My Sister Is Ruining My Wedding: What Can I Do?


I would feel bad for her, but I kind of just don't

by Stephanie Kaloi

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Q: My sister (let’s call her Beth) and I have always had a rough go at our relationship. We’re not only complete opposites but she is notorious for her mean girl attitude and ability to make digs that hit you at the core of your being. In short, if she is in a bad mood, she will make your life a living hell.

When I announced my engagement to Beth, I was met with a bored and insincere, “Congratulations,” then an immediate excuse to get off the phone. We barely spoke afterward, and no one in my family (nor his) expressed outward excitement as it was apparently obvious we were going to get engaged within the year anyway. It was not what I expected, and my feelings were a bit hurt.

When Beth finally expressed interest in the engagement, it was outright controlling. She demanded we look at golf courses for a venue (neither of us like golf and it was out of our budget), and other venues and vendors that SHE had looked at but in the end didn’t choose. If I pushed back or thanked her but refused, Beth becomes condescending (“You don’t know the first thing about planning a wedding”), mean (“No one else is going to help you; no one else cares”), and downright hurtful.

I have been engaged to my fiancé for less than a MONTH and I’ve been in tears more than I have enjoyed the actual experience. I recently sent her a sweet card, as she lives out of state, asking her to be my maid of honor. I now dread everything wedding related, as I don’t want her toxic attitude involved. I feel as though something that I should be happy and excited about has been destroyed due to her nasty attitude, although I feel occasionally guilty, as she’s a stay-at-home mom with two young ones and perhaps these outbursts are due to the little interaction she has with adults.
Please help. I want to keep the peace, but I’m downright downtrodden.
—Sisterly and Depressed
A: Dear SAD,
I’m impressed that you asked your sister to be your maid of honor in the first place. I think it’s gracious of you to offer that she might be lashing out due to a lack of adult interaction, but it sounds like throwing that in at the very last minute is perhaps your “OMG, I’m asking the Internet about my sister” guilt talking. Also, between you, me, and the whole Internet, I don’t think having two kids gives you a pass on being a kind human being.
Now let’s dig into the real meat of the issue, which is that in less than a month, your sister has managed to wreck your good wedding vibes. It doesn’t sound like you’re wildly surprised by this, but you do sound a bit wounded by the overall lack of enthusiasm (or even good will) you received from her when you told her about your engagement. I think that’s fair, because we want those we love to celebrate the great moments of our lives. That’s a natural thing…. even with people where, deep down, we know better than to get our hopes up.
Since she isn’t acting happy for you (or hasn’t been so far) I think there are two clear paths to take. One is more drastic, and the other is more adult… so I’ll start with the drastic one: you could just cut her out of the planning process completely. I’m not suggesting you burn your bridges and toss her out of your life entirely, but if she doesn’t have or want to be part of the wedding… why keep her in it? If you asked her to be your maid of honor because of the love you share despite all of the ups and downs, or if it’s wildly important to you that she fills that role, okay. But if you asked her out of a misguided sense of familial duty, then there’s no shame in changing your mind. She can come to the wedding without being your right hand lady. And if your relationship has been as tempestuous as you made it seem, she might not care anyway.
The second, more adult route would be to call your sister up one evening for a heart-to-heart chat. Ideally, this would be after the kids are asleep and when you think she’s most likely to have a stretch of time on her own. Once you have her on the phone, start out by asking about her: how are the kids? What’s new in her life? Is anything extra hard or extra awesome lately? And then gently guide the conversation toward your wedding planning process and what you’ve been thinking about lately. Be honest and open and tell her everything: how she’s making you feel, how much you want her in the wedding, what her role means to you. I think you’ll know quickly if this is going to be helpful (either she’ll start really talking about it with you, or she’ll freak out and lose it completely). And hell, you might know without picking up the phone if this is a useful tack with your sister or not. But if you do make the call, depending on how the conversation goes, you might end up circling back to option number one. No harm, no foul.
Because here is the real deal. We don’t all have the dreamy family relationships pictured in bridal magazines, wrapped in fluttering bridesmaid dresses. And that’s okay. It doesn’t make your wedding, or your love, or even your life any less than.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! ? ? ?).

