I just got engaged (wahoo!) and am trying to figure out my bridesmaids. I have a lot of friends who have been with me in different seasons of my life so it was hard enough narrowing them down. I’ve seen the Bridal Brigade post and it was great, but my dilemma is a tad different. I have a friend who was good friends with me in high school. We have remained friends but we have both changed quite a bit since then (I’m three years graduated from college now). I feel like even though she considers herself one of my best friends, she is quite judgmental of my humor and the fact that I drink. (One huge thing I’m looking forward to on the morning of my wedding? Mimosas.) I know she expects to be a bridesmaid and I (stupidly… why can’t I ever keep my mouth shut?) have hinted that she might be one because she’s been a great friend to me. So I don’t want to leave her in the dust, but I’m afraid that she’ll just judge me during the entire wedding process and especially on my wedding day when I just want to relax and have fun and not feel like I have to perform perfectly for her the entire day.
So my question to this long post is… Is there a way to make her feel like she’s not on the JV Bridesmaid team without actually making her a bridesmaid so that I don’t have to remain in close contact with her the entire process and especially the day? I want to make her feel just as special as the other girls but without the stress of wondering how bad she’s judging me (and sharing that judgment with others).
Ask her to be a bridesmaid, but let her know what’s up. “Hey, I know you have a thing about drinking, so I just wanna give you a heads up that I’m planning on throwing a few back on my wedding day.” Treat her like an adult, let her know what’s happening, and give her room to either pass on being a bridesmaid (and the champagne cocktails), or join in the fun without dragging you down with snide comments. Expect her to do what you’ll be doing: accepting her as she is without changing the parts you don’t like.
I understand why you’d want to limit possible points of contention on what could already be a hectic day. But, weddings aren’t all sunshine and glitter, just like our loved ones aren’t. In fact, weddings aren’t all sunshine and glitter because our loved ones aren’t. We talk every once in awhile about how weddings don’t change people or make them suddenly, magically perfect. This is that kind of situation. You bring the people you love together and honor them, taking the good with the bad (even if the bad harshes your mimosa mellow).
Realize now that even if you can orchestrate the perfect color palette and organize a seamless timeline, you won’t be able to control how your loved ones act on your wedding day. And by that I mean, even if you don’t ask Judgmental Friend to be your bridesmaid, there’s a pretty good chance that someone else will do something else to create tension and strife. But you still love them, and you still honor them. You just have to roll your eyes and grit your teeth through the irritating parts.
Weddings double and triple the reality that you’ll be surrounded by people that just don’t get along with you in every way. You’re not just bringing together the folks you click with now, but also friends and family from other times and places of your life. People you’ve outgrown in this way or that. People who maybe just don’t have the same ideals as you any more. Excluding any people you love who don’t entirely and completely agree with who you are right now would leave many of us with really, really small weddings. Painfully small (shoot, I’d have to skip on inviting my mom).
Besides all of that stuff, honestly, most bridesmaids aren’t around for every special moment. Having someone as a bridesmaid in fantasy ideal-land means that they’re there through the entire planning process, bonding over special memories as you and six gorgeous friends all hold hands and softly weep. But, speaking practically, it really just means you’re honoring them with a special title, and they have to wear what you ask. That’s it. The rest is icing on the cake. Maybe not all of your bridesmaids will be there for the getting ready mimosas. And if your bachelorette party is going to be one weekend-long bar hop, and your friend really takes issue with drinking, you can offer her an out. Just be clear about what’s going to happen at each event, so she doesn’t feel pressured to come, or if she does come, she knows her snarky jabs are unwelcome.
Of course, there’s always the option to not ask her to be your bridesmaid. But, if you choose to go that route, make sure it’s because you don’t want her to be your bridesmaid. Not just because she doesn’t agree with you on everything and you think she might say something annoying.
But my best advice? You love her, she’s special, so honor her. Sometimes our loved ones really surprise us and come through on the wedding day. And… alright, sometimes they don’t, and they’re tough to handle in all the ways we anticipate. But that’s what the mimosas are for, yeah?
Team Practical, how did you decide who to keep close to you on your wedding day?
Photo: Gabriel Harber
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!