Should I Go as a Guest After Being Fired as a Bridesmaid?


Do I have to go just because I'm still technically invited?

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

woman wearing ring and holding her knee

Q: About a year ago my close friend broke up with her boyfriend. I think she was reeling from the breakup, so she made a couple of rash decisions involving men while they were apart. Flash forward a few months to when they got back together. She called me and asked me not to disclose any of the stuff that had gone on during the breakup because they weren’t discussing what happened while they weren’t together. Of course, I thought, I’m not going to go gossiping to him about her. Anyway, despite this supposed “silence” on the breakup, the boyfriend was now pumping me for information about her. He’d say things like, “I know she slept with so-and-so,” or, “It’s fine, I know she was sleeping around.” Finally, one night after I’d had a couple of drinks, he began poking at the topic again. This time, he started on about how he knew she had slept with one of his very close friends. She hadn’t. I told him that he needed to talk to her, but mistakenly added, “Anyways, she was dating a different guy then, so she couldn’t have.”

I knew I’d crossed a line, and when my friend and I talked about it, I was very open about that. I feel, however, that her boyfriend clearly had unresolved issues with these relationships and I was being dragged into it. We settled it and moved on. I helped him pick out an engagement ring, he proposed, they asked me to be a bridesmaid, I went to help them pick out venues and participated whenever I could.

Then, a few months later, my friend asked me out to dinner to tell me that she couldn’t move past the fact that I betrayed her by telling her boyfriend what I’d known, and that she didn’t want me to be a bridesmaid, but hoped I could still come to the wedding. She said I didn’t support them as a couple and on and on. While I know I shouldn’t have said what I did, I feel as though this is really unfair. Now I’m conflicted about whether or not I should go to the wedding, since I’ll probably be resentful of the fact that she really hurt my feelings (no one wants that at their wedding), or whether not going is rude and something I’ll regret later.

—The Fired Bridesmaid

A: Dear FB,

Whoa. Before we jump into the wedding invitation (we will, I promise), we’ve got a whole lot to talk about.

First off, please know: You weren’t the wrongest here. Slipping that detail was maybe wrong. But it was wronger for your friend to rest the security of her relationship on whether or not you blabbed. And possibly wrongest of her partner to falsely make some sort of don’t ask, don’t tell policy, and then egg you on (while you were drinking!) until you finally broke and gave him a clue. These people clearly have a whole lot to work through about honesty and trust, and whether or not they really are okay with whatever occurred during their break. And none of that, not a single piece of that, is about you.

Which makes me think this canceled bridesmaidship isn’t really about you either. You’re the scapegoat here, and it’s easier to take whatever weird, unsettled feelings they have and (instead of acknowledging that they’re about one another and wrestle with that) pin them on you. Make them about your “betrayal,” and pretend like making you step down solves everything for everyone. But, nope. It doesn’t.

You mentioned some resentment, and you should tell your friend about it. Let her know that being asked to step down as a bridesmaid hurt your feelings. That you regret what you said, but you didn’t intend to say it, and you resent that this drunken slip is being painted as betrayal. You may even want to bring up the rest of what I was saying up there. Tell her, “Hey, I’m worried that this whole sordid mess means there’s some stuff you guys need to talk about.”

And, honestly, how she responds may help you figure out how to handle this wedding invitation. Maybe she’ll be really receptive, and apologize, and things will be shiny and happy, and you’ll want to go to the wedding.

Or maybe it’ll suck. Maybe she’ll be defensive, and count the whole conversation as just one more reason to be pissed at you. Then I’m guessing you probably won’t want to be at that wedding.

Before you even try to figure out if you should go or not, talk to your friend. Depending on how that conversation goes, it should be pretty clear if you should. And if the answer’s no? Frankly, you might be better off.

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Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • Amy March

    If the price of friendship is being expected to lie about things she did openly and deal with aggressive questions from him and face retribution months later when you fail, I think it’s pretty reasonable to decide that’s too high a price. If you want to stay friends with her, I think you have to go to the wedding. If you don’t, RSVP no and move on. But for sure, she is going to take you not going as a dramatic declaration that you are no longer friends, so just make sure that you are sending the message you want to send.

    • Robyncestrella4

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  • laddibugg

    Isn’t this site all about people being comfortable at their weddings? Regardless if your friend is right or wrong, she didn’t feel comfortable having you in her party, and she acted accordingly. She shouldn’t have to fake being ok with things to make you happy.

    Are you comfortable going to the wedding? You also shouldn’t have to fake comfort. If you’re not comfortable, don’t go. I think bringing up the ‘betrayal’ just because of the wedding (and not as a natural conversation) is a recipe for disaster.