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  • Amy March

    I think there is shame in her changing her mind! Her sister has always behaved like this, and she asked her anyway. It’s rude to invite someone to be your maid of honor and then a month later kick them out. It might be necessary for the OP to do but that doesn’t make it a good thing.

    I think you need to step back from this decision for a bit. She is judgmental, but so are you. She has been like this her whole life- jumping to the assumption to it being a reaction to being a stay at home mom is unneccssary.

    It’s been one month. Try a hiatus. She’s not excited or helpful, but your fiance should be right? Lean into that support. Don’t talk to her about the wedding. Carry on making good plans that work for you and see how you feel about her once you’ve had a chance to make some positive decisions on your own. I think unasking her now would be a real escalation.

    • tr

      I don’t think she’s judging stay at home moms so much as trying to give her sister the benefit of the doubt. If the sister was a surgeon and she said “I think she might be acting this way because her job is stressful and she’s used to calling the shots all day at work”, I wouldn’t take that as her being judgmental of surgeons.
      That said, I totally agree that un-asking her would be a real escalation. It’s not as though the sister’s behavior is a new thing, nor has the sister done anything heinously evil. She’s just….kind of unpleasant and difficult to be around. Like she’s always been.
      Seriously, one of the crummiest parts of planning a wedding is that it tends to magnify both the good and the bad in your loved ones. Movies and wedding blogs tend to only show the good parts–the crying father, the doting mother, etc. They leave out the part about the groom who visibly chafes at every single expense, or the mother who has ridiculously strong feelings about the flower arrangements, or the sister who alternates between complete disinterest and passive aggressive remarks. I think because we don’t see that part of other weddings, it makes it an extra painful shock when our “special day” rolls around, and and we’re stuck with the realization that our loved ones still have the same crummy traits they always did.

    • Casey

      I completely agree! Asking her sister to step down as MOH would just be rude. Besides, it’s not like the MOH is required to do anything other than show up day-of, wearing the right clothes. I’m confused by everyone suggesting she make her sister “MOH in name only”. Isn’t that already what the MOH is?

      • Violet

        To me “in name only,” means keep expectations to exactly what you’re saying- show up that day. It is, however, very common to expect a Maid of Honor to also be an emotional support during engagement. But that expectation in this case will only lead to disappointment. Hence, “in name only.”

      • A.

        Etiquette-wise, for sure, you’re right. Brides are not supposed to be *upset* that their maid of honor intends to only show up, wearing the selected in-budget clothing.

        Buuuuuuuut I think it’s easy to forget in our theoretical etiquette world that there is definitely a common US cultural expectation that the MOH “leads” the bridal brigade. For instance, my MOH insisted on planning my shower and my bachelorette, plus regularly she texted me to ask about plans and if I needed any support. She created an “A.’s Bridesmaids” Facebook group and took the initiative to introduce herself to everyone and offered to be a lifeline for any questions they have, as to not constantly bombard me. Now, I never asked her to do any of this and when I thanked her after the wedding for going above and beyond, she said she felt like she didn’t do *enough* and that everything she did was “just my job description!”

        All this to say that—although this IS anecdotal—I don’t think it’s merely anecdotal that a lot of people think agreeing to be an MOH is more than simply showing up. Not to say that those who only show up are wrong, but there is definitely a range of unspoken-to-explicit pressure on MOHs.

        [For the record, I do think it’s often the same with Best Men, re: providing a bachelor party, writing the most killer toast, being the charmer to family members, etc., etc.]

      • Amy March

        I think it’s just a short-hand for “rely on someone other than her for enthusiasm and support.”

      • Abe

        In addition to the emotional support that Violet mentioned, I think it’s very common for MOHs to take the role of “leader of bridesmaids” and be very involved in planning pre-wedding events like the shower and bachelorette party. Not saying it HAS to be that way (mine isn’t!), but if LW was hoping her sister would fill that role, she should perhaps try to minimize all those expectations, rather than take away the MOH title outright.

