Wedding Party

Sister doesn't want to be a bridesmaid ... but ...

phiraphira Bahstin member
5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
edited May 2014 in Wedding Party

I have been estranged from my father for 8 of the past 10 years. Because of the estrangement, my relationships with my siblings are somewhat distant.

My sister lives across the country, and the last time she was home for a visit, I asked her to be a bridesmaid. The estrangement’s effect on our relationship has been a lot worse than it’s been for my relationship with my brother, but over the past couple of years, we’ve been working on having a better relationship.

I made it clear that being a bridesmaid was not a job and was meant to be an honor. My partner and I would expect her to come to the wedding, be in photos, walk down the aisle and stand during the ceremony, and either do a ceremony reading or give a toast during the reception. I did not want a bridal shower, and I’d be fine without a bachelorette party and, if the wedding party wanted to throw one, my partner and I would prefer a joint bachelor/ette party.

My sister asked for time to think, which was totally fine with me, but throughout the rest of the evening (family event) proceeded to corner my partner and then me to talk about our dad. Would I be reconciling with him? Could we invite him “as a friend?” What about when we had children? She told me that she couldn’t be his daughter AND my sister at the same time, and that he was just so so so sad that I wasn’t in his life anymore. By the end of the night, she said she wasn’t okay with being a bridesmaid. However, she definitely wanted to do a ceremony reading, and would happily plan the bachelor/ette party. She even offered to make a poster collage of pictures of us.

A week later, she emailed me saying that she thought about it and realized that she was being silly, and that of couse she would be a bridesmaid. She bought a dress and even pushed for me to get my maid of honor to buy the same dress so they’d match.

Now, she’s changed her mind again. Same as before—she just isn’t okay with being a bridesmaid. She can’t explain it. But she definitely still wants to be involved in the wedding. She’ll still wear the dress. Do a reading. Etc.

I’m honestly beyond frustrated at this point. These things she’s offering to do are wedding party things, and I feel like if she’s going to say no to being in the wedding party, she should just say no and leave me alone. I also feel like I need to accommodate her and make her as comfortable as possible because the alternative is alienating her more, and risking what little relationship we’ve managed to build. I feel like it’s petty for me to say, “These are wedding party things, so if you don’t want to be in the wedding party, we don’t want these things from you.”

But I’m just so tired of sacrificing my feelings for my siblings. I linked arms with my dad and smiled for my brother’s wedding photos because that’s what my brother wanted. I went to my sister’s college graduation and graduation party enthusiastically and spent lots of time awkwardly hobnobbing with my dad’s side of the family. Being around my dad and his family is immensely stressful, and after I do it, I’m usually distraught to the point of tears. My sister is not required to prioritize my feelings over hers just because it’s my wedding, and she’s not aware of how upset this is making me because, well, I haven’t told her. I’m not sure how to tell her without having her feel like I’m emotionally blackmailing her into being a bridesmaid.

What makes everything worse, besides, well, this entire situation, is that she keeps insisting that she’s SO happy for us. How is SO obvious that my partner is perfect for me and she’s NEVER seen me this happy. It doesn’t really ring true to me. She’s met my partner a handful of times. She and I don’t talk terribly regularly (once a month or so). I don’t post a lot about my relationship on Facebook. It just feels like she’s trying to prove she’s really happy for me when she’s really feeling anxious and upset. Which is okay, but I’d rather she be honest with me.

I’m just so stressed about this. I’m not going to reconcile with my dad, but I’m doing as much as I can to still be in my siblings’ lives and be as gracious about the situation as possible. And I don’t buy into the whole, “Well, it’s MY wedding, it’s my day to be selfish.” It just feels like I can either let my sister do whatever she pleases to make my wedding easier for her, or I can risk our relationship over something as petty as the title of “bridesmaid.”

Anniversary
now with ~* INCREASED SASSINESS *~
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Re: Sister doesn't want to be a bridesmaid ... but ...

  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    Try to disconnect as much as you can from your sister flip flopping on being a BM.  She is probably feeling very torn inside over what is right.  She may not want to alienate your dad by being in your wedding, but she doesn't know how that is making you feel while she goes back and forth.  I also think that you can tell her, if she wants back in as a BM, that her waffling back and forth is causing you anxiety.  Then tell her to take a few days, fully think it through and come up with a final decision and to please stick by that.

    As for her planning the b party.  I would let that go, as long as its something you and SO want, then let her keep planning it.  Anyone can plan that. 

    AddieCake
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I'm sorry your sister is doing this.  If you're okay with her planning the bachelorette party for you, I'd let that go.

