What Happened When My Sister Got Engaged Right After I Did

Two sisters, two weddings

Stephanie, Blogger & Iain, Software Engineer

Sometimes I feel like I had two weddings. Mostly because a mere three months and one week after my wedding, my younger sister got married. Sure I felt a sense of relief after my own to-do list was finished in March, but it wasn’t until after her wedding in June that I could officially relax and look ahead to the future.

When people found out that my sister and I were getting married three months apart their initial reaction was always, “Oh your mother must be so overwhelmed!” Or, “Your parents have to be so stressed out right now!” But truthfully my family was overjoyed. My dad was looking forward to walking us down the aisle, my mom was gushing to her friends about how thankful she was that we had both found men that complemented us so well, and my brother agreed to wear a kilt in my wedding and stand on the bride’s side in her wedding. My extended family was making travel plans and everyone was thrilled. It was my sister and I who struggled the most.

I am not proud to admit this but my initial reaction upon hearing that my sister’s then boyfriend wanted to propose shortly after I had become engaged was not happiness, it was panic. I was upset because I was older, this was supposed to be my year, and I didn’t want to share it with her. I was twenty-eight at the time and acting like I was eight years old all over again.

In my head it didn’t seem fair because I’d had to share everything with her my entire life. At only eighteen months apart my sister and I shared a room, friends, a car, and an intense emotional streak. Our childhood was easy and happy, but the worst memories I have from it are from arguing with my sister. (Our poor mother had two girls in puberty at the same time, and somehow came out alive. Our little brother threatened to run away from home during many a late night shouting match.) When you have a sister so close in age, everything feels like a competition.

My mom gently reminded me that yes, it’s hard to be the oldest sometimes, but imagine being the second child, you rarely get to do anything first. Imagine always following someone a step behind and trying to live up to the path they’ve set. My mom made a great point but I was still more interested in playing the victim. Plus, I knew we were going to be each other’s Maids of Honors, which meant double duty in a lot of aspects. I wanted so badly for the focus to be on my wedding because I was so excited to be getting married and so happy to finally be a bride.

I can’t tell you how it changed or when it clicked over for me, but one day I was just happy for her. The frustration over the situation was too exhausting and seemed silly so I let it go. My sister announced her engagement and I got to work telling her what blogs to follow (APW of course), and we discussed theme and ideas. We even went shopping together for bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses at the same time because well, we had TWO weddings to plan! We helped each other organize and craft from two different states, and we threw each other kick-ass bachelorette parties.

My sister and I had two completely different and yet perfect weddings. Mine was a dark, romantic evening wedding highlighted by my husband’s Scottish heritage and hers was a bright, beautiful daytime wedding appropriate enough for her former third-grade students to attend the dance portion.

While we had different colors and themes, we ended being married by the same woman pastor from our childhood. We ended up using the same photographer and the same hair and makeup artist because my sister trusted my opinions and research. This vendor sharing prompted me to invent the word shrendor for just such occasions. Share + vendor = shrendor. We had planned to reuse the bathroom baskets from my wedding at her wedding but alas they were stolen from the hotel (umm, who steals bathroom baskets!?!).

Taking me completely by surprise, and being the true family-loving selfless person that she is, my sister suggested we do a rock the frock sister shoot together in our bridal gowns the evening following her afternoon wedding. Well, no one understood this, and I mean no one. My sister was going to let someone else wear a wedding dress on HER wedding day? Who does that?

I understood completely. Here she was showing me how to be more loving. Here she was embracing the situation instead of fighting it. Here she was reminding me what weddings are all about.

The sister shoot was amazing, and the pictures are beautiful, but the memory of that one hour posing with my sister will stay with me forever. Our parents’ backyard was the ideal location, and we even let our wonderful partners join in the fun too. (The only dilemma was making sure I still fit my dress three months after my wedding—not an easy task by the way!)

For me, weddings are about new beginnings and about two families joining together. They’re about commitment and joy and the sweetest kind of love. They’re also about growing up and redefining your other relationships. Luckily, my sister and I found out that planning two weddings at the same time was a huge blessing for us. Next up, having babies around the same? It never ends! :)


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  • Meg

    My goodness, I could have written much of this post myself! I just got married two weeks ago — a mere six weeks after my younger sister tied the knot. We got engaged on the exact same day last December (yes, planned by our respective husbands). The last year has been an explosion of joy, love and, at times, complete insanity — not to mention the fact that we were both still living at home for most of our engagements! (Nuts, I tell you. Nuts.)

    But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Despite the fact that, like you, my sister and I grew up very close in age doing the same things at the same time, we’re best friends who have reached each milestone together. We’ve learned from each other, leaned on each other, relied on each other in so many ways. Many people asked each of us how we felt “sharing the spotlight” (and expected a negative answer, I’m sure), but it just felt . . . natural. We shared tips, shopping trips, craft experiments and vendors. After photographing two family weddings, our photographers have become our friends. Everything worked out beautifully, even when it was complicated.

    That’s family. You love each other, and you make it work.

    Wishing you all a lifetime of happiness!

    • Manda

      Please say that you are planning to write a wedding graduate post!

    • Totally agree, it ended up feeling very natural to plan a wedding at the same time. I love that you understand this! And how cool that you were engaged on the same day!?!?!

  • anoldersister

    My sister could have been the one to write this post. I got engaged 2 weeks after she did and she was furious at me for “stealing her year” – as though I was the one who planned it (the timing was a complete surprise to me). That might have been okay except for the fact that she needed to tell me that, completely hurting myself and really putting a damper on what should be a pretty happy time of our lives. We’re each other’s maid of honors too, but also being only 16 months apart has led to a lot of difficulty in our relationship. We’re okay now, but I don’t know how to forget and forgive her for being so mean when I got engaged. I wish I did.

