Ask Team Practical: Competitive Bride

How do you avoid wedding competition?


Q: I’m in a real pickle, you guys. I got engaged last October and am getting married in November of next year. My future sister-in-law got engaged exactly one week after I did, and right away people were dropping “hilarious” hints that we should have a joint wedding. She set her date and is getting married next June. She had mentioned the idea of us having a joint bridal shower, and at first I thought, no problem. I live out of state, and it would be easiest for her and both of our families who all live in the same area to get together at the same time. However, I am starting to get nervous about the idea. I can sense a little bit of competition from her, and I don’t want to complicate things. (For example? I tried on wedding dresses with my future mother-in-law, who later went wedding dress shopping with my future sister-in-law, and she “jokingly” sent me a text of her wearing the dress I’d had my eye on. Rude.) Please help… I don’t want to be bullied, or lose the spotlight.


A: Dear Anonymous, 

I feel you lady. (Though, full disclosure: that dress photo sounds exactly like a really awkward and poorly timed joke that I’d make myself.)

Dealing with competitive friends is sort of like one of those little paper finger traps. The harder you pull, the more you get stuck. If she’s shoving you out of the way, shoving her back will only make things worse. Your best bet is to make it super clear that you are in no way trying to compete with her for center stage. Express concern that she’s going to have her super special magical day. Check in with her about the details of her wedding, making sure there’s no problematic overlap. If you emphasize that you want to make sure she’s front and center for her own wedding things, she won’t feel the need to elbow her way there.

Meanwhile, in your own head, set some boundaries for what will make you feel like you’re missing out. Sharing a shower might not be it (it’s actually pretty awkward to be the focal point of those things), but maybe it is. Maybe you want a room of only your own friends and loved ones. That’s fair. Your weddings are far enough apart that you can have two separate days without it being a redundant or super inconvenient for loved ones invited to both. Think broader, though. Besides the shower, where else can you mentally draw a line? The double shower idea was sprung on you and you agreed before you had a chance to processthere’s a possibility that might happen again. What would you be okay with sharing, and what’s off limits?

It feels sort of weird to be planning a wedding at the same exact time, but it’s not that unusual. There’s often a bit of overlap with friends or family who are all in sort of the same life place. Last year, I was a guest at six (six!) different weddings and saw a bunch of the same guests at each, but each wedding was unique and special. Once all of this planning stuff is done, your wedding will be your wedding, no matter how competitive she chooses to be. 

Team Practical, how do you avoid needless wedding competition? 

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!

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  • Hope

    I was recently invited to a joint baby shower and, although all guests knew both women, the organizers did have to send out a reminder that if you were bringing a gift for one woman you should bring a gift for the other woman too. That’s a hard message to send and to receive when clearly guests may be closer friends with one woman than another. If it’s not just the family you have in common that would be invited to the joint shower but also family and friends you don’t share then I think that’s very tricky to pull off.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      “the organizers did have to send out a reminder that if you were bringing a gift for one woman you should bring a gift for the other woman too”

      Sorry, but that’s actual INSANITY.

      • Hope

        I’m not sure which part you think is insanity. Since gift opening is a big part of showers the organizers were trying to avoid feelings being hurt if one woman had an obviously larger amount of gifts to open than the other.

        • vegankitchendiaries

          I still wasn’t with you until “all guests knew both pregnant ladies” in which case OF COURSE :)

    • Liz

      I would never, ever have guessed that that’s a thing that people do.

  • Molly P

    I avoided needless wedding competition by ignoring the person trying to be competitive, at least to myself. My sister got engaged in December of 2010. I got engaged December 2012, and at that point she had yet to plan a single detail about her wedding. I think she would have been perfectly happy to stay permanently-engaged, because it just seemed like it was never going to happen.

    As soon as I got engaged (literally THAT NIGHT), she texted me to tell me we should try to coordinate our wedding dates so our families wouldn’t have to bear the financial burden of two weddings in a short period of time (note: my family can’t afford to pay for ONE wedding, much less two. They were never expected to help me at all). I had to reassure her that we had not picked a date, but I was having a pretty long engagement and that I was not getting married within the year. She quickly set her date for August and got to feverishly planning. We set our date for May 2014. Overall, it turned out okay. She didn’t want to hear anything about my wedding at all, but considering how little I talked about my wedding, that really wasn’t a big deal most of the time.