    But you can tell her that her going back and forth on this is stressing you out, and if she really doesn't want to do it for whatever reason (I wouldn't mention your father), then you're going to take her no for her final answer and not consider her a bridesmaid.
  • I think you have to just tell her, 'Whatever you decide is fine, but you going back and forth doesn't work for me. You've made the decision not to be a BM and that's OK, but it's also final. There is no changing it now. I respect your decision but I will not allow you to keep going back and forth.'

    As far as doing a reading and having her dressed like a BM...you did ask her to be a BM. You have to decide if you're OK with only some involvement from her or if it's an all-or-nothing deal for you.

    It's also OK to tell her that her involvement has to be on your terms, not hers, because your feelings are just as valid as hers.

    I'm sorry you're going through this. (((HUGS)))
    Anniversary

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    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
    Jen4948
  • I think you need to have a serious talk with her and find out what she would do if your father were not in the equation. Because, to be completely honest, he shouldn't be. Just because she is standing up for you does not mean she is in any way dishonoring him, and this should absolutely NOT upset him whatsoever. The fact that he is missing your wedding, that should upset him. The fact that his two daughters support one another, that should not. Regardless of why the two of you are estranged, her standing up for you in your wedding party has no bearing on him whatsoever. If she does not understand this then it is unfortunate, but it is her loss. She is missing out on a great relationship with you because she believes it is her duty to make him happy. That is not right and I kind of feel sorry for her that she feels this way.

    It may be upsetting to have this conversation with her, but you have to stand up for yourself and your relationship with her if it is important to you.
    lilacck28
  • KaurisKauris member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited May 2014
    The waffling is crap, but from what I've read in other posts about your father, it's most likely his manipulation of her that is driving it. She has a few good days with you, wants to be BM!! Then talks to "dear old dad" and back to feeling like she is hurting him, no BM! Also, the gushing over you and FI, is probably more to do with her guilt about not being close to you, when you have done no wrong to her, than anything else.

    Regardless, it's all completely unfair to you. So, it's completely within your rights to ask her to make a decision and stick to it. That's what adults do, and if she regrets it later, it's like HisGirlFriday13 says, "Actions have consequences." That's on her. You've done more than enough. 

    Good luck and hugs and wine!

  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    Thanks, everyone.

    Rereading my initial post, I realized I left out the fact that my sister is insisting that she's uncomfortable standing at the front during the ceremony, and being called a bridesmaid. She says that she doesn't really know why she's not okay with it, but that it's just a general not-wanting-to-be-a-bridesmaid thing. Like, "I'll do ANYTHING else, but I can't be a bridesmaid and I can't walk down the aisle and stand during the ceremony. I don't know why, I just can't."

    What keeps me going back and forth on this is that either standing up during the ceremony and being called a bridesmaid is a big deal, or it isn't. Either it's a big deal, and I can be upset about it and ask her not to do a reading either. Or it's not a big deal and she should just be able to stand there for 10-15 minutes and do this one favor for me. If that makes any sense.

    Complicating matters is that I've been trying to be flexible to accommodate her feelings. I've been telling her stuff like, "It's okay if you're not sure! Okay, sure you can still do that if you don't want to be a bridesmaid. Yeah, it's fine if you need longer to decide. It's okay to change your mind." I'm still 99% sure I'm going to put the kibosh on the waffling, though, if only because of how much it's distressing me. So basically, "I know that I said it was okay for you to change your mind, but I didn't realize that it would stress me out as much as it has. I'm not upset with you for not wanting to be a bridesmaid. But this needs to be your final decision."

    What I'm struggling with right now is how to tell her that I'm not okay with her still doing wedding party stuff. Not sure about the bachelor/ette party, because it's true, anyone can plan it. But it's stuff like photos and ceremony readings that are really off the table for me. I don't know if she WANTS to be in lots of photos, but I do know she wants to do a ceremony reading (I know anyone can do readings; we're intentionally making it a wedding party thing). Again, this is all made difficult by my own verbal accommodation of her waffling. I basically have to reneg, and I need a way that doesn't sound remarkably petty or selfish.
    Anniversary
    now with ~* INCREASED SASSINESS *~
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  • (((HUGS)))

    This isn't easy, and I'm so sorry for you. It sounds like your sister is trying to thread the needle of being involved in your wedding because she loves you, but not actually standing up for you because she's worried about offending your father.

    And of course anyone who tries to please everyone will end up pleasing no one. 

