My Friend Stole My Wedding Idea—What Do I Do?


Q: My gent and I got engaged in October, a few months after one of our friends proposed to his awesome girlfriend. I felt lucky (and a little sneaky) in that I thought going through all of the planning adventures slightly “behind” this couple would give us a preview of what was in store, and perhaps make our process a little easier. However, it quickly became apparent that we are having very different kinds of weddings—our friends are having two ceremonies and two receptions, one local and one halfway across the US, both financed by family, both shaping up to be huge and loving and very WIC. We are hosting a fairly small and simple shindig for ourselves. This has actually been very freeing, as it’s allowed me to enjoy their preparations for their own sake instead of as a primer for our own celebration; knowing that we will make very different choices (and indeed, have some completely different choices available to make) has meant that I don’t have to mentally compare every step of the way, and that’s great.

So what’s the problem? Well—before we were even officially engaged, the one thing I knew without a doubt was that I wanted my best friend to marry us. This friend has been one of the biggest parts of my life for a dozen years; we’ve seen each other through life changes and hard times, spent holidays together, and basically consider each other to be family. He and my gent have also become close in the seven years we’ve been together, and I couldn’t imagine anyone better able to speak about our relationship and the commitment we’re celebrating.

At a recent outing with our engaged friends, the bride-to-be was venting about their difficulties finding an officiant long-distance for their second ceremony. She asked what our plans were and when I said that my bestie was going to get ordained for ours, she burst out laughing—not in a mean way at all, she just thought I had made a hilarious joke. When I clarified that this was our actual for-real plan, she said that it was a GREAT idea … in fact, “Oh my god! Why don’t we get him to do our fake wedding! How fun! He can do us first for practice, then we don’t have to find someone else and he’ll be all prepared for you guys!”

Immediately, my gut shriveled up and I felt like the worst version of myself. How DARE she take the decision that meant so much to me and tack it on to their second, in her words “fake” wedding as a cute afterthought? It wasn’t enough that they’re already having two of everything, that their families’ budgets far exceed our modest one; they have to take one of the most important parts of our wedding and do it FIRST? Because it might be “FUN”? I knew I was being unfair but in the moment, I couldn’t help feeling absolutely hideous. I changed the subject as gracefully as I possibly could (not very).

Thinking about it afterward, I knew I had two choices (well, three, but the third involved being a total hosebeast, which I strive to avoid in most situations): I could either talk to the couple and explain how much this had inadvertently hurt my feelings, how important this aspect of the wedding was to me and how it felt trivialized somehow by their co-opting of it, and ask them respectfully to find someone else to perform their “fake” ceremony. Or, I could realize that I was the one allowing myself to feel this way, that their wedding(s) are incapable of diminishing our wedding no matter what my lizard brain says, and that the possibility of having the same mutual friend celebrate both our marriages could be an amazing shared experience that binds us all together in a new way. I decided on option number two, and felt really really good about myself for about 2.5 seconds.

Team Practical, here’s where I need your wisdom, your sanity, basically any suggestions you can offer. Having made the decision not to let this bother me, how do I actually… not let it bother me? How do I avoid the ugly feeling of WAAAHHHHHH NOT FAIR that bubbled up immediately and is still struggling to surface? How do I stop myself from spring boarding off this one element we will now have in common into a tailspin of comparing every aspect of our respective celebrations, and go back to my former “they-have-their-wedding-and-we-have-ours-and-it-will-all-be-awesome” zen? Having acknowledged to myself that our dear friends are not actually meanies who are out to ruin All The Things, how do I now internalize that?

Trying Assiduously Not To Resent Unrelated Matrimony



Well, you sort of did half my job for me, didn’t ya? And honestly, I think you picked the right choice. There are probably times when, “Heyyy—could you not do that?” might be okay. But I think you’re right about this one not being the case.

There’s a whole ton of pressure to make your wedding unique—which I realize isn’t the whole problem here, but hear me out. Having someone else do the exact same thing (with the same person even) doesn’t mean your wedding is any less original, special, or meaningful. So, perhaps your friend is using this person as an officiant without it meaning anything to them. That doesn’t in any way detract from the same exact gesture in your wedding. I mean, think about all of the sham celebrity weddings. The fact that some overrated pop star once wore white and said the same exact vows I said, but didn’t actually mean them and did it all for a gag—that doesn’t at all mean that those vows that made me cry are any less significant for me or my husband.

