ve done it, you feel so much better! And words can’t injure someone. She can survive you speaking your mind and maybe your friendship can too. If she doesn’t respond well – at least that’s information you now have and you can decide whether you still want her in your life.

    • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

      I don’t agree with you entirely, but I definitely agree with this:

      “how much you want to ask her based on love and history and how much is based on guilt and feelings of obligation.”

      Liz answered well if the answer is love and history. But if its guilt and obligation, I’d choose another way to involve her.

  • Anon

    I actually completely disagree with this advice. It’s one thing to accept loved ones, warts and all. It’s quite another to surround yourself with loved ones *throughout the entire wedding process* who actively judge you on fundamental personality traits (e.g., your sense of humor). A person’s sense of humor is an integral part of who they are as a person. Being judgmental about a person’s sense of humor is, in my mind, a huge impediment to friendship.

    My advice: don’t include someone in your wedding party who you think actually may not like you all that much as a person (but of course loves you because of shared history, etc.). You can keep the wedding party small, but include your friend in pre-wedding events, because she is a loved one. Like others have said, give her a meaningful role in the ceremony.

    I know you feel bad about hurting your friend’s feelings, but I think this is an instance where you need to look out for yourself first.

    • meg

      Did you guys really have your bridesmaids involved at every point in the wedding process? Because I for sure didn’t. And if I knew they didn’t agree with me on something, I definitely didn’t include them in planning.

      I just think it’s an interesting idea: the idea that the bridesmaids are there with you every step of the way. It’s a NICE idea, but I’m not sure it’s very tied to most people’s reality at this point. My bridesmaids mostly picked a dress, showed up, and helped on the day of. That’s all I’ve ever really done as a bridesmaid personally, either. I’d love if it were different, but we’re all so spread out these days.

      And again, I don’t know if it’s that simple. I had people in the wedding party I had ALL kinds of complicated relationships with. That is just sometimes how it goes.

      • http://spaceysteph.blogspot.com Stephanie

        I agree. I had a very judgey bridesmaid (although she is one of my best friends so I wanted to include her) so I just kept her out of decisions I knew she would choose opposite from me on.
        She didn’t go dress shopping with me (just my parents and my sister did- oh, and she was aghast that my father saw the dress before the wedding), I didn’t tell her until the day before that we were doing a first look, and so on.
        Maybe I’m helped by having all of my bridesmaids 1000 miles away, but it was pretty easy to keep their judgement from getting all over me.

      • MDBethann

        I was a bridesmaid in a large wedding party for a very dear friend. For the most part, the bridesmaids got along well, but there was 1 who drove the rest of us nuts, particularly when planning the shower. She acted as if SHE were the MoH (which she wasn’t) and knew the bride better than anyone else (which she doesn’t). Fortunately, the rest of us backed up the MoH and went ahead with what we knew the bride would like and it worked out, but it was stressful. Trying to not include her in things was difficult.

        I’m with a bunch of the other posters on this one – if the woman is someone the BRIDE considers to be a close & important friend, then she should ask her to be a bridesmaid. But if the bride feels it is an issue of obligation rather than love, then I think she should find another role for her. Bridemaids aren’t the only role in weddings for special loved ones.

  • anon for this

    Hmm, I’m not sure I agree in total, possibly because I’m stuck with a similar situation. I definately aggree with the comentators who want details of judging. My feelings are that you have a perfect right not to ask someone who is mean to you to be your bridesmaid if that will make you feel better. A wedding will never be perfect, but there’s nothing wrong with setting yourself up for success. That said, maybe I’m projecting. . .
    My sister has a habit of making derogatory comments about my religious position. Given this will dictate the ceremony, it will be something that is likely to be dragged into the open. While I would like to have the conversation Liz suggested with her, last time I tried to have such a talk she stormed out, unfriended me on facebook, stopped taking calls or messages and refused to come to the next family event I was at. That was 2009. Nothing much has changed. so I guesschanged.

    • anon for this

      Sigh, can’t editz out typos: “nothing much has changed, so I’m a bit pessimistic at the moment”

    • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

      I feel like there’s a difference in someone judging what you do versus judging who you are. Drinking is something you do, religious positions is part of who you ARE and I feel that’s a whole other letter.
      I’m so sorry you’ve gone through this and hope your sister comes around.

      • meg

        Ooo. Alyssa is so smart. This is interesting and I wouldn’t have thought of it, and I think it’s very true.

        • Zoe

          That’s why the ‘sense of humor’ thing in the original post is more telling to me that the drinking thing. Sure, it’s one thing not to ‘approve’ of a friend’s drinking… but judging them for their sense of humor (which I would argue is a much more integral part of who they ARE) is different.

          • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

            I saw that too, but I glossed over it because the letter-writer only mentioned it once. (Though that would be my chief complaint. Judge my drinking and I’ll look you in the eye while I down my wine. Judge my sense of humor and I’ll be crushed.)
            But I guess it’s what the “humor” entails that makes a difference. Does she just not think she’s funny? Because that’s terrible. Or is it that she doesn’t care for the type of jokes that are made, depending on the company? Because I have some very good friends that I censor myself to a point around because, as shocking as I find it, they don’t like a good dick joke. It seems likes maybe the potential bridesmaid is more conservative than the bride? If it’s all humor, that’s a problem. But not liking some humor is not too big a deal, or at least in my opinion.

            I’m also wondering if the “other girls” may contribute to this? I know that I have friends that I don’t care to mix because they are just fundamentally different and the only real connection they have is me. And if the only other indication of their collective behavior has been nights out that include drinking and not-fit-for-company humor, that might be why the letter-writer feels that way. But this is a wedding and people tend to modify themselves, so maybe the other girls will tone it down and the potential bridesmaids will loosen up and then everything will be hearts and flowers and ponies and rainbows.

          • meg

            Alyssa:
            Do you know David hates puns? Impossible. Sigh.

            Carry on.

  • Sarah

    Hmmm, tough one. You have a couple of things going for you in that you already know she’s judgey. The thing that throws us for the biggest loops are the times when people do things completely out of character.

    If you do choose her, like others have said, give her the chance to step up. She might have grown or relaxed over time or she might realize that you’re an adult perfectly capable of making your own choices. It doesn’t sound like you’ve confronted her in the past about being judgemental so it might be difficult for you to imagine yourself responding to her judgement. A little visualization might help. Imagine all the situations she might judge and prepare a response. Run through the worst case scenarios in your head. That way, if/when she does say something you have a rational response ready instead of you sitting there fuming or saying something you’ll regret.

    I know I was most worried about my Mom during my wedding planning (from a micromanagement standpoint) and she has been awesome. You never know.

    She might surprise you, and if she doesn’t you’ll be prepared.

  • http://uncommon-courtesy.com Jaya

    “We talk every once in awhile about how weddings don’t change people or make them suddenly, magically perfect.”

    It’s true, weddings don’t make anyone perfect, or make anyone do a 180 change. But I also think weddings sometimes have the ability to highlight personality extremes. If someone is naturally an organized person, they may become super-organized when it comes to a big party. If they’re a little emotional, they’re going to cry like a baby. And if they’re naturally judgmental, they may become even more so. They can sort of bring out our absolute best and our absolute worst.

    • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

      This is so wise! I hadn’t thought about things in this context, and it’s a really brilliant point! Which also explains why I am a sensitive, emotional wreck 17 days out from my wedding.

  • anon

    I have a really similar conundrum. One of my oldest friends became a born again Christian during college and now we have really divergent values about issues (like gay marriage and abortion rights) that are extremely important to me. We’ve stayed friends despite our political differences, but we don’t keep in touch much and she’s not the greatest friend in times of need. She’s going on a Christian mission trip right around our wedding and she made it clear before we were even engaged that she won’t have a lot of time or money to dedicate to being a bridesmaid. I don’t expect my bridesmaids to travel the world and spend tons of money, but I would prefer not to feel like an inconvenience to them. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding and our close mutual friend is planning on asking us both to be bridesmaids as well. It’s important to me that the (very small number of) people I choose to stand next to me are my biggest supports and I’m only planning on asking one other person who isn’t blood related to me. Is not asking her a huge mistake like everyone is telling me it is?

    • Liz

      Not a huge mistake.

      But not because she has different values than you. Because you said she’s a terrible friend.

    • ANOTHER MEG

      Going by what you’ve written, I certainly wouldn’t blame you for going with someone else. Maybe talk to her about it. She might actually prefer doing something else in your wedding, like doing a reading or being a greeter or something. Is there someone else you wanted to ask instead? Or is she your number one pick? If that’s the case, then I would see what her opinion is and go from there.

    • Tamar

      Is it just me or did she sort of give you an answer already? She gave you an out, if nothing else. You’re not making a mistake in the slightest by not asking her, and I don’t think it’s something you’ll regret. AND if anyone wants to call you out on it and you don’t feel like giving them the run down of the situation, you have an easy response- “She’s going on a mission trip around that time and I don’t want to burden her.”

  • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

    In this letter, I hear you saying that you don’t want to ask this woman to be a bridesmaid, and you’re looking for a way out. I think it’s important to trust your instincts. You are not obligated to ask her, even if you hinted otherwise earlier. If you *do* decide to ask her, here’s some advice/insight based on my own experience.

