Wedding Etiquette Forum

Etiquette on Replacing Bridesmaids

Hello everyone! So I have a friend that I've been close to for several years; I was asked to be bridesmaids when she first got engaged three years ago. The wedding had to be pushed back multiple times, and is now set for this fall. A few weeks ago, I got a job offer that would be perfect for my career and career goals, and I really need to take it. The only problem is that it's across an ocean from my hometown, and the wedding. There's no way I could make it back (I'd need to take several days off, which I'm not sure I can being new in the position, and pay more money than I have for a plane ticket).
I finally mustered up the courage to break the news to the bride (my friends were warning me she might freak out), and she took it super well! Then, in a conversation a few days later, though, she asked if I would mind if she replaced me with another friend to ensure that she would have even sides - I think her parents especially are concerned about the pictures. I was taken by surprise and initially said I didn't care, but the more that I think about it, I am a little hurt by the idea. I can't help but feel like the bride just saw me as a prop or a number to fill out even sides - easily replaceable. Everyone I've mentioned these to (both in-person friends and online), has said it's my fault in the first place for dropping out, it's her day, and basically that it's silly to be upset at all.
Is this a completely ridiculous way to feel? Should I say anything to her? Has anyone else ever been in this situation (whether as a bride or a bridesmaid), and if so, what did you do? What's the proper etiquette for this situation?

Re: Etiquette on Replacing Bridesmaids

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Replacing wedding party members is rude because of exactly what you're feeling-it's hurtful to the member being replaced.

    Your friend shouldn't have replaced you. But the best thing you can do is let it go.
    [Deleted User]classyduck
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited August 2015
    Your feelings are very valid.  However, since you can't control others you just need to let it go.  She asked and  you said it was fine (which I would have done too).  It's not like she can go back to the other and kick her out.  What is done is done.

      It would not be a relationship ending event for me  like it would if she was the one who let me go in favor of another person.   






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    lc07MairePoppy
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    It's not ok, but it will be strange and out of place for you to tell her so.
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
    image
    STARMOON44lc07MairePoppy
  • I wouldn't say anything.

    But yes, your feelings are completely valid.  It was a shitty thing to do to you.  People aren't props and that's how she treated you.  It's not "your fault" for dropping out - no one is expected to put their lives on hold for someone's wedding (especially since she asked you three years ago?!?  That's insane - Lurkers take note that you shouldn't be asking more than 9-12 months out).  Life happens and friends understand that.

    She's certainly free to do whatever she likes and if she likes regarding you as replaceable and treating whoever she gets to stand in your place like second choice or B-list, she's free to do so.  I wouldn't end my relationship over it specifically, but it would have me thinking how I came to be friends with someone so superficial and whether that really is someone who shares the same values as I do and would want to be friends with.
    [Deleted User]
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    You're totally justified in what you're feeling. What your friend did was shitty.

  • We always say kicking someone out of a wedding is a friendship-ending move. I would argue that replacing someone who dropped out on their own is also. You are not wrong to feel hurt because what she is doing is extremely hurtful.
    image
    MGP
  • Being upset by this is a perfectly appropriate way to feel. I would not say anything to her but it would definitely change my opinion of her and make me reconsider our friendship. Luckily you're moving away so you can let your friendship fizzle out if you want, rather than have to spell it out for her and get dragged into a freak-out.

    If I was the person she asked to replaced you I would feel extremely awkward, used, and hurt as well. "Hey, you weren't special enough to make the cut before, I don't care about you enough to throw my pictures off-balance, but now that Knottie's out I need someone to fill up that empty space."

    downtondivaSP29Heffalumplevioosa
  • Unpopular opinion: I'd consider whether or not her space was limited by money. If it was, and she could only have X number of bridesmaids and now that you're out, she's asking someone she could have originally asked but didn't because of budget/space, then I wouldn't feel bad. She's working within her means, and trying (maybe not appropriately, but probably in the best way she knows how) to include the people she cares about the most. Most likely, she's doing her best, and I'd give her the benefit of the doubt before being upset about it.

    (Note: I wouldn't suggest doing this myself, and I don't condone it. But often people break the rules of etiquette because they're trying too hard, or incorrectly, to do the right thing. I believe empathy is the correct way to deal with these instances, instead of taking things to heart too quickly. The question is whether or not she should feel bad, which is, to me, a resounding "No," despite the fact that the bride did the wrong thing.)