    She is a drama queen in general though, and I’m no-fuss about most everything, including my own wedding (I dislike planning it, so that kind of helps). She freaked out about a lot of things during her wedding and sent a lot of people in our family nasty emails telling them how they didn’t care about her wedding for various reasons and etc.

    I was just glad once she was finally married, so I could focus on my wedding without feeling like any mention of mine would get scoffed at. I actually ended up being the person telling her to calm the fuck down about a lot of her wedding-related stress, because she was being really awful at times.

    • Ashley

      I have similar feelings about my own wedding. That as excited as I am to have that wonderful day I can’t wait to be married and have it over so I can stop feeling like I’m pressured to compare our styles and decisions (even though we’re two different people with two different styles so how could we even say if one is better or not)

      • Molly P

        Our weddings are panning out to be quite different just because we as couples are very different (my fiance is Indian, I’m white, so our celebration will have a bit of Indian flair to it, and we’re having at least a couple of traditional Hindu parties/wedding rituals for good measure). I’m not pressured to compare styles or decisions at all. Our weddings will be similar in that the theme is non-existent. Her wedding was pretty generic and mine will be except for the Indian elements (my theme could be described as… “marriage”). That said, seeing as the cultural aspects of our weddings will be different, I think there is no room for comparison. I think that’s why I’ve had such an easy time since she’s been married: nobody even tries to find similarities.

        • Ashley

          My “theme” is marriage too! At least when people ask that is what I tell them. I love that you’re adding Indian flair!

  • LBH

    I got married in May of last year, and my brother and sister-in-law got married in September. It wasn’t ideal in some ways (mainly competing for which out of town family members could attend) and as we also lived out of state, there were just other frustrations as well. And that’s not just on my end — my brother has stated in no uncertain terms that they really wish we would hurry up and have a baby because they don’t want to have to do that as the same time as we do too. No pressure, or anything. But no one really gets their moment in the sun when you’re both getting married at the same time (I know, I know, you only get a day, etc etc. but when you never see your family or friends and then when you do it’s always partly about someone else’s wedding, it’s frustrating). I would try and avoid a joint shower, because even though it may be more convenient, you are allowed to have a few things that are just yours. I would use the reasoning that Hope mentioned below — you don’t want to have everyone invited for her have to bring presents for you too, and vice versa.

    • Jules

      “Hurry up and have a baby”?!

      Oh man, I would be mad.

      Not every has the luxury of planning this. Weddings are semi-plannable, in terms of not overlapping on the actual day (exceptions due to life situations, logistics, yes), but babies? Sorry, but I’m not going to rush into parenthood nor abstain from funsies. How dare I be pregnant and have a baby shower as my SIL.

  • Anon

    My sister proposed a joint baby shower/wedding shower for the both of us, and I ended up declining. It was one of the best sanity saving decisions I’ve made. It was the principal of the thing- I didn’t want to feel like I was in direct competition with her, and the whole idea of it sent me into a tizzy. She was very understanding when I told her no. I said I would rather keep things simple and just have one shower with friends and family where I live.
    Competition is an ugly monster, particularly when it comes to weddings. My fiance has this thing he tells me when I’m getting too caught up in what others are doing- “You do you.” Focus on your own exciting plans and try not to get too caught up in what she’s doing. I know that’s a tall order- just take it one day at a time. Good luck!

  • Michelle

    My sister and I had a joint shower and it was actually really fun. I wasn’t thrilled about being the center of all that awkward attention so it sort of took the pressure off. We are pretty close so I don’t think either of us felt like we were missing out on “our moment.” And it did make it easier for the relatives that have a hard time making it to events like that (grandmas, young parents). We each had a few guests that weren’t crossovers, and I believe we made it clear to them that a gift for the other sister was not necessary.
    Plus, we got to play a fun game called “Laura, Michelle, or Both?”

    • Meg

      I had a joint bridal shower with my sister, too, and it worked for the sake of our guests — but I will admit to feeling sidelined by being the “second bride” to open gifts, etc. Many of my sister’s friends actually left after she opened her presents but before I did, which meant a much smaller group was gathered for “my portion” of the shower . . . and I was very rushed at the end. People seemed tired of the never-ending presents by that point, too — and I really can’t blame them. But basically, by the time my turn rolled around? It was awkward. I kind of wanted to forget about it and open everything later. I just felt like everyone wanted to leave.