    I have a rather large wedding party (my adorable fiance started it, with 11 groomspeople and I figured, why not?) and what that means is that there’s 3 people who I’ve leaned on to help me run errands and make fashion choices and deal with all the feelings. And then there are all my other lovely friends and whom I can count on to varying degrees, and they will show up to the wedding in a pretty dress and dance and give me some hugs. There’s this idea that a bridesmaid is someone who does *everything* with you, but it only has to be that way if that’s what you want.

    If you do decide to ask her to be a bridesmaid, I’d go one step further than what Liz suggests in terms of a disclaimer re: alcohol. Liz’s suggestion focuses on *her* comfort level (There will be events with drinking, heads up!) but, really, your concern is about your comfort level with her reaction. I’d be honest, “I’d love you to be my bridesmaid, but there will be events that include drinking throughout the process and the day-of, and sometimes you make comments that feel very judgmental and hurtful to me. If you are interested in participating in the wedding in this way, I need you to keep those kind of comments under wraps. And if that’s going to be hard for you, because drinking makes you uncomfortable, I completely understand, and we’ll find another way for you to be in an honored place at the wedding.”

    Sometimes people surprise you. I have a very, very dear friend who’s really opposed to marriage on a philosophical level and we once had a pretty intense debate about it years ago. She fully supports my relationship, but weddings make her profoundly uncomfortable. I was really afraid that if she was a bridesmaid, her lack-of-filter would result in some hurtful comments. But you know what? She’s been a total champion of my traditional wedding dress (even when I’ve freaked out about it) and she came to my shower (which is, like, the ultimate scary place for her) and took all the photos and has generally been beyond awesome. I gave her an out in the very beginning, acknowleding that this would be beyond her comfort level and that it wouldn’t be a referendum on our friendship if she wasn’t down for the bridesmaid thing, and we had a really frank conversation. I think that was the key in laying the groundwork for it being a fun & rewarding experience for both of us.

    Good luck!

    • Lauren

      I wanted to exactly the huge bridal party initiated by the future spouse. My now-husband is very extroverted and has a large number of friends from college and he wanted them all to be groomsmen. Which meant I added two more to keep it even (I know that is not necessary but I wanted to anyway). One of them is flaky and irresponsible, but a great friend and the life of the party. The other is fun to be around but makes everything all about her and her drama all the time (actual convo about the dress SHE PICKED OUT: Me: “So, do you like the dress?” Her: “It’s okay… for a bridesmaid’s dress.”

      I ultimately was glad I included them, but it involved a lot of heartache and pro/cons. And for the drama girl, I think if she was just a tad more self-centered I would not have invited her. So my two cents about having misgivings about bridal brigade.

  • ellie

    First, I agree with the previous posters who have said it sounds like you do NOT want her in your bridal party and are trying to figure out how to do that. You can ask her to do a reading at the ceremony (that can be considered an equivalent honor to bridal-partying) instead or incorporate her some other way without ensuring she’ll be at your side the whole day.

    Second–and perhaps this is completely inconsequential–but re: drinking before the wedding, just make sure that the officiants are cool with it. I have an acquaintance who had shots of whiskey before their Catholic ceremony, and the priest smelled it on their breaths and refused to marry them. Not sure about other religions, but it’s something to just check into!

    • scw

      yikes!

    • Tamar

      Oh, yeah! Both good points, but especially the second one. I was already day-dreaming about my pre-wedding mimosas (huge takeaway here for me), but we are getting married in the Catholic Church. I’m sure there are stricter and more lenient officiants, but generally the ceremony isn’t allowed to happen if there’s any reason to believe the to-be-wed aren’t in sound mind (or that they’re being forced into it in any way, etc).

      • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

        For what it’s worth, at my aunt’s wedding, the Catholic priest himself was drunk, and started things off like it was a funeral mass.

        • Tamar

          Haha! Excellent. Yeah, I’m sure it really depends on the situation/the priest (or deacon). I feel like our Polish priest, for whom every church event is BYOB, would not only be okay with us drinking beforehand but would be stoked to join in. Our other priest buddy who’s been through AA, probably less so…

          Either way, I think the underlying issue is that a marriage doesn’t happen in the Catholic Church unless both parties understand what they are undertaking and accept the commitment. Legally, socially, sure, but the belief is that the fundamental sacrament that is marriage doesn’t happen. This comes into play later down the line if a couple requests an annulment. The Church doesn’t believe in divorce, but if the couple can prove that the marriage never actually happened, then that plays into their ability to obtain another (or a “first”) marriage within the Church and a lot of other things. It’s complicated and messy, but that’s sort of a basic understanding of what’s going on.