        If the sister is already a nightmare in the first month, perhaps it’s a good idea for the LW to recruit bridesmaids to take the lead on the shower and bachelorette party. The fewer opportunities LW has to coordinate and plan with her difficult sister, the better!

    • macrain

      I agree about the unasking, not because I think it’s rude, but because of your point about it escalating a an already tense situation. This girl seems like she’s almost BEGGING for an excuse to go off the rails. Why give it to her?

  • Laura C

    You can also have her be maid of honor in name only and not the person you actually share details with. My husband more or less did that with his brother as best man, for different reasons (his brother wasn’t going to be mean, but he also wasn’t remotely who my husband would ask to, for instance, plan a bachelor party). But the thing you probably can’t take from your official maid of honor is a wedding toast, so if you get the feeling she’s going to be publicly mean and undermining, that might be when you think seriously about un-inviting her. Though you’d want to be able to offer a reason, even if it’s just “you don’t seem to want to do this so maybe there’s another way to include you in the wedding that would work better for both of us.”

    • A.

      Eeek, yeah, the toast. I didn’t even think of that! We had a rough toast on our wedding day and I was able to laugh because it was so weirdly awful and I was so giddy in general (luckily, laughter was the, uh, let’s say, “ostensibly intended” reaction so it went smoothly). But a lot of other people might not be able to do that same thing. If toasts aren’t that big of a deal to the LW and her fiance, then I’d nix ’em. Otherwise, think long and hard about having her sister do one, since it seems so mood dependent.

    • Abe

      I agree! The sister can be a maid of honor in name only, with minimal involvement in the planning process, or the expectation that she support or fulfill the usual responsibilities.

      I did this for similar reasons as your husband. I asked a family member to be my MOH — we were super close growing up, and I want her to be that special “person of honor” on the day (bonus: didn’t have to pick between my friends!). But she hasn’t really been there much during planning process… she’s far away, but more importantly, it’s SO not her cup of tea. She’s just not the girl I’d call to shop, plan a bachelorette party or gush over flowers. Luckily I have enthusiastic local bridesmaids who are eager to help and let me delegate those things. It’s not a traditional set-up, but it’s working!

      Congratulations and hang in there, LW… try to surround yourself with the friends and family members (and wedding-enthusiast strangers) that will bring you joy, and straight-up avoid the ones that don’t!

  • Eenie

    Is the issue your sister? Or the general overwhelming feeling? You mention that no one was excited because they expected it. That happens. I’m sure they’re happy for you, but really no one is going to match you and your SO’s excitement level. I’ve found strangers do a pretty good job of providing overly joyous reactions to life stage news.

    As for your sister – it seems like you expected this reaction. Stop giving her so much control over your emotions. Stop talking to her about the wedding. Set up some clear barriers for yourself as well. If she remains your MOH, how many opportunities will she have to bring you down on the day of? Limit those, lean on your partner and anybody else who is supportive. She can remain the MOH in name only. Or she could be your matron of honor. Make sure you surround yourself with people who actually support you in the planning process.

    • April

      Yup, boundaries, boundaries!

      LW, I think it’s important to keep in mind that if you want someone to be excited for you, then sister probably isn’t your person for that. I would follow some Captain Awkward advice and get together a “Team You”. People you know will be excited with your wedding news, and people you know will support you. Sister gets put on an information diet, and is NOT your person for good vibes.

      • Eenie

        I was going to suggest that too! Get together three people who would be psyched for you, have a celebratory drink/pie/yoga class and then spend some quality time catching up with them.

