Advice Column: Response to Hurt in Chapel Hill

Dear Hailey,


A friend of mine was recently married. We’ve been close for six years; the first three spent in the same city and the more recent three spent several hours apart when she moved 200 miles east to be close to her family. I have spent holidays with her and am close with her mom and her sister as well.


She met the partner of her dreams and they would stay in my 2nd bedroom whenever they’d come back this way to visit. We remained close and would talk on the phone regularly, and I was one of the first (outside of family) to hear about their engagement. During their last visit, they had told me they just wanted to do a very small wedding and would not be having a wedding party at all, so I wasn’t concerned at all about not having been asked to be a bridesmaid and let her know I’d be happy to help with whatever planning or prep that I could, and not to hesitate to reach out.


As the date approached, she asked that I come out three hours before the wedding to help with her makeup and prep, which I was totally happy to do. When I arrived, a lot of other girls were already there, and I learned throughout the course of the day that there was indeed a formal wedding party and that there had been a rehearsal dinner the night before and on and on.


When the photographer arrived, the bride and all of us went outside, I wasn’t sure if I should just stay in but I didn’t want to sit around awkwardly by myself so I went out with the group, at which point the bride pulled me aside to awkwardly let me know that while I’d been on her list of potential bridesmaids, she’d ended up with way too many given her huge number of cousins– and to be sure, she ultimately had I think eight total bridesmaids.


Despite being a close friend for years, being semi-local (much closer than several of the girls coming from out of state who’d never met the fiancé before and certainly hadn’t been rooting for them since day one); despite driving out early on the day of and performing the same duties all the other girls were doing, I was excluded from the proper wedding party and had to awkwardly stand out of the way during bridesmaid photos.


She’d asked teenaged cousins who clearly couldn’t have cared less about being part of it all, and everyone was wearing whatever they wanted: no matching dresses had been assigned and one of the girls actually wore sneakers while everyone else at least had on cute spring dresses and formal shoes (as did I). I’m not here to dis on the other girls, but I was tremendously hurt to have been excluded when I really feel like I should have been an obvious choice!


I’ve been there for her and for her partnership since the very beginning and I felt really hurt to have been excluded from the major parts of ceremony prep and all the formal photos– not because I needed to show off or anything, but because the professional photos are what are cherished and remembered by the couple and I was very much excluded from those. I’m moving out of state in a few more months, so we won’t have very more memories to create together, which makes it hurt even more.


I’m heartbroken and have actually cried about this twice. I want to tell the bride how hurt I am, so my question comes in two parts: Should I let her know at all? And if so, when is an appropriate waiting period, so as not to ruffle the post-wedding glow?


Signed,

Hurt in Chapel Hill

Dear Hurt,

It is absolutely heart breaking to be excluded by a friend, especially by a close friend at such a monumental event. Know that your feelings are understandable, and valid. 

I would let her know that your feelings are hurt. You are close friends, and from what you have described, it will weigh on you if you do not have a conversation with her. Your exclusion from the wedding party with your history as friends and your contributions to the wedding definitely warrants a discussion. 

It is incredibly considerate of you to wait for a period of time to not put a damper on the time directly after the wedding. My opinion is to wait a month or two, but read the situation and decide for yourself. Another benefit to waiting is it will give you time to sort through your feelings, and approach this from a less emotionally charged perspective. Please note that it is absolutely understandable to feel very emotional about this given your history and the rest of the situation. 

Just in case you are having a hard time thinking of how to approach this, it is always a good idea to focus difficult conversations like this on how YOU feel. Start with “I” statements. For example: “I was hurt to discover the day of the wedding that I wasn’t included in the wedding party. Can we talk about this?”, comes across much less accusatory than something like: “Why did you have your cousins who clearly didn’t care or aren’t as close as we are in the wedding party and not me?” Use your own words to express how to feel, but make it more about your feelings than about her actions. 

One last note: Consider whether this is someone that you would like to continue to have in your life. This alone isn’t something that should end a friendship. If it’s a fluke and a one-time thing, then that is one thing. However, if this is part of a pattern of exclusion, and feeling used, then consider if the heart break and stress are worth keeping her in your life. 

I wish you luck with this delicate conversation, and with your friendship.

Hailey

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