    • Teresa

      Yes, when my sister-in-law got married, the Catholic deacon who married them made the her, the groom and the maid of honor and best man sign a contract saying that they would not have any alcohol before the ceremony. If they did, they would not be able to get married…I had never heard that before, but I guess it’s a thing!

      • Tamar

        Yeah, I guess it’s like a tattoo shop not letting you get work done if you’re drunk, haha.

      • Tamar

        (Meaning that it’s a big, permanent decision and they want to make sure you understand the gravity of the situation. Maybe that’s a weird analogy, but when I thought about that, I thought, “huh, okay.”)

        • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

          Actually, tattoo parlours wont let you get inked up drunk because of how it affects your blood, from my understanding with previous tattoos. Even one drink can thin the blood enough to make it a less than ideal time to get tattooed.

    • Alison

      Yes, the minister (hopefully that’s the right word) at my friend’s Presbyterian church in Texas said the same thing, quite forcefully to boot.

    • http://seasofgales.wordpress.com KH_Tas

      I’ve heard this for QLD state civil services as well, from a family member that works at a venue. With the idea that it’s a big permanent legal decision that you should probably be aware you’re making.

  • Rachel

    People who judge and criticize you and therefore always leave you feeling defensive are the worst and I can’t imagine having someone like that in my inner circle on my wedding day. I didn’t see anything in the letter that led me to believe that you actually think she’s a good friend or that you care about her. You talk about how you’ve both changed, how she’s hurt you, how SHE feels about your relationship…but you don’t ever really go into why you’re still friends with her or whether you want her as a bridesmaid.

    I actually think you might want to examine your friendship with this woman separate from your wedding and this bridesmaid dilemma. What I sort of love about weddings is that they force us to examine all our relationships and I think that’s a lot of what we’ve been talking about during friendship month. If you feel that this person is always judging and you can’t relax/be yourself about her, I guess I’d wonder why you are still close with her at all? Maybe I’m just a bridge burner but I just don’t have much room in my life for people who judge me and others. I would say maybe think about how you really feel when you’re around her and examine what’s keeping you in this relationship, just to make sure that you’re not dismissing the hurtful stuff she says out of loyalty or guilt. Answering that question should make the bridesmaid question a bit easier to deal with. In either case, it might be time for an honest conversation with her about how she makes you feel.

    • Kristen

      Perfect advice!

    • meg

      I think this is great advice.

      Though. I do think its interesting that you don’t have long time friends in your life who judge you. I for sure do. But I love them, and that’s that. They’re gonna have to do more than some judgy bullshit to drive me away…

      • Samantha

        Interesting point, as someone commented above, maybe whether or not you can tolerate judgy people as your closest friends has to do with how sensitive and emotional you are. I’m pretty sensitive- I don’t have many close friends who are judgemental of me. When I’ve encountered those people and befriended them, judgy behaviors do drive me away. So I think it’s really dependent of the person. And this applies to friends. Family is a whole different thing.

        • meg

          Ooooo. I’m sensitive and emotional as they come. I don’t know if it’s that. I just have an expectation of friends becoming your family of choice. And sometimes they hurt you and judge you and it sucks. And they also love the shit out of you.

          Look, if they judge you without loving the shit out of you, that’s a no go. But if I cut friends out of my life for being bitchy and hurting my feelings… I’d… have precious few friends?

          At the end of the day it’s about the love. If that’s there, you slap each other back into line as needed. And cry into your pillow sometimes. And then call them to bail you out of jail. (Something we WEIRDLY haven’t had to do with a friend yet. Give it time.)

          • H

            Don’t you have friends so that they will judge you and love you? The way I look at it is that they have the ability to say, “H. You’re being an abso-fucking-lute IDIOT, and you need to get your act in line.” Or do your friends not do that? Because mine do, and I love them for that. In fact, I expect them to do that. This is judgment. It is useful judgment, but it is judgment.

            That said, they generally will do this at an opportune time for these conversations, as opposed to an inopportune time. And that’s where they show the love. :)

          • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

            In response to H, though- Yes, I expect my friends to call me out on being an idiot or being a jerk. Yes, it’s judging your behavior, but it’s not what I consider “being judgmental.” (and my personal definition may not be the most accurate).

            I see a big difference between “Sarah, stop complaining, your mom was right, you should say sorry” and “Oh, you’re going with THAT color for your flowers? Huh, I’d have thought you’d pick something less overdone”

            The first is a honest feedback. The second is just designed to make you feel like crap.

          • Tamar

            “I just have an expectation of friends becoming your family of choice.”

            I feel like this right here is something fundamental. Whether or not you agree with this statement seems to dictate not only the way you respond to problems with friends (like the subject of this article) but also how you build friendships.

