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Ask Team Practical: Telling Off The Other Bridesmaid


Is it a good idea?

by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Telling Off The Other Bridesmaid | A Practical Wedding

My friend’s wedding is coming up next month. She had a big fight with one of her bridesmaids and long-time friends—we’ll call her “S”—but I don’t know all the details of the fight. S said she didn’t want to be in the wedding party anymore, and I don’t think she and the bride have communicated since.

I reached out to S via email to ask if she could share photos she took at the shower we put together before the fight. The rest of us bridesmaids want to make a photo book of all the pre-wedding events to give to the bride. S’s reply was accusatory, rude, insulted the bride and groom, suggested the groom was cheating, and said that our friend was just getting married because she is getting too old to be single, all the while casting herself as the victim. She refused to share the photos and asked me to refrain from contacting her again (then she signed off saying “All the best, S.” How sweet!). I understand why she wouldn’t want to share the photos—but I asked very nicely, and a nice “no” in reply would have been acceptable.

My main question is, can I send a reply to her email? I think she needs to know that no one else sees the situation like she does (where she is blameless) and that she’s always been a selfish friend. I don’t know if she’ll really hear it if I say it though. I hope that S and the bride don’t reconcile like they’ve done many times in the past. But if that’s what the bride wants down the road, my angry email defending her may make that harder (not sure if that’s good or bad). Is it not my place? Should I just let it go or can I respectfully (with a little underlying rage) tell her that she sucks right now? I feel pissed and want to stick up for my friend, and let S know how shitty she’s been at the same time.

All the best!
My, You’re Performing Like A Certified Egomaniac

Dear MY PLACE,
Ah, honey. As much as you KNOW I would love for you to write this email and report back with all the gory details of how she responds, you also gotta know you can’t do it. Don’t email her! Don’t say anything! Just be grateful that this girl isn’t your friend and you don’t have to worry about her.

You said yourself that you don’t know what happened between them. Your loyalty is just lovely, but possibly a smidge misplaced if you don’t have the nitty gritty from both sides of the argument.

If this girl is as nuts and cruel and delusional as you say, she’s not going to listen to reason. Hell, she’s not going to give a crap about anything you say at all. Your words would be wasted, and if I know people like her (unfortunately I do) they’ll even be twisted and used against you—and against your friend, the bride. Ask yourself—what do you hope to achieve by telling her off? It won’t encourage her to mend her ways, it won’t set her straight, it won’t fix whatever transpired between her and the bride. So there’s a pretty healthy chance that you just want to unload on her to make yourself feel better. Doesn’t it feel good to give people what they have coming to them? Sure does. But it’s not always productive. This is one of those cases where it really wouldn’t be.

For now, good riddance to bad rubbish. She’s out of the wedding, she’s out of your hair, and hopefully she stays out of your friend’s way.

Instead of wasting your energy on the bad, focus on the good. Be there to remind your friend why she rocks and what kind of friends she deserves in her life. Trash-talking this other person isn’t going to help your friend keep the negative energy out of her life. Instead, focus on encouraging her to seek out the kinds of friendships that are healthy and beneficial and mutual. And while you’re at it, be that kind of friend to her yourself.

*****

Team Practical, how do you support a friend who’s being treated terribly by someone else? What do you do when you would just love to tell someone off, but know it might not be a great idea?

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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  • Mrs. Lee

    OMG, this sounds familiar. I literally could have written this post myself. Something similar happened with my best friend’s wedding, only the person that caused so much trouble was also friends with me too… I’m also getting married in a couple of weeks, and this person was going to be in my bridal party, but after all the trouble she caused for my best friend and the huge blowout that resulted from it, she is no longer apart of my wedding, and is, sadly, no longer my friend either. Unfortunately, situations like this have a way of bringing light to how relationships really are and who you can depend on.

  • http://landlockedlove.com Kelly

    I think Liz is spot on here. If you can, go grab a drink with a trusty friend who is not at all a part of this wedding, and get your rant on. Catharsis is good, but I agree that unleashing on the former-bridesmaid in question won’t be worth it in the long run.

    • KC

      Absolutely. And this is a classic “don’t feed the trolls” situation. Yes, not replying really *itches*, but any reply is almost certainly only going to provide more fuel to something that’s already very, very awry.

      Print out her email and burn it. Write out a hand-written response to her email and don’t send it. Whatever works. But Yes, Definitely, Do Not Reply To The Email.

      • http://www.marbleryephotography.com Melissa

        Don’t feed the trolls. Exactly.

    • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

      Yes yes yes “If you can, go grab a drink with a trusty friend who is not at all a part of this wedding, and get your rant on.”

      Situations like this are kind of infuriating, and I am soooo familiar with the instinct to want to shout someone’s misdeeds from a mountaintop, and having a third party who isn’t involved (and hopefully loves to hear about ~drama~) is a great cathartic outlet. Just hearing someone react to your tale with a gasped “What!? No!” will go a long way to settling your soul.

      But yeah. You can’t feel the troll/fuel the fire/poke the bear. None of those options end in anything but tears.