    • Annie

      I don’t know. Sometimes faking comfort is what we do for small hiccups in otherwise important relationships.

      Also, I faked comfort on my wedding day plenty–for instance, I don’t love my sister-in-law, but it was better for my relationship with my husband, my relationship with his parents to include her in our celebration in a meaningful way. And ultimately, it was better with my relationship with her, who will be in my life permanently now.

      If bride wants to end her friendship with LW, then fine, that sucks for LW, but it’s her prerogative. But I don’t see why LW can’t reach out one more time to try to gauge whether it was a rash, poorly thought out decision.

      • Annie

        Reply to add that I don’t think she should be lobbying for her bridesmaid position back–I think that ship has sailed like whooooosh and it would just be weird all around for everyone. But if she was someone who was close enough to help the bride’s fiance pick out her engagement ring (seriously, I can’t move past that detail…), then they’re probably close enough to have a Come-to-Jesus conversation with each other about the state of their friendship moving forward, regardless of whether the bride is particularly comfortable with it or not.

        tl;dr for both — Actions don’t exist in a vacuum just because they involve a wedding!

        • laddibugg

          I think they should have a conversation, but not because the LW wants to know if she should go to the wedding. This is bigger than that–and there will likely be other events after this one.

          That being said, if LW still isn’t happy with where things stand, she might need to consider either getting over it or letting the friendship go.

          • Liz

            “I think they should have a conversation, but not because the LW wants to know if she should go to the wedding.”

            Agree. I’m thinking more like: Have a conversation to figure out if this friendship is even worth saving. If it’s not, then,why bother going to the wedding.

    • Roselyne

      There’s a difference between saying ‘she has the right to be comfortable at her wedding’ (true and accurate), and ‘she’s acting in a disrespectful way and is likely the cause of some of her own issues that she’s redirecting onto you, so consider what you’re stepping up for’ (also accurate and true). Those statements can co-exist.

      The bride, in this case, shouldn’t have to fake anything, and can absolutely get whoever she wants to stand with her (or not) as the case may be. That’s her right, 100% agreed. But the flip side of the coin is that she’s behaving in a crappy non-transparent manner to AT LEAST 2 people in her life, and that’s likely to have consequences that she’ll have to bear. So, as a friend, the OP has to decide which consequences she wants to stick around for.

      And, for the OP, it’s absolutely reasonable to decide that Person A has the right to set whatever boundaries they want on their life, BUT that they’re not willing to stick around for it.

    • Lisa

      My feeling is that you should not rescind a wedding party invitation unless you are willing to completely lose the friendship. Yes, the bride should feel comfortable at her own wedding, but as an adult, she should have evaluated her feelings about her friendship with the LW before asking her to be a member of the bridal party. Once you’ve asked someone to be a part of that commitment, barring any egregious error on the bridesmaid’s part, it’s against decency to cancel that social contract.

      • rg223

        Right, I actually feel like the ball is in the LW’s court right now to keep the friendship or not. The bride did what I consider a friendship-ending move, but tried to mitigate it with keeping the invite to the wedding. The LW can talk to her friend, as Liz suggested, if she wants to keep the friendship, but not going to the wedding isn’t the friendship-ending move – that kinda already happened.

        • ART

          There are always exceptions to this but…my thought over the last few years has become that if someone is doing their very best to alienate me, I let them.

      • “My feeling is that you should not rescind a wedding party invitation unless you are willing to completely lose the friendship.”
        Right. Exactly. You have the right to be comfortable at your wedding, but you don’t get to trample on other people’s feelings without consequences. It’s called being an adult.

    • anony

      We all have the right to make choices for our own comfort in any situation, but that doesn’t protect us from the consequences of those choices. The potential consequence of the bride’s choice here is the loss of a friend.

      • laddibugg

        And that’s fine. Nothing I said disputes that.

        • I think “She shouldn’t have to fake being ok with things to make you happy.” is where you tripped people up here.

      • BSM

        Agree, and it certainly doesn’t preclude LW from voicing how the bride’s choice to ask her to step down and her reasoning behind it made LW feel. It sounds like the matter was put to rest even before the engagement, so I can totally understand LW’s hurt.

        I’m curious how the dinner convo went when the bride actually made the ask. How the LW responded then would definitely affect how I would advise her to broach the topic with the bride going forward.

    • Eh

      The LW might need to know where she stands with the bride to determine if she is comfortable or not going to the wedding. That probably means talking to the bride about the ‘betrayal’. It will probably be a disaster but then the LW has that information.

    • Nell

      “Isn’t this site all about people being comfortable at their weddings?” – I mean, sort of, but I also like to think it’s a site about how to not let your wedding ruin your life or your other close relationships.