            I personally just never have felt this way. I’ve been fortunate to grow up with two sisters and SIX brothers, and they’re honestly my best and truest friends (cheesy, what?). I’ve never had to build a family outside of this, and that has shaped my other friendships.

            I’ve had those buddies that insist we are absolutely BFFs until the END OF THE WORLD, we’re sisters, we’re each other’s “person” (thanks, Grey’s Anatomy), and I assumed they (along with all the sitcoms) were just being over-dramatic, in a fun way. I’ve been slowly realizing, though, that this is honestly what they’re looking for in friendship, their “family by choice.” This has caused me a world of problems, because I don’t reciprocate. I want friends, I need friendship, but I don’t need their opinion on my life-doings, any other critique-ing, or realistically any support in times of major turmoil. I’ve got 10 immediate family members for that.

            In any case, I just sort of clicked while reading what Meg wrote, realizing that whether or not you have this view of friendship determines how you move forward with issues. I believe in working on friendships and not throwing anyone away. But if someone just makes me feel bad, even if it’s not terrible, and even if we’ve been friends for a long time, I’m completely fine with washing my hands of the relationship and walking away.

          • Tamar

            Quick addendum to me comment Re: support. I treasure and deeply appreciate the support that friends have shown me when I’ve needed it, and I hope that I show my affection for them fully in my support when they’ve needed it. It’s somehow different, though, from the support I expect from my family when things get tough. I don’t expect my friends to be my pillars, and I 100% my family and my fiance to.

          • MDBethann

            But I think there’s a difference between being a “judgey person” and passing judgement/giving an opinion on an action or decision a friend makes. There’s also saying “I disagree with the choice you are making, but I’ve said my piece and going to support you in whatever you decide to do (and not say “I told you so” out loud if it doesn’t work out)”.

            Constructive criticism is good – it helps us grow and makes us stronger (hopefully). Judgement is often hurtful and not necessarily helpful. Do I want my friends to be constructively critical in a helpful way? Yes. Do I want them judging me? Not really.

      • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

        Definitely. I count on my friends to judge me a lot of the time; if they didn’t I’d be a oblivious insufferable shit. (More than I already am.)
        BUT, there are levels of judging and criticizing so it depends on how it is and how it’s presented.

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    It’s hard to give advice based on what you’ve written here (though I do get the judgement angle – my judgmental person was related to me, so I had no way out, but fortunately the person tends to share judgments with everyone but the person being judged, so at least I didn’t have to hear it). I will say though, that one bridesmaid who tends to make a lot of our friendship about herself came through on wedding dress shopping with me, clearly stating that morning that it was all about me that day, and then following through. She wasn’t as helpful as other bridesmaids with set up, decorating, etc. but she was on the dance floor with me for the entire reception. So I don’t know how it would go with your friend in particular, but from my experience, people can come through in different ways.

    And while you are (very smartly) not conflicted about mimosas, I’ll still give you a hell yes to wedding morning mimosas. Everything feels more festive and celebratory (to me) when there’s champagne. And a slow and steady supply or mimosas throughout the morning really helped take the edge off my nervous energy. Your friend is free to drink orange juice.

  • Martha

    I think picking bridesmaids is the hardest part about wedding planning. Everyone hear has given sound advice given a variety of circumstances (since many of us are inferring certain things that aren’t entirely clear in your letter).

    My advice is this: ONCE you MAKE the decision, don’t look back. You’ve picked the girls you’ve picked and that’s that. Don’t allow guilt to cloud what is a happy time in your life and don’t question your decision.

    • meg

      Truth.

      Bridesmaids are what you make of them. They can be people by your side at every phase of planning, or people that just show up with a dress, or a mix of those things. Just pick your team, and then stop worrying. Let them each be who they are to you, don’t force them into some pre-fab idea of what a bridesmaid should be.

  • MOE

    Don’t do it. If you’re not absolutely thrilled about having someone as a bridesmaid don’t ask them.

    It kinda sounds like maybe you’re looking for a way out that won’t ruffle feathers because you already hinted that you would ask her. I’d rather hear experience the backlash over not asking her (if there would be any) and then move on.

    If you’re already worried about how the wedding mimosas will be judged, what about the bachleorette? If your life values are different and you are respectfully tolerant of each other that’s one thing. If that’s not the case though and she’s judgy it will not likely go away just because she has been asked to be a bridesmaid.

