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Can I Ghost My Bridesmaids and Choose New Ones Before The Wedding?

Both sides of the question wrote in, OMG

Q:Dear APW,

I have been in a transitory phase with my female friends. I have outgrown the party scene and my girlfriends seem to be still in the same place that we were during our twenties. I got engaged six months ago and loosely mentioned the idea of them being bridesmaids. (Yes, I know I jumped the gun.) Since then none of these girlfriends have been supportive of my personal growth in my career, my engagement, and my overall well-being. I have chosen to noticeably drift away and have only asked two women to be my bridesmaids who I am on the same page with. Also, our wedding is very small… only about 75 guests.

The other day I was asked by a mutual acquaintance out of the blue if I was going to inform my old toxic party pals that they were no longer bridesmaids. I haven’t spoken to these girls in months, nor have I seen them in person. I’m a bit perplexed as to why they’d even consider being bridesmaids at this point. Do I truly even owe them an explanation on why I decided to forgo the large bridal party route with surface-level, expired friends?

—Expired Friends

A:Dear EF,

You’re giving yourself way too much credit for personal growth, if you seriously think you can invite friends to be bridesmaids and then change your mind and not tell them because you’ve decided they are “expired friends.” I cannot even with any of this. And this is my third draft and they’ve been getting nicer with every revision.

But fine, let’s go through this slowly. First, you seem to be viewing the “party scene” as something juvenile that you’ve outgrown because you’re all fancy and engaged now. And I really need you to be better than that. You’ve decided you no longer want to participate in a set of activities with your friends you’ve named the “party scene.” Totally cool! No one has to party. We all get to decide how we want to spend our precious time. Did you make any effort to do other things with these friends? Do they not brunch? Could you not make an avocado toast and mimosa situation work? Do y’all not get your nails done? Take yoga? Watch movies? Again, totally fine if not, I’m just saying it sounds like you’ve never particularly cared about these women and haven’t really made an effort to continue being their friend.

Which brings me to my next point. WHY ON EARTH DID YOU ASK THEM TO BE BRIDESMAIDS?!? You don’t seem to like or respect them. And I know it seems like I’m just yelling at you, and to be 100% clear I AM, but also I think you should sit with yourself and try to figure out an answer to that question, because truly knowing yourself and understanding why you make decisions, even bad ones, is so key to personal growth. Were you uncertain? Overly excited? Wanting them to squee? Afraid to disappoint? Figure that out so that you can do better next time.

You mention that none of these friends have been supportive of your personal growth in your career, your engagement, or your overall well-being. And I just wanna ask, how much support do you actually need externally for “things are going great in my life and I’m making strides personally and professionally!” How much have you made an effort to support them?

And then, all of a sudden, they’re toxic? Look, I know you didn’t set out to write The Great American Novel with this question and tried to keep it succinct, so if you’re sitting at home reading this thinking “Ummm excuse you, one of them tried to sleep with my partner, one of them drove drunk after I warned her, and one of them stole my stuff to buy drugs,” then sure, yes, absolutely ignore all of this and live your life. But you’ve described literally nothing toxic except your friends have carried on living their lives the same way as always.

You do not owe them an explanation of why you no longer want them in the bridal party (in fact, please do not give them one, because your truth is not good). But if you think you’re a big fancy grown up rocking the personal growth thing, you need to find your big girl panties, call them on the phone, and say “Felicity, I’m sorry we haven’t been in touch lately. I know I mentioned you being a bridesmaid early on, and I just wanted to let you know that I’ve decided to keep the wedding and the bridal party small, and just have Prudence and Temperance as my bridesmaids.” Yup, that’ll probably end your friendship. But you don’t have one so that shouldn’t be an issue for you, and it avoids the prospect of Felicity endlessly saving your date, because she feels like agreeing to be your bridesmaid is a commitment she has to honor even though you’ve ignored her for months.

—Amy March

Q:Dear APW,

I have a tight group of friends from college, and many in our friend group have also gone into the same field, so a lot of us are now colleagues. A friend of mine recently got engaged, and when she did, she made a point of telling me and a couple of other friends that we were included in the wedding party, and the wedding would be in a tropical destination. I was a little concerned about taking time off to go to this destination wedding on top of the other expenses related to being involved in the wedding, but that’s what friends do, and I was down to make it happen for her.

Well, fast forward a few months, I was at a friend in the group’s house, and saw that the invitations have gone out and well… I never got one, and it turns out no one from our college group of friends did either.

I understand these things can get super expensive, and people need to draw the line on who to invite somewhere. But then recently she posted a picture on social media of herself and several other friends dress shopping at a very fancy bridal salon. It feels a little like salt in the wound to know she’s willing to spend so much on a dress, but then we aren’t worth inviting.

Another friend who is invited mentioned hearing that the couple is having a much smaller wedding than originally planned in order to save money, and suggested perhaps there was a long “B List”. I don’t want to pay too much attention to these rumors, but it also seems pretty clear that I am not only not a part of this wedding but also probably not invited, unless I get an invite off the “B List” later.

If I get a “B List” invite, am I expected to brush off the hurt feelings and spend a bunch of money going?

Please help!

—B Listed

A:Dear BL,

Your friend has done an atrocious job of handling this, and obviously you are hurt!

If you invite someone to be a bridesmaid and change your mind, you obviously must tell them. And then to not invite them at all? Unacceptable behavior on the part of your friend. It’s really beyond the pale.

Look, I get that people have budgets. Balance your budget some other way than being incredibly rude to your loved ones (because yes, asking someone to be a bridesmaid, and then not even inviting her to the wedding, and not even talking to her, is 100% hideous).

If you get an invite later off the B list, say no. You and your time and your money are valuable, spend them on people who prioritize including you, not on people who are happy to have you fill a space if it becomes available.

Send a card with warm wishes for a long and happy marriage and stop investing in this friendship.

—Amy March

HAVE A WEDDING QUESTION?
EMAIL ME: AMYMARCH [AT] APRACTICALWEDDING [DOT] COM.

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