      • another lady

        Maybe sister just isn’t that ‘excitable’ of a person or has an issue with showing excitement for other people’s news / life changes in general. (She seems like kind of a ‘downer’ who happy for other people if her life sucks at the time or if she isn’t getting her way, etc. etc. my parents are this way…. they just aren’t ‘excitable’ and don’t have the best reactions to ‘surprise news’. I could have like 15 major happy life events happen at once, and my parents would just be like, “… huh, that’s great… good for you…” then, move on with conversation in blah tone of voice. For example, I’m prego and everyone keeps asking if my parents are ‘super pumped’ for another grandchild… no, not outwardly. They just aren’t the ‘get super pumped’ kind of people. My siblings have children also, and my parents have never outwardly been excited about baby news. They have also had the same ‘blah’ reactions to our getting engaged and new jobs news. That’s just how they are! But, I know who to go to when I have some awesome news that I want to get an awesome excited reaction from people about. Find your excitable people and relish in that! Also, find the people who are actually willing to constructively help you, and use them! Leave the sister out of it and apologize to her later, if need be.

      • JDrives

        Seconding. My sister is similar to Beth, though not quite as nasty, and her behavior bummed me out a few times during my wedding planning process. Each time I was feeling down, I would text some of my gushier friends about some wedding detail I was excited about or a decision I’d made, and unapologetically basked in their text-squealing and celebratory emojis.

    • Nell

      I also noticed the bit about “no one” in the family being excited. My family was not excited when I announced my engagement. I think they really didn’t know how to react. They knew it was too soon to ask about planning the actual wedding, they weren’t surprised, and they sort of saw me and my partner as already married, since they equate living together with being on a path to marriage.

      So I wouldn’t put too much stock in whether the family gives you a big overwhelming reaction. Sometimes families just don’t deliver like that.

  • A.

    Unfortunately, this feels like the reverse of the APW mantra of “Don’t expect people to change just because it’s your wedding” in action. I feel for you a lot! I think it’s easy to assume or really, really hope that people will rally for your wedding and it’s only after going through events like the ones described here that you realize, oh, wait, nope, my sister still vacillates between disinterest and hostile condescension because that’s her M.O., no matter how high the emotional stakes are (and in my limited experience, behaviors like that can actually *increase* with emotional stakes). It’s really like the crappiest rite-of-passage that a lot of brides go through; it sucks and I’m sorry it’s hurting you.

    Practically speaking, if it were me, I’d keep her as MOH and try your best to brush her off with “Oh, we’ll think about it!” when she makes crazy suggestions or “Sorry you feel that way!” when she says mean things to avoid family drama. It won’t be easy emotionally and it might sound like the coward’s way, but honestly sometimes the coward’s way has benefits, like keeping your sanity and relations in tact. But I really hope you can rely on other folks to be your real support system. Hugs if you’d like them! This can be really tough stuff.

  • laddibugg

    Definitely have her be the MoH in name only…do you have any other close friends to help you plan? Many people understand the ‘obligation’ to give key roles like MoH and Best Man to family and might not be that put out you didn’t ask them. But if she has always been a witch…your wedding ain’t gonna change that.

    Also, to be fair to your sister, you don’t have to like golf at all to have you reception at a course. Sometimes the grounds are the nicest in the area–my cousin had hers at one and has never picked up a club in her life (and neither has her husband). It simply was the prettiest venue in their area.

    • Amy March

      Yeah I don’t think liking golf has anything to do with having a reception there. That complaint feels like what you say when you’re at the point that everything she does irritates you.

      • Eenie

        Well and also the whole budget thing…

        • laddibugg

          Well, yeah, but mentioning the golf course sounds like she’s embellishing her complaint a little. Just say she had us look at places beyond our budget.

          • tr

            I feel like the golf course part is relevant in and of itself. Not liking golf isn’t a deal breaker, but it means the sister isn’t taking her “vision” into account, either.
            Personally, I’d be a little annoyed if my sister insisted I visit barns that were out of my budget. Not just because they’re out of my budget, but because she knows that I have zero desire to get married in a barn, no matter how popular those are on Pinterest right now!

      • Violet

        Agreed. That’s the symptom she’s already had it up to here. Because golf courses are SUPER common reception venues, and not just for golfers.

  • Alex Bacon

    Don’t be afraid to “fire” your sister. I did, the morning of the wedding. She was supposed to be my MOH and she was throwing a fit about something, making the morning about her and her feelings and I flat out said, “okay, since this is obviously too much for you, you can just be a bridesmaid. BFF, you’re now MOH. Thanks” and walked out of the room. And my relationship with my sister has been better ever since. Your wedding is about YOU and your partner. Don’t let it be about her.