      It seems to me that the friend had an issue with the LW’s behavior, and rather than talk to her about how their friendship could move forward, she escalated the tension between them by “demoting” LW. If LW doesn’t attend the wedding, she’s doubling down on that escalation. So, it might be more comfortable for that one day to avoid attending, but it won’t be comfortable for anyone in the long term.

  • Annie

    Yoooooiiiiiikes. This is especially hurtful since you were even an instrumental part of their engagement and early planning–someone who doesn’t “support them as a couple” wouldn’t have helped pick out an engagement ring and gone to venues! Your friend probably knows that too, but it’s easier to be angry at you than to question the path she’s chosen and the commitment she’s about to make–it’s “easier” to send a friendship into upheaval than a partnership. For the record, claiming that your tipsy slip-up is indicative of you not supporting them or caring about her is entirely ridiculous. No one is perfect and honestly, there’s always a certain amount of risk in insisting that friends be ironclad Secret Keepers, especially if there are multiple layers to the secrets.

    On that note, it sounds like they’ve got some serious unresolved issues and, like Liz said, you’re the easy target to focus ire on. That totally sucks, but I don’t think they are acting in good faith with each other right now and you are the collateral damage in the meantime. :-/ Obviously that doesn’t make things easier necessarily, but I think this is one of those times where you can confidently know that it’s tooooootally about them and not about you. I do hope you all can work it out since it sounds like there is a foundation of real friendship, but right now, the dysfunction in their relationship is cracking it.

    • Violet

      I agree that claiming the tipsy slip-up is the reason for asking her to step down as bridesmaid is ridiculous. But even if someone didn’t feel that it was ridiculous (I suppose there are people out there who could defend the bride’s right to be upset about her friend spilling the beans, not that I particularly do), it’s at the very least, completely inconsistent. Why was the tipsy slip-up bad enough to be asked to step down, but didn’t stop bride from asking her to be a bridesmaid in the first place? That being the reason for the un-ask looks pretty flimsy to me.

      • Eh

        As much as I disagree with the bride asking the LW to step down, I can still see how she asked the LW in the first place. The LW and the bride were clearly close if the LW was involved in picking out the engagement ring. Maybe the bride got caught up in the moment. Maybe, prior to the break up and everything that went down with the slip-up, the bride always thought the LW would be a bridesmaid.

        • Violet

          Maybe. Definitely possible. But she also helped them look at venues and such. That’s quite a lot of moments over the course of a few months to get caught up in.

          • Greta

            Yea, but she may have been asked right away. I’ve definitely seen the squeal of “ahhh, we’re engaged! I want you to be a bridesmaid!” all in one breath before.

          • Violet

            Oh, I know, but then it took months for the bride to then let her down? The whole thing feels really squicky to me. I think it’s much more likely it’s any number of unresolved issues between the couple, like your suggestions to BDubs.

          • Eh

            Exactly! Based on the letter, she was asked to be a bridesmaid and then helped look at venues (I had a venue in less than a month – we were still very much in engagement bliss).

      • toomanybooks

        Yeah, I’m betting this is the guy’s doing somehow – like the engaged couple maybe got in a fight, maybe about the thing the LW let slip, and/or the guy made it seem as though things would be fine if only LW hadn’t said anything, and didn’t want LW to be able to tell her friend (with any trust) that he had been manipulating her into giving him information, so he’s trying to isolate her (his fiancée) from LW to gain more control over her.

        That was the immediate sense I got when I read that part – the guy decided that LW was no longer useful. Or started a fight about what she’d said.

        • Jess

          Because I listen to way too many advice podcasts – my entirely fictional backstory is this:

          Friend started talking to/meeting with person she hooked up with during the break again, or was still talking to them (maybe the same one LW let slip?). Fiance found out, brought up the history and fact that he found out from LW in the argument. Friend mentally re-connects LW to the issue – despite bygones, etc. – and emotionally decides this is all her fault for planting this doubt in Fiance’s mind.

          • toomanybooks

            yup sounds likely

          • JC

            I’m now creating so much backstory for this couple. The most important “fact” is that they own pets of some caged variety– ferrets, gerbils, etc. This image is in every conception of their relationship I can muster.

          • Jess

            I love that! Yes! It’s integral to the whole dynamic.

