Do I tell her she's not a bridesmaid or just forget it ever happened?
February 14, 2010 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Should I tell her she's not a bridesmaid anymore or just keep my mouth shut?

I used to live with A and K. A knew she was going to be my maid of honor before I even got engaged because we're just that close (and the engagement was coming ... it was a mutual thing). When I finally told the two of them I was officially engaged and showed them the ring, A got all excited (like any girl would) and started talking about how she was so excited to be my maid of honor in front of K. K says "what about me?!". I (stupidly) say "you want to be a bridesmaid too?" ... "YEAH!!!" ... "uh, ok". That was where it was left. This was last October and I moved out of the house we shared in December.

Fast-forward to a week or so ago. SO and I finally pick a wedding date and tell a bunch of close friends to "save the date". A mutual friend of A, K, and I, tells me that A and K are saying things amongst themselves like A:"Oh I'm probably not in the wedding anymore", K:"Yeah I'm sure I'm not, I'm probably not even invited". Apparently these ridiculous comments stem from the fact that I moved away (to live with my new fiancee in a new state). I call A to assure her of course I still want her to be my MoH.

Here's where it gets tricky. To be perfectly honest, I never wanted K as a bridesmaid to begin with. We're just not that close. Compound that with the fact that SO and I have more girl friends than guy friends and I'm finding myself having to limit the bridesmaids out of a severe lack of groomsmen. I *know* I'm not going to have K in my wedding, but my question is - should I somehow bring it up with her? SO thinks I should just pretend like we never talked about it, invite her to the wedding as just a normal guest, and get on with my life. The tricky part is, A and K are still living together and will be until the wedding (a little over a year from now).

I personally feel horribly guilty about this and it's been hard for me to take a firm "this is my wedding and it needs to be how I want it" stand. What do I do with K?
posted by kthxbi to Human Relations (35 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You agreed that she could be a bridesmaid. Yes, she deserves to be told that you officially changed your mind.
posted by Sufi at 10:19 AM on February 14, 2010 [7 favorites]

It strikes me that what you could do with K is: "hey -- okay, here's the thing; we have had to cut way, way back on the budget for our wedding, and I have had to cut way back on the number of bridesmaids I wanted. So I'm afraid that I've had to take you out of the bridesmaid pool, but I would still be delighted if you could come to the wedding proper."

Blame it on the money, in other words. It's a white lie, but there's an element of truth to it (you DO have to restrict the number of bridesmaids anyway, as it is).

If there's something else that you would be cool with her helping with -- an usher or something -- maybe propose that instead to underscore the "yeah, I feel bad about taking you out, but here's a different way you could take part."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:20 AM on February 14, 2010 [20 favorites]

Usually I pretty much err on "this is your wedding--do what you want" with these questions, but I think it's incredibly hurtful and rude to ask someone to be a bridesmaid and then take it back. Pretend like you never talked about it? Do you really think she'll forget about the conversation? If you really don't want her as a part of it, call her up or send her an email and say "I'm really sorry but I don't think we have enough room for the wedding party. So sorry to have gotten your hopes up--it was terrible of me. Of course I want you there to help celebrate," then I'd offer some sort of token thing, "I'd love for you to make a toast at the reception" or something like that so that she doesn't feel totally excluded.

I suggest, given your situation, you not try to match the number of bridesmaids to groomsmen, but then, I had neither in my wedding because I wanted to avoid precisely this sort of thing. In the future, though, I suggest you practice this response: "I'll have to talk to the Mr. kthxbi and get back to you about that." This buys you time to decide what you actually want. Trust me, this won't be the first time someone tries to steam roll you through guilt about stuff with the wedding, particularly with a year to go.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Dear K, I feel horribly guilty for this, but our conversation about you being in my wedding ended up being premature. We're going to have a smaller wedding party than expected, and I wont be able to ask you to be one of my bridesmaids. I hope you understand. And I hope that you will still be available to celebrate our marriage with us - I can't imagine the day without you being part of it."
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:27 AM on February 14, 2010 [30 favorites]

If I found myself in this situation, I'd explain to K about trying to balance the number of bridesmaids to groomsmen and ask if she could play another role at the wedding (guest check-in table? Reading a passage during the ceremony?) because no matter how off the cuff your invitation was, you still extended it and it sounds like your group of friends like to talk and cause drama.

