I got married six months ago, and my maid of honor was a childhood friend. We’ve been in each others lives and close for seventeen years, since we were twelve. We’ve lived in different states for the last six years but have managed to see one another a good amount, and we still even send one another physical birthday cards in the mail. I thought picking her as a maid of honor was a safe bet as far as friends go. If we’ve been in one another’s lives for seventeen years, then we’re both in it for the long haul. We have a solid friendship, or so I thought.
She planned an awesome bachelorette party for me and added a lot of personal touches. She gave a killer toast, and I think she had a great time at the wedding!
Four months ago she got engaged, and I was invited to her surprise engagement party. Fast-forward, I have heard from my friend once since she got engaged, and that’s because I called her. We went out to breakfast, and I figured out that I’m not a part of her wedding party at all. She told me that she chose her five sorority sisters, and then she said, “We’re keeping it small.” I was totally blindsided, and I didn’t say anything because I was too stunned to react in the moment and didn’t want to burst into tears at a restaurant. We spent the rest of breakfast talking about her wedding in great detail like it was totally normal.
After this, I decided to give her some space and that she could reach out to me if she wanted to talk. Her wedding is still eight months away. I wanted to give her a chance to make it right; maybe she was going to ask me to do a reading or to help her plan something. Anything to show that she cares about me like I care about her. I’m not caught up in the title of maid of honor, and on one level, I can handle not being a part of her wedding party. What I can’t handle is her totally out of character and callous handling of my feelings. I’ll answer her call and be there for her, but right now I’m not in place where I want to be the one reaching out.
Well, now I’ve been invited to her bachelorette party in a mass email by her maid of honor… along with seventeen other people. SEVENTEEN! It caught me totally off guard. I haven’t heard a peep out my friend. No heads up text saying, “Hi, you’ll be getting an email, but I wanted to let you know we’re going to Arizona for my bachelorette, and I would love for you to come!” Nothing. Just a mass email from her maid of honor who I’ve met a handful of times. If I do want to go, she’ll be the only person who I know well, and it’ll cost me two vacation days and at least $1,000. Her maid of honor wants us to RSVP within two weeks, but I can’t RSVP without talking to my friend. As thing stand, I have no desire to go. I’m going to Italy this summer and have two other destination bachelorettes for weddings I’m actually part of where the brides are talking to me. I could stretch it and make it work, but things will have to change between us for that to happen. So my plan of waiting for her to talk to me is out the window. And, let’s be real, she’s not calling.
I am embarrassed (although I shouldn’t be) that it feels like I so misread our friendship. How could I have her be my maid of honor, and she doesn’t even want me in her wedding party and isn’t even calling or texting me about anything (wedding related or otherwise)? It’s just so uneven—my wedding was only six months ago, not years ago. We’ve walked through so many stages of life together (hello, first periods! hello, first boyfriends! hello, college acceptances! hello, literally everything!). I am so disappointed and hurt by my friend. Generally I don’t mind confrontation, but I just am at a loss of what to say or how to bring it up. This hurt cuts really deep, and I don’t want to call but I have to. Any tips on how to frame the conversation? Also, what gives? Have others had an issue similar to this?
A:DEAR left out
This happens so often, and I think people just don’t talk about it because it does feel embarrassing. It’s happened to me. It’s happened to other people on the APW staff. And it’s something that I see pretty frequently from both sides—potential bridesmaids hurt to not be included, brides stressing about not including someone they know expects to be in the wedding party.
Friendships, unfortunately, are not precisely reciprocal. Everyone has a different collection of relationships that serve different purposes in their life, and so someone I view as a really important life-long friend might view me as a really fun person to socialize with right now… but not someone to keep in touch with when she moves or has kids. This plays out all over the place! One person thinks of a long-distance friend who you see once a year and text occasionally as a really important close friend, and their friend thinks of them as not a particularly close friend at all anymore.
Wedding parties just add another layer of disconnect. Is your bridal party your very closest friends at the time you get married? Is it your sister and cousins so your aunties don’t yell at you? Your group of sorority sisters because you all drunkenly pledged to be each other’s bridesmaids that one time? Your childhood bestie for old times’ sake even though you don’t really see her a lot? All of these are totally valid and really common ways to pick a bridal party, but they can also result in really different selections.
I’m glad you end your letter with asking how to talk to her about this, because they entire time I read your letter I was saying to myself, “Call her and talk to her already!!!” But before you go off and do that, can we talk a bit about some of what’s going on here?
She wanted you to be there to celebrate her engagement! And then it sounds like she made some tough choices and picked a discrete group of friends to be her bridal party and thought she owed your the courtesy of telling you in person. You think its her turn to reach out, but she very well might be giving you space and time to get over this. At the end of the day, she doesn’t have to make this right, because she’s allowed to pick who she wants, even though it hurts. You’re waiting for her to call. You aren’t reaching out. So what I’m seeing is you sabotaging this friendship (that I think you still want) based on assumptions about her motives that may very well not be true.
In particular, you’re reading a lot into the bachelorette that you need to let go, completely. Being invited by the maid of honor who is hosting the party, along with the other guests, is a totally normal thing. There is no reason why the bride would be individually texting you a head’s up that you are invited and that she wants you to come. Obviously she wants you to come. That’s why you got an invite. If you don’t want to go, you absolutely do not have to and you don’t need to offer me or her any excuses for that, but also I don’t think it’s reasonable to list The Bachelorette Party in your internal litany of complaints about her.
In terms of that conversation, I think you need to focus on what your goal is. You’re choosing a path right now, and you’re in control. Do you want an apology? You might get one, and I’m sure she is sorry that you are hurt, but that is different than being sorry she made the choice she did. Do you want her to know that you are hurt? Completely reasonable. But where do you want to go from there? They way I see it, you have to assume that she isn’t interested in changing her mind. This is the friendship she wants—one where she is happy to see you when you visit, likes to keep in touch, sends birthday cards, is totally willing to show up for you when you need her, and wants you around at important events… but didn’t ask you to be a bridesmaid. So, are you willing to accept that, even though it really, really hurts right now? Or do you want to say nope, I’m not up for it actually, I need to not have relationships where I am more invested than the other person. I think both are completely reasonable, but you need to decide. If you want to get closer to your friend, call her up, ask her how life is going, send a text, send an emoji, whatever, but if you’re waiting around for validation that you’re important, welp, that’s going to lead you down a path of disappointment. Other people can’t give you that, as much as I think all of us look for it.
Call her, soon, and when you do, know that I am thinking of you and wishing you all the courage and strength and resilience in the world, because I know how hard it is. (And if I was there in person, I’d buy you a round of tequila, because broken hearts hurt, logic be damned.)
P.S. Bride, if you’re reading this, maybe ask her to do a reading? You do you, but if you’re gonna be her maid of honor and then six months later treat her as any old guest, expect some crying (if only on the inside).
HAVE A WEDDING QUESTION?
EMAIL ME: AMYMARCH [AT] APRACTICALWEDDING [DOT] COM.