      I feel sad typing that. Sigh.

      In hindsight, I might have enjoyed my own shower on a much smaller scale . . . but we were getting married six weeks apart, and I just couldn’t figure out how we’d have so many of the same people get together for a SEPARATE function in that time frame, and who the heck would have planned it? These things are hard. I loved many aspects of wedding planning with my sister, but it wasn’t all cake and sunshine.

  • Bee

    Me and both of my high school best friends coincidentally got engaged the same year and planned our weddings within a 6 month period the following year. At first, it was great but, eventually, the same old rivalries from our youth came back out. It hurt me so much and we all eventually had to back out of of each others’ planning and, eventually, wedding. I regret that it happened and wish I handled it better. Something that could have been wonderful and exciting between three friends got carried away and turned into a mix of sad and ugly pettiness.
    I wish I could have gone back and set boundaries with them and with myself. It makes me sad that I couldn’t have shared most of it with them. So, I definitely second Liz’s advice. I wish I would have heard of that a year ago. So, best of luck to you Anon!

  • Laura

    I can empathize. We got engaged a year ago and our wedding is scheduled for this July. My future-SIL (who is also a bridesmaid at our wedding) just got engaged just this past December, and my MOH got engaged a few weeks after that, soooooo. Lots of interesting competition dynamics. I just think if I concentrate on keeping our wedding as personal as possible and put blinders on to their plans, things will be fine… but it’s hard not to compare yourself to those around you (their decisions and the attention they are getting).

  • kmw2114


    I feel like the last sentence summarizes your real concern: losing the spotlight. As someone who got married a few months after her sister-in-law, I assure you that there’s enough spotlight for both of you. If you have insecurities about her wedding being before yours, you need to push those aside. Happiness is not a zero-sum game and there’s more than enough to go around for both of you. Keep open lines of communication and be candid about each of your feelings (i.e., don’t read too much into her text message of the dress photo – if it’s bothering you, ask her. Otherwise, just let it go as a joke).

    On the shower front: maybe do a family shower for both of you and each have your own friend showers – this will allow the convenience factor for joint attendees but allow you each a time to enjoy your own event with close friends.

  • Fiona

    I’m only the second among my circle of friends to get married, and I have felt an insane feeling of needing to match up to my friend who was the first. The crazy thing is, she was so kind throughout the process–offering to help, introducing me as her “engaged bridesmaid” at her wedding, and continually asking PERFECT questions about our planning process. I’m ashamed to admit that I continue to see green flashes of wedding jealousy. I think it’s because my friend is a very type-A person with an elegant sense of style and more financial resources than I have (though I consider myself very lucky). She had a gorgeous wedding in a far away place that was truly an amazing event to behold and be a part of.

    Because I’m nuts, I can’t help comparing during my process of planning which is a SUPER different, backyard, homegrown, deal appropriate enough to make my straitlaced extended family raise their eyebrows only a tiny bit.

    I try to reconcile this insane way of looking at things by thinking of our wedding as the embodiment of our commitment to each other and the opportunity for our friends and family to celebrate that. Screw being “blog-worthy” because it is unquestionably “love worthy.” Amiright???

    • KEA1

      Oh hells yeah! And really, I’d consider that blog-worthy too, but that’s really a secondary concern. Also, if you have the kind of friend who would ask you “perfect” questions about your planning while she was planning her wedding, and for whom you can have so much appreciation even while acknowledging your occasional green-eyed flareups…I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you both sounds like pretty seriously awesome people.

      • Fiona

        Gah!!! Thank you! Kea1, you reaffirm why I love the APW community so much…because it’s the best an internet community can be. Blessings!

  • Kat Robertson

    My guilty confession… I think my biggest competition issue is inside of me. I have a few friends and acquaintances who are also engaged, and I catch myself thinking about how “My wedding will at least be better than THAT” or “I’d never do THAT”. And the flip side of that is jealousy – someone has a prettier venue or can afford a plated dinner with appetizers, etc… It is an ugly side of myself that I do not like at all. I actually tasked a Bridesmaid with calling me on it, and reminding me that this is not a competition.

    • We all have ugly little pieces inside of ourselves, but GREAT on you for being introspective and taking action to make sure you don’t accidentally hurt anyone’s feelings. That’s the best anybody can do.

