Q: Dear Amy,
My SIL is getting married, and she’s having a sort of informal wedding party (which generally I’m all in for). Anyway, shortly after she got engaged, she asked me if I’d be part of it—walk down the aisle, stand up during the ceremony, etc. She even went so far as to tell me what colors I should buy my dress in. Anyway, fast-forward a few months to the next time I saw her, and she told me, “Never mind, I found someone else do to it.” I guess since she didn’t send out “Will you be my bridesmaid” cards or whatever, she figures it doesn’t matter.
Anyway, I’ve read your column and Liz’s column enough to know my options. Decide if it’s worth it to me to have a conversation with her about my feelings, and if it’s not to move on. Blah, blah, blah, all very good advice. And I know what I’m going to do, which is to not do anything. This is not the first (or last) time my longtime partner’s family has treated me like this, and in for a penny, in for a pound, right? Besides, it’s her wedding, and our extended family, and causing drama isn’t going to make the experience any more enjoyable. (And who wants to be a sloppy seconds bridesmaid? Nobody.)
So my question is this: How do I deal with my FEELINGS? Because my feelings are definitely hurt, and there have been tears. (And is that normal?)
And also, can you tell the Internet to not pull shit like this? No matter how informal the wedding is, being told, “Can you do this honor at my wedding,” and then told, “Meh, never mind, I found someone else,” really feels like shit.
—Baby For Sure Got Put In The Corner
A: Dear Baby,
This is so deeply, deeply uncool. I feel it’s important to state that right up front.
Of course your feelings are hurt!! This is a horrible thing to do to someone. “Oh, SIL, you mean so much to me would you stand up next to me on my wedding day.” “Lolz nvmd, I found someone better, bye!” WHAT. You’re hurt and crying because she deliberately hurt your feelings. I am so not on her team. I honestly care not at all what is going through her head. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what different special reasons you come up with for needing to do something terrible. Your deliberate choices hurt someone, SIL, and I hope you feel badly about it.
You’ve correctly identified your options, and for what it’s worth I think you’ve made the right choice. Yes, it’s a mean thing she did, but I don’t think it’s worth blowing up the family over it, and you won’t win. You’ll just get a black mark for causing drama and make the day even less fun for yourself. One has to assume she knows she hurt you and doesn’t care. But if she’s so self-involved that she doesn’t know she hurt you? Well, that’s honestly even less cool. Either way, I see nothing to be gained from a conversation with her except more opportunities to get your feelings hurt.
Oh boy, though, how do you deal with these feelings? So many ways: 1) personally; 2) with your partner; and 3) as a member of the family community. Personally you do you. Wanna cry? Have at it. Ice cream? Wine? Excuse to buy a new book? And then once you’re through the immediate tears stage, I think you reassess what you are willing to put into this relationship. Not in a big dramatic way, but internally. How much are you going to care when this happens again? SIL prob won’t get married again any time soon, but for sure she’s going to find another way to slight you, so consider this practice. With your partner I think it’s extremely reasonable to expect support for these feelings. Your partner should acknowledge that his sister treated you terribly. He should probably buy you an embarrassingly large bouquet of flowers. And with your family community I think you get to say no to the next family event you don’t want to attend. Just because you don’t want to. Sometimes you just gotta indulge the petty a little to move past it.
And no, Internet, you cannot pull shit like this. Asking someone to serve in your wedding party (even if it’s an unofficial wedding party), or do some other honor at your wedding, is a big deal and it’s a commitment (no no, that girl you asked when you were seven doesn’t count). Think it through. Being a bridesmaid is a lovely honor, as is walking down the aisle, or being asked to wear the horrible color of greige, or read a random bible verse when you’re not even religious. People don’t agree to it because they’ve always wanted a greige dress. They agree to it because it’s sort of a big deal, no matter how casual or formal your wedding is. And when you offer that (or take it away) thoughtlessly, you’ve turned a special honor into a transaction. Bridesmaid isn’t a job. There’s no HR to solve these problems. You can’t replace someone or put her on a performance improvement plan. You need to really think about your decisions, because when someone says yes to a role of honor in your wedding, they are saying yes to showing up for you as a person, and not treating that as the great honor it is going to lead to hurt feelings all around.