Q: Dear APW,
I’m needing some insight on one of my bridesmaids. She’s a dear friend who I met after college who I’ve had some of my most pivotal adult memories with. I love spending time with her, and personally think she’s a catch.
However, where we clash is in our judgment of partners. While I’ve been with my fiancx for a few years now, I have also tried to boost the Friend’s confidence in the dating scene. Sometimes she encounters someone flaky, and I encourage her to love herself to do what’s best for her—whether that’s dating or taking care of herself. Lately, however, she’s been solely dating other folx from the same group. Each one has not only broken it off, but crashed and burned at her detriment—this one judged her learning disability, that one physically threatened her safety, this one hooked up with another girl in front of her. Sometimes I think the humans she chooses are just shit. Other times, I become baffled as to why she won’t use an app, a friend, or a social gathering to purposely look outside her own orbit for less terrible people. It sometimes seems like she chooses terrible folx out of convenience.
Fast forward to my wedding in a few weeks. As a bridesmaid, of course Friend gets a non-negotiable plus-one. We have a mutual friend who has offered multiple times to be Friend’s date, knowing that they won’t have to be babysat or coddled while Friend is participating in bridesmaid things. When Friend hears this, she always equivocates or dramatizes “What if I fall in LOVE?!?” Love is absolutely an option for Friend. But am I a terrible human for not wanting a potential shitty ex in my wedding photos? How do I politely explain that by a certain deadline, I’d prefer she not bring a new partner to my wedding and just go with our mutual friend? Also, am I going to hell for asking this?
A: Dear Lost Bride,
Nah, not hell. Purgatory at most.
Here’s the thing: a plus-one is for your friend’s companionship and entertainment. It’s what you’re granting her as a “thanks!” for being stuck at your wedding all day long. It’s not about your photos. The plus-one is one of the very few pieces of this day that are not about you.
Believe me, your friend knows her taste in partners has sucked. She knows all too painfully well that she hasn’t had a great track record. Insinuating that she won’t be able to find someone suitable for bringing into daylight has got to pour salt on those wounds.
Leave her be. Let her bring who she wants, whatever last-minute love-at-first-sight she meets. Remember that your photos are a snapshot of a specific time. There are likely to be people in them who eventually won’t be a major part of your life. And even if this person is such a dick that you don’t want to look at their smarmy face at all, there are unlikely to be that many photos of them. (We are talking about reception photos, right? Bridal party dates don’t have to be in your posed shots!).
Get through this wedding and focus on being a good friend to this lady; it sounds like she’s having a rough go of it. Start now by letting her bring whoever she wants.
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