    • A.

      Wow! Was your sister just relieved not to have the duties anymore? I have to admit that my immediate instinct was that this is an anomaly; I feel like the more common response to a mid-morning MOH firing would be a meltdown of epic proportions, increased family drama, and/or irreparable relationship damage. But clearly my people are just more on the melodramatic side! Kudos for knowing *your* people and being able to enact swift problem solving–as always, that’s what it all comes down to.

      • Alex Bacon

        I don’t really know what her problem was at that point. All she had left to do was walk down the aisle and hold my bouquet and rings. We didn’t do toasts from anyone but the dads. And she was a long distance MOH, so BFF did most of the MOH stuff. I think Sister got a bit of a reality check. She was only 20 at the time? idk. We’ve been getting along a lot better since then though, after a very tempestuous childhood together. We’re both pretty melodramatic, but I made the decision in the moment that stopping her whining at me was worth the fallout later. You’re right that it could be an anomaly. But it’s still a realistic scenario that could happen, and I wanted to demonstrate to LW that it CAN happen that way. If she can avoid it, she shouldn’t wait until the morning of to fire her sister – she should do it now and get on with her wedding planning in happiness. Ultimately the wedding should be about the happy couple and Team Happy Couple. Sister doesn’t seem to be on Team Happy Couple and doesn’t need a place at the table/in the ceremony if she can’t get on board and be a team player.

  • Meghan

    Ahhhh, sisters. Mine had a similarly cold response to the engagement news, though continued to maintain this attitude for the months following every time the topic of wedding planning came up. After months of alternating between trying to keep her involved (including a spur of the moment “will you be my maid of honor?” met with a shrug and sour face) and leaving her out entirely (“you picked a venue without letting me see them?”) I finally had a minor meltdown in front of her. Probably not the most coherent way to express my feelings but you know what? Turns out she was worried about becoming second place to my husband and losing our relationship. While her way of expressing these emotions may not have been ideal, once we got everything out in the open we were able to have an honest discussion about our own relationship as sisters, and how it might look different as we live our lives but that we’ll always be there for each other. She never totally warmed up to the wedding planning (fortunately my best friend happily filled this role) but I wouldn’t have wanted anybody else by my side on the big day.

    TL;DR – try to learn what is going on in your sister’s head about this whole engagement thing. It might be very different than what you think.

  • Meg

    I don’t want to rehash all the crappy feelings from when it happened, but I just want the LW to know they’re not the only one dealing with this. I was really let down and my mom just told me my expectations were too high “it’s not like on TV” and that just sort of depressed me more??? It’s not just TV you see other families that are “functional” and loving and supportive of each other…

    Thankfully for me my friends came through for me in an amazing way, and made us feel so special.

    • tr

      Ugh, I just wanted to chime in that I totally feel your pain!
      Like, thankfully none of my friends or family members have been intentionally horrible, but that’s kind of the best thing that could be said of several people! Between my in-laws who chime in every three minutes about what a waste of money this is, a fiance who gets stressed out at the mere mention of the budget, and a mom who won’t stop talking about divorce long enough to show any happiness for me, I’m kind of at my wit’s end!

    • Jess

      This whole wedding experience makes me really glad that I sat in therapy for a lot of the last few years with respect to familial relationships. It’s been a lot easier to let go of the “we’re all going sit around being happy and joyful” expectations when I already did a bunch of work on them.

    • OliveMC

      Being engaged was one of the worst experiences of my life, I sobbed at least once a week because of something rude that was said to me (or to someone else who then told me). Don’t get me wrong, I loved planning my wedding with my husband, but I intentionally excluded my mom and sister because i knew they’d take over and make it theirs. This probably wasn’t the best way to deal with the problems, but it worked. With a lot of help from my therapist, I saw a lot of the issues being from their end and I’m working on the ones that were from my end. Unfortunately, if the other party isn’t as willing to confront their flaws, progress is kind of slow.