    • Beth R

      Yeah, I went to a wedding a couple of months before my own that was as WIC as you can get and I found myself judging the hell out of it. And then I felt bad about that and had to remind myself that if that’s what made them happy, good on ’em. My wedding made me happy and I’m sure raised a couple eyebrows. When you’re so emotionally invested in something, it’s hard to keep the comparisons and judgements in check. :

  • Kelly

    I got engaged 2 months after my best friend’s engagement in the spring of 2013. FH and I decided to do a semi-destination wedding. More than a year in advance our desired venue only had 2 dates left for 2014 – the weekend before best friend’s wedding, and three weekends after (first weekend home from her honeymoon). At the time, my best friend did not have a church or reception venue picked out, but had the date pretty firmly set in her mind.

    I let my best friend pick my wedding date. She opted for the weekend before her wedding. Sometimes I worry about looking rude for setting my date so close to hers, but we had a long, open, and frank discussion about it. We are both nearly 32 and anxious to have children, so she knew I wouldn’t want to push my wedding back until 2015. She also didn’t want to travel for another weekend immediately upon returning home from her honeymoon.

    All of this is to say I am extremely grateful for my best friend’s graciousness and lack of competitiveness with respect to our weddings. I still sometimes feel guilty for the way things played out, though.

  • TeaforTwo

    I’ve seen a few posts recently on this theme of jealousy, and I have to admit that I don’t fully get it. (Disclosure: I only have brothers, and we only went to other wedding in the same year as ours, so I don’t have a comparable experience.)

    Would it help to look at it from an outsider’s perspective? I’ve been a guest at lots of weddings, and I’ve never thought much to compare them. Sure, I’ve noticed trends like that no one seems much into tossing bouquets anymore, or whatever, but I’m certainly not RANKING the season’s weddings or anything. Even if one is the weekend after the other. It wouldn’t even occur to me, and I wouldn’t know how to start. So what’s the competition?

    At the wedding the guests are focussed on showering you with love and attention, and then on getting a bit drunk and maybe chatting up a groomsman or seeing their old friends or wishing they had worn lower heels. They’re not focussed on the other engaged women in the room. And you? Will be too busy being a bride to notice.

    Personally, I loved having friends who got engaged around the same time we did. It gave me other people to talk wedding planning to, and now that we’re done and they’re still planning, I can foist my spreadsheets and best tips on them.

    • Jess

      You know how people tell those who are really nervous or self conscious that nobody is thinking about them as much as they themselves are? I wonder if that’s a big part of the “wedding competition” thing.

      Sure, the guests may not be comparing, but people who feel competitive may be comparing their day and the way they are planning to other weddings and other’s planning experience. They may not want the things they are insecure about to be done better by somebody else, because they think it reflects poorly on them.

      That’s where most of my jealousy comes from. It’s usually not that I actually want a particular thing, I just worry that people will think less of me if I can’t have it/don’t do it. Most of the time, they probably don’t. It doesn’t stop me from thinking about it.

      Since weddings are such public fodder for conversation and is often open for very vocal judgement from family and friends (a whole other topic that I don’t like at all), having to talk about them may magnify those insecurities.

    • Alyssa M

      Ok, so my younger brother surprise proposed to his girlfriend right in the middle of when he KNEW my partner and I were ring shopping for eachother. My wedding is October 4th and his is November 9th. Guests and friends may be totally oblivious to the tension this creates, but it is definitely there. My mother’s friends immediately “took my side.” My grandmother started flipping out about scheduling. Our financial decisions are constantly compared and commented on. I scheduled a dress shopping trip and was immediately informed that she had just bought a dress on sale at David’s Bridal for $600… everything is somehow related to eachother whether we like it or not, nothing can ever be just about our relationship and the big step we’re taking. A lot of the jealousy and competition is involved in the planning process itself, not in comparing the actual weddings.

      • KC

        People often don’t have a solid reference range or full standard for weddings, so if there’s a proximate wedding, then tons of things will be compared to that. (are you going to have a balloon release? they’re having [or they had] a balloon release! maybe you should consider it!)

        (we had little pastel mints at our wedding, because according to the most recent “proximate weddings” [fortunately plural, fortunately farther away than your proximate wedding, AUGH that much direct comparison would drive me bonkers], weddings are not weddings without little pastel mints. I know at least two other people who ended up having pastel mints for this reason, and an additional person who just really likes the mints and hence wanted them, since you don’t get them except at weddings!)