Don’t be hard on yourself. Wedding comparison is, well. Sort of unavoidable, especially given your situation. But you know how we talk all the time about the details may or may not be important or reflective of what makes a good marriage? That. All of it. This one is a big detail, to be sure. But the meaning of your friend as officiant won’t be harmed (or even touched) by the fact that he’s performing a different wedding in a different way for different motivation.

All of that is the thinky stuff. But, psst. Here’s my sneaky aside. Practically speaking? I think you give your officiant bestie a call and explain all of your feelings and see if maybe he’d gracefully bow out of the other wedding. I mean, it doesn’t sound like the other bride will be too much bothered by it. And your officiant friend will probably be super touched to hear just how much it means to you that he’ll be there.

That said, if sneaky isn’t your style (in which case, my hat is off to you. You’re officially a better person than most of the world), one way to turn this around in your head is to tell yourself that she might actually be doing you a favor after all. I’ve been to weddings where a friend was asked to speak or read something and it was very clear that they’d never practiced, or even if they had, the bigness of speaking at a wedding overcame them and they clammed up (sometimes even with seasoned public speakers). So even if your friend’s actions do smack of a certain level of insensitivity, who knows? Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.

In the meantime, I’m going to repeat what I said above and tell you not to beat yourself up too much. You’ve already done the hard stuff by being the bigger person here. And it sounds like you’re trying really hard to be okay with that. But changing the way you feel about something like this takes time. So you have my permission to give yourself a break for now and just feel what you feel. I mean, c’mon, at this point you’ve earned it.

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! (Nice job TANTRUM!)

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  • Moe

    “a total hosebeast” If by hosebeast you mean speaking up for yourself when insulted, then by all means do it. You can be a gracious and firm hosebeast, but still. Your friend wasn’t very kind.

    I’m not sure why someone would have a “fake” wedding anyways. My Vegas chapel wedding with just me and my husband was just as real and legitimate as the “public” ceremony we are planning for family and friends.

    • Sally

      I read this question quite differently than Moe; my impression was that the friend wasn’t being unkind at all but was trying to be kind (by giving their officiant some practice). While TANTRUM was distressed by the idea, it doesn’t mean that the friend was in anyway aware that they were being “mean.”

      Also, I think by “fake” wedding, they mean the not legally binding one. I can’t imagine that they would be having one at all if they considered it a sham, but there is always only one legally binding marriage ceremony. I had something quite similar for my wedding (two ceremonies, across the country for different families/friends) and might have called the second wedding (in which the officiant wouldn’t need to be registered as there was nothing legally binding occurring) “fake” but also believe it was a real sign of our love.

  • I realize this isn’t the same situation as yours, BUT: I have friend who is ordained and had done maybe a dozen weddings before doing ours, including some of our friends, and we all loved it! She said some of the same things in all of the ceremonies which I felt was really intimate and universal at the same time- kind of like weddings are! And now I feel a special bond with the other couples knowing that we were all married by the same person. In that same vein, I did a reading at a friend’s wedding and then 5 years later asked her to do the same reading at my wedding. We both cried and cried. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it can be sweet and special to share things about your wedding with your friends’ weddings!

  • Alicia

    I think you need to be honest with your friend that she hurt your feelings by suggesting your officiant can also do her “fake” wedding. Maybe she didn’t mean it. Maybe she truly didn’t understand the importance of having that friend perform your ceremony.

    Also, does the officiant know that the other couple considers the ceremony he (I think it is a male best friend, right?) will perform “fake”? Is he ok with that?

    Another thing that struck me: do you think your friend is overwhelmed by her cross-country double shindig and is in a way trying to add a personal aspect to the circus?

    • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

      You know what, your last sentence set off giant flashing eureka lightbulbs in my head. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this is at least part of her motivation, and honestly that has done more than you can imagine to make me really FEEL that this is okay rather than just trying to tell myself it is. Thank you!

  • Cara

    So I realize that your question is about how to deal with having chosen option 2, but I gotta say, I would go back to option 1. If this bride-to-be had been like, “oh, cool, I’ll have MY best friend get ordained for my fake wedding” then fine, she stole your idea and you get over it. But she doesn’t need to use YOUR best friend. I would be completely upfront and honest and say that the reason you chose this person is because they’re so special to you and it means so much for your ceremony and that even though you know better, it does feel like it’s being trivialized. She’ll understand.