      We opted to have a mixed gender bridal party and no MOH or BM labels. For all intensive purposes, my sister acted as the MOH. I probably should’ve just called her the MOH. I debated not including her in the bridal party and choosing one of my best friends as MOH, but decided that would probably make things much worse.

      I’ve been married for 5 months now, and my relationship with my parents is MUCH improved, but my sister is still cold. Like Meg, my best friends, a loving sister-in-law, and the sweetest older cousin came through and supported me in all the ways my mom and sister couldn’t. I was happy that they put a happy face on and (hopefully) didn’t trash talk too much on my wedding day.

  • Violet

    Okay, so you know how you’ve had something, say a knick knack or a magnet on your fridge, for so long that you don’t even really see it anymore? And it takes someone coming over your house and commenting on it for you to really “see” it? Yeah. Your sister’s behaviors is not normal. The fact that you’re grasping for an explanation (That she’s a stay at home mom, what? As in, all stay at home moms are cruel to their sisters? Come on, you know that ain’t so.) shows just how much you’ve lost sight of what is and is not an appropriate way to treat another human being. Her behavior is not okay. You focus on your sister, but it sounds like your family and your fiance’s haven’t been very excited, either. It sounds like you get a lot of sub par interactions from family, and your sister just takes the cake.

    I read this somewhere (forget where) so I can’t take credit, but there is a difference between a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. A peacekeeper does everything to just reduce outward conflict, even if it means underlying issues get worse. A peacemaker works proactively to fix underlying problems, which then results in peace. Guess which one requires the efforts of both parties? Guess which one is a very unsatisfying endeavor, like digging a hole at the edge of the water, watching it get filled in with every new wave?

    I don’t think there’s peace with your sister to be had. You’ll end up exhausting yourself, because she isn’t interested in peacemaking, and peacekeeping is a Sisyphean task. Focus on being a peacemaker with people who are invested in a strong relationship with you, like your fiancé. For people like your sister, work on your inner peace. Honestly, she’s not changing any time soon. I’d disengage. Keep her your MOH in title, but don’t involve her in wedding planning. At all.

  • tr

    Sometimes our loved ones kind of suck. Weddings don’t magically transform them into non-sucky people. In fact, odds are, whatever sucks about them will be taken up to a whole new level, because weddings have a way of amplifying everything.
    From the sounds of things, your sister isn’t some deranged evil monster. She’s just regular, run of the mill difficult…much as she always has been. I wish so deeply for your sake that she’d suddenly shape up and become a wonderful beacon of love and enthusiasm for your special day, but unfortunately, that almost never happens. So instead you’re stuck with the same sister you’ve always had.
    You’ve already asked her to be your MOH, so assuming that she doesn’t do anything that’s Lifetime Movie of the Week-evil, you’d probably be best to keep her your MOH. However,as the other commenters have said, that doesn’t mean she actually has to be your go-to person. Go the people who will be loving and supportive when you want love and support, and relegate Beth to simply showing up in the right time wearing the right outfit. That’s really not the end of the world…I dare say that most weddings I’ve been in have had at least one or two bridesmaids who’s roles are largely limited to that. And yes, sometimes (in fact, often) “those” bridesmaids are family.
    Also, just remember that when she is hurtful, it isn’t about you or your wedding. That’s just who she is sometimes.

  • carolynprobably

    I’m going to go out on a limb, since I see read and viewed this totally differently from everyone else. For reference, my sister and I are two years apart in age and still sometimes bring out the worst in each other, probably at times behaving no better than the letter writer and her sis. I read the interaction described as a sister feeling jealous of your attention, and feeling left out or bitter about her time in the bride spotlight being over. Sisters are the BEST at being jealous of each other’s attention and wanting to knock each other down a peg just to feel a little better. And big sisters? Just toss in bossy for good measure.

    BUT BUT BUT that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you or care about you and your wedding and genuinely want you to have a great wedding and marriage. In my interpretation, I would not jump to the conclusion that your sister cannot or will not be a good maid of honor, and moreover that she will not process her feelings in her own time and basically snap out of bitch mode. I could be wrong, your sister could just suck, and if so, I’m sorry. I can say that I have probably been slow to show enthusiasm or pride in my sister’s accomplishments in the past, especially if it coincided with low points in my own self-esteem- and that’s where I’m putting my money on your sister.