Defusing drama and keeping your word are both goals to strive for in life.
posted by jamaro at 10:27 AM on February 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

Of course you should tell her. It's incredibly rude not to. It's pretty rude to un-invite someone from being a bridesmaid, but to chicken out of telling them is unspeakable.

I feel really bad for K. It sounds like she deserves better friends.
posted by craichead at 10:27 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's pretty rude to un-invite someone from being a bridesmaid, but to chicken out of telling them is unspeakable.

To be fair to the OP, it seems K invited herself into some sort of bridesmaid position by asking "what about me?"

That being said, yeah, just tell her you're having a small wedding party, and you really hope she'll come as your guest.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:31 AM on February 14, 2010

It's OK to change your mind when circumstancess change, so I would just say you have realized you have too many bridesmaids and in order to keep (some key family member, like a sister or his cousin) you need to cut some non-family bridesmaids, thank her for having been willing to take on the job, and move on. If you are friendly enough, maybe you could ask her to do a reading or something.
posted by mmf at 10:31 AM on February 14, 2010

It was rude of K to put you on the spot with a bridesmaid request but the classy thing to do is to contact her directly, explain you've had to limit the size of the wedding so you can't have her in your party, and tell her you truly hope she'll still be able to attend. Clearly she isn't pretending she hasn't been asked now so your SO's strategy of acting like it never happened is passive aggressive and will inevitably result in more hurt feelings than a polite phone call would. Also, your friends sound a bit disenchanted with you right now and it's probably not just because you moved out of state -- be careful. It's your ceremony, you can be self-focused, but there's a way to do it with charm and finesse and a way that's totally off-putting and can cause hurt feelings that last a long time. Clearly communicate, be polite and upbeat and kind about what you want and people will mostly understand if you make choices they don't always like. If people don't like your decisions anyway, at least you will know you handled them as honestly and kindly as you possibly could.
posted by melissa may at 10:37 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's really too late for "pretend it never happened". "Pretend it never happened" only works if you have no idea if the other person remembers or not, so you can convince yourself that they've forgotten, too. What we have at this point is basically A, K, and a mutual friend know that K remembers that you asked her to be a bridesmaid. If one mutual friend knows, how many other mutual friends know? I think pretending it never happened runs the risk of people thinking of you as untrustworthy.

Tell her she's not going to be a bridesmaid anymore. Blame it on the male-female ratio.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:55 AM on February 14, 2010

(off topic for the original question, but as to the "severe lack of groomsmen" issue: i, a female, was once in the wedding party on the groom's "side". being close friends with both bride and groom, and with groom not having as many people to invite on "his side," i volunteered to play for the other team, so to speak. i wanted to wear a tux like the other groomspeople, but the bride and groom thought that was going a little too far. so, i wore a dress which matched the bridesmaids, and it was fabulous.)

congratulations on your impending nuptials!

ps. yes, i would tell her that she's no longer in the wedding party. it's the right thing to do, even if it is a little awkward. having her do something else in the wedding is a decent idea, as long as it won't displace another, closer, friend or family member. (e.g. having her, someone you don't know very well, read a passage might be awkward). perhaps something at the reception? good luck!
posted by CitizenD at 11:00 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Arg. Of course you all are right. I don't even know why I was pondering not saying anything. I think I'm going to take greekphilosophy's response and add a bit to it to explain things.

And please note everyone - I regretted saying "uh, ok" as soon as the words came out of my mouth. I was put on the spot. And I really, really do feel very guilty about this.
posted by kthxbi at 11:02 AM on February 14, 2010

You definitely have to tell her somehow.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:02 AM on February 14, 2010

Ha! Well, nevermind my answer then.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:03 AM on February 14, 2010

One way to make her feel a bit better would be to ask her to take on some other responsible task at the wedding. Could she do a reading for you, or man the guestbook, or be in charge of ... something else? I've seen brides who had a "personal attendant" who was not in the wedding party, and who had the (really quite important) job of helping the bride manage her day - so, got snacks, helped her get dressed, was in charge of managing her clothes after she changed (if she got dressed at the venue), things like that.