    That said, if you stick with option 2 then I can just say this – on your wedding day you SERIOUSLY won’t care. Your relationship with your friend is unique and special and your friend will make that clear in your ceremony. And you will be so involved in the ceremony that you won’t be thinking about the other fake wedding at all.

  • Other Katelyn

    This is different than your standard ideas-stolen situation. You need to talk to her about it– my guess is that once she knows how you feel, she’ll change up her plan out of respect for you.

    • KB

      I totally agree – I feel like most idea-stealing is a form of flattery because the thought process is something along the lines of, “That idea is AMAZING, it would be PERFECT for me, too!” But to have your friend tell you that she’s thinking of using your BFF as a second-string quarterback is really tacky. I feel like I’d give a head’s up to your officiant, like Liz suggests, and make a point to say something if and when it comes up again with her – but maybe along the lines of, “Don’t you want something more, I don’t know, unique? I’m sure _____ would love to do it for you and it would mean so much, blah blah blah.” The subtle suggestion of her being unoriginal might be enough to get her to back off, who knows.

      That said, I totally agree that if your BFF DOES do two ceremonies, it will still be lovely and unique to you – we’re thinking of having a friend officiate who’s married 5 other couples before us and every one has been personally tailored to both the couple and their friendship. And you might get more tears from a heartfelt ceremony, just sayin’!!!

    • Jashshea

      Exactly what I was going to say. This isn’t “stealing my idea for profiterole-flavored-favors*” this is “usurping a major personal element.”

      *chosen for tongue twisting hilarity. Profiterole favors would be cool, but messy.

      Also, if you can’t really be okay with it, it’s probably better to have the conversation before it’s further down the path and she has fewer options.

  • elaine

    As someone who is currently on the other side of this I say talk to her. One of my very good friends that I really adore and look up to, D, recently got married and it was so beautiful. The only problem is now I’m terrified of having any aspect of my wedding be like hers because I would hate for her to be upset or think that I’m stealing anything. Granted, it’s nothing as important as an officiant, and she seems like she’s the opposite of terrified, but I am really hoping that if D is upset about anything she talks to me about it before hand. Good luck!

  • Marina

    It sounds like you’re partially bothered by the stealing-my-idea part, but mostly bothered by the implying-my-deep-meaningful-idea-is-only-fun-and-fake part. I feel like that when non-Jewish people incorporate ideas from Jewish weddings (like the huppah) into their non-Jewish weddings–they’re taking something that is incredibly meaningful to me and using it just for the pretty! But it’s not the same. At their wedding, it is pretty. At my wedding, I seriously felt like I stepped in a magical spiritual time vortex when I stepped under my huppah. At your friend’s “fake” wedding, having a friend officiate will be fun. At your wedding, it will be incredibly meaningful.

    Also you could ask your friend to stop calling one of her wedding’s “fake”.

    • Very off topic and maybe not the place for it, but this has come up a few times and I have to ask.

      Is there any respectful way for a non-Jewish person to incorporate a Jewish tradition or two into their wedding? I ask because when I was in the midst of planning a lot of the most beautiful, symbolic and meaningful traditions that I would have wanted to somehow incorporate were from Jewish traditions. The draw of traditions like huppah or a ketubah wasn’t so much the pretty (although, yes, pretty!) but that when I did my research into the history and meaning of the traditions they were beautiful in that sense you feel in your bones and I wanted to find a way to incorporate those meanings.

      I imagine I’m not the only person outside of Judaism who wanted to incorporate traditions not out of thinking they were pretty but out of an appreciation for the meaning behind them.

      • Emily

        There’s a really good discussion about appropriating rituals from other religions and cultures on this post:

        I think it’s okay to be inspired by other cultures, but you use that inspiration to create your own thing instead of just “borrowing” something. Several people in the past have suggested that building a wedding arch with your family is a good way to incorporate the spirit of a huppah without running the risk of offending anyone.

      • Honestly, I don’t think there is a way for it to be respectful. Emily has posted a great thread where Meg articulates why it just isn’t possible to do it respectfully far better than I could ever do.

        I always cringe when people have a chuppah or sign a ketubah when they aren’t Jewish. For me, doing those things will be truly spiritual and are a reflection of countless years of tradition that have been passed down to my fiance and I by our parents. It is a tradition over which blood has been shed and many battles have been fought and I don’t think people who aren’t a part of the tradition can really understand what it has taken for two people to end up under a chuppah and signing a ketubah.