  • Lindsay Rae

    Thank you for this. While I don’t have sisters and my FH’s 2 sisters aren’t close to getting married or even engaged, I feel this competition with friends and other brides-to-be in our other circles. I know, it’s not right to feel, but in the age of Pinterest and social media where we can all be up to date about every. single. detail. we are each planning, it’s hard not to compare. It’s something I’m working on though! Because although I’m thinking “she’s doing this, I’m doing that instead,” I am GENUINELY happy for her and excited for her wedding day. So thank you for the reminder that it is not a competition. xo

    • Ashley

      It is hard to not compare but I’ve found that no matter what people decide to do I’m still so happy to talk about this wonderful thing that is happening to both of us.

  • Ashley

    I got engaged in December 2012, my future sister in law got engaged May 2013. Since she got engaged all I have heard nothing from my future husband’s family on either wedding. We were asked to not comment too often on ours to keep from making my sister in law mad and when we inquire about anything to do with her date they clam up and claim everything is a secret. As far as I’m concerned my wedding is my wedding and hers is whatever she wants it to be. I won’t steal her dad-daughter dance song or color scheme. At this point it’s beginning to hurt my feelings and my fiance’s that we can’t share in this time. It’s like losing a race I didn’t know I was running.

    • Alyssa M

      Yes on the problems being from the family! My brother and I are getting married about a month apart, and if it wasn’t for our family making constant comparisons I don’t think it would be such a big deal.

  • Jenni Kissinger

    My best friend/maid of honor will have her wedding ceremony six days after ours, and I’m her MoH as well. So far it’s been really awesome! Sometimes I feel wistful about an aspect of her wedding that won’t be at ours, but honestly both couples are planning weddings that work for ourselves and our communities. If we were getting married in the same state we’d probably share decor items.

    I guess maybe it also helps that we don’t have a lot of overlap? There will be very few people who will attend both weddings. Perhaps that’s helpful to keep in mind for the OP–although her fiance’s family will be at both, I’m guessing that the other family side and most of the friends won’t overlap, so the crowd will make each wedding unique.

    That’s what really makes a wedding special after all… the fact that the people there are Your People.

    • Kelly

      Thanks for sharing this perspective. My best friend and I are getting married one week apart, as well, and are in each other’s wedding party. Our weddings are also very different, and there will not be much overlap between guest lists either. So our weddings feel like two very separate events, but at the same time, something we can share and commiserate over in the coming months.

      • Jenni Kissinger

        I just read your story (I think…) in the other comment. Don’t feel guilty! We’re kind of looking at it as this really cool thing, and I hope you and your BFF do too! In our case, I originally wanted her wedding to be before mine (it was going to be 2-3 weeks before) but then their venue only had a date that was one week after ours. She asked me and since we can’t go on our honeymoon right afterwards anyway, I’m totally fine with it. The traveling will be a little tight, but I’m used to that. We’re both just so happy to see each other finally getting married!

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I know it was hard for our families to really think through all the wedding-planning events and wedding details before they came up. Like, my in-laws didn’t think about whether they wanted kippos at the ceremony until we’d completed our planning meetings with the officiant. My parents couldn’t think about the guest list for the rehearsal dinner until family was buying plane tickets 6 weeks out.

    So it might be hard for the LW to think through what boundaries she wants to set, in advance. Instead, she can get into the habit of not agreeing to anything on the spot. “Oh, I hadn’t thought about that. I’ll let you know tomorrow [next week, whatever]” are probably key words here.

  • mcbark

    My mom and aunt had a joint wedding. They are what you could call ‘Irish twins.’ They did everything together. Dressed the same. My aunt was engaged first, planned an entire wedding, then a month before her date my dad proposed to my mom and she invited her into her wedding. Isn’t that incredible? My mom and dad just showed up. Guests went out and bought a second of whatever they got my aunt. And it worked for them.

    I am 3 years older than my sister and have always done everything first, so when she got engaged first it was actually a relief. For a while. Until people started asking us when we were next and if I was jealous. Of course not! She’s a military bride and everything moves faster when you’re dealing with deployment. I understood that. We will be together for 5 years by the time we are married, compared to her 2 years. Everybody’s story is their own story and to compare yourself is insane. Don’t be upset if/when people ask you, ‘Are you going to have a bridal shower/mismatching bridesmaids/bouquet toss/open bar too?’ because most of the time they aren’t pressuring you to do the same or better. They just plain want to know and are trying to make conversation. Telling myself that is how I keep sane. Don’t feel bad for setting boundaries. Don’t feel bad for saying ‘I don’t know.’ It’s ok!