Giving her a special job, and making it sound like she's the only person you could trust to do these things, might help quite a lot.
posted by anastasiav at 11:23 AM on February 14, 2010

I really like anastasiav's answer. You kinda messed up (but I completely understand how it could happen) and now you have to make things right. Does K have any special talents, like being a great speaker or writer? If you are crazy passive agressive you could ask her to take a position where it would be impossible for her to do both that and be a bridesmaid.

However, I wouldn't be like "hey, could you stand outside and park cars?" like some sort of wedding party demotion. The new role should be something equally fun as being a bridesmaid.
posted by amicamentis at 11:29 AM on February 14, 2010

Ok maybe it's just me, but giving her the consolation prize of doing something else feels like I'm just giving her bitch work to make myself feel better. Am I being silly? Because personally if I knew I wasn't chosen to be a bridesmaid and I was asked to man the guestbook or be a bride's personal assistant, I would feel as though I were only being asked that to try and make me feel better about not being one of the chosen ones (but would actually not make me feel any better). Maybe I'm weird?
posted by kthxbi at 11:31 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

And please note everyone - I regretted saying "uh, ok" as soon as the words came out of my mouth. I was put on the spot. And I really, really do feel very guilty about this.

You were put on the spot - stop feeling guilty. No, really - stop it!

There is no universe where you should feel guilty about this. She should be the one feeling bad for imposing. Weddings are very personal and it's rude and self absorbed IMO to say "what about me?".

But yes, nthing just saying it was premature and you already have too many obligatory bridesmaids. If she really wants to be involved there are lots of little jobs like people have mentioned above. Not saying anything is asking for trouble seeing how she lives with your Maid of Honor.
posted by smartypantz at 11:32 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah you have to tell her.
Ok maybe it's just me, but giving her the consolation prize of doing something else feels like I'm just giving her bitch work to make myself feel better. Am I being silly?
Yeah, seems reasonable. We don't really know that much about your relationship with K and what's in K's mind right now. It's impossible to tell. Just invite her and tell her to have a good time. For all we know the "What about me?!" line just came out of her mouth and she felt guilty about imposing. It's possible!

Just tell her to have a good time, and relax and enjoy your wedding!
posted by delmoi at 11:38 AM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ok maybe it's just me, but giving her the consolation prize of doing something else feels like I'm just giving her bitch work to make myself feel better. Am I being silly?


You don't give her bitch work. You give her something fun and rewarding to do. And of course, you ask her if she'd like to do it, rather than just assigning grunt work.

(I find the idea of a separate personal assistant a little odd, though--isn't that what bridesmaids are for? Like I said, I didn't have any, so I don't really know; maybe it's just wholly a token title these days.)

While I agree with the tenor of what smartypantz is saying, I think it's a bit naive. We had the least traditional wedding, like, ever, and were shocked at the number of people who came out of the woodwork to say, essentially, "what about me?" It might be rude, but it's also par for the course. Consider this good practice for when you're putting your guest list together. I'd also recommend picking up a wedding etiquette book--Emily Post or Miss Manners are good--not so much to have a handle on the minutia, but because they'll give you good guidelines as to how to react to these sorts of requests with grace and dignity, even under pressure.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:42 AM on February 14, 2010

You might find that she'll be relieved about being let off the hook. Being a bridesmaid can require a financial outlay that she might be regretting signing up for, especially if you're not all that close. Unless she volunteers, I wouldn't worry too much about giving her a second-string job. Just make sure she understands that she's invited to the wedding to have a good time, not to be put to work (unless, like I said, she really wants to do something to help that day.)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:50 AM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

To be fair to the OP, it seems K invited herself into some sort of bridesmaid position by asking "what about me?"
Sure, after A firmly established that K was the odd girl out in the roommate situation by talking about how she, A, was going to be maid of honor. It sounds like everyone screwed up in this conversation: A for talking about her maid of honor position in a way that was bound to make K feel left out, K for putting the OP on the spot, and the OP for telling K that she could be a bridesmaid rather than deflecting the question. But the proposed solution only hurts K. The OP avoids an awkward conversation, and K hears about her demotion through the grapevine.