        I don’t mean to offend…I guess I can’t think a better way to articulate it. Jews account for 0.2% of the world population. To exist today our families have escaped pogroms, concentration camps, internment camps, immigration paths that involved upwards of ten countries. They had to fight for their children and grandchildren to have right to stand under a chuppah, to sign a ketubah, to walk those seven circles to go and raise our children hopefully see them stand under a chuppah one day. To see them appropriated by people who have no attachment to those traditions other than a recognition that they’re nice, no matter how well-meaning those people might be, makes me incredibly uncomfortable.

  • I think you can have it both ways; you can tell her you were hurt by it without requesting that she not have your friend perform the ceremony. Because it seems like you were hurt by the fact that she trivialized something meaningful to you, and acted like it was “fun” or “cute.” And that sucks…even if she hadn’t said she wanted to do the same for her “fake” wedding, I think that still would hurt. So maybe if you still want to go with Option #2, you could still just let her know that what she said hurt you. If that makes her reconsider using the idea, great, but if not, that’s OK too, since you already let go of expecting her to.

  • If its only for the “fake” wedding, do they even NEED someone “ordained” to do the service? Could they not co-opt another of their own friends who is a good public speaker to perform the “ceremony”?

    Personally, if I had gone to that sort of level of organisation, I would probably be pretty upset by her reaction too. We had friends get married six months before us, and they would have been the only ones at our wedding from theirs, and we looked at using their venue. I asked her about it, and she said it was do-able, but the venue probably didn’t suit what we were planning, based on conversations her and I had had. I took that to mean “I wont stop you doing it, but I would rather you didn’t” and booked somewhere else (that, TBH, we hated. But such is life)

  • Melody

    I had a sort of friend “borrow” a staggering amount of things from my wedding. She took my entire wedding playlist (I had a nontradtional wedding where all the music was from fandoms that had significant meaning to my husband and me…. she was only aware of one of the fandoms, and her SO didn’t care for any of them (if he even knew what they were)), my wedding cake design/flavor, my vows (I was not pleased with that. I didn’t even know she was going to do that until the words started coming out of the pastor’s mouth) and when I tried to explain to her after the wedding how upset I was that she hadn’t even asked me about it, she brushed it off like I should be thrilled that someone liked my wedding enough to rip it. I have tried to get over it, and we’re still friends, but it’s a sore spot and I haven’t *actually* gotten over it yet.

    I don’t think there’s a whole lot that you CAN do to deal with this that you haven’t already done. Talk to your friend if you can, and just… keep reminding yourself of all the reasons you’re friends. :/

  • KB

    i can’t imagine how you felt. i was married before a cousin of mine, we gave out custom-labeled CDs with obscure songs that expressed who we were as a couple. she was married a few months later… in a ridiculous ceremony that involved dressing like ‘flappers’ for the gals and ‘wise guys’ for the guys… { side note: epic fail. no one did it. } and… as her favor… were TWO-THIRDS of the songs from our wedding CDs on cheap, hand-written-in-scribble non-labeled discs. it was personal to us. and not the end of the world. but… it still hurt a bit. hang in there. be YOU and enjoy EACH OTHER through all of this. she can’t take THAT away!!!

  • Erica

    I’m all for the sneaky. That’s what best friends are for, right? I bet your best friend/officiant would be happy to be unavailable on the date of the second wedding – and that solves the whole problem. You get to have the meaningful ceremony you want, and your friend is free to continue her search for hers. Like someone else said, if she wants to steal your idea of having one of their good friends perform their ceremony that’s fine and you should probably keep mum about that. I would just advise her to stop using the word “fake” for her second wedding…probably not going to win the friend/officiant’s heart over that she does ask.

    Remember, this all looks so much smaller once you are married. Don’t sweat the small stuff. <3

    • tracy

      I just wanted to add something that I don’t see that anyone has said yet. Does your friend even WANT to do other weddings? It sounds like he is getting ordained specifically to do your wedding because it’s meaningful to all of you. Does he have interest in being a wedding officiant outside of this? It might not end up being sneaky at all if he’s just not interested in doing other weddings but yours anyway.