  • Teresa

    One of my closest friends is super snarky (and a bit judgy) about pretty much everything! We’ve been friends since we were 9 years old, so this is not a new trait. She is particularly cynical about weddings, but, she is a wonderful friend to be and always has been, so I asked her to be a bridesmaid. I knew what things were going to be like, as we were bridesmaids in our other friend’s wedding and she as her usually snarky self throughout the entire process. She complained and made horrible remarks the entire time we were in J.Crew trying on bridesmaid dresses (after I specifically chose those dresses b/c she and I had picked one out as an option for our other friend’s wedding) and she spent the majority of my shower talking about all the people we know that are already divorcing. But, on my wedding day, she really showed up, as I knew she would. She was smiling and helpful and took loads of pictures and was just generally a delight. I knew what to expect from the before stuff (SNARK!) and I knew she’d be there for me on the day of, and she was, and then some. SO, if you know ahead of time that your friend is going to be judgy, but it is still important to you to have her standing by your side, then ask her. Do as Liz suggested and give her a heads up about the booze and ask her to keep her opinions to herself, just for that one day. But, if you really aren’t sure and you really don’t think she’s going to show up for you, then don’t ask her. Ask her to do a reading, be in charge of the guest book if you have one, hand out programs, or even be your coordinator for the day (then you can almost guarantee that she’ll be too busy making things awesome for you to be around to snark about the mimosas!). Go with your gut.

    • meg

      THIS.

    • Anon

      As a judgemental person myself I would like to say sometimes playing the devils advocate is a way of showing love and support. It sounds weird, but sometimes having that person to push against really solidifys your stand point, or in a worse case scenario reveals any itching doubts you have been having as valid. As one of my close friends has said sometimes having someone who believes in you isn’t enough you also need the person who is willing to challenge you to become better.
      Regarding whether to have these types of people as bridesmaids, I know friends have had to tell me to dial down the comments before for important events, and I listen because I don’t always realize what an effect these comments are making on my friends.
      If she really is a good friend you would appreciate celebrating with take the time to talk to her about it. If its something you are feeling pressured to do then leave it alone might be a good wake up. All for her that her comments are destructive.

      • meg

        “As one of my close friends has said sometimes having someone who believes in you isn’t enough you also need the person who is willing to challenge you to become better.”

        This is beautiful. This is also why my friends really hate my guts sometimes. They’ve told me so. (And also, why they love me so much. It’s all just a big old mix.)

  • MOE

    Also, I’m kind of bothered by this suggestion of asking her to be a reader as some sort of consolation prize. The wedding ceremony is the whole reason for this occasion, it’s significant and meaningful. I’m not sure why you would want to invite someone to participate in an event like that as a way to appease their expectations of you.

    I had two people do a reading of scripture at my ceremony and the passage was significant to me. I think I may have been more selective about who read it than I was in choosing bridesmaids. Because it was a biblical scripture I didn’t want to impose on anyone who had an aversion to religious themes.

    • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

      Thank you! It always bothers me when that gets thrown around, too. We knew immediately who our readers would be–my FH’s aunt, his cousin, and my aunt–all three of whom are incredibly important to both of us and who’ve been supportive our relationship in key moments.

      In my mind, the bridesmaids/groomsmen (or mixed gender parties!!) are about recgonizing those people who have supported you, individually, but the people involved in your relationship should be those that have played a significant role in both of your lives.

      (Obviously everyone’s preferences and choices are different, and this logic may not work for everyone, but at least stop throwing around “the reader” as a consolation prize, especially for someone who it doesn’t sound like the OP feels especially close to.)

      • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

        Damn, can’t edit my comment

        “the people involved in your ceremony should be those that have played a significant role in both of your lives.”

    • MDBethann

      I agree that readings are important – I needed to keep my bridal party small but I had 2 friends who have similar faiths to mine and wanted to include them but adding them as bridesmaids would have made it too big (I already had 4 bridesmaids & my DH just had his sister as his “best woman.”). So I asked those 2 dear friends to be my readers – an important role that I felt they could fill better than 3 of the ladies who were bridesmaids and don’t share my faith. It was a way of including important people in the wedding and finding appropriate roles for them to play. For me, it was important to have my readers believe the lessons they were reading, and it helped me make the right choice about my wedding (one of the readers ended up very pregnant by my wedding, so I think in the end, she was grateful to be a reader instead of a bridesmaid!)

      Maybe the questioner’s friend could be a greeter if the readings are religious and the friend’s beliefs conflict with the bride’s beliefs?

  • Stella

    I think Liz’s advice is really great. On the other hand, I would totally never sit down and have a frank discussion about it (see last week’s British posts).

    One thing I thought was, I tend to have a harder time with the critical/judgey of this world (or indeed tend to think people are judging me when possibly they’re just minding their own business) if I secretly feel a bit conflicted about things myself. This sentence really just stood out for me…

    ” I just want to relax and have fun and not feel like I have to perform perfectly for her the entire day”.

    I think I definitely feel like I just want to relax and have fun at my wedding and not perform perfectly — but — I sort of do want to perform perfectly as well. It’s a conundrum.