    • I’m sorry that was your experience. :( Even if she felt slighted it would have been better if she could have waited to calm down before lashing out. I bet you will forgive and forget when it’s been enough time, life is short!

  • NicoleT

    This is such a sweet post. Both you and your sister look so beautiful and happy; that wedding dress picture of the two of you is perfect! While reading this, I really began to think of my relationship with my sister. We’re two years apart and, even though we’re great friends now, we used to fight a lot and compete to some extent (more on my end than hers). Sometimes I can still feel that nasty, unwarranted competitiveness bubble up inside me when she does something exceptionally well, especially if I consider it to be part of my turf. I’m working on changing that. Anyways, I wish you, your sister, and your entire family happy holidays!

    • I think with sisters it’s an on-going battle of fighting that urge to be jealous or compete. yay for sisters! Happy holidays to you too! :)

  • Cheshire Cassie

    How funny! My sister and I got married 3 months & 1 week apart, too! I am the younger one, and got married first, though.

  • Anon

    Thank you for this! I have been dying to talk about sister relationships, this is just the ticket. Wonderful post, wonderful advice, thank you so much.
    I really struggled when, a few months into my engagement, my little sister announced that she was pregnant. It seemed so unfair- she got married before I did and got to enjoy the spotlight without anything else going on, so why shouldn’t I get the same?
    When she suggested a joint shower weekend to celebrate us both, I thought about it for weeks and then decided to decline. The setup felt too much like we were being pitted against each other to see whose life event was more important, and ultimately I knew that would make me feel crappy. She was always the popular one growing up and I was a late bloomer who had trouble making friends, so I just knew it would make me feel sensitive. I opted instead for a visit after the baby is born so I can meet him/her before the wedding happens, and without the hooplah of a shower.
    I know that with pregnancy and a new baby, I will need to be understanding if she can’t make it to all the wedding related events, but again, that is hard to swallow knowing that I put a lot of time/money/effort into her wedding related events. I still don’t know how to be okay with it, even though it’s perfectly understandable.
    I have had the thought as well that she is probably worried that her wonderful news is being lost in the hooplah of my wedding. There is probably a part of her that thinks this is unfair, too.

    • Aww thank you! ME TOO, I love talking sister stuff! FWIW I think you made a great decision on passing on the joint shower. We had separate bridal showers and bachelorettes, and everything. Each person wants to feel special with their big event. I’m sorry, you’re probably right about both feeling a little bit lost in the other one’s joy. Hopefully both events bring you two closer!

  • Kayjayoh

    The picture of the two of you together on the lawn is absolutely lovely.

    • Thank you so much! We had a blast taking those.

  • Laura C

    Such a lovely post.

    Of course a relationship with a friend of five years is not the same as a relationship with a sister in all sorts of ways, and our guest lists won’t overlap nearly as much as sisters’ would, but I was actually sort of excited when one of my bridesmaids let me know she’d be getting married about a month before I do. I mean, someone to talk to about wedding stuff for whom it’s just as relevant!

    • Absolutely, it’s so fun to have someone going through the same life events! And yea, the similar guest list is pretty crazy, our family had to make the trek from North Dakota to Minnesota twice in three months, plus twice before that for the showers.

  • nikolila

    OMG MRS. SWORD! Loving this post. What a lovely wrap up from all your other recaps :)

    • HI!!! :) Thank you. I can’t resist writing about weddings, haha.

  • Lauren

    I really wonder how my sister will take it when T and I get engaged this winter. We are also 18 months apart, with her the elder and she has always been pretty competitive with me. I was for a little bit when we were very young, but eventually I realized that we want completely different things. She has gotten better, maturing a bit with age, but she can still be pretty aggressive and negative at times when not getting her way. These days I try to understand that part of the problem is that in some ways my mom has made me the golden child, and as we are all high achievers, not receiving as much support from her has injured my sister pretty deeply. To make matters worse, my mom put my sister through a lot of emotional turmoil when she became depressed after my dad died, and hid most of her troubles from me. When I became more aware, I really tried to force the issue with everyone and we really turned things around as a family, but that’s a story for another time.

    I think the thing to remember is that often a person’s response is not about the thing they are responding to but a reflection of their own self and experiences. I hope she is happy to hear our news for her own sake. She has accomplished a great deal academically, that any parent/family would be proud of and she is a strong special woman in her own right, there is no race to be married. She may unfortunately focus on that her longterm relationship just ended (an end that has been long coming), in comparison to mine which is moving to the next level, if that is the case I hope I can be the bigger person and support her.

    • Yes, the comparing is what makes me (everyone) crazy! I do it all the time with people I don’t even know. Sounds like you both have been through a lot but I hope she can be happy for you! What you said about it being a reflection of their own experiences- spot on!

  • afdp

    I didn’t realize, until reading this post, how much I want to see (many!) posts on sister relationships on APW!

  • fallwedding

    I went through this last year – I got engaged 4 months after older sibling and scheduled my wedding for 4 months after their’s. Unfortunately my sibling didn’t seem to get over the ‘thunder stealing’ sentiments you described (kudos to you for embracing it!) and our relationship (I fear) has changed forever. I don’t regret my wedding day but I regret the state of our relationship and wish for a different outcome.

    • I’m sorry to hear that but I hope time heals/changes things!

  • Alyssa M

    I just HAD to come reread this today. I’m trying to find my way to being ok with my little brother having proposed to his girlfriend two days ago. My boyfriend and I have been ring shopping for the past month or so, and he was fully aware of this… And before we can announce our engagement, with no warning, he publicly proposed… really really trying to be mature about this and happy for them…