  • Anonymous Cat

    I’ve had similar issues to this, and I think at the bottom line, if someone is asking you to actively compromise your integrity in a way that is uncomfortable for you for the sake of a friendship, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate the friendship. I don’t think it is the worst thing to not be supportive of a relationship that you think is not the best choice. Note that I think there is a difference between respectful concern and outright bashing: it doesn’t mean that you won’t go to parties with a large communal group or never see them, but intimate hangouts might no longer be in vogue. It will likely impact your friendship, and we have to let people make their own choice, but heartily endorsing something you are not behind is ultimately going to result in issues.

    My take? Don’t be a bridesmaid, but go to the wedding. Going to a wedding (unless it it <20 people), not making a toast or anything, will cause less hurt feelings in the long run than if you skip it on principle. Bride & groom don't notice everyone who is there, but they will notice if you aren't at a later date. If things ever come back to a more comfortable point in the relationship over time, it will always be a sore spot if you skip the wedding. Also, try to look on the bright side: being a bridesmaid can make the best of friends encounter difficult situations (money, high emotions, family is a perfect recipe!), so a strained relationship isn't the best basis for that role. Plus, you don't need to spend all the money and time associated with being a bridesmaid before the wedding, and likely get to just enjoy the open bar as a guest. Much better role in my book!

  • rg223

    By cutting LW as a bridesmaid and saying LW doesn’t support her relationship, the friend has set up a potential self-fulfilling prophecy – the friend made LW feel like she doesn’t totally want her at the wedding, but then if LW doesn’t go, it then it REALLY looks like LW doesn’t support the relationship! The friend has put LW in a really awkward position of having to go to the wedding to prove she supports the relationship and is a good friend, even though LW will feel resentful towards her.

    Liz has good advice, and I think the LW also has to look at the friendship on the whole and decide if she wants to continue being friends. As Amy March said elsewhere, if she doesn’t go to the wedding, the friendship is going to be over, not only because she didn’t go to the wedding, but also because it will “prove” she doesn’t support the relationship. Sorry, LW, this is a tough one!

  • Jessica

    This friendship gives me the heebie-jeebies. I have been in some pretty toxic friend groups in the past, and none of this is adding up to “will eventually be a totally cool and supportive relationship between equal friends.” I know I’m only seeing a snapshot, so my advice is to plan on going to the wedding, but after all of the excitement dies down, have a real, hard conversation about how you were affected and hurt by both of those people.

    Depending on the relationship of the engaged couple, it may be worth having beforehand, but during wedding planning it’s hard to see anything but the wedding.

    • rg223

      So agree with all of this.

  • Eh

    I think it’s pretty interesting that the bride is still inviting the LW when the bride says that the LW doesn’t support the relationship (it’s not like the LW is a relative who others would expect to be invited). As others have said, the bride seems to have unresolved issues and her relationship with the LW is toxic. Some difficult conversations need to happen…

  • BDubs

    What in the world happened in the time between YAY engagement and all is well, and this bridesmaid demotion conversation? Something had to have set it off…

    • Violet

      My imagination about the level of unresolved drama between bride and fiance… it’s not a pretty sight in my brain right now.

      • ART

        Exactly…having been the scapegoat friend to a couple having their own problems, I don’t see any of this ending well. I imagine there was a blowup in the relationship and it had to get vented somewhere, and LW became the target.

        • Liz

          That’s what I was thinking too! Things are off between the two of them, and she’s like, I KNOW WHAT WILL FIX THIS out of the blue.

          • Lisa

            This is exactly what I was thinking as I read the letter, too, but you had already said it so well!

    • Greta

      Yea, I feel this way too! I’m wondering if someone else (maybe another bridesmaid, maybe a family member, maybe the groom) is questioning the LW’s actions, and has influenced the bride to make this decision. I wonder if this might be the groom’s doing – maybe he’s putting his anger/frustration about the break onto the messenger (LW) so to speak and he’s told the bride that he doesn’t want the LW involved in the wedding.

      Or perhaps the bride knows that the LW kind of represents all of her unresolved issues and she feels she can push those under the rug by not having her be a bridesmaid anymore.

      • Jess

        “Or perhaps the bride knows that the LW kind of represents all of her unresolved issues and she feels she can push those under the rug”

        This! SO often the bearer of bad news gets kicked out after the couple has “resolved” the problem. That person becomes the source of the conflict, rather than the actions that got them there.

  • Alexandra

    This couple is doomed. Doomed, I tell you. These are immature, high-drama people. This does not a happy marriage make. Distance yourself from them (don’t cut them off or anything, just–this shouldn’t be your inner circle) and focus on relationships with better people. And go to the wedding, relieved that you don’t have to pay for the accoutrements of bridesmaiding. Weddings are fun! Hopefully free booze, food, and cake.

