I’m Bitter I Agreed To Let My SIL Be My Bridesmaid

Can I fire her?

Q:Dear APW,

After almost seven years together, my fiancx and I recently got engaged. My fiancx is close with his family and his sister (let’s call her Emily), however I don’t particularly get along with his mother or Emily. Despite frequently butting heads, I had talked to both my fiancx and his mother about making Emily one of my bridesmaids, as it was important to my fiancx to have her stand up for us. Our wedding is still over a year away, so I haven’t asked her (or even mentioned it to her) yet.

So here’s my problem: not even a month after our engagement, Emily and her fiancx got engaged. They’ve barely been together for a year and she was very vocal about wanting to be engaged before her next birthday, so I was expecting it, but I was still hurt when it happened so soon after our engagement. While I understand that excitement and love are not finite and there’s enough to go around, I can’t help but feel a hurt and yes, bitter about the situation. Everybody has immediately shifted their focus to the newly engaged couple. They plan on having their wedding before ours and anytime our wedding comes up in conversation Emily immediately takes over and starts talking about her plans, her wedding and what she is doing, without any regard for ours. When I brought this fact up she told me that she is getting married first, and anyways I have my own family to talk about my plans with.

Now, I’ve changed my mind on wanting to have Emily as a bridesmaid. I admit that is mostly because I don’t think I can handle having her around while I try to make plans, or go dress shopping, or even go to bridal shows, because I feel railroaded on my own wedding. I don’t want to get into any arguments with her (or her mother) as we’re all stubborn and have had a few blowouts in the past. I try my best to step back whenever things get heated and keep the peace but at the same time, I feel strongly about the fact that when we are doing things for my wedding that I have organized, I don’t want to spend the whole time talking about hers. My fiancx feels that it shouldn’t be an issue, as Emily’s wedding plans are extremely different from ours, but he’s not around at most of these events, so he’s not the one dealing with it.

So my question: Can I back out of asking Emily to be my bridesmaid? Do I make her a bridesmaid in name only and just not include her in any of the ‘traditional’ bridesmaid events? Or do I just need to suck it up?


A:Dear bitter,

Aww muffin. I know you know this, but we must start with some Real Talk: your bitterness is toxic and inappropriate and you gotta work harder at getting over it. And I don’t mean that in a la-di-da I’ll just decide not to have this bad feeling and everything is magically all better way. I think you owe it to yourself (because bitter isn’t a pleasant way to feel), and to your relationships with your betrothed and his family, to really work through this.

Obviously, these are all just guesses, but did you want to wait seven years to get engaged? Is part of this bitterness jealousy that Emily articulated her preferred timeline and made that happen? Maybe not! Maybe you were just longing for a little limelight, which I completely get, and you’ve nudged over from feeling a bit sad to feeling bitter. But this is the reality of life for you, and for lots of people. You’re going to be engaged for over a year. Life is going to continue to happen in good ways and bad. Other people will get engaged, get married, have babies, get sick, move, pass away. None of those things are being done at you or your engagement, they are just other people living their lives.

I think you have a couple options on this going forward. The best one, as I see it, is your future spouse needs to ask his sister to serve as a groomswoman or best person or whatever he wants to call it immediately, with enthusiasm. I think it is very safe to say that even if you didn’t ask her directly, she for sure knows. Uninviting her is going to, rightfully, go over like a lead balloon with her and her family. But “Hey sis, you know I love you so much, and I can’t imagine a better person to support me on my wedding day, and it would mean the world to me if you would serve as a groomswoman” is really hard to find fault with. (And if he doesn’t wanna because “symmetry” or “tradition,” please tell him that is the patriarchy and it is nonsense and that you have serious concerns that he values that nonsense more than your happiness.)

Another option would be including her as your bridesmaid, but try to limit contact with her. Frankly, I think this isn’t going to go terribly well. You already let yourself get talked into asking her, so I don’t think a firm “no” is your greatest strength, and this is going to get messy. But for the sake of discussion, you can absolutely make wedding plans without your bridesmaids. (OMG please do? They are not your wedding planner, your spouse, or the checkbook, they do not need to help plan your wedding.) You can go dress shopping without all of your bridesmaids—you can’t just exclude her, but you could def just bring your maid of honor and your mom. And you can go to bridal shows without her. (Pro-tip: your future spouse has to go to bridal shows if this is a necessary thing to do, because he is an equal participant in this shindig.) But anytime all the bridesmaids are included, she needs to be included on equal terms.

Finally, girl isn’t wrong when she says you have your own family to talk about the wedding with. I mean, she is wrong, a bit, sure, but bigger picture? These people are not people who are available to you to be discussing your wedding plans. I totally get that you want them to be, and I agree with you in an ideal world they should be, but in this actual world, they are not. So feel free to see less of them! Make plans with your own family, hang out with friends, put lots of date nights on the calendar, schedule planning time with you partner. You don’t need to be constantly hanging out with people who are not being great to you.

—Amy March


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