    Maybe one option is to spend a bit of time getting really comfortable in your head about how the day’s going to plan out, how much fun/chatting nicely to people you’ll really have and the judgey friend might be a bit easier to cope with.

    Or maybe that’s not it at all, maybe just have some champagne and ignore her.

    • MDBethann

      But there’s a difference between performing “perfectly” by your own standards and performing “perfectly” by someone else’s standards. Your wedding, while it is for your community and not just you, should be “perfect”/just right for YOU and represent you and your significant other and the life/community you are building together, not what others think your life/community should be.

  • Jessie

    I worried about how many of the women I loved would get along together. So, I didn’t have a bridal party. What happened instead was that the women who were most willing to support me and my decision came together to offer advice, help and join in the fun even though I didn’t give them a title. No one was pressured. No one was left out. Everyone joined in how they wanted. My wedding photos show me with my large group of girlfriends, happy and smiling while wearing what they wanted. I still had a bachelorette party. I still had a bridal shower. I think sometimes the pressure to pick the group of girls you think will support you best is too much, and you forget the ones who might really be ready to do all the hard work. So, why have a bridal party at all?

    • http://thedilettantista.com The Dilettantista

      Doing more or less this (see below). My three best lady friends are all from different parts of my life, and also live in different parts of the country. One lives in my current town and she just had a baby. The other two live in D.C. For the two in D.C., I’ll go up there one weekend, hang out with them (they. have met before), and we’ll do a spa day, we’ll keep it chill. My friend who lives here wants to throw me a bridal shower. If my D.C. girls can come, cool, if not, also cool.

      I might ask them to hang out with me during the dressing of the bride day of the wedding, but mostly their responsibilities are:

      1) Read e-mails/chat about wedding/sympathize and offer funny stories and just be friends.
      2) Show up at the wedding wearing whatever they want and have fun. I might ask one to be a Ketubah witness because she’s Jewish (easy), one might hand out programs (easy), the other might get a reading if she wants (easssssy). But I also might not. Just depends on how things pan out.

      No. Drama.

  • http://thedilettantista.com The Dilettantista

    Between this and today’s post on east side bride (http://www.eastsidebride.com/2013/07/please-help-me-not-murder-bridesmaid.html#comments) I am so. happy. I am not having bridesmaids other than my younger (and only) sister, for whom I have zero expectations save for that she show up on time during the day of the wedding and hold my bouquet during the ceremony (not a problem there).

    I was asked to be a bridesmaid once, and that friend ended up eloping. Evidently I’ve lucked out. All my friends who have been bridesmaids have also reported less than happy experiences.

    All I read on the Internet are bridesmaid horror stories. I love reading other people’s bridesmaid drama, but I do not want any of my own.

    • MDBethann

      Has drama existed in my 3 bridesmaid experiences? Yes. But I wouldn’t change any of it (except pushing back and hosting my one friend’s shower – I was the MoH but her mom just took over and did everything like she always does and I let her since I was in grad school a few hours away. It was easier logistically, but it hurt because I was never given a choice or an opportunity to contribute and I really wanted to do something on my own terms.)

      I loved being in my friends’ weddings and standing up with them when they said I do. I also had all 3 of them in my wedding in some capacity – 1 was a reader and 2 were bridesmaids – and as far as I know, there wasn’t too much drama (unless my sister or BFF just never mentioned it to me). I think the “drama” comes down to the relationships – do your bridesmaids know each other outside of the wedding? If so, how well do they get along then?

      For one friend’s wedding, there were 10 bridesmaids. All except 1 got along well and once the 1 started driving us nuts, we dialed back our interactions with her and/or ignored the drama she tried to create (she likes to make things about her) and went forward. The shower and the bachelorette were both blasts even with the drama queen along.

  • http://www.jalondraadavis.com Jalondra

    I kind of disagree with this advice as well. My experience has been that the closer you get to the wedding, the more tense and sensitive you become, and judgmental looks and noises and comments will only bother you more and more, and seriously disrupt the relaxation and joy of your experience. If this isn’t truly someone you think you would miss dearly in the bridal party room and activities and pictures, who you would miss enough to put up with whatever drawbacks come with them, don’t invite that tension into your process and your day. It might just lead to an explosion which the outcome of could outweigh whatever hurt feelings she might have now at not being asked. Just like people who don’t get invited to the wedding have a right to be disappointed but shouldn’t let that stop them from being gracious and supporting you, being asked to be a hostess or reader or something instead of a bridesmaid may sting, but shouldn’t stop her from performing those duties gracefully. Its hard enough to balance prioritizing the feelings of people who are really close to you and yours, let alone worrying about the feelings of someone who is maybe not as close to you, from your perspective, as you think they are.