    You've been flexible long enough. The next time it comes up, I would just say to her, 'Sis, you know, I've been thinking, and this back-and-forth really doesn't work for me. I know I told you I could be flexible, and I thought I could be, but your constant waffling has been stressful for me, and I just can't deal with it anymore. You have said you don't want to be a BM, and that's OK. But that also means, for me, that you can't be involved in the WP in any other way. There's no real difference between standing up front at the wedding and doing a reading -- both are visible, outward signs of approval of the marriage. If you can't do one, it stands to reason you can't do the other, either. J and I deserve and are entitled to support on our wedding day from people who love us and support us unconditionally. I love you, and I would have loved for you to be part of my special day, but I just can't handle the stress that comes with you changing your mind all the time about this. I'm sorry.'

    I think it's incredibly selfish of her to want to do a reading but not to stand up for you. That's BS.
    Anniversary

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    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
    OliveOilsMomKGold80
  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    (((HUGS)))

    This isn't easy, and I'm so sorry for you. It sounds like your sister is trying to thread the needle of being involved in your wedding because she loves you, but not actually standing up for you because she's worried about offending your father.

    And of course anyone who tries to please everyone will end up pleasing no one. 

    You've been flexible long enough. The next time it comes up, I would just say to her, 'Sis, you know, I've been thinking, and this back-and-forth really doesn't work for me. I know I told you I could be flexible, and I thought I could be, but your constant waffling has been stressful for me, and I just can't deal with it anymore. You have said you don't want to be a BM, and that's OK. But that also means, for me, that you can't be involved in the WP in any other way. There's no real difference between standing up front at the wedding and doing a reading -- both are visible, outward signs of approval of the marriage. If you can't do one, it stands to reason you can't do the other, either. J and I deserve and are entitled to support on our wedding day from people who love us and support us unconditionally. I love you, and I would have loved for you to be part of my special day, but I just can't handle the stress that comes with you changing your mind all the time about this. I'm sorry.'

    I think it's incredibly selfish of her to want to do a reading but not to stand up for you. That's BS.
    I am totally going to steal your suggested wording with minimal tweaks. You are so wise.

    And yeah, this is why I kept rolling my eyes when my mom kept telling me to just let her do whatever she wants because of how hard it was for her to tell me she didn't want to stand up there. Like, "She's just being weird, she really doesn't want to stand, she really is happy for you, don't punish her for not wanting to stand." But like ... you don't want to stand for 15 minutes because you feel weird having people look at you, but you TOTALLY would do a reading? Okay ...

    I also call bullshit because, like my brother and me, my sister has a background in performance arts. I know that doesn't mean she enjoys standing in front of an audience for 15 minutes, but it does mean that it's something she can do and that she enjoys some of the benefits that come with it (e.g. playing in a concert, performing in a play, or demonstrating support for a relationship).

    Again, I know it's not the same thing, and I don't want any guests, even honored ones, to feel like they're actors in a performance. But it's just like ... really? You, of all people, are too uncomfortable to stand for 15 minutes? I mean, hell, if that's ALL that being a bridesmaid ever entailed, I'd love being one.
    Anniversary
    now with ~* INCREASED SASSINESS *~
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    HisGirlFriday13OliveOilsMomKeptInStitches
  • I'm so sorry. It sucks, it really does. (((HUGS)))
    Anniversary

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    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
  • lc07lc07 Sunny Southern California member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I always thought the really wonderful thing about love is that you don't have to take it away from one person in order to give it to someone else. Meaning, your sister can still love you and your dad, despite the differences between you and your father.

    I, too, find it odd that she doesn't want to stand as a bridesmaid but is comfortable reading in front of others. I'm trying not to be judgmental of her because I know everyone is different, but reading is more of being in the spotlight than standing as a bridesmaid.

    I'm with HisGirl and would discuss my feelings with my sister over the flip-flopping and try to get her to be honest with you so you can make a decision to move forward with.
  • KGold80KGold80 member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    I think HisGirl has given you outstanding advice in this situation. I just wanted to say I'm sorry that you're dealing with this situation. I'm sure it is both stressful and heartbreaking for you. :(
    Wedding Countdown Ticker


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  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    Thanks again everyone for the advice.

    When she had emailed me saying she couldn't be a bridesmaid, she had also included a bunch of other stuff in her email that we had been chatting about a while back (e.g. registry feedback, music ideas). So I addressed those things first, and kept the rest of the email tone pretty unemotional/casual. I told her it was okay if she wanted to attend as just a guest, and that I wasn't upset at her. I didn't go into the nitty gritty, so I didn't specifically say, "So, you won't be involved in the ceremony at all." I figure "attend as a guest" can be easily read as "not involved in ceremony," and I'll (kindly) clarify if it comes up again.

    In the meantime, good lord, my family o.O Weddings really do expose all the little cracks in relationships!
    Anniversary
    now with ~* INCREASED SASSINESS *~
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