    • Marjorie

      Yes, unload with a friend who will actually validate your feelings of anger without causing more drama. Maybe one of the other bridesmaids? I know from unfortunately being on the outside of several dramatic friend break-ups that even when you get the story from both parties, you’re always missing some details. There’s what person 1 said happened, what person 2 said happened, and what really happened. Better to stay out of it and not get burned.

  • Sara

    This happens to me sometimes, where the anger I feel from someone’s rude behavior sparks something inside where I want to lash out. But as someone who has written that email, let me tell you – the backlash is not worth it.

    Writing can be cathartic, so I would recommend writing your letter by hand and then throwing it out. I always feel better getting my thoughts down on paper because sometimes all the thoughts can make me angrier because I’m confused and hurt by their actions. Seeing it written out gives me a sense of clarity. I’ve recommended this to a few people and they said it helped them too.

  • Rachel

    When I’m fired up on behalf of a friend, I try to remind myself that sometimes, bitching someone out on behalf of a person you care about actually doesn’t do your friend any favors…it can really make things more difficult for them. In this example, S. might use your response as fuel for a battle that might still be going on with her and your friend. (As in, “You bitch, I can’t believe you told everyone about this” or “You’re telling people X, Y, and Z which isn’t even true” etc.) If S came to you and wanted you to take her side or even acted like this was totally fine, I feel like it would be totally fine to let her know no one else agrees with her POV and she’s out of line. But honestly? If after a friend breakup that was so bad that I dropped out of my friend’s wedding someone came to me and asked me for photos of the bridal shower, I can’t say that I’d be very nice in my response. Obviously this woman sounds really awful, but (without knowing all the details of the fight, admittedly) I’m inclined to say things might suck for her right now too. So just let her go. You won’t regret it, but you may regret saying something.

    • carrie

      Yep. This happened between my friends – one friend jumping on my friend who said something to me that was upsetting. Then friend two was all, why would you tell everyone??? These women were also bridesmaids in my wedding and who now aren’t friends with each other, making it super-awkward for me…forever. MOH was in town over my birthday early this year and we were going for dinner for it. Bridesmaid also wanted to take me to dinner and I said no, MOH was in town. And she was all, I still want to do it. I finally had to say thanks, but no, I’m not dealing with you two being civil while seething b/c it stresses *me* out.

      BTW, my wedding was TWO YEARS AGO. Ugh. My only regret about my wedding is having a bridal party. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but this was the worst part of my wedding experience was dealing with supposedly grown-ass women who were supposedly my friends behave horribly to each other and put me in the middle, thus making me feel like a horrible person.

  • http://www.laughterinthelou.com Emma

    Agree with everything that’s been said. Your only purpose to communicate with her was about photos and it’s clear that’s not happening, so let it go. Anything more would be non-productive.

    As for replacing the photos, could you do some funny collages with Facebook photos or have a friend who’s a good artist sketch something out? (Or a bad artist and some adorable stick figure drawings.) I think you could replicate them for fun instead of just not having them and your friend will appreciate that you made lemonade instead of just being sad that the pictures were lost forever? Just an idea!

  • Rachael

    I’ve read and agree with the idea that revenge (loosely used, in this case an email putting S in her place) is about wanting the other person to feel a certain way – apologetic, ashamed of her behavior, etc. The problem is that you can’t force someone to feel something. This girl S has exhibited behavior that is out of whack with your own rational expectation of behavior, an email from you probably wouldn’t incite an expected/hoped for reaction of shame or an apology. If she had been acting or feeling in an appropriate way from the start there wouldn’t be an issue to talk about, she would have just sent you the pictures. So you can’t really expect her to react appropriately to any response you give her.

    From experience, my advice is to swallow it, “be the better man/woman” and be thankful you do not have to deal with her again.

    • Violet

      “revenge… is about wanting the other person to feel a certain way… The problem is that you can’t force someone to feel something. ” This is genius! Thank you!

  • Chalk

    Responding to the email will give this woman another opportunity to rehash what makes her a victim and what makes the bride a jerk. Starve the beast – it’s ultimately the most satisfying response to behavior like this.

  • MDBethann

    I wholeheartedly concur with the write something by hand but tear it up and don’t send it crowd. It has helped me feel better in the past and hopefully it will work for you.

    But if you STILL feel the need to reply, go for short, sweet, and simple: “I’m sorry you feel that way. I won’t bother you again. Take care, MY PLACE”

    You haven’t taken sides, you haven’t told her off, and you’ve been polite & respectful, the very opposite of her actions. You’ve acknowledged that you heard her loud & clear.

  • stealinghoney

    I have this problem, but with my FMIL. She says things that are out of line to FH, but never when I am around., or in an email or phone call. I only know because he tells me (or I overhear her screaming on the phone). I want to defend FH, but I know it will not go well. So, I settle for telling FH how wonderful he is, and undeserving of the abuse, and maintain civility with FMIL. I do sometimes wonder if it is worth discussing this with FMIL, given that we will be family soon. I just hope that I can keep this shallow and evasive relationship going for a good long time.