  • KC

    I’d like to throw in that if she’s had friends/family go under due to alcoholism, but hasn’t experienced reasonable-and-moderate-and-not-self-medicating alcohol use, she might be worried about you (potentially *entirely* unreasonably: “One beer at an afternoon BBQ? Oh, no! I know what that leads to!”), but not know how to express her concerns more directly, and hence come across as bizarre. She also might enjoy your company more when you have not had alcohol, and hence just dislike it as making her friend less awesome/smart/fun (I have only two friends I specifically prefer not to be around when tipsy: one who gets a lot stupider and makes just really bad choices conversationally [pushing things too far; letting out secrets they'll regret when sober; etc.]; another friend gets *really* emotional, which can be hilarious or just awkward and cringe-y)(I mean, in addition to isolated incidents where people have gotten drunk enough to puke all over me or my apartment. Cleanup on aisle seven is usually not very fun either.). These sorts of concerns or opinions can sometimes be helped by a direct talk, and sometimes not.

    Sense of humor is different, though. (unless you only joke about things she finds insensitive, which seems unlikely, I don’t even know what to make of that.)

    I would also note that, while I totally support “uneven” sides and think they make the most sense in many circumstances, the “traditionally, you have the same number of bridesmaids and groomsmen” thing can serve as a helpful artificial cutoff. If spouse-to-be only wants, say, four people, and this friend is not in your top four, then that could provide a slightly easier out than if you expand to 14 or something like that.

    • Lauren

      “I’d like to throw in that if she’s had friends/family go under due to alcoholism, but hasn’t experienced reasonable-and-moderate-and-not-self-medicating alcohol use, she might be worried about you (potentially *entirely* unreasonably: “One beer at an afternoon BBQ? Oh, no! I know what that leads to!”)”

      My aunt reacts this way and I knew she would be uncomfortable at our boozy wedding. That’s why I kept it to ONLY beer and wine, no liquor (that, and budget constraints). Thinking of it as a not knowing how to express the real issue problem is definitely helpful, instead of just thinking she is *always* reactionary.

      • KC

        I love it when constraints also line up with what you kinda actually want to do for a different reason. So useful. :-) And having wine and beer but no liquor sounds like a really good compromise.

        I’m a really big “if something is weird, get it out in the open” fan, because even if you end up disagreeing (if she still thinks that one beer a week = you’re gonna be an alcoholic! and you still think not, or if you think that needing to add a half cup of rum to your morning coffee every day including weekends is totally fine and doesn’t count as part of your alcohol total for the day because, y’know, it’s in coffee, and she disagrees), then you at least both know what’s going on and what each other thinks of it, rather than doing the weird interpretive dancing. (nothing against interpretive dance, just not usually ideal for clear communication, and it can trash relationships sometimes as people try to dance around the point and get increasingly frustrated and over-the-top because they don’t feel heard, but they *are* being heard and silently disagreed with and the increased volume is just getting maddening)

        Anyway, yes, getting the right framework to put any given person’s judgement in is a good thing. :-) And hooray for healthy niece/aunt relations!

  • Jenny

    This probably doesn’t help with your question, but K and I had trouble picking our friends. We each have good and close friends from different parts of our life and who support us in different ways. So we decided to not have a bridal party. I wanted my friends to understand that I loved them and they had been there for me. So I sent the following email to my would have been bridesmaids.

    “Hello lovely ladies!
    So after much discussion and debate, K— and I have decided not to have a traditional wedding party. If you’ll note, there are 15 of you on this email and K’s list was similarly long. Trying to cut down our lists was impossible, the last thing we want is to feel bad about any part of our wedding. So this note is really just my way of saying you are all amazingly important people in my life and I love you. Each an everyone have you has helped me become the person I am and that K fell in love with. You’ve supported me through tough times, stayed up late talking about relationships, and provided me with some amazing examples of what love and support look like in so many forms. I’m so blessed to have you all in my life, and now seemed like a good time to tell you.

    If you can make it to the wedding, I hope you’ll wear an awesome outfit that you love and hangout with me and get ready together during the day!”

    This way I could acknowledge that they were all really important to me, and also avoid drama. My college friends planned a surprise bachelorette party at our 30th birthday weekend in New Orleans, my sister in law and mother in law planned a lovely wedding shower/preception for people in his hometown, my aunt hosted a lovely brunch for my female relatives and my PhD cohort threw us a lovely shower/semester is over party. I stayed with my friends from high school the night before my wedding watching movies and hanging out, and everyone who was interested helped set up chairs and tables and then we went back to the cabin to do hair make up and get dressed. It was perfect and almost stress free!