Anyway, I think we're all in agreement that the OP needs to tell K.
posted by craichead at 11:55 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think greekphilosophy's answer that you bested is right on.

As for giving her a job at your wedding, I think it really depends. Is the wedding close or will she have to travel? If it's in her town and you ask her to do something simple then it's not a big deal and she'd probably be flattered. If, however, you make her travel and it's going to cost her money to attend it would be best not to give her an assignment. Just invite her and let her decide if she wants to come.

Also, I think making somebody watch the guestbook or gift table is kind of a crappy job and is something that I'd ask a (less liked, pretty distant) relative (that your mom is making you include) to do.

FWIW I think it's her fault that this situation has come about, don't feel guilty. You had a knee jerk reaction to being put on the spot. Unless you actually said to her "I would be honored if you would be a bridesmaid in my wedding!" a simple clarification is all that is needed. You don't 'owe' her a job at your wedding. It's different if you want her to be a part of it versus her just inviting herself. I had a pair of sisters who were my casual friends that invited themselves to sing at my wedding, and I really wish I'd put my foot down and said no. Instead I let them; while it wasn't a disaster it was rather awkward. Especially when their mom came and started taking 'publicity' photos of them singing for their 'professional' portfolio.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:28 PM on February 14, 2010

Am I being silly?

God, no. I was about to post a comment to the effect that if someone offered as a consolation prize that I fetch you snacks and manage your wardrobe, without the honor of being an attendant, I would be doubly upset. The point is to single people out as your closest friends, and then these are things you would only ask of your closest friends, not to get wedding guests to act as slave-for-the-day.
posted by palliser at 12:29 PM on February 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Ok maybe it's just me, but giving her the consolation prize of doing something else feels like I'm just giving her bitch work to make myself feel better. Am I being silly?

My brother asked me to be a bridesmaid at his wedding, and I turned him down because I didn't think I'd do a good job and didn't feel the request was entirely supported by the bride. He asked me to find, and read out, an appropriate reading instead - I couldn't find one that was quite right, so I wrote one myself. And - honestly, I really am not just saying this to make you feel better! - I felt so, so much more honoured to do that than I would have felt to have been a bridesmaid. (Similarly, I chose the people who did the readings at our wedding really carefully, because I really wanted them read by people who would properly appreciate them.)

Readings are a big deal to me, but if you can think of something that she in particular would do really well, I really think she wouldn't feel like you were "relegating" her at all. Give her the sense that you're asking her because she would make such a good job of it and she may even feel that's more special than being a bridesmaid, like I did in my situation (after all, anyone can be a bridesmaid - you just stand around in a dress all day). And I do sympathise - this sort of thing can be so tricky, and if you get through the whole wedding-planning hoo-ha without offending anyone, you must have forgotten something!
posted by raspberry-ripple at 12:33 PM on February 14, 2010

(Having just said all that, I realise that it doesn't entirely work because you're not really close enough to her to want to involve her at all. However, if you did want to spare her feelings, giving her something to do that she would do well might still work...)
posted by raspberry-ripple at 12:36 PM on February 14, 2010

Just to clarify my earlier comment: I was referring to giving her scut-work to do -- this "personal attendant" crap -- not being a reader or an usher, which are traditional wedding honors and which would make her feel included without feeling used. But I don't think you have to do either; it would also be fine to just make the apology and then invite her as a guest.
posted by palliser at 12:39 PM on February 14, 2010

Ask her to do a reading instead. I have been asked by many friends to do a reading at their weddings and have rarely been asked to be a bridesmaid. I truly prefer this to being a ugly dress buying and no other bridesmaid "obligations" -- just show up on time and do a reading. To me it is such a lovely honor and I work very hard to do a good job. An added bonus is that many people make a point at the reception of giving me kudos for my readings. Never had anyone give me kudos for my bridesmaid performance---"Way to go! What a marvelous job you did not tripping on that hideous dress and standing still next to the bride". Nope, never happened.