    If it were me, that’s what I’d do. And I’d entirely stop worrying about how I could help the friend or the relationship. Not my circus, not my monkeys. But hey, invite me to a nice party and I’ll go. Gift in hand! I’m not a total troglodyte. :)

    • Raissomat

      Alexandra..you are probably right, even further distance herself from her behaviour, and act civilized.
      I’d tend to react distanced and be a little more drastic, but that can be seen as a little dramatic too.

  • JennDee

    Yaassss–thank you, Liz!! This is so, soo not about you and the supposed ‘betrayal.’ This about a fundamental stone in their relationship that they’re, quite literally, leaving unturned.

    Definitely talk to your friend, share your resentment, your regrets. I’m betting there’s lots of regret from their ends as well, so maybe opening a line of communication will help things. Best of luck! But, if you do find yourself at home that day, I highly recommend a nice glass (or bottle) of wine and your absolute favorite book.

    • Keri

      Agreed. Open communication and more transparency about feelings (and facts!) is missing from the whole situation. And if being more open isn’t something you are willing or interesting in doing in this friendship, then I’d take that as a further sign that you’re leaning more towards pulling away from this friendship.

  • Sara

    I say, don’t go. Tell her that she hurt your feelings and you don’t want her to deal with your negative energy on her wedding day. If she’s offended that she hurt your feelings, that’s her problem. You got roped into being in the middle of their couple drama unwittingly, and it’s unfair to you that she’s blaming you a situation you were kinda set up to fail. Anyone would slip up in those circumstances.

  • Antonia

    Ugh, gross — these people (the bride- and groom-to-be) sound like dysfunctional, self-obsessed, immature PITAs. “I don’t want you to be my bridesmaid but I still want you to come to my wedding”??? Yeah, NOPE. Save yourself the time, money and energy and don’t bother attending the wedding (of what will likely end up being a five-minute marriage). I agree with Liz that your “friend” is using you as a scapegoat. You don’t deserve it.

    • Yeah, I mean…in most circles, asking someone to step down as a bridesmaid is a friendship-ending move. You don’t do it lightly, you do it knowing it’s going to hurt the other person and likely end in a severed friendship.

      There’s better people in the world, LW. Spend what would’ve been the wedding time on some quality time with your other friends?

  • Nell

    Ok guys, where the heck is the groom in the second half of this story?

    Where’s the part where he defends the girl who helped him pick out a ring, supported his engagement, and put up with him trying to get her to spill his fiancee’s secrets? Where’s the part where he says to his fiancee, “Hey honey, I know you’re mad, but I’m the jerk who made her talk, so cut your friend some slack.”

    Also, if the bride wants a pile of non-mistake making friends in her wedding party. . . she’s gonna have to go up there alone.

  • Her Lindsayship

    So grossed out by this guy pestering you about your friend’s sex life. He sounds like the actual worst, and it’s clear you give him way more benefit of the doubt than they’re willing to give you. In the beginning of the letter, my first thought was that you sounded a little judgey about your friend’s “rash decisions involving men,” but after the events that followed, it definitely sounds like the two of them are the problem.

  • Jenna

    Wait, so, she isn’t mad at her fiance for consistently trying to wrangle information out of people while ostensibly having a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy regarding that time, but she’s mad at you for being so inundated with it that you cracked? How come he gets a pass?

    • Lisa

      My guess is that, for whatever reason, the bride is willing to do whatever it takes to salvage the relationship with her groom. The LW is being used as the scapegoat for the issues they’re presumably still having in their relationship because it’s somehow her fault that the DADT policy was broken. It’s easier to blame the LW for all of the couple’s problems instead of trying to solve them.

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  • Raissomat

    The writer simply simbolizes and embodies the things the bride has done.
    Bride can’t undo what she has done, but she can blame her friend, pack it all onto her, and cut her out. What a poor confused girl. And poor letter writer who has done no wrong (in my opinion) and is stuck with the blame. If she stays in that friendship she will always be the scapesgoat, and eventually shit will explode (just like the unresolved issues of that couple).
    So I would say, silently step back. Wish her all the best in the world, to make sure she can’t blame you for ruining her wedding or crap like that, and hugs and kisses but you just won’t come to the wedding. I’d start mourning that friendship right away, it’ll be over sooner.

  • Marie

    I’m worried that this relationship could turn (or already be) abusive. At the very least he’s being a jerk, but I suspect that he’s also trying to distance his fiancée from her friends and make her feel guilty about her past.

    You don’t have a responsibility to stick around for someone who is being a jerk to you because she might be in an abusive relationship, but if your past relationship with this women has been pretty healthy, I would look up ways to support friends in abusive relationships.

  • Eve Sturges

    Liz’s advice is becoming my favorite voice on the internet.