I am engaged to be married in July 2013 and am having a bit of a dilemma with regards to bridesmaid selection.
When I first got engaged, I planned on choosing my cousin and my younger sister, ‘S’, as bridesmaids. I don’t have any particularly close female friends, and figured it would be easiest to pick bridesmaids from within my family.
The problem is that my sister’s behaviour has been quite disrespectful. She is only 18 and has always had a bit of a self-absorbed streak, and tends to place her own needs above those of others. I was counting on the fact that she would respect the importance of a wedding, as I will do when she gets married, but this hasn’t been the case so far.We held our engagement party in October, and she was living in another state at the time. My parents paid for her plane ticket (even though she has her own money) and arranged a flight which would get her there by 7pm, in plenty of time for the party which began at 8:30. At 9pm, she and my father still had not arrived, even though my parents were hosting the party. She had sent them a text message telling them she’d missed her flight due to ‘car trouble’ and demanded that they purchase a new plane ticket for her. She and my father didn’t arrive until 10:30pm and my dad missed out on the speeches and most of the food. I later found out that she had lied about the car trouble and just couldn’t be bothered getting to the airport on time. The missed flight plus new ticket cost my parents over $300.She has since been sending emails to my parents full of disparaging comments about our wedding plans, calling my fiance and I “stupid” for spending money and making fun of him for having a job that doesn’t pay a whole lot. I feel like her behaviour will not change as the wedding gets closer, given that nobody in my family has ever raised the issue of her behaviour being unacceptable.
Is it an etiquette no-no to inform her that she will not be a bridesmaid and choose a friend instead? I am really bad with confrontation but imagine that I would have to explain my reasons behind my decision, but I don’t want to cause a family drama. I don’t have to pay too much attention to my parents’ opinion as we are funding the wedding ourselves, but I have heard horror stories from friends about dealing with family issues while planning a wedding and I want to avoid this, especially as I am also completing my Masters degree and am already quite stressed. 1223-11
There is a proper way to fire a bridesmaid. Rule One is to not do it passive-aggressively as many are tempted to do in order to avoid confrontation. It’s going to be tough to fire a family member from the wedding party no matter how dainty one treads. So no cold shoulders, sabotaging dress orders or leaving her out of bridesmaid communications, etc.
Rule Two is that this requires a face-to-face discussion, not a phone call or email.
Rule Three concerns what to say. Focus on the bridesmaid’s well-being and happiness and avoid making this about you. Here is how I would word it…..”S, it appears to me and other family members that you seem unhappy and stressed about my upcoming wedding and your role in it. I think it would be best if we agree that maybe being a bridesmaid isn’t where you will best be happy celebrating our wedding with us and we find you a different role that is better suited. I would hate to think that my wedding is causing you problems so what do you think about doing a reading during the ceremony or being the guest book attendant? Or maybe just have fun whooping it as a guest?” And then be sure to reassure her that she will welcome to attend all bridesmaid fun things like a hen’s night. Particularly with a family member, you want to make sure the firing is not symbolic of removing them from the family.
By wording it this way, the topic of concern is about her, not how her behavior is distressing you. You also give her a graceful “out” to say, “Yes, accepting the honor of being a bridesmaid is more than I expected.” But if she balks at stepping down, you have made it quite clear that her behavior has been noted and that this is a wake up call. You never know, she may straighten up, fly right and become at least an acceptable bridesmaid. Good luck.