  • We went through something very similar with our wedding. With our engagement being 2 years long, we experienced many more friends getting engaged and getting married before us, while still being engaged. Many of my ideas, were…”borrowed” for their wedding, and many of their justifications for using my ideas were “well were getting married before you” but I had gotten engaged before them, so doesn’t that entitle me to the rights? My soon to be brother in law brewed the beer for our wedding, our newly engaged and soon to be married friends wanted to know if he would make custom beer for their wedding. We were having our uncle officiate the wedding, another couple loved the idea and started passing it off as their own. In the end, I realized, even if everything about weddings are the same right down to the little details, that the mood, feelings, and emotions will be different. Two weddings can have the same theme, but in the end, people wont remember the spider mums you had to have in your centerpiece or the diver scallops shipped in for the cocktail hour; they will remember how much fun they had at your wedding, and how beautiful you looked, and what a loving marriage you will have!
    I think you did the right thing!

  • KristieB

    My older brother stole my idea – then got me to plan it. In the end, I realized it was a terrible idea and was glad he did it first so I didn’t. :)

    Your idea is sweet and personal. While I agree that someone do something the exact same as you doesn’t take away from your day – there are times when you want something to be just yours. You don’t want a friend to break in your wedding dress or your ring.

    I’d sneakily talk to my BFF.

  • emily

    Totally not the “right” thing to do, but why not just let it roll of your back, then tell your friend who is getting ordained to say no when she asks him? Couldn’t he say he only feels comfortable doing this for people he knows really well OR be conveniently on vacation during her wedding? Not the most mature thing, but hey!

  • Apparently I’m a total hosebeast because my immediate thought was “Tell your bestie that he can’t do her fake ceremony.” (Well, I say tell because my best friend and I boss each other around like that.)
    I mean, it might be considered sneaky, but your best friend is who you tell nearly everything to anyway, right? So something that upsets you enough that you write to APW about it is bestie worthy, so I don’t see a harm in telling him how you feel. Even if he still does the other wedding, he’ll probably make you feel better about the situation in general.
    If he’s anything like mine, he’ll bow out gracefully or give good reasons why he should do it while simultaneously making you feel heard and comforted by acknowledging your feelings. And then we’d spend the rest of the conversation trashing talking the other girl’s favors and color choices, but we’re terrible people.

    But even questioning your feelings and thinking about hers makes you a better person than most too. So regardless of what you do, I hope you spend the rest of the day feeling smug about what a good person you are. :-)

    • Oooo! Also! Someone who picks out their officiant for their fake wedding after randomly discussing the topic with someone doesn’t sound like the type of person who would even follow through with the idea. Are you sure that she’s going to ask him? Cause all of this worry might be for naught…

    • Marcela

      I had the same initial reaction :)

  • A

    On a somewhat related note…a friend of mine put something out on facebook asking for planning help. I gave her some rather long-winded advice via email and she wrote a thank you email back giving examples of how my advice had been helpful. It seems like their wedding will be similar to ours, but that doesn’t bother me at all. She asked for help, got it, and then was nice enough to say thanks and explain why she appreciated it and was using some of the ideas. I’m flattered, not annoyed.

  • I’m going to assume you don’t want to be talked out of the option that you already picked (the not let it bother you option) since that’s not what you asked for help on.

    So, going back to “how do you not let this bother you?” Piece of cake! There is NO WAY that your ceremonies will be similar even if the same person performs both. Your best friend is going to tell YOUR love story, incorporate YOUR values and you’re going to put together a kick-ass ceremony that is all about YOU and it’s going to be the BEST CEREMONY EVER!

    The other? That will be a practice run so he can work out the kinks in his delivery. And since he’s not their friend (I assume) then the level of intimacy in his delivery for them will not even come close to yours.

    Delivering a wedding ceremony when you’re not a pro isn’t easy. Let him make all his rookie mistakes on the other couple’s wedding!

  • kyley

    I’m going to respectfully disagree with this advice. I think you should absolutely tell your dear friends how much this part of your ceremony meant to you and how your feelings were hurt, and ask them to find someone else. It’s not a lot to ask, quite frankly. And being straightforward will be best for everyone–it will prevent resentment and resolve the issue quickly and painlessly.

    If you don’t say anything, it will always weigh down on you. Like you, I have always known I wanted my uncle to do my ceremony, and if I were you something like this would really upset me. The ceremony is the whole point! I think it is a product of female socialization to feel the need to just let things go but, honestly, your feelings are valid.Thoughtfully and respectfully requesting something of your dear friends does not make you a bad friend. Why are her *potentially* hurt feelings more important than your actual hurt feelings?

