She's Not a Bridesmaid in Her Sister's Wedding- Family Advice
I've read many of your hubs and greatly appreciate your advice and insight. I'm
particularly impressed with your insight regarding relationships. Although I
realize that many of your hubs focus on romantic relationships, I'm hoping you
might be able to help me out with a familial relationship -- my sister. Here's
My sister recently got engaged. I'm really happy for her. Her fiancé is a great guy and I think they'll be a good pair. My concern is this -- she didn't ask me to be a bridesmaid and I have conflicting feelings about it and would like some advice on how to handle it graciously.
Some background: My sister and I have always had a rocky relationship--sometimes great, sometimes really challenging. I don't want to get into any extreme detail, but the general gist is that we still seem to interact like we're feuding teenagers instead of grown women (she's 28 and I'm 30). I did this until my early 20s and then grew past it (I look at this relative to my two older brothers---we have an adult-sibling relationship and aren't harboring any long ago grudges from adolescence but I didn't really get to that point with them until my late teens or early 20s), but my sister seems to have never gotten to that place as it pertains to me. She appears to still hold some long ago grudge which I can't seem to get forgiveness for. I've tried talking to her about it, but it hasn't helped because she considers my apologies insincere -- literally I've apologized to her for near a decade now. And generally, I've just been resigned to the fact that this is the way it is for now, and may be forever.
Others tell me that she's just jealous, envious, still competitive with me, etc. and until she gets past that, I can't do anything about it because she'll always find fault with what I do or interpret my actions as having some underlying devious motivation. Although I realize that may be part of it, it's a hard thing for me to accept that it's the crux of it--I don't like the idea that my sister is that sort of person. I'd like to figure out whatever it is that impedes us from developing a healthy, adult relationship and develop a truly loving sisterly relationship. Also, my family is very close-knit despite my sister's and my differences. We're all (Mom and two older brothers) very close and make family a big priority. We became even closer after the death of my father a few years back. Back to the matter at hand: her wedding.
Although I'm not generally a girl that likes to be in wedding parties, I am hurt by her not asking me to be a bridesmaid, especially because everyone else in the family will be in the wedding. My Mom will be the mother of the bride, one of my brothers will be her escort, my other brother will give my sister away and my nieces and nephew will be flower girls and ringbearer. I'll be the only blood relative not in the wedding on her side (I don't think my sister-in-laws will be bridesmaids). Although I'm not totally surprised that she hasn't asked me to be a bridesmaid due to our rocky relationship, I am somewhat surprised since we're all so family-oriented generally.
If I were getting married, there would be no question that I'd ask her to be a bridesmaid. I may have some concerns that she may make things difficult (she's a spotlight person where I'm a more behind the scenes person, so I'd have some worries that she may not be good at letting me be the focal point), but I'd still ask her and hope she'd be in my bridal party because she's my sister and, although a pain in the rear end sometimes, I love her deeply.
I don't want to bring this up to her or anyone else in the family as I' m afraid that it will create an ugly situation -- that she'll feel forced to include me due to family pressure or if she refuses, the rest of the family will be upset with her and I'll be blamed for spoiling her wedding. Plus, I don't really want to be invited out of pity or lack of sincere desire. Perhaps this is unfair of me to want my cake and eat it too, but it's how I feel. I'd love for her to realize that she'd made an oversight and like to have me in her wedding and be included along with the rest of the family, but I doubt that will happen (I can't imagine this hasn't occurred to her yet as she's already asked 3 friends to be bridesmaids). So I've resigned myself to simply remaining silent, not making any comments now or later (I'm sure on the day of the wedding, if not before, other family members will notice and ask questions) and "sucking it up" not to ruin her day.
I guess I'm just feeling very unsatisfied with this situation and that may be simply th e way it has to be. But I was wondering if you'd have any other advice or alternative to propose that I haven't considered yet. I hate the fact that I feel like one of those people that are being selfish about another's wedding as I'm a firm believer that people should do as they truly desire in their own wedding, but I'm just having a really hard time not still feeling terrible about not being included. Any advice or insight you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you post this on a hub, can you not include my email address as it has my name it in it? Thank you.