    • jashshea

      Shout out to double weddings! My mom and older sister did the same thing, only the driving force on the planning was their mother.

  • Kendra D

    My husband and I are having our ceremony just a month after his brother and sister-in-law have their ceremony. We actually planned it that way and it’s been a relief that neither she nor I are concerned about sharing the spotlight. Our other sister-in-law, on the other hand, would have freaked out. Actually she did, when she got engaged to my husband’s brother, she completely flipped out at the idea of us having a ceremony in the same year that she got married. The easiest thing for us to do was delay our ceremony.

    I’m excited to share this time with my new sister-in-law. She and I have enjoyed sharing ideas, talking about plans, and just general wedding reminiscing. It might help that my husband and I will have been married four years by our ceremony time and my SIL/BIL will have been married for over a year. That may contribute to us being chill.

    With the SIL who freaked out over us possibly having a ceremony in the same year as her? We avoided the drama by delaying. And I don’t talk wedding talk with her. At all. She’s the kind who compared our rings (hers is much bigger) and alluded to the fact that I should feel bad that mine wasn’t as nice. I’m pretty much just grateful that we don’t see them super often and handle her by not playing that game.

  • Katarina

    I’m not engaged yet, but will be very soon, and I’m facing a similar problem. My boyfriend and I have been together for five years, so this is a long time coming. However, my best friend (and future bridesmaid) introduced me to her boyfriend of five months by saying “We’ll be getting married the same summer! I want July or August, so don’t think about then!” At first, I was pretty surprised, but at least relieved that they wouldn’t be getting engaged until at least May, when we’ll probably be engaged in the next month. Until, of course, her boyfriend went out and bought a ring the week before mine did. Ever since then, she’s been telling me that our weddings can’t have similar themes, and that there are a whole two months I shouldn’t be looking at for my wedding. My problems with her boyfriend and their fast-moving relationship aside, it’s hard not to feel competitive. I’m not a person who loves the limelight, but I like the idea of having my relationship with my guy be important. We’ve been together for a long time and through a lot, and it would be nice to have that acknowledged. Any suggestions on how to balance this?

    • LM

      A good friend of mine got engaged a few weeks after me, and our weddings were a month and a half apart (at the same venue). It can be hard to remember that celebrating two events close together doesn’t mean that you’re being overshadowed; it can just be two great opportunities to celebrate. When I did feel competitive, I’d remind myself that even though we were both planning weddings, they would never be the same. They had a wedding that was perfect for them, and my husband and I had one that really reflected us. I also really liked having someone around who wanted to talk about weddings as much as I did and who I didn’t feel like I was boring to death.

      As for your friend wanting to reserve months and themes — I think it’s up to you to figure out what you’re comfortable with. Just because she wants to reserve two months, doesn’t mean you have to agree. On the other hand, if you don’t want to share any overlap with her, then clearing dates with each other is fine. It’s up to you how much you want to share with her about details, but ultimately, your wedding is about you and your boyfriend.

  • Eh

    My SIL got married the year before us. Everything we did was compared to her wedding. It seemed like people (including my SIL) thought that we were doing everything differently to spit her. (Note: we did “learn” things from her wedding but we didn’t make the changes to spit her – our wedding was our wedding and reflected us.) We stopped sharing our plans with her because we didn’t need her negativity about our plans (plus talking about our wedding would lead her to tell us stories about how horrible her wedding was – the flowers were wrong, the cake was wrong, the rentals fell apart, guests didn’t celebrate – read: drink and dance – enough with them, everyone left too early). After our wedding, which she opted not attend because of a family feud (which gave her tons of attention leading up to our wedding because my in-laws demanded that we work things out with her before our wedding, that was until they realized that she wasn’t putting in any effort to work things out with us and that we were trying to work things out with her) she told us about how much they paid for different aspects of their wedding (e.g., DJ, catering, etc.) for the “comfort” of their guests (in other words, we were ungrateful guests at their wedding and we didn’t give a shit about our guests because we didn’t spend that much on the DJ and food). She was also upset that we didn’t use any of the décor (e.g., tulle, ring pillow and other things that were in their wedding colours) she had offered us from their wedding (suggesting that again we were ungrateful but if she came to our wedding she would have noticed that we had very little décor and it was very different from their wedding). We are trying to work things out with her but other family members are pretty upset with how she treated us since my SIL had tons of attention between their engagement and their wedding (which was a few months before we got engaged) – they were engaged, got pregnant, started planning a wedding, had a baby shower, had a baby, did more wedding planning, had a bridal shower and had a wedding (this was all within a year and a half) – and yet she tried to take attention away from us and our wedding.