    I don’t really have advice, except to say that you probably know your sister better than any one of us and you probably already know the answer to your own problem. You already know if the problem here is really your sister and her behavior or if the problem is really mismanagement of your expectations around announcing your engagement and peoples’ reactions to it. (Obvs valid to be disappointed for this, regardless of your sister.) It sounds like either way, 1. you need to find a friend who will be enthusiastic and validating of your engagement *right now* because you need a cheerleader in this exciting time and 2. you need to create some space between you and your sister to either allow her to adjust to this change more slowly, or to insulate yourself if she won’t be supportive in the way you need.

    • Rebekah Jane

      YES. I was literally going to type this all out, but you jumped in my mind and saved me the trouble! I’ve got a sister 4 years younger than me and no one in the world can infuriate me more by doing something innocuous. You left your shirt on the floor? Who cares if I did it yesterday, IT’S MURDER TIME.

    • Violet

      See, this is why multiple perspectives are so important. My sister and I are 1.5 years apart, and we in no way bring out the worst in each other. Sure, some people bring out the worst in me, but she ain’t it. Only LW knows for certain if this is part of their sister dynamic, or if it’s that her sister is just a mean person. But she does say they’ve “always” had a rough relationship, so either which way, I doubt this is going to change in time for the wedding.

      • Rebekah Jane

        I have to say, I envy this. It took a long time for my sister and I to figure out how to be friends, because we’re such different people. We are able to find things in common as adults and are able to seek each other out for advice and comfort, but it took years to get here and it’s still a work in progress. She’s my built-in maid of honor and I’m as proud of her like she is my own kid, but jeez, the fights were bad back in the day! In all seriousness, it’s awesome to hear a more positive perspective on sibling relationship!

        • Violet

          I really admire that you two were able to get yourselves to a better relationship! That’s no small feat, in any family situation, to change those dynamics that can feel so entrenched.

    • Greta

      I was thinking the same thing about my brother. We don’t have the whole sisters dynamic going, but it seems like we just cannot escape the whole big brother-little sister dynamic. As hard as I try, he’s a stone wall when it comes to me, which casues me to become more annoying and petulant when I’m with him, which causes him to react negatively, and causes me to act even more annoying. It’s this never-ending cycle that gets even worse when our parents are with us. My husband has even noticed and pointed out my behavior to me – “gee, why do you act so ridiculous when you’re with your brother?”. Sometimes siblings just make each other crazy, and it can be really hard to break out of these childhood-defined roles.

  • MC

    if you do go in for option B, it has to be for you and only you. It can’t be about changing her behavior. That is a possible outcome for all of this, sure, but from what you’ve said, this behavior is not outside the norm for her, wedding or no wedding. I would only do it if you think it’ll make you feel better.
    I also have a difficult sister, and what I came to realize was that I was letting myself get horribly absorbed in her reaction to everything, and it was ruining my wedding. So instead, I tried to distance myself rather than get sucked in. And you know what? In the end I had a fabulous time, whether she was or not.
    I know this is all easier said than done, and I definitely still had hard moments. It was more like I stopped feeling I had to be in charge of her good time, and I chose to only be in charge of my own.

  • Rebekah Jane

    So, I picked up something in your letter – you said that your sister was insisting that you look at “other venues and vendors that SHE had looked at but in the end didn’t choose.” I’m going out on a limb here and assuming this is big sister that’s causing all the problems and, as a big sister, we do that a lot.

    Relevant Story Time: My little sister was incredibly shy growing up and would have me handle all human interaction for me, including ordering her ice cream for her on our weekly trip to McDonalds with our father. I got so used to this that I had no clue how to let her function on her own, until she flat out yelled at me one day to let her introduce herself rather than me handling it. She has to remind me even to this day that I don’t need to “coach” her on everything and that she isn’t a mini-me. She’s her own person and, while I am welcome to give advice, she will follow her own path.