    Asking your officiant-friend to get involved and sneakily bow out is, I think, only going to complicate the matter. It’s not really his problem to fix. And what happens when your engaged friend comes to you and says “X won’t do our ceremony. What should I do? How should I convince him?” Etc.

    If your wedding is not an imposition, your feelings are not either.

    • Heather

      Wow. This is so spot on (for life, not just this situation) that I need to maybe stick it to my mirror:

      “Why are her *potentially* hurt feelings more important than your actual hurt feelings?”

      and this:

      “If your wedding is not an imposition, your feelings are not either.”

      SO. RIGHT. ON.

    • Liz

      I don’t think I agree with that last line at all- if only speaking personally. My feelings are not the beginning of a marriage that probably includes a giant party and possibly involves free food for all. That right there is not an imposition, but sometimes, yeah. My feelings totally are. They’re often way off base, totally selfish and even downright mean.

      I think it’s fair to say weddings aren’t an imposition because they’re a celebration to which you’re inviting people. But, holy hell, my feelings are impositions all the damn time and often no one should be invited to that mess.

      • Kara

        My feelings totally are. They’re often way off base, totally selfish and even downright mean.

        I like your comment on this here. I think we lose sight of the idea sometime that while our feelings are always legit in the sense that the are, in fact, our feelings, they aren’t always a presentation of our best self–or even our good selves.When we demand to have those ugly feelings validated, we’re just asking for hurt. Especially (for better or for worse), when it comes to wedding stuff. I can’t begin to explain how unreasonable and insane the whole process made me feel.

        I do feel like the most hurtful part of the “stealing” is that it’s not being stolen because it’s a lovely idea, but because it’s a great cheap idea for a “fake wedding” (at least that’s how I read it). In that sense, I -would- want a conversation with my friend, assuming that I want to continue to hold her as a friend.

  • KD

    As a wedding planner I have seen SO many weddings in my years, and they could be in the same place, same officiant, same decor company, but they are WORLDS DIFFERENT because they are not the same couples getting married.

    Just relax, take a deep breath and know your wedding will be unique to you. Who is officiating is special to you – your ceremony will be uniquely YOU.

    The reason having someone you know officiate is so special is because they really get you, you as a couple, and will deliver something personal and unique. That isn’t going to change whether he officiates 100 weddings prior to yours… yours will still be every bit as touching and meaningful!

    It WILL be great. You WILL get your dream ceremony no matter what happens before!

  • Lis

    I’m coming at this from the other side. I got engaged and a friend of mine, who I’d known for over ten years, broke off our friendship because I supposedly picked the same caterer as her and her partner. They had been engaged for a while at that point, but with the state we were all living in still trying to decide on same-sex marriage rights, they kept having to delay their wedding. Honestly, with all the conversations we’d had over the years, and the changes she’d made numerous times, I couldn’t remember any detail she’d picked out other than “we’re going to have it catered.” Living in a small town means there’s only so many choices for certain services, so when my husband and I decided to have the wedding at my parents’ house, we decided to have it catered, and unknowingly picked the same caterer my friends apparently decided on 3 years previously.

    So instead of chatting with her over the next year, us going to bridal events like we’d talked about, and us shopping for dresses together like we’d planned, I spent a week bursting into tears from the ugly email I got where I got told how awful of a friend I’d been over the years (in a very passive-aggressive fashion) and that because I picked the one good caterer in town, instead of either of the two crappy ones, our friendship was now over.

    I’m not saying that’s what’s happened here. Not by a long shot. But if you do decide to tell your friend that you were hurt because they decided to use your friend to do their “fake” wedding, I’d choose words carefully, if you want to keep them as a friend (depending on their personality type of course). She may be someone that just doesn’t get it that something like that is meaningful to you. She may have done it deliberately (I’ve seen it happen before and it wasn’t pretty). Me, I’d say to accept that she hurt your feelings, and figure out if this is something that you can talk to her about or not. If not, then I’d talk to your friend that’s going to perform the ceremony and see if they can bow out gracefully, explaining why to them. Hopefully this all works out In a non-drama fashion.