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  • Annie

    My fiancee’s sister got married last summer, my twin brother proposed last summer (getting married in July at my parent’s place), last fall I was engaged (getting married in October at my parent’s place) and two weeks later my best friend was also engaged (two weeks after our wedding, luckily not at my parent’s place). Honestly the best advice I can give to try to be as open and honest with the future sister in law. It can be awkward depending on how close you are with her, but so far we haven’t had any problems with the other couples getting married around us. BUT, We had those conversations up front because we all shared the same concerns.

    Our weddings are all different in style and budget so that certainly helps. I learned real quick to avoid saying things like “I don’t like those types of flowers” or “I really hate weddings that have___” at least in conversations with the other brides. Of course honor your own preferences but complaining too much about this or that feeds into the competitiveness or hurts feelings. Better just to stay positive. My best friend and I have a thing where we only talk about one wedding at a time, and we both are respectful of the other person’s time. Showing interest and excitement in her wedding (and vice versa) makes it easier to avoid comparing. Its a little harder with my future sister in law because I don’t know her as well and there is quite a bit of careful treading there to be honest. I talk with my brother a lot and he mediates if there is a potential issue. I guess its really all about setting expectations and just being respectful of the other bride and her feelings (knowing weddings make some people a little nuts). Personally, I would graciously back out of the shower. It just seems like unnecessary tension and if you’re already worried about it, you won’t really enjoy your time. Trust you instincts, if you sense some competitiveness moving forward either talk to her or give her some space. Thats my two cents anyway.

  • Emily

    Argh, I’m experiencing a similar situation – my fiance’s sister got engaged a month after us and is getting married a couple of months before us. I hate to admit it but… it sort of annoys me. Not that there isn’t enough joy to go round, because I’m totally happy for them, but it just irritates me that their family can’t ever talk about our wedding without also talking about hers. It’s almost like it’s become more about my fiance and his sister doing everything together, and their relationship as siblings, rather than about his relationship with me. I don’t know, I know it’s all incredibly petty, but I really feel like she stole my thunder! (Á la Rachel on the night Monica gets engaged!)

    • Yes! I really feel happy for Badger’s brother (and new wife), who had a whirlwind romance and just had a baby- but the enthusiasm everyone has for them seems to be taking away from enthusiasm everyone has for us. I mean, we’re super excited for them, but I want my thunder back!!!

  • Karen

    Am I the only one who likes not being the center of attention? Thank god my sister is getting married in May before I get married in August. She got me all the addresses, I’m wearing her dress, and our weddings will be totally different (mine much cheaper and more what I’m comfortable with and farther from our original home.) I’m so glad all my mom’s “ideas” can be directed at my sister and I can do whatever the heck I want!

  • PurpleHeather

    A lot of my friends and work colleagues are getting married this year, and one thing I’ve had to try to do is remember that the choices they make for their wedding are no criticism of the choices we make. As someone who is very self critical, I find it all too easy to feel like the friend who is having a sit down 3 course meal is somehow mocking my hot buffet, whereas we chose the hot buffet because I hate choosing 3 months away from an event what I’ll feel like eating.

    The flip side of this is that you need to be careful of how you present your choices, so that you don’t trash someone else’s ideas. I’ve found that it’s helpful to say that it’s not a criticism of any other weddings, past or future, it’s just the decision that is right for my partner and I.

    Good luck negotiating the minefield, and just focus on having the day that is right for you and your partner.

  • My husband and BOTH his siblings got engaged within 8 weeks, and married within 8 months of each other.
    But each wedding was so different.
    At the same time, as the last couple to get married, we felt a bit forgotten. None of his family wanted to talk about our wedding when these other two were on, and it definitely strained my relationship with my MIL.
    I have no advice – we just ignored what everyone else was doing and got on with it – but definitely want to wish you good luck.
    Oh, and dont do joint too much. And dont let them bully you in to joint anything.