If K is a decent public speaker, you could ask her to do would really take the sting out of being un-invited as a bridesmaid and if she is like me, would actually be thrilled!

(And what gives with the guest book/gift table duties mentioned upthread? Do people actually assign people to guard over gifts and tackle people to sign a book? Seriously? I wouldn't saddle someone I don't even like with those crappy jobs. Don't do this.)
posted by murrey at 2:55 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

For those of you who care to know how this ended up, I emailed K basically exactly what greekphilosophy said with a few extra sentences of my own for clarification. Here is how she replied:

Hey [kthxbi],
No worries! I completely understand and can't wait for the big day. I was in Barnes and Noble today and saw a section on planning weddings and instantly thought of you! Thanks for the heads up, and I hope [where you live now] is well...bearable :). I'm sure with [SO] there it is more than worth it however.

Miss you,

So thank you thank you thank you for all the replies. I got exactly what I was looking for out of this post. <3 AskMeFi!
posted by kthxbi at 3:03 PM on February 14, 2010 [10 favorites]

.. for what it's worth... I've been in a similar situation.. I was asked to stand up for my best friend.

When we got closer to the date it was not going to work out because of the nature of the wedding..Most of the guests to the small wedding were religious so a female standing up for the groom would have been awkward.

Had he just explained I'd have been totally fine - with weddings you do consider many things beyond just what you want and not to mention sometimes that can change.

But he said nothing - asked his brother and just assumed that because he never mentioned it again it was a non-issue.

It did hurt my feelings - but not because I wasn't part of the small ceremony.

So - as many have said .. be fair and let her know - she'll likely be fine with it.
posted by Weaslegirl at 3:08 PM on February 14, 2010

FWIW, saying "we have to have the same number of bridesmaids and groomsmen" sounds kind of lame to me. I'm sure plenty of people feel strongly about it, but it just seems silly to me and like a weak excuse.
posted by amtho at 3:18 PM on February 14, 2010

Murrey: At some weddings, especially ones where the bride and groom both have huge families you actually need somebody to watch the guestbook so that little kids aren't scribbling in it. This can easily be solved by not inviting kids, but not everyone can get away with that. I have a few scribbles in my wedding guest book, I kind of wish I'd had someone babysit it.

Also, some weddings have a gift table where someone will open a few gifts and set them out as a display, this person will then write down what the gift is and who sent it so that the bride and groom can make sure that they get a thank you note. It's tradition for some people.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:27 PM on February 14, 2010

Glad it worked out for you!

And aww, all you commentors are making me feel bad. I was the personal attendant at my sister's wedding - I asked to be a bridesmaid (coz y'know, it's my sister) but I think the response was that since I'm across the world from her it wouldn't be practical but I can be the PA if I wanted. Which mainly involved organising taxis for my family back and forth and being the mysterious flower petals/wedding favours fairy. I didn't mind, I liked PA work, and it's not all bad!

I was also the guestbook/gift table person at her Dhaka wedding reception too, though that was partly Dad's idea and myself giving me a job to be useful. Some relatives did swap with me during dinner, but I ended up having some kids being my assistants and having a fun time trying to work out who was related to who.

Have fun at the wedding!
posted by divabat at 8:38 PM on February 14, 2010

Yeah don't offer her a consolation role in the wedding. I've manned the guestbook and been the bride's personal assistant for a couple of family members' weddings and while I was happy to do it for them, I would have far preferred to have showed up, had dinner, some champagne and gone home. Maybe invite her to the rehearsal dinner.

However, do make sure you give her a +1 to the wedding (as is now seems to be in vogue to not allow people dates).
posted by whoaali at 11:13 PM on February 14, 2010

just tell her strait. Tell her you decided you wanted a smaller wedding party and you had to cut a few people. FEW being the key word so she won't fell like she's the only one...

Still invite her, because she is your friend right?
posted by shortbus at 8:22 AM on February 15, 2010

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