    And to all the brides to be out there with friends that are getting married, please remember that some things, like someone else picking the same colors, caterer, cake type, etc. as you may not be a “theft” of your idea. There’s only so many colors, but there’s millions of shades. Sometimes, there’s only so many caterers in town. Sometimes, there’s exactly one baker to pick. Please don’t break off long friendships over something that in the long-term very few people will remember. (Honestly, no one remembers who catered our wedding, except those that throw events in our town, which meant exactly 2 of our 100 guests.)

    /goes back to lurk mode

    • J

      I’m curious about whether your friend felt bad because she’d been engaged for several years and wasn’t married before you only because the state says her marriage isn’t as valid as yours, and whether that might have been the real motivator behind her outburst. I’m not sure if, by the time you got engaged, same-sex marriages were legal in your state, but she could have been motivated essentially by jealousy or a sense of loss that you were able to decide to get married and just do it (along with all the other emotions around being denied that choice) – that, if she had the same option, she would have both already used the caterer and also been married already. Of course, that in no way excuses the way she handled it – this wasn’t your fault and she shouldn’t have punished you for it. But if that could have been the driver, it might give you some more context for how to think about her actions.

    • Kara

      Ouch, I’m so sorry that you lost a friend over something so seemingly insignificant. How hurtful.

  • Usually I’d say let it go. This one seems a little different from most instances of stealing wedding ideas though. Caterer, flowers, favours, venue, even a more generic officiant (like a priest or a professional officiant) seem easy to let go. This kind of feels like going in your closet, taking the wedding dress you’ve already purchased and had fitted and wearing it the week before your wedding.

    I’m seconding everyone here who says go the sneaky way and talk to your best friend about maybe turning down the other invitation. I’d also advocate having some sort of conversation with your friend who is getting married and letting them know that your feelings are hurt by this. Not necessarily in the sense of “please can you make another decision” but more “I’m feeling a little more hurt than I’d expected with this situation”.

  • I’m all for open and honest communication. In TANTRUM’s case, your openness and honesty might depend upon your closeness with the friend getting married. I definitely think you should have Liz’s “sneaky” talk with your bestie. Vent to him about how your other friend hurt your feelings, and since he’s your bestie, he’ll either bow out gracefully or say something that will make you feel better. If you’re not that close with the friend getting married before you, then venting to bestie might be good enough. If you are close enough to have some heart-to-heart conversation, I really think you shouldn’t feel weird about letting her know over coffee that she hurt your feelings (even though she probably totally didn’t mean it!!! right? I hope?)

    My best friend got engaged almost a year before I did, but my wedding was a mere two months after hers. Because she’s my best friend and she knows me, my relationship, and my heart almost better than I do, the minute she got done crying in happiness over the news I was engaged she told me her feelings wouldn’t be hurt if we wanted to get married before she did. That’s what best friends are for–understanding where you’re coming from and wanting the best for you.

  • Parsley

    So, as someone who is an ordained minister, and so has thought a lot about the options for wedding officiants, I’m writing to suggest another possibility, depending on where you live. Some states will license someone who is not ordained to perform one specific wedding for one specific couple. Usually, there is some paperwork and the Secretary of State’s office will grant this one day license. In Vermont, where I live, you just return that license with your marriage certificate after the ceremony. In Massachusetts, it’s a little more complicated as someone has to write a letter of reference for the person. Not all states allow this, but a growing number do. This is what I would recommend for people who just want to do one wedding, rather than becoming wedding officiants, and in your case it would have the added benefit of making sure your friend is not able to perform another legal wedding. (On the other hand, as someone pointed out above, your friend probably doesn’t need someone who is legally allowed to do a wedding for this one.) Of course your friend who is doing your ceremony has to be comfortable with whatever is decided – and if you live in a place where this is possible, they might actually be the right person to make the final decision. But it’s another option to explore.

    Good luck!

  • I think a lot of the comments are assuming no real relationship between the BFF and this other couple, but I know that one of my best friends and I share many friends, some of whom also consider him one of their best friends. Maybe this other bride is ALSO best friends with the officiant, and that’s why she thinks it is such a great idea for them as well. If so, it seems like less of an intrusion, at least to me. And agreed, we also don’t know how the best friend feels about doing the other wedding.

  • Ari

    So, my first thought was “maybe volunteer to officiate?” Maybe that’s insane thinking, but it involves you in the wedding of your friend while neatly side-stepping the using-the-same-other-friend issue. It might also provide a relatively safe context for talking about how you felt like this meaningful choice had been trivialized (or at least for talking about how meaningful your choice was).