    • http://Rippingback.wordpress.com Amber

      Keep telling your FH that you love and support him and that he doesn’t deserve to be treated that way by anyone. Encourage him to seek therapy, and support him if he decides that cutting off his mother is his best option (do not suggest this, tempting as it may be). Try to resist confronting her until AFTER you’re married, and only do it with your husband’s okay. (His mother. Relationships between parents and children can be fraught. He’s going to be in the middle of this whether he likes it or not.) If she says something in front of you (she probably will, eventually), I encourage the use of the well-timed deadpan “Wow,” or “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t speak to my husband that way.”

      Good luck.

    • Copper

      I’d just be supportive of him limiting contact. Just be busy, don’t return calls, etc. and if she asks why just be honest that the way she was treating him isn’t really something y’all want to engage with.

    • anon

      My husband’s entire family is like this to him, taking advantage of him and making fun of him and just generally not being very nice. a while ago, during a sort of weekly skype call we were having with his sister she got so bad he got up and left. Then she turns to me and starts saying what a whiner he is. I couldn’t handle it anymore, I told her off (pretty restrainedly I think) and said that her behaviour wasn’t helping anything. She did not take it well.
      My advice: beware. I’m all for standing up for my partner, but when it’s his family things tend to get dicey. Just be super supportive and keep playing up all the great things about him. Families are hard.

  • Seshat

    Getting involved in your friends’ other relationships is dangerous ground and I think Liz definitely gave the right answer for this situation. Like others have suggested, if you really need to vent grab a buddy and some booze.

    I really want to ream out a friend’s husband every time I see him, but I’ve taken to just grinding my teeth instead. It’s a borderline-abusive situation and the jerkwad has only ever been extremely rude to me (and other friends/family) as well. When she announced her engagement I debated for a while if I should speak up and ultimately tried to have a heart to heart with her just to express that I was worried about her.

    I still don’t know if it was the right thing to do but I’m hoping if nothing else she’ll at least know why I try to avoid this guy as much as possible (thankfully not hard since we live pretty far apart) and if shit really hits the fan hopefully she’ll know I have her back. After saying my bit I shut up about it though–gave another (semi-valid) excuse for not being able to be a bridesmaid, avoid talking about the guy unless she brings something up, etc. There are times I REALLY want to call him for the way her speaks to her but I honestly don’t think it would accomplish anything. Next rude comment he directs at *me* though, that’s a different story (and why I just try to avoid him).

    • Laura

      It might be worth saying something, even if it kills you to say it and she doesn’t want to hear it. A friend of mine was recently divorced from a man who turned out to be emotionally abusive. It turns out that pre-wedding, A LOT of her friends had serious reservations about their relationship…but only spoke up after they separated. My friend was actually really hurt and said to me, “Why didn’t anyone say anything before?” I don’t know if she would have listened back then but at least then she might not have put up with his abusive behaviour for so long, knowing that her friends had noticed it too and it wasn’t just all in her head.

      • Seshat

        I when I originally talked to her I did say something that effect–I was worried about her because from what I’d seen he didn’t treat her that well and she complained about him a fair amount, plus having her sit quietly while he was blatantly rude to me was downright hurtful to me. I went over my concerns and she didn’t care and I honestly don’t think rehashing them periodically will do any good.

        If he does anything that goes past “borderline abusive” (FYI I kinda hate using that term but I don’t really know what else to say–I’m not around them enough to know if it’s worse, but what I’ve seen is more red-flags than obvious abuse and more just his general attitude to everyone) I’ll sure as hell speak up but right now if I were to speak up against things I’ve seen I’d get the standard excuses (he’s in a bad mood, having a bad day, you barely know him anyway *redflag redflag*). Unfortunately I just don’t know what I can do if she (very obviously) will not listen.

  • Amy March

    Does Ask Team Practical just happen whenever now? Cause this made me think it was Thursday all afternoon, and sadly it’s not.

    • KC

      No idea on whether Ask Team Practical is regularly moving to Wednesday, but man, if I was an advice columnist and had gotten this, I would want to post an answer ASAP to hopefully catch things before the person who wrote in caved to their not-smart-but-oh-so-satisfying side and emailed this ex-friend an angry manifesto.

      Again, no idea if that’s what’s actually going on, though. Just theorizing. :-)

  • Another Meg

    I agree with everything above. It sounds like you really want to take care of your friend, the bride, and that’s great. How is she feeling right now? I would take my angry energy from S and turn it into doing something nice for the bride, now that she is one bridesmaid short. It might make you feel better and it will definitely be productive. Sending that ever-so-tempting bitch out that S may deserve would not be productive.

  • http://karynthiandesigns.com M. Richards

    Personally, if I were the bride (and I have been “her” in this metaphor before) I wouldn’t want the pictures anyway. The physical reminder of the mounting tension before the blowup, of what I, or S, coulda woulda shoulda done to prevent the fight, would be more painful than joyful when I am still hurting and stressed out from the fight.

    Could you get you hands on some of the shower doodads, or colors, or even other bridesmaids written words of how joyful they were that day to make into a scrapbook instead of the photos? I know it won’t take your anger away, but maybe if you didn’t feel as if S were taking the photos hostage, it could alleviate some tension.

    good luck, that is so hard a place to be in.