  • TeaforTwo

    While we were planning our wedding, one thing that I tried to keep in mind was to look at most of it through a 25-year lens, i.e. “Will I still care about this on our 25th anniversary?”

    I can’t presume to speak for other people, but I think that “sharing the spotlight” during your season of wedding planning might be something that feels competitive or uncomfortable right now, while wrapped up in pinterest and planning, but it could feel very different when you’re both celebrating your 25th anniversary and can remember that beautiful summer when you both got married. Over time, I hope, it will all fade into a season of warm, glowing bliss.

    Not-related-but-kind-of-related: My brother got married about six months after my mother died, on what would have been my parents’ 32nd anniversary. It was a fluke – it happened to be the only day that the venue was available, and he didn’t realize the significance of the date. When he did, he was worried that my dad would find it too painful, and offered to change it. My dad’s wise response was that yes, it might be difficult for him on the day of, but that over time, he thought it would bring him great joy.

  • JustLetMeHaveMyOwnWedding,PLS

    I was the author of this post and really appreciate everyone’s advice and feedback. There is a new development: we’re planning a small ‘destination’ wedding near where we live, across the country from our families, and a large reception back home. Now my FFIL and FMIL are suggesting we let my FSIL do a ‘joint’ reception. Ugh. I feel like unless we had proposed the idea, it is presumptuous and pushy to even suggest it, however they are footing the bill for the back-home reception so I feel like I need to go along with the idea. My FSIL is planning a huge 400 + person wedding in June and I don’t understand why they’d need to piggy-back on anything we’re doing at the end of December.

  • Shari

    I was the author of this post and really appreciate everyone’s advice and feedback. There is a new development: we’re planning a small ‘destination’ wedding near where we live, across the country from our families, and a large reception back home. Now my FFIL and FMIL are suggesting we let my FSIL do a ‘joint’ reception. Ugh. I feel like unless we had proposed the idea, it is presumptuous and pushy to even suggest it, however they are footing the bill for the back-home reception so I feel like I need to go along with the idea. My FSIL is planning a huge 400 + person wedding in June and I don’t understand why they’d need to piggy-back on anything we’re doing at the end of December.

  • NTB

    It’s “keeping up with the Joneses: wedding edition!” I feel you. I compared myself to other brides, including many of my friends who were married around the same time, which was hard. I wasn’t happy with our wedding photos, and I felt really insecure about lots of aspects of our wedding, and my own jealousy of others was hard to put aside. And then there are all of those darned wedding blogs…I compared myself and my wedding to all of it. And I still, to this day, regret having a big, expensive wedding just to please my in-laws. BLAH.

    But then after my wedding, I did the same thing, but with houses, cars, and money. It’s a dangerous cycle, and it’s tough to break. We can’t afford a $400,000 home, but our friends just bought one. Am I jealous? I catch myself in this cycle of thinking, and it has forced me to be consciously be grateful for what I have, and for the way our wedding was, for better or for worse. (Pun intended.)

  • Jules

    Eep, I DREAD this. I feel for you.

    Rant: I have a copycat friend that I’m praying and hoping gets married well in advance of me. She’s always drawn a lot of her style and inspiration from me, calling things that I like “trendy” (I’m sorry? Navy is trendy but blue has been my favorite color since childhood?) and then copying them…actually, she does this to all of our friends. Decided to paint her room the same color as me in college, then “gave me permission” to do it as well, even though I’d sent her the color sample name from the Lowe’s. Walked into our friends’ apartment, loved the placemats they had, bought them the very next day. It always feels like a “I love X and I give you permission to do it too!”, like I have to stake my claim to liking something and then fend her off in order for it to be unique. I’m also totally aware that two people can like the same stuff! This isn’t a case of coincidence, though.

    I don’t think she means to be harmful; she’s actually super sweet….but it * REALLY* bugs me. I feel less unique, my decisions feel less valid, etc. I have a sneaking suspicion that she likes to do this because this way things are “tried and trued” or “tested” on our friend group in advance (by someone else). She’s very indecisive, passive, and insecure person in general.

    It drives me batty though, and I just try to keep all my cards close now, so there’s nothing to copy and nothing for me to be annoyed about. Needless to say, haven’t shared what I’m looking at for an engagement ring.

    Rant over, advice welcome.

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