    Anyway, that’s my headbutt-the-problem idea.

    Otherwise, I feel pretty good about the sneaky advice above. While normally it’s really, really good to talk to friends about hurt feelings, I’m edgy about trying to address that with planning stress on both sides. Your hurt feelings sound totally valid, and you’re clearly trying hard to be superhumanly cool about things. I wish you the very best with your friendships and your wedding!

  • Meg

    Yes, yes, yes. My very close friend copied a majority of our details for their wedding. Many of the attendees were the same. Hell many of the participants were. My inner beeotch was reeling. I spent months and months coming up with singularly original ideas and spent a small fortune and a large personal time commitment executing by hand those details. And somehow, she was doing it (seemingly) effortlessly and for half he budget. Made me nutballs. But I only vented to my closest (quietest) friend and hubs and broiled with her none the wiser.

    Guess what? Despite most of everything being the same, they were completely different. The venues and scale were different but more importantly the people were different. And it permeated everything. I had friends go to both and none of them seemed to see the similarities that I saw.

    Now, yours is the officiant, which is quite central to the wedding. So if you think mentioning your feelings, I would. Honesty can’t hurt (phrased correctly) – somewhere along the – it hurt my feelings that you laughed at my idea and then decided to use it, when it’s so important to me. Maybe the guilt will permeate her and she will reconsider.

    Or you could be sneaky and provide her another friend or family member as a better idea, someone closer to you. Boom!

  • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

    I’ll admit to being the asker of this question. I saw a lot of things in the comments I wanted to respond to, so I hope it’s okay that I do so in one general note rather than replying to everyone individually.

    First of all, Liz and all of you guys are awesome – no matter what your comments or suggestions, just seeing that people took the time to share their thoughts made me feel a million times better about all this. Now, some specifics:

    Sasha hit the nail on the head: my bestie is also close friends with the other couple. I wasn’t as clear about this as I should have been now that I read it over, but the “yay, let’s use him too!” makes a lot more sense in that context. He will be at both of their ceremonies whether officiating or not, so there would definitely be no question of him deciding to be “unavailable.”

    The couple did approach him almost immediately after the bride-to-be mentioned it to me, so they are serious about the idea. My bestie does know that this will be the “fake” (er, non-legally binding) wedding and isn’t put off by that idea – he sees it as a chance to stand up and say a lot of nice things about our friends, almost like an extended toast but just ending with “you may now kiss.”

    After submitting this question, I did talk to him about how I felt (I had resolved to keep it TOTALLY to myself, but I’m only human). He said the same things that many of you brought up – that because he IS friends with all of us, the ceremonies will be completely personal and necessarily unique, and that even if both couples were to request totally standardized wording, our weddings would still be different because they’re OURS. I still had a moment of wanting to ask him to politely bow out anyway, but when it came down to it I felt like I would be putting him in an awkward position between us and the other couple.

    So, I’m basically in the same place with my decision, except armed with a bunch of support and new perspectives from Team Practical. Thanks especially to everyone who shared stories of when someone snaked their ideas and it totally didn’t matter (it reminded me of everything else I’m going to be caring about on that day), and everyone who shared stories of when it DID matter (it reassured me that feeling upset about this does not make me a bad person). I’m breathing easier now!

  • I’ll qualify this by saying that I also got married in close chronological proximity to a very close friend with whom I am naturally extremely competitive. I love her, but I know that both of us experienced a lot of jealousy, frustration, and manipulative “one-upping” throughout the process. Being the “lower-budget” bride, I felt a lot of hurt and “unfairness” in a lot of the hard choices we had to make. I really feel for you, because I think that this would be a stressful and emotionally challenging situation even without the officiant thievery issue.
    What I wish I had known then that I know now is that it seriously does not matter even a little bit once your wedding day dawns. When you are planning a wedding, it’s all parsed down to these tangible details that you can control, so it’s easy to compare and rate all of those aspects. However, like a good recipe, you can use the exact same ingredients and still come out with two completely delicious, but different dishes. What you and your fiance are cooking will be unique and wonderful in your memory no matter what, and it’s unlikely that you will even remember this issue by the time you walk down the aisle. It’s probably impossible to be comforted by that now, but maybe just viewing this pain as temporary – like the planning process – will help. I know that it was for me.

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