I’m sorry you’re hurting. This is a sincere and honest letter and I can feel your stomach turning. And don’t worry, no emails shared, and all names changed.
You’re right: A woman’s wedding day belongs only to her. She is allowed to be in charge of anything and everything for once in her life. She chooses what people can come, and where they can stand or sit, and how important they are. She says when and where and how. She tells everyone what they can wear, how their hair will be, what to eat, even what to buy her as a present.
For many of us, there’s a lifetime of taking orders and obeying rules from parents, teachers, the government, and bosses. Every day we have to compromise and check with siblings, friends, roommates, coworkers, neighbors, planning boards, dress codes, and Weight Watcher’s consultants. To actually have an entire day where what you say goes, is mind blowing.
I do agree with you, she should have asked you. However, as you said, it is her wedding. She “should” pick you, she should pick dresses that are flattering for everyone, and offer a vegetarian option on her menu, and print on the invitations under Bridal Registry: In Lieu of Gifts, we’re asking our guests to bring canned goods for the food pantry.
She should be thinking about how she is going to feel about the decision to exclude you from the wedding party 20 years from now. But the truth is she doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to do. It’s her day. She’s allowed to be self indulgent, self involved, wrong, superfluous, and immature. She can fill the menu with pork, make everyone where fuchsia, register at the Uggs Superstore, and hire a DJ that plays nothing but boy bands.
My husband did not ask his brothers to be in his bridal party. He asked all his friends, but not his brothers. At the time, he said his brothers already know how important they are to him, and this was his chance to tell his friends how important they are to him. 12 years have passed, and he’s even closer to his brothers now than he was then, and many of his friends have grown away from him. Now, he says he’d choose his brothers. He just sees things differently, and values his brothers in a new way. He wasn’t slighting them back then, he’s just different about expressing his feelings now.
Being that there was a grudge, I’m thinking your sister’s exclusion of you was a personal slight. Believe me, when people behave small like that, they come to regret it. 10 years from now, when you’re the aunt to her children, when you’ve asked her to be in your bridal party, when time has changed her friendships and values, and things are different, she’s going to feel badly about this decision. Nothing you can say or do will be as effective as time will be. In time she will realize. You’ve apologized and tried to work things out for 10 years. She’s not ready today to let go of adolescence.Relationships are complicated. All of them. Not just the romantic ones. It’s not like being right gets you what you deserve. You can’t control someone’s ability to mature, or to see clearly.
The best thing you can do, is nothing.
Go along with her day. Offer to help tie the ribbons on the favors, or run some errands if you can. If she refuses, respect that. At her bridal shower, give her a framed pic of her playing dress up as a little girl and write, “You’ll be the most beautiful bride.” Be as easy and gracious as you can be. The higher road is always the best road. No one has ever looked back at the hard moments of their life and said, Gee I wish I hadn’t been so mature.
I know you want her to know how this has affected you. You want to have that talk she doesn’t want to hear and for it to suddenly break through and work. But now is not the time. She’s in ME mode. She’s in that frame of mind bride’s get, where they are in control and anything you say or do, no matter how right or well put, will only be perceived as jealous and challenging. I promise.
You’re right - other people are seeing this too. People will notice she left you out, and some will privately ask her why. She will defend her choice but it will plant seeds of thought in her head, and they will linger. If people ask you, don’t feed your own anxiety. Shrug. Say that you don’t know, but you hope she has a fabulous special day.
Eventually, she will see. Women go through a major chemical change in their early 30’s and again in their early 40’s. Eventually, at some point, all the things you’ve been trying to do for 10 years will be done. She will see.
And during the wedding planning and festivities, is your chance to root when she begins to open her eyes. When she looks back on her wedding she will remember how you were elegant and happy for her, how you were humble and giving. You will shine. And she will see it, and she will wonder what the hell she was thinking.Kill ‘em with kindness, kiddo.
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