    If budget isn't a real consideration for her, and it really is just about the numbers, I'd probably be upset. But for someone who's already pushed the wedding back several times, I doubt this is an issue.
    snowywinter
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    Unpopular opinion: I'd consider whether or not her space was limited by money. If it was, and she could only have X number of bridesmaids and now that you're out, she's asking someone she could have originally asked but didn't because of budget/space, then I wouldn't feel bad. She's working within her means, and trying (maybe not appropriately, but probably in the best way she knows how) to include the people she cares about the most. Most likely, she's doing her best, and I'd give her the benefit of the doubt before being upset about it.

    (Note: I wouldn't suggest doing this myself, and I don't condone it. But often people break the rules of etiquette because they're trying too hard, or incorrectly, to do the right thing. I believe empathy is the correct way to deal with these instances, instead of taking things to heart too quickly. The question is whether or not she should feel bad, which is, to me, a resounding "No," despite the fact that the bride did the wrong thing.)

    If budget isn't a real consideration for her, and it really is just about the numbers, I'd probably be upset. But for someone who's already pushed the wedding back several times, I doubt this is an issue.

    The OP states that the bride told her she wanted to do it so she would have even sides.
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
    image
  • MGPMGP member
    Knottie Warrior 500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper

    Unpopular opinion: I'd consider whether or not her space was limited by money. If it was, and she could only have X number of bridesmaids and now that you're out, she's asking someone she could have originally asked but didn't because of budget/space, then I wouldn't feel bad. She's working within her means, and trying (maybe not appropriately, but probably in the best way she knows how) to include the people she cares about the most. Most likely, she's doing her best, and I'd give her the benefit of the doubt before being upset about it.


    (Note: I wouldn't suggest doing this myself, and I don't condone it. But often people break the rules of etiquette because they're trying too hard, or incorrectly, to do the right thing. I believe empathy is the correct way to deal with these instances, instead of taking things to heart too quickly. The question is whether or not she should feel bad, which is, to me, a resounding "No," despite the fact that the bride did the wrong thing.)

    If budget isn't a real consideration for her, and it really is just about the numbers, I'd probably be upset. But for someone who's already pushed the wedding back several times, I doubt this is an issue.
    I see where you are coming from, but in a situation like this where you are dealing with peoples emotions the best thing still is to not replace and save the money. If you had some changes in your budget and could now afford something like a photo booth that is fine. Replacing actual people is hurtful, for the person who was replaced and the actual replacement. What a way to make people feel disposable.

    Snarky side note - pushing a wedding back for three years is kind of rude to me as well. I am surprised more people hadnt dropped due to changes in their own lives and priorities.
  • AddieCake said:
    Unpopular opinion: I'd consider whether or not her space was limited by money. If it was, and she could only have X number of bridesmaids and now that you're out, she's asking someone she could have originally asked but didn't because of budget/space, then I wouldn't feel bad. She's working within her means, and trying (maybe not appropriately, but probably in the best way she knows how) to include the people she cares about the most. Most likely, she's doing her best, and I'd give her the benefit of the doubt before being upset about it.

    (Note: I wouldn't suggest doing this myself, and I don't condone it. But often people break the rules of etiquette because they're trying too hard, or incorrectly, to do the right thing. I believe empathy is the correct way to deal with these instances, instead of taking things to heart too quickly. The question is whether or not she should feel bad, which is, to me, a resounding "No," despite the fact that the bride did the wrong thing.)

    If budget isn't a real consideration for her, and it really is just about the numbers, I'd probably be upset. But for someone who's already pushed the wedding back several times, I doubt this is an issue.

    The OP states that the bride told her she wanted to do it so she would have even sides.
    Oops! Missed that when originally reading. 

    Consider my stance retracted.
  • APDSS22APDSS22 O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A is OK member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    OP, you're allowed to feel bad about being replaced here. Even sides is just about the most ridiculous reason ever to replace someone you wanted to honor. She just had to have those perfect pictures and couldn't let everyone think her FI has more friends! *rolls eyes* This is one good reason not to ask your wedding party too early but any bride who thinks bridesmaids are replaceable probably doesn't treat them very well anyway because it means their primary function is being a prop for photos, not being the bride's nearest and dearest.

    [Deleted User]
  • Before I joined The Knot, it never occurred to me that it's rude to replace people as I was replaced in my friend's wedding when I couldn't take off from a new job to be a bridesmaid (I told her right away and she asked if I would mind if she asked one of our other friends; never gave a reason, such as even sides or money). It didn't hurt my feelings. I told her that it was fine and I was grateful that she even asked me if I'd mind being replaced. Why would I when I couldn't make it? I don't know, that's just me. I do respect your feelings and think they're perfectly valid. It just didn't bother me when it happened to me.