    So it sounds like to me that you need your yelling moment at your sister. You don’t literally have to yell at her in public, but she might need a brutal reminder that you are your own person and have your own needs during this time, which doesn’t include vendor and venue advice. What it does include is support and happiness on your behalf and, if she must give advice, follow the theme. It’s not Her Day, Round 2. Plus, as @carolynprobably:disqus put it very well, sisters bring out the worst in each other. Ask her why she feels the need to be controlling and unhappy about your wedding and have an open, honest discussion. Otherwise, you’re not going to find any peace, just more breakdowns over the next several months.

    • another lady

      this is another example of a time to let them say their piece, give you all the advice, then say, ‘thanks for the opinions, we will think about that, and then we will choose what is best for us’… or something similar. Stand up for yourself to big sis and tell her that you don’t need her to make your decisions anymore and that you and fiancé will do what YOU want for YOUR wedding. you don’t have to have a duplicate wedding to her wedding!

      • another lady

        also, some of this will fall by the wayside once your bigger decisions are made and your vision comes together. (sister wants you to look at xyz vendors and locations… we already picked abc location and efg vendor) then, sister either won’t have options to give you anymore, or will realize that your wedding will be way different than her wedding.

  • Nell

    No one can destroy your engagement just by having a nasty attitude.

    You’re engaged! To a person who you love and plan to spend the rest of your life with! She’s not breaking you guys up, she’s just being pushy and difficult.

    Similarly, no one can force you to look at venues you don’t like. I’m gonna assume she’s not paying for the wedding, so she can’t dictate what you spend money on.

    I HIGHLY recommend hiring a kickass wedding planner – particularly if you have pushy family members. It’s really nice to be able to turn around and say “wow, that’s a great idea, but our planner found us a terrific deal on XYZ, and she’s been doing this for 10 years.”

  • Kadee

    LW, is there another role of honor you could give her? Doing something like the only reading? Make her feel special, but also limit how she will impact you on your wedding day?

    This is not dissimilar to why I did not ask my sister to be my MOH or in my wedding party. My sister and I are not close, we’re friendly (mostly), but not friends, and we don’t talk unless my mom is the garden or driving and my sister answers her phone for her. We definitely get on each others nerves and she has a way of making everything about her. I’m definitely sensitive to it, and could be more patient with her, but she’s the last person I want to spend the whole day with and have standing next to me on my wedding day. There are other people who have been a huge active support for me in my life and my relationship, and I’d like to honor their place in my life. I also don’t want to pretend that my sis and I are BFFs and that she doesn’t drive me crazy. BUT I do still want her to be involved and included, and honor the relationship we have as sisters. So, I asked her to play the flute as I walk down the aisle. She was the first person I asked to be involved, and I made she she knew she was first on the list, because I wanted her to feel important and included. I am listing her first on our website, and I’m having support people be the ones standing up for me, since they are the ones who have done that in my life.

  • Totch

    So, this seems to be the thread to post about difficult sororal relationships? I didn’t feel comfortable asking my sister to be my MoH, but she expected to be. I played through all the scenarios I could think of: asking in earnest, asking in name only, giving her a different role, just not including her in the bridal party, and not having a bridal party at all. Whatever I did, I wanted to leave the talk-it-out possibility open while not planning on a miracle.

    I decided I couldn’t offer her any role. I also didn’t feel like I could give others positions of honor over her, it would be too hurtful and it’d overshadow happier things. I spoke to the women who would be my bridesmaids and explained I was going without. They all know the history and understood (aka why they’re my best friends).

    I know my choice isn’t an option for the LW anymore, but I so get the pull between wanting certain things on your wedding day and not wanting to hurt people over it.

  • I’m a stay-at-home-mom to three kids under the age of three and I’m not a mean person because of it. You’re giving her an excuse where she doesn’t need one. You mentioned you’ve always had a rough relationship. Adding kids, or marriage, or anything else is not going to fix that underlying type of relationship. You know her. She’s not going to change who she is just for your wedding.

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