    While I think having the people you care about most standing beside you on your wedding day should outweigh "even sides" for photos, my philosophy is to each their own. For me, having uneven sides is not a big deal. But for others it is and I can respect that. We all have certain things we want at our wedding and I don't think one is more right than the other. Some want all their bridesmaids in the same exact gown, others just choose a color and let the girls go to town and pick their own dress. Some want their wedding party to stand beside them, others want them seated in the first row with just the MOH and BM standing up. Some want a winter wonderland wedding, others want a lakeside summar wedding. Some destination, others think that's inconvenient for the guests. I consider even sides versus uneven sides to fall in the same category. It's not a big deal for me, but I'll respect that it is for some and I don't think it says anything about the bride who believes that. I'm not involved in her friendships. I have no idea how close she is to her maids. Maybe she's a sorority girl and she had a list of 15 people she's close enough to to ask to be her maids, but for all kinds of reasons (budget, first and foremost), she doesn't want to ask all 15. I'd have no problem with her replacing someone who can't do it.
    switSwoo00[Deleted User]
  • @snowywinter, the difference here is this:

    winter wedding v. summer wedding = not hurtful

    replacing someone in the wedding party = hurtful, potentially to both the former bridesmaid and the new one

    Hurting people for the sake of one's wedding dream is unacceptable.
    image
    [Deleted User]SP29Heffalump
  • OP, you're fine with how you feel. It sounds as though the bride has some etiquette issues. Even sides are a stupid reason to replace anyone. Your WP should consist of those nearest and dearest to you.

    Lurkers, THIS is why you don't replace WP members when they need or want to drop out. Feelings get hurt and you will not be looked at as the same kind of friend again. You will be looked at as a Bride who put her "vision" before friendship.
  • I can understand that. I'm just saying choosing a certain number of maids for "even sides," in general, doesn't bother me.
  • APDSS22APDSS22 O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A is OK member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I can understand that. I'm just saying choosing a certain number of maids for "even sides," in general, doesn't bother me.
    It's when you start caring more about having the even sides than the feelings of the people who mean the most to you.  That's when it becomes a problem.

    lc07SP29
  • MGPMGP member
    Knottie Warrior 500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    APDSS22 said:
    I can understand that. I'm just saying choosing a certain number of maids for "even sides," in general, doesn't bother me.
    It's when you start caring more about having the even sides than the feelings of the people who mean the most to you.  That's when it becomes a problem.
    Exactly.  You don't make cuts to make numbers, you don't add people you don't want to make numbers, and you don't replace to make numbers.
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    If you feel this way, imagine how the place holder must feel. 

    Still, I wouldn't say anything to her about it. If she has been a considerate freind, otherwise, I wouldn't let it affect my relationship with her.
                       
    lc07
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    OP, you are justified in your feelings. That's a shitty thing to do.

    You can't put your entire life and your CAREER on hold (not even on hold, you would be potentially losing this career opportunity), for one day. I am sure your friend is bummed out, and it is something to be bummed out about, but then you get over it.

    Unfortunately I don't think you can really say anything to her, especially if she's already asked the other girl. Perhaps at a later date, if you wanted to have a heart to heart as part of moving on with your relationship (if you want that), but I wouldn't bring it up now.

    I feel bad for the "replacement" too- I bet she must feel shitty too for being the "fill in", even though she'll probably smile and being the most excited bridesmaid for your friend.
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    If you feel this way, imagine how the place holder must feel. 

    Still, I wouldn't say anything to her about it. If she has been a considerate friend, otherwise, I wouldn't let it affect my relationship with her.
    The couple pushed back their weddings 3 times and has been engaged for 3 years.  It could just be a case that over time the new girl is now closer than she was when they first got engaged anyway.  She might not even care.

    The whole even sides is so lame, but the bride did ask.  The OP said it was fine.  I would have said the same.  It was a few days later the OP had a change of heart.  Totally understandable, but what is she going to do say "hey bride, I started thinking about this more.  I'm not going to be there, but I do not want you to replace me either?".    It's too late.  The OP just has to get over it.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    JediElizabeth
  • I'm kind of going through the same thing. It was more convenient for my friend to drop me as a BM than have me stand with her as she makes a life commitment. Its more affordable and since her groom decided not to have a bridal party, she decided it would be too weird for photos. 

    Kinda sucks. 
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